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Use Google services? Your iPhone may work better than an Android device

Google continues to roll out enhanced services for the iPhone, including Google Play All Access Music and improved voice-enabled Google Now.
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By Matthew Miller, Contributor on
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1 of 12 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Google services on the iPhone 5s

Google continues to roll out their services to iOS, including Google Play Music launching late last week. The iOS apps miss some features seen in Android, but in other cases the applications look and perform better on the iPhone.

I use quite a few Google services and lack of support for most of them in Windows Phone keep me from using that platform as my daily driver. Lately, I have been using and enjoying Android smartphones and thought that might be the best way to access Google services.

With continued improvements in iOS Google apps, I have been able to enjoy Google services on my Apple iPhone 5s with few limitations.

Google services provided on iOS include:

  • Google Search: The new Google Now functionality lets you state "OK Google" and then launch a search via Google Now. As you can see in my short video below, the iPhone 5s beat the Moto X every time I ran a search. I also tested my HTC One and while it was faster than the Moto X it was still slower than the iPhone 5s. The Nexus 5 may approach the iPhone 5s response since I believe the difference may be due to the phone's processor.
  • Chrome: Google Chrome is my preferred web browser and I love that bookmarks, search history, and everything else I use on the desktop is consistent across my devices.
  • Google Play Music: The experience is similar to Android, except you cannot purchase music directly in the app and there doesn't look to be I'm Feeling Lucky functionality.
  • Gmail: I prefer to use the Gmail app on the iPhone 5s instead of the iOS email app. The current version is similar to the older Android app without colored letters and such, but is still a very capable client.
  • Google+: This is one service that I think actually looks and functions better on the iPhone than it does on Android.
  • Google Maps: Google Maps functionality looks to be the same between iOS and Android.
  • Google Drive: Apple doesn't let you access the file structure of the iPhone, but the Google Drive app gives you access to all your documents and files in the cloud.
  • YouTube: While I don't watch a ton of YouTube videos, my MoTR podcast cohost Kevin Tofel told me you can stream purchased Google Play movies via the YouTube app on iOS and it works just fine.
  • Google Hangouts: Hangouts is a great way to stay in touch with friends using Google's ecosystem and it works just fine on iOS.
  • Quickoffice: Google purchased Quickoffice and the application is available for iOS and Android with some excellent functionality for viewing and editing Office documents.
  • Google Wallet: Google recently rolled out this service for iPhone users and just like most Android devices, other than the Nexus 5, Wallet is good for loyalty cards and sending payments via email. There is no NFC in the iPhone so now payments can be made with a tap. This is the same issue with nearly all Android devices since carriers block access due to secure elements.

I think the only other Google services and apps I use on my Android phone that I don't see on the iPhone are Google Keep and Google Wallet. Chromecast support is provided in iOS through some Google services.

In addition to the excellent Google services support, the iPhone 5s provides access to the Apple ecosystem as well as a solid Exchange experience. Exchange support is important to me and iOS beats what I get on Android smartphones.

Further reading

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Google services toggle on the iPhone 5s

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Google services on Android

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Google Play Music comparison (iOS on left and Android on right)

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Google Maps comparison (iOS on left and Android on right)

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YouTube comparison (iOS on left and Android on right)

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Google Drive comparison (iOS on left and Android on right)

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Google Search/Now comparison (iOS on left and Android on right)

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Google Hangouts comparison (iOS on left and Android on right)

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Google+ comparison (iOS on left and Android on right)

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Gmail (iOS on left and Android on right)

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Chrome comparison (iOS on left and Android on right)

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