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Google Apps on iOS and Android [Opinion]

Google Apps on iOS

In the past few months it has become abundantly clear that Google intends to support three platforms: the web, Android, and iOS. Google’s support for the web and Android should not come as a surprise; Google has always been a web company and Google bought Android to fight Microsoft in the mobile space. Even Google’s support of iOS is not all that surprising since the iPhone was essentially the Google phone before the G1. What is surprising, however, is that Google isn’t just making apps for iOS; they’re making really good apps for iOS.

Google has more than enough apps in the App Store to fill a whole page on an iOS device (23 total). While some of these apps are garbage and others are merely remnants of failed Google projects, Google has come out swinging lately with seven apps in particular: Google Search, Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, Chrome, and Google+. All of these apps are available on both iOS and Android in near identical implementations (the only real difference between the Android and iOS versions of these apps is that pull to refresh is available on the iOS iterations while the Android apps still rely on a refresh button) save Gmail and Maps.

Maps for iOS

Google’s Gmail and Maps Android apps tend to focus on utility over appearance while the iOS apps tend to hide functionality, thereby presenting a cleaner user interface. While Google Maps for iOS looks and feels inspired by the Android app, the cleaner interface is far more inviting to use. While the iOS app emphasizes search and location, the Android app emphasizes utility in general.

Doing things like a search or finding your location are easy to do on both apps, but something like adjusting layers is far less obvious on the iOS app. In fact, settings are essentially hidden on the iOS app. In the iOS app Google chose to hide traffic, public transit, and a link to Google Earth (which is a rather strange inclusion) behind an Android style menu button. The implication here is that iOS users expect a clean interface while Android users expect a heavy amount of mapping tools available as soon as the app launches.

Gmail is probably the most surprising iOS app from Google. The iOS app again brandishes a cleaner UI while the Android app emphasizes utility at the expense of beauty. In fact, with its white expanses and red highlights, the iOS app is actually more faithful to the design of Gmail in a browser than the Android app.

Have a Nice Day

Both apps have multi-user support, swipe to archive, label support, mute, and neither app can create a label (still!). In every screen the iOS app hides settings and options behind buttons while the Android app shoves them in front of users. Because of these UI decisions, the Android app places a very, very heavy learning curve on users in terms of learning the Gmail app’s unique iconography while the iOS app labels everything except for archive and trash. As a result, the iOS app has a much cleaner, if less immediately useful user interface.

In my testing, I actually found Gmail, Maps, Google+ and Chrome for iOS to be more of a pleasure to use than their Android counterparts, which is a strange thing to say. Usually companies put their best work on their own apps for their own platform (see Hotmail for Android), but Google’s apps are actually in parity with the Android versions or better on iOS. Between pull to refresh, the use of playful, colorful loading animations, and the simpler UI, Google apps on iOS tended to be more responsive and easier to use. If you want to live in Google’s ecosystem Android is no longer a requirement.

While I understand why Google would want to make good apps for iOS, I don’t understand why they would make better designed apps for iOS. Maybe Google believes that Android users want UI controls exposed and iOS users want them hidden or that Android users don’t mind cluttered UIs as much as iOS users. Those are just guesses; if I were Google I would want to make sure that the Android apps performed just as well and included little touches like pull to refresh and loading animations. That kind of attention to detail can make a tremendous difference in how an app works and feels. No matter what the reason is for the discrepency, it is nice to see some really nice design coming from Mountain View. Hopefully we see Google bring some of that finess and focus to their Android apps.

  • EK Sumon

    Android apps as well as IOS apps has its own demand. One thing everyone should remember that android apps are made for android and IOS apps are made for IOS. Google store has a huge collection for their own operating system. Besides they are making apps for IOS also. This is their well Initiative I think. You should welcome this. I can not understand why are we controverting about this great Initiatives ?
    You are saying that android apps has a complex interface but IOS apps are simplified. I can not understand what is problem here? You like a simplified interface? Owk fine, use an apple product. And if you don’t like, use android. Simple.
    Differences between IOS and android apps has offered us to choose one. If android and IOS apps would same to look at or use, then we would have not any chance to choose.
    Many man many mind! Google has its own market policy. May be they has researched that android users like an interface with all the option in its interface. So they made it according to user’s demand.
    Google is making apps for IOS. It is a good news. So we all should welcome this. That’s all!

  • Ashley Moat

    I have used both Android and iPhone. I love how Android works but for me with a mobile device I want simple and easy to use. Unfortunately in my opinion iPhone is the phone that does it for me. The UI of apps are exactly how I think mobile apps should be. On Android, they become complicated. I prefer to do more complicated activities on my computer.

    With Google designing apps for IOS. I see no issue with this at all. Google has always been about providing their services across platforms and I think this will always be their number 1 business aim. The fact IOS app looks better (opinion again) I think is due to how easy it is to develop for IOS over Android. I have no issues with both OS but for me a phone should be simple, you ring, you text, you communicate, you play. Anything else, grab you laptop ๐Ÿ˜›

    • ratnok

      “The fact IOS app looks better (opinion again) I think is due to how easy it is to develop for IOS over Android.”

      It has nothing to do with ease of development. It has everything to do with how most developers are not using the HOLO design guidelines. The Android Development Team has a whole series of YouTube videos to encourage folks to approach design the Android way. Unfortunately, few are taking them up on their advice, but the ones who do, make absolutely beautiful apps- far more attractive than the “stitched leather” garbage you see on iOS.

      The difference in design of the above apps is definitely a mistake by Google. The assumption that Android users are more “techie” and therefore are ok with more seemingly complicated apps just reinforces stereotypes that iPhone users are superficial, stupid and lazy, and Android users are geeky control freaks.

  • Dain Laguna

    Great Article ron. Personally, i dont get why folks think that because something is simple it loses utility. Ics simplified android quite a bit, but id hardly argue gingerbread was more Functional

  • socalrailroader

    They need to stop being afraid of WIndows Phone 8, and stop this blocking crap. I mean, why else would they do this? They are obviously trying to prevent a competing OS, one they see as a contender from being able to grow and prosper, doing the same thing Apple has been doing to them.

  • Jon Lambert

    How is iOS Google+ better? Also, Chrome for iOS uses UIWebView which makes it technically inferior to Chrome for Android (as far as being Chrome goes), seeing as Chrome for Android uses Chrome’s own JavaScript engine and all.

  • I’d rather have productivity usability and efficiency over style, that’s why I hate iOS so much, It takes more steps to do things that Android does, if it can even do what Android does.

  • thanks info. i think i need it.

  • JGGA

    The article is very subjective. Although the applications might be simpler and cleaner on iOS, they are also lacking in a complete feature set. I.e. Google Translate on Android will take a picture of any image in foreign language and translate the image. On iOS, you have to type in the actual foreign language, since the app does not allow for translation of pictures.

  • cheezer88

    I have them both and use them each equally

  • Elliot Kotis

    No, it is stupid, do you see Apple putting Apple Maps on Android, it should be one of the many attractions to Android, and not to anything else.

    • Tuna

      Google doesn’t want people to use Android more, they want more eyeballs to look at their ads, on any platform possible. You are fighting for them a fight they have no reason to pick.

  • pseudonym_b

    simple reason, i think. iPhones have smaller screens. the reason people are using the apps is for the content, not the settings. most android phones have the screen space to include settings options, while also displaying enough content for users to know what they need to know.

    if ~1cm is used on both the top and bottom of the typical 4.3-4.8 inch android screen, a very large display area for a map, email, or webpage is left. on the 3.5 inch iphone screen (iphone 4 and 4s’s still make up the majority of iOS users on phones, to the best of my knowledge), that same ~1 cm border (needed to be that size for usability) takes up a very large portion of the screen, leaving very little room to display the same content.

    also google needs to support iOS, as they are an advertising company. the more people they have using their apps, the more advertising they do. making their apps difficult to access makes no buisness sense.

  • StevieWelles

    I own a One X and an iPhone 5. I prefer Android, but when the new gmail and google maps apps came out for the iPhone app, I was blown away. The maps app in particular is really excellent. I hope fore two things this year: that someone sees fit to make a top spec Android phone with an amazing camera and a 4.3″ 720p screen, and that the maps and gmail apps are updated to reflect the beautiful simplicity of the iOS versions.

  • The reason is that they put the best programmers on the ios apps to make iphone users choose them over the base ios choices. They have COMPETITION on ios, and that competition comes installed on the phone. This is a very simple concept.

    • DroidDoesnt_2

      Good point…

  • Lucky Armpit

    It’s simple… iOS users are used to having things dumbed down for them, and Google is merely following suit with their apps. Apple users are used to things being easy to use, although less functional.
    “Is this the line for apps honey?”
    Totally true of those who use Apple products.

  • M C

    If anything android should just have another “setting” if you will to swap back and forth between ui pleasures and functionality up front.

  • gk08

    It’s interesting that Google hasn’t implemented Talk for non Android devices yet. Also, the one feature that I hope they will include in mobile gmail is the ability to use grouped contacts while addressing messages. Even though I have defined groups in my gmail contacts, I have to input each address individually on the app. Pain.

  • Go Hawkeyes

    This just confirms the obvious. iOS is for people who want a smartphone but have no real need for one and are OK with only knowing about the most basic things you can do with a smartphone. Android is for people who are power users, aren’t afraid of technology, have an actual need for a smartphone, and can enjoy customization as much as possible to suit their needs.

  • Trey Mitchell

    I remain of the belief that these apps are results of two different development teams. Two different teams with different focuses. I expect the people working on the ios apps are apple loyalists and are influenced heavily by their products. conversely the android dev team have likely owned every nexus in existence and while might be influnced by some apple ideas are generally charting their own path.
    granted that’s all speculation
    honestly i can draw parallels between the current Gmail app on JB and the stock email app on the iPhone or at least some of the older versions haven’t much played with any of the recent ones.

    • anon

      I know a guy who works at Google on a team developing one of their apps for Android. And yes, that team is completely separate from the team that develops the same app for iOS. It doesn’t sound like there’s much direct collaboration between the two teams. Less than I would’ve expected, anyway. And they do have a tendency to be Android/iOS diehards, but a few of them (on both teams) are comfortable in both ecosystems.

      • Trey Mitchell

        Interesting to know

  • just shows that android is starting to take over ios i see it as fine

  • David Weeden

    Ron, Agree with you. While perhaps, the android power user would prefer the functionality of Google’s Android apps, I think the common/every day user is going to prefer the UI utilized on their iOS apps. Certainly Apple wasn’t the first one out with a smartphone ecosystem that emphasized applications, but they did establish a concise, design vision that has influenced what the target consumer looks for in their phones/tablets.

    It’s tough to sell the average smartphone user to make the switch from iOS when Google’s first party applications are already available on their platform of choice with better production values.

    Then again, I suppose it really isn’t an issue considering that the GSIII is surpassing the iphone 5 in sales (at least to my recollection).

  • Uncle Paul

    Gmail on Nexus 10 CRAP
    Gmail on old Ipad 2, LOVELY!


  • LionStone

    Thanks Ron, but you shouldn’t have to convince anyone that you like your iphone so much…just enjoy it. Have a nice day!

  • Don’t forget that before the iPhone5, iPhone users all have a much smaller display (physical size) than most Android phones. Resolution is one thing, but you need a bigger physical display to fit more icons so that people can easily click on them.

  • Just_Some_Nobody

    Thanks for your opinion.

    You keep saying, “…Android app emphasizes utility in general.”

    But you go on to say, “In my testing, I actually found Gmail, Maps, Google+ and Chrome for iOS to be more of a pleasure to use than their Android counterparts, which is a strange thing to say.”

    Then there’s this seeming contradiction:

    “Because of these UI decisions, the Android app places a very, very heavy learning curve on users in terms of learning the Gmail appโ€™s unique iconography while the iOS app labels everything except for archive and trash. As a result, the iOS app has a much cleaner, if less immediately useful user interface.”

    Very, very heavy learning curve? Seriously?

    I’m just not sure what to make of this. It’s all about your opinion, and not anything more.

    • The Android apps emphasize utility by putting tons of shortcuts on the bottom of the app. Those icons aren’t obvious (especially since Gmail uses proprietary solutions like archiving and labels), which creates the heavy learning curve compared to on the desktop or the iOS apps where the buttons are text, not icons. There’s no contradiction. And yes, the opinion article labeled opinion is all about my opinion. Hopefully that wasn’t a surprise.

    • Chris

      I don’t see all the hate Ron gets. I tend to like his articles. While I hate Apple and iOS, at least Ron isn’t afraid to post about stuff like this. He’s saying that the icons in the gmail app are icons and not text which makes it a lot harder for some people (like older adults and young kids that know nothing about smartphones).

      I get where he is coming from, but I’d personally be fine with either style of app.

      • i would like to add something here .. every1 keeps saying that android has a higher learning curve… but id like to point out 1 example of how iOS is the same if not worse … when i was using the iphone .. in their messaging app nowhere is it apparent on how to delete an individual message… for really long i thought it wasnt possible since it was not in a menu where the butons are text as @ronoffringa:disqus mentions above .. there are several other lil quirks that i find really frustrating about ios and even mc os that steer me away from apple .. jus my 2c

  • That’s the beauty of having iOS. Apps are way more cleaner and clutter-less than android. Apple have standards when it comes to building app for iOS as in android doesn’t require standard that’s why you have much better apps on iOS than android!

  • Abhijeet Mishra

    “while the iOS app labels everything except for archive and trash.” That’s actually a great thing about Apple, they make the interface really easy to use. For example, It’s a point in their app design guidelines that buttons should look like buttons and have a look that invites people to touch them. Compare that to Android where, for example, the app icon on the top left of Holo apps which also takes you back to the main screen of that app looks nothing like a button, or rather, doesn’t look that inviting so a user might explore them.

    And it seems the team making the Google apps for iOS is following the guidelines well, hehe.

    • carlisimo

      The unlabeled icons are my biggest problem with stock Android. If they work for some people, great, but it’s not for me.

      • Abhijeet Mishra

        Yeah, they are not at all user-friendly. Once you’ve found out what they do it’s okay, but the first time is not.

        Heck, they say Apple even makes the buttons in a way that touching a bit above them is what makes them respond, since users are usually looking at the device from an angle. Great dedication to user experience, even though many actions are stupidly long in iOS when you need them.

  • klogram

    Seems that you can have a clean UI and also have access to setting within the app. It need not be a zero sum game. I left iPhone for Android just before Christmas and greatly prefer my GN2 ๐Ÿ™‚ But… the Google apps largely look better on iOS, IMHO.

  • trophynuts

    Great article. And yes i love the goog apps on my Iphone. Especially Maps lol

  • Vyrlokar

    I will take the “cluttered” Android interface over a “clean but you need to fight the app to get it to do what you want, as long as what you want isn’t what most people want” interface. Then again, I’m a linux sysadmin who swears by VIM…

    • DroidDoesnt_2

      Translation: I’m a geek…

  • Google should cripple their apps for iOS, and not update them frequently. Give them enough to get hooked, then watch them come over from the dark side. Then, take the extra resources and plunge them into faster/more development for the android apps.

    • DroidDoesnt_2

      Seeing that they make more $$$ from iOS than Android, they’d be crippling themselves…

  • rob

    Like the title says folks, its his opinion. This article is probably just intended to start a flame war so the author can get page views. You don’t have to agree with his opinion, and I am sure the vast majority won’t . But its still pretty funny how a lot of people say that ios has a simpler cleaner better design. When its actually just bare, forcing you to dig through 15 levels of interface to do one simple thing which Android lots you do with one click

    • I don’t want to start a flame war and I don’t really care about page views.

  • ToddLower

    I have a Galaxy Nexus and an iPad mini. I agree that the Google apps mentioned above are very nice on iOS, but because Apple doesn’t allow you to use these apps as your defaults I tend to still prefer the Android os.

  • BrianT

    Apple has more restrictions in the design of apps for their platform. Google programmers have come up with elegant ways with which to adhere to these restrictions. Necessity breeds innovation. However in my experience, most iPhone users don’t even know about all the functionality that exists within some apps such as Maps because everything is hidden away. The Android platform is a more robust GUI, less like a toy which is essentially what Apple has become as they are slowly abandoned their professional line of products (Final Cut Pro, MacBookPro non-glossy screens. As Android is evolving so much faster due to the less restrictive open source approach, the mod community will develop even more elegant solutions to the GUI that will make Android more “fun” to use. Apple’s GUI is already feeling dated to me, I was an iPhone 2G owner for two years. I could never go back to that system that my three year old has already mastered.

    • carlisimo

      There wasn’t an iPhone2G.

      • BrianT

        Yes there was… simple Google search will show that was what is known as.

  • David Arensdorff

    So my idea as to why Google’s apps on iOS are “cleaner” in terms of UI, is because Apple doesn’t necessarily have the screen real estate to have all options displayed like most Android phones do. I think Google has taken that into consideration, and has provided a “minimalistic” design. As far as the actual app functionality (pull down to refresh, etc) I would definitely love to see that implemented into my GMail app on Android!

    Maybe they’re just using iOS users as guinea pigs, before they roll the feature out to Android…yea that’s it! hahaha

    • JMonkeYJ

      i think you’re right. and on tablets, i really like the extra information and the bubbles and everything like that on the Android apps. but on the phone, even larger phones, i think i would prefer the uncluttered look of the iPhone apps. i know maps on iOS feels really nice to use and i tested it and it’s faster on the iPhone 5 than the Nexus 4. this is mostly personal preference, but it just seems weird that they use different UIs on the 2 OSes. seems like it would require extra work for Google.

    • The pull to refresh is a built in function on iOS. It’s integrated in the os not just the gmail app. That been a feature since iOS 4

  • Droidzilla

    I prefer the Android aesthetic to the iOS aesthetic. You obviously prefer the opposite, so when you see Google apps with an iOS aesthetic you say they’re “better” because they’re “cleaner.” In reality, all it is is Google keeping consistency with Apple’s UI theme. I don’t like Apple’s UI theme, so I don’t think the iOS versions of Google apps are “better.”

    Subjective analysis is, by nature, subjective. Use of the term “better” is like me saying hamburgers are better than club sandwiches. Better for what, and according to whom? In the case of Google apps, your article merely shows that you find them better looking in your opinion. That’s not news.

  • Basically Google has Apple in a head-lock in terms of apps. I know friends who have moved all of the apps provided by Apple (Safari, Mail, Maps, etc) into a folder that is then hidden on the last page. Simply put customers like the way Google does apps and the way they ACTUALLY WORK (I’m looking at you Apple Maps)! This might be why Apple has steered clear of directly suing Google and their Android platform because they know that if Google got mad and just pulled the plug on their apps in the App Store, Apple would be royally screwed and customers would be mad!

    • DrewNusser

      True, but only their reasonable customers would be mad. The other 90% would be coming up with BS reasons of why the iPhone is now better and it’s a huge win for Apple (just like they did with iMaps before it turned out to be a huge failure).

      • They’d say but we have Panorama and Noise Canceling and 1 more row of buttons…win!


    • Boring answer: Apple didn’t sue Google directly because Android doesn’t generate any direct revenue — it’s all ads. You can’t claim damages when you can’t quantify the unjust profits. It’s the same reason Microsoft runs around asking Android OEMs for patent royalties, but never Google itself.

      As for pulling the apps… Google doesn’t dare do that. It was already told by the FTC to stop threatening injunctions over standards-based patents (inherited from the Motorola acquisition) and is being watched closely for anti-competitive practices. Imagine if Google deliberately pulled iOS apps to create an Android monopoly — the antitrust lawsuits would be flying almost immediately, and they’d probably stick.

    • I do that on my wife’s iPhone all Apple apps except for iTunes and iBooks are on the last page and it would just be iTunes on the first page but people dont give Play gift cards so Play Books doesn’t get much love.

    • DroidDoesnt_2

      Dude you could NOT be more wrong….Google has Apple in a head lock? Puhleeease….if anything, it’s the other way around. By showing a willingness to kick Google apps off iOS devices, Apple forced them to include features (ex. voice-enabled navigation) that they previously refused to. If you look at the way Google caters to Apple it’s clear who has the upper hand here. Apple didn’t sell millions of iPhones because of Google apps….please get over yourself

      • John Kiser

        You are aware that apple made the last Google Maps app on the Iphone correct? As part of the API they had access to they did not have access to voice navigation. They didn’t want google making the apps early on so when apple kicked them off to the side it allowed google to go in and actually make apps themselves and release them. So they have the functionality in there now that they had wanted to put back in ages ago but were not allowed to because apple wanted control.

        • ^^ this … Thank you .. Ppl dont read up and just claim stuff..

  • EvanTheGamer


  • Should note, that Chrome on iOS is very different than the Android Implementation. The iOS version is a web wrapper with syncing added while the Android version is a mobile specific Chrome.

    • Dan

      Actually that syncing in Chrome is basically the only reason I use my iPad at all.

  • Abhijeet Mishra

    Good points here. I bought an iPad 4 this December and have been very impressed by how good apps can look, though well done Holo apps are equally good on Android. but yeah, the Google apps also look much better on iOS. as for pull to refresh, that is something I’ve seen many apps use on iOS, so it’s probably in the design guidelines, while I once heard that Google doesn’t like pull to refresh in Android’s app guidelines, so it could be they’re following guidelines on each OS, haha.
    But like others say, in the end, utility is what matters and in that the Android counterparts do a good job, but yeah, they could use a design overhaul, similar to the YouTube or Google+ app (the latter is inconsistent on Android in that it doesn’t allow swiping to show side menu, which the YouTube app allows, so maybe Google’s app design teams need to get together some more).
    Also, all things considered, I’d hate to have iOS on my phone. there are just so many limitations and hoops to get around (like a 10 minute limitation on apps like IRC clients for running in background), it seems like Apple focuses on the extremely stupid users. those limitations are no doubt the reasons that make iOS “just work”, since there’s not much going on anyway. Smooth and responsive OS, but really for those who don’t demand much from their smartphone (which I’m guessing are most users).

    • That’s a mostly fair statement, although it’s very condescending to say that Apple focuses on “extremely stupid” users. No, it focuses on people who are either new to smartphones or just want something as straightforward as possible. I know some very intelligent people who use iOS; a phone is not an IQ test, it just reflects your philosophy and preferences.

      • Abhijeet Mishra

        Yes, sorry for the wrong choice of words, not an OS for stupid users but just those who’d like things to be simple. I don’t exactly blame Apple for not thinking of the geeks and power users, since their target market is clearly different, but it surely irritates me when a lot of simple things seem missing which would make things more user-friendly (like there is no stop button once a download is started, only way to stop is to long press on the downloading app on homescreen and delete it, which is quite a long way and not very user-friendly).
        But again, I apologize for those words. Know a few intelligent people using iOS myself, people more intelligent than me, haha.

    • I feel like Google is catering to their demographic on the Android Play Store (people that are competent with using computers and computer systems) but at the same time they are tying to cater to Apple’s demographic (on the App Store) of people who are slightly less competent with using computer systems. While this may be working as of right now, eventually people will want something in the middle (apps that don’t require a degree in software engineering to operate but yet still offer the same level of customization and functionality).

      • Abhijeet Mishra

        I don’t think Android users are those familiar with computers. Majority of all smartphone users, no matter what OS, could care less about what their device can do (most don’t even care about multitasking it seems). But Apple clearly focuses only on these users, while Google caters to all kinds of users and lets the more savvy users get what they need while still trying to make things simple for most (trying but not necessarily succeeding always).
        After using Symbian for many years, which was an extremely functional OS with great multitasking, I was just glad that Android existed when I was shopping for a new OS as it was the nearest to Symbian at that point. Now to see what the upcoming OS can do, without the Java overhead, hehe.

  • Steve Schneider

    Kind of makes me wonder if fragmentation has anything to do with this.

  • The other day, I used Google Maps on my friend’s iPhone and I was actually jealous on how much nicer it looked and easier it was for me to use than the native Android version. I also use the Gmail App on the iPad and think it’s so much easier to use than the Android App. I’m really disappointed that Google seems to be giving more polish to their IOS apps than their Android apps.

  • Concerned Reader

    I was hoping Ron was gone from this site. He always posts the absolute worst articles.

    • usmitcboy

      Actually, I get excited when I see him post. I know it’s going to be a mirror of things I’ve already thought about and things that will improve Android as a whole. Google should be reading his posts.

  • Tim242

    I prefer options to not be hidden. Chrome on iOS is actually just a skin over safari. I do not need my Gmail to tell me to have a nice day.

  • craig1989

    This is kind of how I’ve interpreted it. Google makes some money through Android but its primarily through ads. So they started of in a position where there werent good iOS app alternatives. Didnt make sense to have navigation and such on iOS because they were still getting ad revenue and wanted to drive sales to Android.

    Recently, there have been some iOS alternatives that were released that were (arguably) better. Because of that google now felt they were in a position where they had to release a superior product to get people to start using the apps again and drive ad revenue.

    I think the Android app will get caught up (if you think its behind), but its going to be slower cause there isnt any inspace competition

    • John Kiser

      The overall problem was apple wanted to design the google maps app for iOS early on and used the API which didn’t include said services (without paying google i believe) so they were not included…. When apple scratched it and made their own app it gave google a chance to make a google made maps app how they wanted it done.

  • Google is not one large mass of programmers, like people seem to assume. Like very software company, they have small teams. Therefore, the Google code Android (the guys that work on the OS) are a separate team from their mobile app team. And in the mobile app team, they have separate Android teams and iOS teams. They do not work together, and I cannot emphasize that enough. Yes, they may share design principles/guidelines, but these come from a third and separate UI/UX team, and are implemented differently by every team that uses those guidelines.

    The differences in the apps (be they better or worse) are a result of the different experiences of the Android and iOS teams, and are not a Google mandate. The singular entity “Google” does not have opinions about this, and the decisions are made way further down the chain from Larry Page and Eric Shmidt.

  • Michael

    Am I the only one that loves those icons?

    • luiggi


      • They’re the same on Android, just without the rectangle borders.

        • luiggi

          I know , but what I don’t is why they look super awesome with rectangles borders, also sharps

    • EvanTheGamer


  • brkshr

    I prefer utility over appearance! I don’t think they want to give iOS users too many options because an iphone is a smartphone for an idiot.

    • EvanTheGamer

      Couldn’t agree more. Users that own an iPhone are either not tech savvy at all and loves simple things, or they hate customization. You can’t do sh*t with an iPhone that you can do with an Android devices. One of the many reasons why I’ll NEVER purchase an iSheep device. And I hate that most of my friends have iPhones. A shame.

      • Thinking that was is not really best for the mobile landscape. I have a GNex that I rooted and played with and it was great. Until the battery died by lunch. I got the iPhone 5. Battery lasts all day guaranteed under heavy use. Now I wish I could change things like the keyboard and have widgets, but after all, it is just a phone. As long as I keep my expectations low, I am cool with the device.

        Dont bash people who like iOS. So what if they dont like the flexibility of Android (that I miss so much). Let them.

        It is not a device for idiots. It is simply a different device. If someone prefers geometry to algebra, who cares? It’s still just math.

      • Abhijeet Mishra

        However, I know quite a few tech savvy people who prefer iPhone, so I think these are mostly users who don’t consider their phone as a device that should be full of features and geek-friendly and don’t look to get much out of their smartphones.

        • DrewNusser

          But do they prefer the iPhone to today’s Androids, or do they prefer the iPhone to 2010’s Androids? In most of my experiences, it’s been the latter, and they just haven’t used the newer Android devices because the last one they tried wasn’t great.

          • Abhijeet Mishra

            Yes, it’s mostly that but I’ve seen a few not like it even now, since Android feels like a mess to some and inconsistent. Then there are those who are willing to forego everything and get an iPhone for the battery life, for which I can’t blame them since my GNex never goes more than a day ๐Ÿ˜›

            However, I do feel these guys need to try stock Android, Sense and TouchWiz also seem to turn some away.

          • DrewNusser

            Oh yeah – stock is the way to go. I wish they would do some sort of a Nexus Maxx though. That would put Android’s lead out of reach in the smartphone world.

          • Abhijeet Mishra

            Nexus Maxx is A. Brilliant. Idea. Haha. And hopefully with much better camera quality, those two would be enough.

      • My personal phone is a GNex, my work phone is an iPhone 5. I love them both, each has its strengths and weaknesses. That said, if I had to chose only one, like most people, it would be my GNex or any equal or better Android phone. My iPhone feels locked down, while my Android feels like it’s MINE. I don’t think that all iPhone users are sheep.

      • Apparently you never owned a iPhone before. I jailbroken iPhone can be customize way more than I android phone. I own both the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S3 I still prefer to use my iPhone over the S3. I don’t understand why android people gets so mad when someone else choose a device for their need. I have friend with both iOS & android and I don’t bash either one of them because of the phone they chosen.. I’m asking I’m not a Fandroid or a isheep. Without apple iPhone there will be no ANDROID

        • “Without apple iPhone there will be no ANDROID”

          And with that sentence you invalidated your whole comment. I think it has been fairly proven that they both came about at the same time. For you to state that as fact is moronic at best. Now I would like to say that both Android and iOS would still be thoughts in the heads of those who developed them if it wast for Windows Mobile, Palm and even Symbian.

        • Tim242

          Jailbroken iphones are usually sluggish and apps crash a lot more. It makes the system very unstable. A rooted and unlocked Android phone doesn’t affect system performance. So, you think you can customize a jailbroken iPhone more than an unlocked Android phone, eh? Please enlighten me. What custom ROM can you put on an iPhone?

          • Papibone

            I never had any problem or sluggish on my iPhone after being JB. So that’s a false statement. And that’s the beauty of the iPhone & iOS I don’t need to put a custom rom on the phone just to make it work like it should work in the first place..

          • Tim242

            I didn’t NEED to put a custom ROM on my Note II…I WANTED to. It didn’t make it work any different, just added more customization. Your statement is completely false. Typical of an iSheep.

      • ERIC REED

        I would bet I am as tech savvy as you. I use an iPhone daily, it’s just preference. In my bag is my Galaxy Nexus. Sometimes it gets broke out to mess around with and check out new Roms and the latest operating systems. But iMessage and and Photostream with the family is what keeps me using my iPhone. I don’t hate customization, but my phone isn’t a coloring book, it’s just suits my needs.

      • Zacharypt

        You do realize that before our beloved Android iOS developed a community of people who created the same bland dichotomy with other IS’s. “All BlackBerry users want is email.” I know a ton of iPhone users who through jailbreak have achieved more complex customizations on their phone then many people who root

        • Dain Laguna

          And what would those be? 90% of the folks i know who JB their iphones do it to get apps for free, or to change the animation when scrolling.

  • defyinside

    So true

  • Bob

    I disagree with the conclusion that a simpler/cleaner interface is better. I would rather have my settings and options up front instead of hidden. After spending months with an iPad, I wanted to throw it out the window multiple times. I became frustrated that changing settings and attempting to customize anything was a huge undertaking. Yes, android has a steeper learning curve, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A bike is simpler than a car, but I don’t want pedal across the country. Arguing form vs function is somewhat pointless, so you shouldn’t make a conclusion based on it. You should argue them separately.

    • I prefer form over function in this case, but that’s just my opinion. I’m not saying one way is absolutely right or the best, but I’ve found that I prefer to have that sort of stuff hidden away in a general button or with gestures.

      • Droidzilla

        You straight up claim that Google makes better designed apps for iOS. “While I understand why Google would want to make good apps for iOS, I donโ€™t understand why they would make better designed apps for iOS.”

        That’s a complete matter of opinion stated as a fact.

        • It’s an opinion stated in an article explicitly labeled as an opinion piece. Obviously there will be facts involved in an opinion piece, but judgments like that are clearly presented as my opinion.

          • Droidzilla

            Just because the article is labeled as an opinion doesn’t mean that everything you state is automatically an opinion, too. I don’t think it’s your opinion that Apple has Google apps; that’s a fact you use to extrapolate your opinion. The was you phrase what I quoted, you’re saying straight up that the Google apps are better designed on iOS than on Android. It ought to have read that you prefer the iOS design aesthetic to the Android one.

          • You’re entitled to that opinion.

          • angermeans

            The entire post is an opinion. He doesn’t state anything as fact. I’m almost willing to bet that 90% of this community hasn’t tried the ios versions of googles apps yet they are more than willing to shout their opinions as fact.

          • Dain Laguna

            So basically no matter what he posts, and regardless of any disclaimer he puts, you’re gonna nitpick because you dont agree with him? Like someone else said, folks as resolved as you shouldnt read opinion pieces.

          • ^^^this …

            for eg i feel its better to have a button for most things .. gets work done quicker …just as @90ac1a96b8837d3d36978fc3d2c5f2d5:disqus @New_Guy:disqus mentioned above

          • michael arazan


        • “Google Apps on iOS and Android [Opinion]”

          Feel free to disagree but don’t attack the author…You knew what you were reading.

          • Tim242

            The author posted a useless article about something he complains about on every podcast. If he prefers iOS, he is more than welcome to enjoy it.

          • angermeans

            That’s about as close minded of a comment as I’ve ever seen. Does every android fan have to despise apple and iOS? I just don’t see why the android community has such a hard to time to admit that android is far from perfect and a lot of what apple does is great. Its obvious that even google sees this and this is the answer as to why they put so much time and effort into their apps for iOS.

          • Tim242

            Google’s apps are dumbed down on iOS due to its design standards and that’s what its users are used to. My comment is not closed-minded. His opinion is just that, an opinion. There is no reason to beat a dead horse. Android may not be perfect, but it’s clear that the majority of us prefer our apps to not be dumbed down.

          • uhuh

            “dumbed down”? Who’s stating opinion as fact now?

          • michael arazan

            He’s just saying it looks like Google has put more time, energy and thought into the iOS app than the Android app, and is befuddled to why the Android version “looks” less evolved. It just looks like Google is catering to them over Android.

            I get it, as an Android fan If I found what I thought to be a better formed app on another platform like windows or iOS that looks and acts top notch to my native app I’d be curious to why I don’t have the option for the same utilities/ form/ function too.

      • ERIC REED

        I use an iPhone daily and still keep a Galaxy Nexus in my bag. And I agree that google apps on IOS are stunning!!

        • EvanTheGamer


          • ERIC REED


        • Tim242

          Stunning iOS apps = dumbed down apps.

          • ERIC REED

            Clean with an all around better apperence. Sounds good to me, I’ll take it.

          • Tim242

            Your idea of clean and better appearance is not intuitive. Having to dig for options is not ideal. “Clean” is not clean when it is a plain app that is not user friendly

          • ERIC REED

            I like the Gmail and Google maps apps better on my iPhone. It’s just my opinion, you can relax now!!

    • New_Guy

      I TOTALLY agree. When I am using my navigation in my car, I sure as hell don’t want to be searching everywhere to figure out how to re-route myself. With Android it’s right there in your face and easy to see. Fuctionality is what drew me to Android in the first place and what keeps me still. But, I could also argue that form is what drew iOS adopters to that side, so I can see why Google would design the iOS version of the app that way. This really is a non-issue, I totally agree…

    • I agree 100%. Particularly, I don’t agree that less icons/buttons means better — it’s only true when the UI with more icons/buttons are unfortunately ugly. The Android Google apps are FAR FROM being ugly. I, for one, can’t imagine how would I live with that iOS GMail app when I have to use it every day (hell, make it every hour.)

    • Agree except that in my opinion iOS has more of a learning curve ..

  • I could not agree more with this article.

  • SR

    After being on the Android side since the OG Droid, I recently switched over to the iphone. It took me a few hours to download and set up all of my google apps. The following morning I realized I bought an iphone and had to manually set up everything that comes with Android by default. I sold it on swappa the following day. Personally, I despised the ios market because of the multitude of ‘gmail’ apps, ‘gmaps’ apps, etc. I’m not bashing. The hardware was very elegant. VERY small but elegant.

    • Apple knows how to make Hardware for sure. But like you after always setting up my wife’s new iPhone I remembered why I love Android.

  • karl

    Personally, the way you described it, I think I’d hate the IOS versions by comparison. I greatly prefer utility over ‘beauty.’ I use the layers button on maps all the time, and the measurements come in handy from time to time too. If I had to go to google earth to get traffic, the maps app would be practically useless.

    • Traffic is built into the Maps app. On the side panel you can turn it on and off. There is a link to Google Earth in the same panel.

  • ddevito

    Great article.

    I think Google certainly has more Android engineers, however, I think they have more (and better) iOS developers for their apps. This isn’t anything new. Disappointing, yes – but not surprising.

    Remember – there were public Google Apps on iOS before Android was released.

    • Steve

      LOL. More and BETTER ios developers?

      Android is #1 OS. Google Apps are KING on Android.

      + Google Apps kill Apple’s own (cr)apps.

      Was this article supposed to say “if you LOVE Google, choose ios?” NO. Thank you.

      Android power + Google Apps + customization + choice + 100% freedom is an unbeatable combo by stale uninspiring ios from 2007 with Google Apps.

      • EvanTheGamer


      • What?

      • Inquizitor

        You represent everything that is wrong with our Android community. Comments like these do nothing but justify the snobbishness douches of John Gruber and Marco Arment.

      • Steve you’re smoke that good crack huh?? I have both and Nexus 4 & a iPhone 5, and i don’t why you are raging so hard. both are great but seriously man YOU represent everything that is wrong with the Android community!!! YOU MAD BRO

      • New_Guy

        It’s no doubt that Android is king as far as sales are conscerned, which is “customer” support on a grand scale. But as far as “developer” support is concerned, Apple is still unrivaled. As much as it pains me to say this, developers are only starting to look to Android as equal with iOS. Case in point, us tablet users do not have nearly as many tablet optimized apps as iPad users do. Thankfully, we are seeing more and more being released or converted everyday thanks to the popularity of the Nexus 7 and 10, but this phenomenon is fairly new
        Developer will be there before long, but it’s not quite there yet….

      • ddevito

        Take Sparrow for example – that essentially became the iOS GMail app. Let’s face it – that app wipes the floor with the Android version.

        It’s not a knock against Google. I love Android and I love a rich feature-set of appls over aesthetics any day of the week. But Google wants Apple’s approval – and for Apple they can’t lose (or win if you think about it). The apps are too good NOT to approve.

      • angermeans

        I have to say I very much Agree with Inquizitor. Have you used iOS or googles iOS apps for more than a couple minutes? Although I’m willing to bet you say you have, but I’d bet based on your very closed minded comment that you never have. How are googles apps king to iOS? I would really like to know as I’ve spent the almost 3 years loving android and wishing every day we had an Eco system and the quality apps that iOS has. Anyone with half a mind would say the same thing. They are completely different not to mention apple has implemented a much larger array of great tools including APIs that google hasn’t. There is a reason that the App Store is thriving as much as it is whether you want to admit it or not.

  • KleenDroid