Let’s now look at some of the free applications for iOS and Android from Apple and Google.
Apple has some free applications on iOS which have no real equivalent on the Android platform currently. We will briefly look at them one by one.
Find my Friends & Find my iPhone
Find my Friends, like Find my iPhone, was an absolute killer app. Somewhat like the obsolete Google Latitude, Find my Friends allow you to see where your family and friends are currently. This works on demand and does not drain out the device battery like Google Latitude and you can keep both the “Find my…” apps installed and running with almost no impact on the battery life. Find my Friend also allows you to add temporary friends. This can be used to guide people to where you are without adding them to your permanent friend list. It also allows you to set notifications as and when a friend arrives or leaves a location. You can also add labels to your current location so people on your friends list can figure out where you are (Home/Office/Gym etc etc).
Unfortunately, this killer app was also killed when Apple released their own “maps”. Now, you would have to make guesses as to where your friends really are since the Apple maps would not tell you anything! I have a lame work-around for this issue, which, I will mention in another post later.
iBooks, the Apple eBook reader is indeed one of the best such applications around. Although Google has come up with their own Google Play app, the Apple iBooks is streets ahead in almost every respect. You can also find iOS user manuals in the iBooks store for free.
This freebie from Apple gives you access to consolidated education content from universities and professional institutions. A must have for almost everyone!
As the application name suggests, this app gives you a consolidated view for all your audio and video podcasts. Again, one of the must have apps for almost all!
Apple Safari/Google Chrome
Although Safari is iOS only, Google’s Chrome browser is available for for both. Despite Apple’s restrictive (read anti-competitive) practices, Chrome is far superior to Apple’s Safari. Since Apple does not allow changing the default browser on iOS, you are stuck with Safari as the default. One has to wonder as to why Microsoft was forced to allow the IE and Media Player change some years ago and Apple happily continues to follow the same practice on iOS.
Apple Remote/Google TV Remote
The Apple remote app allows you to remote control iTunes and/or your Apple TV. The Google equivalent allows you to remote control the Google TV.
Although these applications are not free, Apple has it’s own “Office” suite of applications for the iDevices. I choose to mention it here since there might be people interested in this category of applications. Another reason for mentioning this here is that Google acquired the creators of the QuickOffice suite and there have been no updates for the suite since. I happen to be one of the extremely unhappy customers of QuickOffice…still waiting for the iPhone 5 update!
When Apple removed the YouTube app from the standard iOS distribution, Google created a separate app for the iOS platform. Android has the same kind of app from Google. Just like the Apple iTunes U and Podcast apps, this is one of the must have apps for both platforms.
Although the Android platforms have Google maps as a standard, Google created an iOS app (iPhone/iPod only, not meant for the iPad) when Apple chose to go with what they call their own maps. The Google Maps app can be a life-saver and is a must have for all. Although I am happy with the current iOS version, it does need some work like making bookmarking easier and more apparent.
This application from Google includes what used to be Google Docs. Not only does it allow you to use the storage you have on Google, it also allows editing/creating documents and spreadsheets. A good, free, alternate to paid “Office” apps. Google Drive, like most of Google apps, excepting Mail, allow only one account and therefore you cannot use this for a personal and an official Gmail account.
This has become a multi-facted app and one should have this installed. The voice recognition is far better than Siri. The functionality of this application is limited on the iOS, but, works with far better integration on most Android devices.
Although an integral part of Android, on iOS this app was just a formality. It’s UI/UX and functionality on iOS still leave a lot to be desired. The iOS mail app is far superior is almost every respect. Although Google bought out an iOS/OS X based company that created a really good email client called Sparrow, the results of the acquisition are yet to be seen.
This was Google’s attempt at trying to compete with FaceBook and they also tried to set their “rules” on it, somewhat like Apple. This failed miserably, but, the usage has picked up since Android came up. On iOS, if you are not careful, it will default to uploading your entire photo library, with no way of removing the photos from the app itself. Overall, like most of the Google apps, a lot remains desired in terms of UI/UX.
In the standard free apps department, iOS remains a clear winner…for now. In the next part, we will look at some 3rd party applications. Some would be available on both the platforms and some on just one.