Showing posts with label iOS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label iOS. Show all posts

Google Major Update in Maps Big Offline Google Maps Save

I don't know about you, but my Google Maps for Android has just enabled the new offline features. Even if you have the latest version of the app, you still need to wait until these features are enabled because they're gradually rolled out.

My first disappointment is that the new features are still limited. The biggest size for an offline area you can download is 120,000 square kilometers and there are many countries that are bigger than that. I downloaded London's map and checked the size of the map: 332 MB. It also expires in 29 days (maps need to be updated at least every 30 days).

It looks like Google's maps include too much information, they take up too much space and there's no way to download some simplified maps.

Let's try one of the smallest countries in Europe: Liechtenstein, which has an area of only 160 square kilometers. The offline map has 62 MB. New York? 409 MB. Los Angeles? 356 MB. Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Bangkok? Not available because of licensing issues.

Forget about downloading the map for an entire country. Google Maps still can't replace the Here app or paid navigation apps.

Chrome Updates from Google : Chrome Beta for iOS

In addition to the stable channel, there are 3 other Chrome channels you can use to check the latest features before they're released for everyone: beta, dev and canary. Canary builds are only for Windows and Mac, the dev channel is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS and Android, while the beta channel is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS, Android and now iOS.

That's right, you can try out Chrome Beta for iOS. You need to enter your email address and confirm you "understand that Google will share your information with Apple in order to participate in the TestFlight program". Google will send a confirmation email. "Once you have confirmed your e-mail address, you can expect to receive an invitation to join TestFlight within a few minutes."

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Install the TestFlight app on your iOS device, tap "redeem" and enter the code from the invitation. If you've already installed Chrome on your phone or tablet, TestFlight will ask you if "you want to replace the current app version with the test version".

Right now, you can upgrade from Chrome 46.0.2490.73 to Chrome 47.0.2526.53. The new version adds support for more Bluetooth keyboard shortcuts (open/close/change tabs and voice search) and adds 3D touch support on iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus (force touch the Chrome icon to open a new tab, a new incognito tab or start a voice search).

Google News Card for Android iOS and other Mobile Search

Here's a quick way to find the latest news stories when using a mobile device. Just search Google for [news] and you'll get a card that shows the top stories. Tap the arrow icons or swipe left/right to switch to other Google News sections like world news, business, technology, entertainment, sports, science or health.

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Move Content From an iOS Device to Android

It's easy to switch between iOS and Android, especially if you use Google's services. Google published a guide that helps you switch from iOS to Android, while also highlighting the advantages of Google's services.

You can upload the photos from an iPhone or iPad to Google+ Photos by downloading the Google+ app and enabling the Auto Backup feature. You can also upload the songs from the iTunes library to Google Play Music for free, but you'll have to use a computer.

Transferring contacts is more complicated if you don't use Gmail. You'll have to export contacts from iTunes or from the service you're using and upload them to Gmail.

Transferring apps is the most time consuming step. "Google Play has over 1.3 million apps to choose from so you can find all your favorites and discover new ones. For apps where you're a subscriber, like Netflix, you can simply transfer your service over to Android for free. Just download the same app from Google Play and sign in to your app."

Google's guide doesn't help you migrate SMS messages, call history, calendars and notes. If you use iCloud for calendars, you can export them using this trick and then import them to Google Calendar. Exporting iCloud notes is a manual process: "Open the Notes app at Copy the text of each note and paste it into a document on your computer, such as a Pages or TextEdit document. Save the document to your computer."

Apple has recently published a similar guide for switching from an Android device to an iOS device. Apple links to various apps that automate the process.

Unlike Apple, Google makes it easy to export your data. You can export your mail, calendars, documents, notes, photos, videos, messages with only a few clicks. If you use Google apps like Chrome, Google Maps, Google+, Google Play Music, Hangouts, Google Drive, Google Search, Gmail, Google Keep for both Android and iOS, you can quickly switch between Android and iOS devices.

Edit Office Files in Docs, Sheets and Slides for iOS

Google released the Slides app for iOS and added native Office file editing to Docs,Sheets and Slides for iOS.

"You can truly get stuff done from any device — your iPhone, iPad, Android phone, Android tablet, laptop or desktop computer. Any change you make on any of these devices is saved automatically, so you can pick up right where you left off any time, anywhere that you can sign in. The Docs, Sheets and Slides apps come with offline editing built right in. Just make the files you want to edit available offline. Any changes you make offline get automatically synced when you reconnect, just like when you make offline edits from your computer. And while converting Office files to Docs, Sheets and Slides is a cinch, the new iPhone/iPad apps also let you edit Office files directly - just like on the Android apps and the web," informs Google.

Native Office editing using the Office Compatibility Mode is a great feature and now Google's productivity apps for iOS are more powerful and can better compete with Microsoft Office.

Free Quickoffice for Android and iOS

Google announced a new Quickoffice app for Android and iOS that's free and it's optimized for both phones and tablets. The previous paid Quickoffice apps are no longer available, but not all the features from the paid apps are included in the free app. The new Quickoffice application supports a single cloud storage provider (Google Drive) and it requires to log in using a Google account.

Google acquired Quickoffice because it did a better job at handling Microsoft Office files than Google Docs. This was especially important for Google Apps users. Google started to work on porting Quickoffice to Native Client and integrating the application with Chrome OS. Now the mobile apps are free.

There's some overlap between Quickoffice and Google Drive apps, so offering two apps for editing documents, spreadsheets and presentations may seem strange. Quickoffice is a basic office suite that works offline, it lets you create and edit Microsoft Office files and annotate PDFs. You can store these files in Google Drive or on your mobile device. Files uploaded by Quickoffice can't be edited by Google Drive apps without converting them. Google Drive doesn't let you create or edit files when you are offline.

I find the Drive editing interface more intuitive and easier to use, but Quickoffice offers more features. When you open a file in Google Drive for iOS, the application first needs to upload the file to Google Drive. If you try the same thing in Quickoffice, the application opens the file and lets you edit it. I hope that the two apps will merge at some point.

Even if you don't need Quickoffice, it's still a good idea to install the app: you'll get 10GB of free Drive storage for 2 years. "If you sign in to your Google Account from the new Quickoffice app for Android or iOS by September 26, 2013, for two years, an extra 10GB of Google Drive storage will be added to your account in the next few weeks." If you don't get the extra storage, remember that will be added "in the next few weeks".

Here are the download links:

Quickoffice for Android (phones and tablets, Android 2.2+)
Quickoffice for iOS (iPhone/iPad - requires iOS 6+)

Those who paid for Quickoffice will probably be disappointed: no more updates for their apps, no iOS7 bug fixes. "Quickoffice Pro and Pro HD are not fully compatible with iOS 7 and some features may not work. After March 31, 2014, all cloud storage services will become unavailable on Quickoffice Pro and Quickoffice Pro HD," informs Google. Fortunately, "if you purchased Quickoffice Pro or Pro HD on or after June 17, 2013, you are eligible to receive 50GB of free Google Drive storage (with proof of purchase)."

(Quickoffice Pro and Quickoffice Pro HD used to cost $14.99 and $19.99. Pretty expensive, indeed.)

Better Photo Attachments in Gmail's iOS App

The latest version of the Gmail app for iOS added a better way to open photo attachments. Until now, you had to tap each photo to open it using the app's internal browser and go back to the message.

Now you can tap a photo attachment and use swipes to go to the next or previous image, just like in the built-in Photos app.

The "print" link is no longer displayed next to the thumbnail, but it's still available in the actions menu. For some reason, filenames are no longer included.

Another new feature: "when selecting a Google Drive file or Google+ link you'll now go directly to the app if it's installed. This can be turned off using the in-app settings."

Password Lock in Google Drive for iOS

Google Drive for iOS added a few weeks ago a feature that lets you set a 4-digit passcode code for the app so that others can't access your files while using your iPhone or iPad. Just go to the settings, tap "passcode lock", enable the feature, enter a passcode for Drive and decide if you want to enter the passcode even when you return to the app.

The passcode is only for the phone or tablet you are using and for the account that's currently logged in.

"To always require a passcode when returning to Drive, choose the Always Lock option from the passcode settings screen. Without Always Lock enabled, you will be prompted for the passcode only after 15 minutes or more of inactivity. If you have multiple accounts linked to your Drive app and want to switch between them, you'll only be required to enter passcodes for accounts with codes that have already been created," informs Google.

"If you have forgotten the passcode for your Drive app and have entered the wrong code 5 times, a menu will appear allowing you to remove your account from the app without a passcode. You can then re-add the account to the app without a passcode. After entering the wrong passcode 20 times, you will be prompted to remove your account from the app and will no longer have the option of trying again to enter the passcode."

Chrome for iOS, Not a Fast Browser

Chrome for iOS doesn't have a lot of things in common with the desktop Chrome or Chrome for Android. It doesn't use the latest WebKit rendering engine and can't switch to Blink, it doesn't use the V8 JavaScript engine, it doesn't have a multi-process architecture. These are iOS limitations and all third-party iOS browsers are built using UIWebView, so they use the same rendering engine and the same JavaScript engine, which is slower than Safari's Nitro (Opera Mini is just an OBML reader, not a browser, because pages are rendered using Opera's servers).

I was surprised to see an ad for Chrome when visiting Google's homepage in Safari for iPad: "Browse fast on your iPad. Install Google Chrome." Chrome for iOS is not fast, it's a lot slower than Safari and that's not Google's fault. It's even a little bit slower than other third-party browsers.

Even the Chrome for iOS homepage claims that you can "browse fast and sign in to bring your Chrome experience from your computer, anywhere you go". Sure, Chrome combines the address bar and the search box, preloads web pages and shows the most visited pages, but it's not a faster browser than Safari.

From Tom's Hardware: "In the end, any third-party Web browser on iOS is essentially tantamount to using an older version of Safari with a slightly different user interface and additional features. Due to Apple's App Store mandate that all third-party iOS browsers utilize Safari's stock engines, browser competition on this mobile operating system is practically non-existent. Unless Apple reverses course, allowing other developers to compete using their own unique rending and JavaScript engines."

Open Gmail Links Using Google Apps in iOS

The latest version of the Gmail app for iOS added a feature that opens links using other Google apps: Chrome, Google Maps and YouTube, assuming you've already installed them. It works well for Google Maps links and YouTube links, but not that well for other links: some open using Chrome, but most links open using the internal browser of the Gmail app.

If you don't like this feature, you can disable it by tapping the settings icon next to the account switcher, picking Google Apps and unchecking the apps you don't want to handle Gmail links.

You can't change the default browser in iOS, but some Google apps include an option to use Chrome. For example, the YouTube app opens all the links using Chrome, if you've installed the app, and you can disable this feature from the settings. When you open a page from a Google app like YouTube, Gmail or Google+, Chrome shows a button that sends you to the previous app, just like the Android back button.

Google Now for iOS

Google Now is finally available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. It's not a standalone application, it's just a new feature of the Google Search app.

Google Now for iOS has most of the features from Google's Android app and plenty of customization options that aren't available in the Android app. There aren't many missing cards: research topics, activity summary and events nearby.

I was surprised to see that Google added a lot of settings that let you tweak each card. For example, you can customize the traffic card and decide when it appears and the transportation mode for commutes and other trips.

Since most Google Now cards use location data, it's obvious that Google wants to update your location even when you're not using the app. "Location Reporting helps Google Now show you cards related to traffic alerts, directions, and more. Turning on Location Reporting allows Google to periodically access your location data, even when an app is not in use. If you have Location History enabled, reported locations are stored in your Location History. (...) Since Location Reporting has been optimized to use GPS as infrequently as possible, there should be minimal impact on your battery life." Location Reporting can be disabled from the app's settings section, while Location History can be disabled from the Google Latitude site.

It's interesting to notice that Google Now for iOS is placed less prominently, at the bottom of the screen. You need to swipe up to see the cards. Google Search for iOS doesn't show notifications yet, so you need to constantly open the application to see the new information.

Chrome Omnibox Replaces the Google Search Box in iOS

A few weeks ago, a post from the Chrome blog mentioned that Chrome for iOS will integrate the omnibox with Google Search. "Now you can see your search term in the omnibox, instead of the long search URL. This will help you refine search queries and view more content on the results page. This feature will roll out in the coming weeks, so you may not see it right away after upgrading."

I've noticed this feature when using the incognito mode. It's almost like the experimental feature from Chrome OS: Google's mobile interface no longer includes a search box and the query is displayed in the omnibox, where you can change it. If you go to, you'll still see the regular Google search box and the query won't be displayed in the omnibox.

The query is preserved when you switch to other search services like Google Image Search, Google Video. Unfortunately, there's a bug that replaces the query with the Google search URL when you pick an image search result and go back to the list of results. 

I still think that integrating Chrome with Google Search so tightly is a bad idea. Removing an essential navigation feature from a web page and moving it to the browser makes Google more difficult to use (users will think there's something wrong, other browsers show a different interface) and a small Chrome bug can prevent users from editing a query.

Another side-effect of the integration is that Google will not show search suggestions in the incognito mode. It's a regular feature of the omnibox that will make Google more difficult to use. All of this for shaving a few pixels and showing more content.

10 Differences Between Gmail's iOS App and the Mobile Gmail Site

Now that Gmail's iOS app and the mobile Gmail site look almost the same, you may wonder which one is better. Why install the Gmail app when you can use Gmail from Safari, Chrome or any other browser? Here are 10 differences I found:

1. The native app is faster. Almost everything is faster, from transitions to scrolling and loading messages. This is especially noticeable if you have an old iPhone (I've tested the native app and the web app on an iPhone 3GS: the web app was a lot slower).

2. The native app supports push notifications. If you buy a new iPhone or iPad right now, the Gmail app is the only way to receive notifications almost instantly. The Exchange-powered Google Sync is no longer available for new devices (it still works for existing devices and Google Apps for Business/Education).

3. Gmail's iOS app opens links inside the app, while the web app opens links in a new tab. The first approach is better because it's much easier to go back to the message. You can open pages in Chrome from the Gmail app and Chrome adds a new button that sends you back to the Gmail app, replicating an Android feature.

4. You can preview photos before attaching them to a message in the native app, but this feature is not available in the web app. Photos sent using the native app are a lot more compressed: I've sent a screenshot using both apps and the native app attached a 91KB JPG file, while the mobile Gmail site attached a 239KB JPG image.

5. The native app doesn't show Google's navigation menu and doesn't include browser controls, so there's more space for displaying messages.

6. Gmail's iOS app has a different navigation interface borrowed from the YouTube and Google+ apps. It supports gestures, it's faster and it doesn't replace the current view.

7. The native app integrates with your phone contacts. That means you can open the system contact picker when composing a new message.

8. The web app shows status messages at the bottom of the window, while the native app doesn't.

9. The web app asks for permission to increase local storage to 10MB or more, while the native app doesn't.

10. Both apps let you switch between multiple accounts, but the native app has a nicer interface with profile photos and unread mail counter.