Categories
Analysis

Showdown: Do Google Apps really work better on Android than iPhones?

Whether you like Android or not, you’d definitely agree that Google makes amazing web services – many of which translate into very good mobile apps. Lately, Google has started showing too much love for the iOS platform, so much that it made me think if those iOS apps are actually better than Android apps.

So let’s find out. We’ll compare iPhone and Android versions of Chrome, Gmail, YouTube and more below.

Chrome

Chrome

Chrome for Android is actually pretty awesome. But there is one thing which makes it almost unusable, that is performance. I use a Galaxy Nexus which is a previous generation Google device and Chrome sucks on it. Don’t get me wrong, Chrome’s omnibar, tab management, and sync features are awesome.

The app lags and stutters while you scroll, close tabs, heck, even loading a new tab page takes some time.

ADVERTISEMENT

On iPhone, the situation is a lot better, you will almost never see the app ‘lagging’. Sure, it will load the pages a bit slower because of using UIWebView, but that’s hardly noticeable. It has almost every single feature of Chrome for Android.

Winner: iOS app.

Gmail

Gmail

The recent updates to Gmail on iPhone feature a much better interface than the Android version. It looks modern and is much easier to use. For example, you have access to all your labels in the sidebar, there’s pull to refresh and lot more. Gmail on Android looks way too dull, on the other hand.

There’s also a cool feature which lets you scribble and attach the scribbling as a picture, most of the people (including me) will find it useless, but it does work.

ADVERTISEMENT

On the other hand, the power of Gmail on Android lies in its notifications. First, they’re expandable, so you can get a preview of email right inside the notification shade. Secondly, you can set notifications for specific labels, with different settings for each of them. You can also archive or reply to the mail from the notification itself. All this is possible through the notification system on Android.

ADVERTISEMENT

Also, attachments are a bliss on Android. Gmail for iOS doesn’t do anything apart from ‘previewing’ attachments.

Ultimately, I guess notifications are much more important than pretty UI, so Android has an upper hand here. More over, there’s a rumor that Gmail on Android is going to get an overhaul with Android 4.3.

Winner: Android app.

Google+

Google Plus

Both the Android and iPhone apps are very similar. Both the apps are well designed, but unless you’re obsessed about design like me, you won’t find much difference between both.

Few UI elements like pull to refresh and sliding notifications shade are really detailed in the iPhone app. But on a whole, it’s a tie.

ADVERTISEMENT

Winner: It’s a tie.

Google Maps

Google Maps

It’s one of those apps Google shipped in urgency during the Apple Maps debacle. They continued the minimal UI philosophy they followed for Gmail and tried to bring the full Android Maps experience to iPhone.

Now, here’s the thing, though Google Maps on iPhone is better than the Android version in terms of UI, it falls apart in features. It completely misses offline maps. Maps on Android let you save specific part of a location or area for offline usage.

ADVERTISEMENT

Google Maps on Android is also considerably more robust in Navigation, with automatic rerouting, showing alternative routes, more layers etc.

It’s pretty close, but Google Maps on Android does have an advantage over the iPhone app.

Winner: Android app.

YouTube and Google Drive

Google Drive

Both of these apps work well on iOS as well as Android. The Youtube app on iOS has a considerable advantage of saving the video buffer even when you minimize the app.

YouTube

On Android, if you minimize Youtube while playing a video, all the buffer is lost. This can be really irritating especially on cellular networks.

But in short, both of the apps are pretty close.

Winner: It’s a tie.

Google Now

One of the most impressive features of Jellybean has been released for iOS recently. You’d expect Google Now to be better on Android as it’s a system app – and that’s true.

Google Now

Though Google Now on iOS is fast and fluid, it doesn’t send push notifications – which beats the purpose of the app. Also, there’s no ‘quick access’. If you’re on a Nexus device, you can swipe up from home button to quickly launch Google Now. May be that’s too much to expect from an iOS app, but I really love that feature on Android.

Winner: Android app.

Conclusion

It’s clear that Google’s Android apps still are superior to their iOS apps, but – there’s never been a better time for a Google apps user to switch to iOS.

Personally, I can pick up an iPhone today and replace my Galaxy Nexus completely. Also, I’m sure there are many people like me. What about you? We’d like to hear it in the comments.

Categories
Analysis

Showdown: Instapaper Vs. Readability

Ever came across a long article and wish you could read it in a ad-free, customizable place? Instapaper and Readability do just that, and that’s what today’s showdown is about.

Instapaper-readability

Interface

Winner: Readability

ADVERTISEMENT

Interface plays a big role, after all, these two apps are intended to make an article clutter free and put it on a neat interface for comfortable reading.

Readability has a really clean interface allowing you to customize the background color, spacing between the letters and font size. If you use Kindle to read articles, then you can also use the ‘Send to Kindle’ feature. One thing you may miss when you navigate from the article page, is the sharing buttons, but with Readability you can even share the article on Facebook and Twitter.

Compared to Readability, Instapaper doesn’t offer much customization.

3rd Party Apps and Integration

ADVERTISEMENT

Winner: Instapaper

There are tons of apps which use Instapaper’s API, notable are Readnow for Mac, Instafetch for Android and many more. Instapaper is integrated into more than 50 popular iOS apps including Feed Readers, Twitter clients, for example if you use Hootsuite on your iPhone, you can send the links which you come across in your timeline directly to Instapaper.

Readability has released API very lately, apps using it are The Telepaper, Readit for Android and a few more. It’s integrated into very few apps.

Available Platforms

Winner: Instapaper

ADVERTISEMENT

Instapaper is available on iOS, web, also available as a bookmarklet. On the other hand, Readability doesn’t just have a dedicated iOS app, which is a total let down, although there are addons and bookmarklets.

Other

Winner: Instapaper

If you ever want to quit Instapaper, you can download the list of articles you saved for reading later, along with you, similar to Google Takeout. You can also organize the saved articles using folders, which isn’t available in Readability.

Final Note

Instapaper and Readabilty are great apps for no-nonsense reading, but the 3rd party apps supporting Instapaper makes it better, but that’s more of my personal opinion. Trying both the services is the best way to know the right one for you.

Tell us which one you use, Instapaper or Readability?

Link: Instapaper | Readability

Categories
Analysis

Showdown: Echofon Vs. TweetDeck For Windows

In case you missed it, last week we compared Google+ and Facebook comprehensively and voted Google+ as a better social network. This week we’re looking into the best Twitter client for Windows, comparing Tweetdeck and Echofon, which has just released for Windows, but is very familiar for iPhone users.

Note: Echofon isn’t a Social media dashboard, TweetDeck is, but here, we’re not comparing TweetDeck’s features like Facebook, LinkedIn integration, we’re comparing it with Echofon as a Twitter client, hope you get it.

echofon-vs-tweetdeck-showdown

Design

Winner: Echofon

ADVERTISEMENT

I often find TweetDeck to be complex, a Twitter client needs to be simple, for example, Microsoft Excel on the first looks messed up because it’s used for productivity and there’s a lot to do in it, but TweetDeck is totally different, it’s a Twitter client. I don’t really like the black on yellow layout, though you can change the color from the settings, I don’t find it appealing  than Echofon. The single column view (on top right) solves this problem to some extent, but not completely.

Echofon’s interface is simple and neat. There’s one column view by default and it makes good use of Windows 7’s Aero.

Composing Tweets

ADVERTISEMENT

Winner: TweetDeck

Whether you want to schedule your tweets, translate them, or even shrink them(not with Deck.ly, which is now no more), TweetDeck is your best bet. If you’re a Foursquare user, you can check into Foursquare directly from TweetDeck. It also shortens URLs supporting almost all the popular URL shorteners, so you can track the number of clicks they get. You can also choose the service to which you want to upload images.

Echofon offers just the basic features like adding location, images (you’re forced to use Lockerz for images) and uses Twitter’s t.co for URL shortening.

Functionality

Winner: TweetDeck

ADVERTISEMENT

Apart from the fact that TweetDeck is built on Adobe Air (which is the reason why it’s a resource hog), one main reason why people prefer TweetDeck to others is, it’s feature rich, for example, TweetDeck notifications keeps you track of new tweets, @mentions so you don’t need to keep checking it every minute. It supports the keyboard shortcuts like J, K to read Tweets one by one, which work on the Twitter website. TweetDeck now being a part of Twitter makes me think will integrate features like ‘Activity’ tab into TweetDeck.

Echofon is not at all feature rich, the only advantage you get on Echofon, which you don’t get on TweetDeck is image previews, images automatically load in the tweets. Another good feature is syncing, it perfectly syncs with Echofon on your iPhone, so you can start reading tweets right from the place you left.

Customization

Winner: TweetDeck

Sadly, both of these Twitter clients doesn’t support plugins like Seesmic (which is built on Silverlight).

ADVERTISEMENT

In TweetDeck, you can add, remove columns, and filter tweets by keyword, which is pretty effective. You can also see what’s popular in your timeline and hide seen updates. Apart from all these, the settings window gives you tons of options for customization.

You can’t just customize anything on Echofon.

Final Note

TweetDeck’s features clearly beat Echofon, but it still lacks simplicity. Finally, TweetDeck is the winner for this week’s showdown.

TweetDeck is for complete Twitter addicts while Echofon is perfect for minimalists, it is worth a try, though. Also, don’t forget that Echofon is still in beta, so the final version may bring some new features.

What do you prefer? TweetDeck or Echofon?

Categories
Analysis

Showdown: Google+ Vs. Facebook

Many prefer Facebook to Google+, but in my opinion Google+ is built on better technology and certainlyhas the potential to ditch Facebook. I decided to go ahead and write about a showdown on certain points between Facebook and Google+.

 

Design

ADVERTISEMENT

Winner: Google+

Google is taking Google+ so seriously that it redesigned all of its services, including the recent Google Reader, to make the interface uniform and adaptable. Apart from this the Google Navigation bar also adds up to the seamless integration of Google+ with other Google services. Google+ makes great use of images’ EXIF information, while still uses the theatre-like effect for photos used by Facebook. It also has a nice way to manage Circles, and auto-updates shared links’ cache, which shows how much care the Googlers took, while designing Google+.

Apart from all these, I like the ‘following-followers’ method than the old ‘friending’ method.

On the other hand, I like the Facebook design too, especially because I don’t like too much white space as Google+ shows. But the crowding about in the design of Facebook is a turn-off for a few.

ADVERTISEMENT

Another issue is Facebook has issues when they redesign, like their latest Timelines profile feature are not available even after a month and half after its announcement.

Privacy

Winner: Google+

Facebook is notoriously known for selling its users’ information to organizations, although there’s no proof to prove that. They have never even considered user feedback. For example people have asked for an option to review tags for a long long time before it was eventually released. People can add their Friends to any groups they want and it is irritating but the people at Facebook have never really cared about this.

New features like Facebook Timeline and Facebook Ticker will encourage stalkers. Nik Cubrilovic, an Australian developer recently made a interesting argument, that Facebook tracks its users even after they logout, which came out to be true.

ADVERTISEMENT

In Google+, HTTPS is enabled by default, Circles can be edited and managed in a better way than Facebook lists which is overlooked by many Facebook users.

Interaction

Winner: Facebook

We can’t deny that Facebook was the one who brought relationships to the web, and it still continues to. Although features like Facebook Ticker is a privacy intrusion for some users, for many of them it’s a better way to interact with their friends. Apps like Spotify, WAPO’s Social Reader are more social, than they previously are.

One of the keen features Google+ is missing is brand pages, for many companies, small and big, Facebook is the best way to interact with customers, such is the popularity of Facebook Pages. Facebook Questions and Groups, on the other hand, can be used to crowd source opinions easily.

ADVERTISEMENT

Best thing ever in Facebook? Members. Yes, people matters, Google+ is not dead but it’s not as active as Facebook is. In fact, at one stage, I dumped Facebook for Google+, but then I reactivated Facebook, seriously because there wasn’t much talk in Google+.

Google+ might have 40 million users registered, while Facebook has 800 million active users. So Facebook is king when interaction is concerned.

Chat

Winner: Google+

For me, the best feature ever in Google+ is Hangouts. It’s seriously awesome and I guess, if Google turns it into a standalone app then it would top all the app stores out there.

ADVERTISEMENT

The new ‘Hangouts with extras’ in Google+ not only lets you group video chat and voice chat, but you can also do screen sharing, work on same document with your colleague (with Google Docs integration), scribble on sketch pad, and much more.

In Facebook, all you can do is – one to one video chat, nothing more than that. Also it chat feature seems buggy and inconsistent.

Final Note

So, as you can see, Google+ is the winner for this week’s showdown.

For many of them, Google+ is too professional, and I agree with that to some extent. They need to push features like Facebook Questions etc. which will make social networking interactive, because I don’t want Google+ to be another LinkedIn. Sure, there’s not much buzz in Google+, but it will certainly take time to create some, in my opinion. Make sure you read this awesome article by Robert Scoble on where Google+ is heading.

On the other hand, Facebook needs better technology, one main reason why Facebook is still ruling the social networking world is, people are resistant to change. But change is inevitable and it will depend on Facebook whether they change or people might change their choice for a social network.