August 30, 2010
Unless you've been living on Mars in recent months, you know that Google and Apple's relationship has gotten worse. But that hasn't stopped the Mountain View, California-based Google from making inroads on the iPhone. Most of the friction between the two companies started when Google released its Android platform in late 2007. Since then, each side has taken shots at the other using different methods. Things weren't always bad between the two companies. When the iPhone debuted in 2007, one of the few apps available on it was Google's own YouTube app, which remains on the iPhone today. Google also released a Google Search app. Plus, the iPhone's default search engine was Google's. In 2009, Google's Voice app was denied approval by Apple. This led to an FCC investigation, which is ongoing. Google contends that Apple's app approval process is anticompetitive. Next, Apple included both Yahoo! and Bing as search engine alternatives to Google's in iOS 4. No matter. Google has figured out how to get its products onto the iPhone without going through Apple's strict app approval process. They have done so by using the web expertise that made the company famous. First, they debuted a mobile web based YouTube service. Better than the never updated app of the same name, this service is HTML5 based and offers stunning videos right from your iPhone's Safari app. Next, Google used its vast resources to improve the way its finance program shows up on the iPhone. No app needed here: users simply visit the Google Finance web page in Safari. Compared to the iPhone's own Stocks app, Google Finance is vastly superior. Now comes word that Google is working on improving mobile Gmail. Again, it is doing so right through its mobile web presence. Gmail works very well within the iPhone's email app. However, it has its limitations. For one, searching for past emails is difficult. The email app needs to first connect to the Gmail service which is very slow, especially when using 3G. Since there is no native Gmail app, a new web-based solution is great news for this Gmail user. I have literally thousands of emails stored in Gmail and improved search capabilities alone would be reason enough for me to ditch the iPhone email app for a web app. Both Google and Apple are looking for smartphone dominance. After all, there are billions of dollars at stake. Google, for its part, is finding ways to get its products onto the iPhone without going through Apple's app approval process. Don't be surprised if other Google offerings come to the iPhone in the coming months through the use of web apps. In the end, consumers can have the best of both worlds. Apple provides the best smartphone experience through its iPhone. Google provides web-based apps that are free and provides alternatives to similar offerings available on the iPhone.