Google released the iOS version of Chrome and Google Drive apps yesterday at Google IO. While the Google Drive service has been available on iOS through the web-browsers, the addition of Chrome to iOS excited us. So we downloaded them both and went gaga (or not) over the new apps from Google.
Google Chrome now has 310 million users worldwide which is double the number of users last year. It is the reining king of the browsers, thanks to its deep integration with Google and the no-nonsense minimalist interface. The iOS version too has a minimalist interface and looks quite similar to its desktop counterpart. The similarities do not end there as both behave somewhat similarly too.
You can login with your Google account so that you will be signed in to Google services automatically. That’s a good thing although you would have to be careful not to let your iPhone/iPod/iPad around (atleast, not in a bar!). Your account will let you see what tabs are opened in other devices with your account. You can also access all your bookmarks you made in your laptop. Even while entering a URL into the address bar, your personalized results are shown in the menu.
The keyboard is a bit different from the standard keyboard available in iOS. The top bar includes some shortcuts such as a colon, a comma, a hyphen and ‘.com’. The tabs are shown like stacked cards. Switching between tabs is easier with the drag-from-side gesture but it lags some times when a page is loading on one tab. Overall, the loading times are on the upper side and the transitions and movements are sluggish. The app has been designed well but seems too slow at times to be patient with. Safari does the job, as has been doing till yet for the iOS devices. Chrome on iOS just doesn’t live up to its level on the desktops. We would wait for Google to address these issues before using it as the default browser.
Google Drive is truly a new kind of cloud service. It is perhaps the first service that allows you to perform (almost) all your computing tasks on the cloud itself. You need not bother about storing it or worrying about the security or safety of your files. All of them are (almost) securely stored on Google’s servers. Google has already released an android app for Google Drive and the android ecosystem has been intimately connected with the Drive. So, wouldn’t the fanboys be left out if they didn’t get an app on their idevices? Google answered that yesterday with the release of the Google Drive app for iOS.
Google Drive offers much of the same functionality as on the desktop. The only catch here is that you cannot edit any of the files, only see them. The reason is that there are no apps to edit the files. You can open the files in several other apps but you cannot edit any of them. Another problem is that you cannot create a new file/folder in your Google Drive account. You can only view the existing files/folders. You can, on the other hand rename the files and give permissions to other people.
Images are natively opened in the app and so are text files and spread-sheets. But media files (even in .mp3 format) are unreadable and can only be opened using other apps such as VLC (not available in App Store). The interface is quite clean very much like Google’s other apps and products. The same icon system is used here as in the desktop version to denote the types of files. You can view each file’s properties, the people having access to the file. You can select offline access to the file so that it is downloaded to your device and is accessible locally even when you are offline (well, obviously!). But still, read-only access gives no purpose to the stand-alone app.
In the end we would not recommend our readers to waste their time on these apps, however impressed they might have been by Google’s other products. Read-only access to a cloud service and a non-workable browser are not worth the pain. We will let you know when they will be worthwhile in the future. We sincerely hope that they will, some day.
P.S.- We honestly don’t like the absurd app-icons of both the apps. White is so much more simpler and much more elegant.