You don’t need Google Workspace on your iPhone and iPad anymore — Apple offers 10 better alternatives
Google has charted its course towards a more privacy-focused web in the past year. They’ve also made Bluetooth-based location tracking an opt-out feature in Android 12.
To add to that, only recently, they’ve opened up Workspace integration into its services like Docs, Sheets, Gmail, and Meet. This means Google services would now have even deeper integrations with each other. As icing on the cake, these services are totally free.
From a distance, it may seem like Google is finally listening to its customers more than ever today. But, when selling ads is the primary source of revenue for a company, it’s always hard to trust them with your information.
Yet, it’s tricky to dump Google Services. After all, Chrome the popular browser is owned by them. The most widely used productivity apps like Gmail, Docs, and Maps, Photos are also a part of Google Services.
Apple does provide us alternatives, but they’ve been nascent when compared to Google’s Workspace.
To our respite, during WWDC 2021, Apple has made the strongest case to move away from Google services.
In at least ten features largely recreated from Google, Apple might’ve just given users the biggest reason to ditch Google’s suite of apps and use the privacy-focused Apple’s iOS services instead.
#1. Apple Notes Introduces Google Doc-Like Tags, Mentions, and Edit History
Until the previous few iterations, Apple Notes was just a simple note-taking app. Something that Google Keep could boast of (minus the hand-written texts of course).
With the updated Note app in iOS 15, you can set topic-specific tags and quickly sort or categorize notes in smart folders. Mentioning users in shared notes is another new feature that’ll surely boost more collaboration.
Additionally, users can now track edit history as well — consequently making Apple Notes resemble Google Docs.
Personally, I love the new Quick notes feature in iPadOS. It makes Apple notes a system-wide feature as users can bring it up by dragging the Apple Pencil from the bottom corner of the screen.
Quick Notes intelligently figures the active application. So, in case you’re browsing Safari, it’s easy to drag the current URL links in your note editor. This makes taking notes as well as writing docs a whole lot easier.
#2. Say Goodbye to Google Photos and Lens as Apple Photos Weaves Them in Live Texts and Memories
Google Photos has already been under fire for turning into a freemium product (unlimited storage had ended on June 1st).
Earlier this year, Apple’s nutrition labels had already made a strong case to switch away from Google Photos. Now, with iOS 15, Apple shows their Photos app offers a lot more than just privacy.
For one, we now a new Live Text feature that helps recognize and copy text from images and screenshots (this works in Apple’s camera app too). This visual lookup feature resembles Google Lens in many ways but takes it a step further as well — by offering Spotlight integration.
Spotlight leverages on-device intelligence to lookup Apple Photos from your home screen. So, you can easily do a visual lookup of a person, place, animal, or thing thanks to EXIF data now available. Spotlight also integrates seamlessly with Live Text to search information in your gallery.
Much like Google Photos created Memories, Apple Photos does the same, except it takes it deeper — by giving users a choice to choose background tracks from Apple Music.
Apple Photos also lets you selectively remove certain photos from your memories. Alas, you can permanently get rid of the ghosts from the past.
With Google Photos moving towards a paid service, there hasn’t been a better time to switch to Apple Photos completely.
#3. Apple Mail App Let’s You Block Email Tracking
Email tracking is a billion-dollar business right now. With just an invisible pixel, advertisers can track your IP address, location, and click open activity.
I think you already know what they’d do with your data. With good grace, Apple’s Mail app makes this no longer possible on iOS 15. You can select if you wish to opt into the Mail Privacy Protection when the default Mail app launches for the first time and block read receipts.
Given how Gmail is owned by Google, it’s obvious they already know your location and email behavior. No wonder, we get so many personalized product ads that are eerily similar to the information we get in the mail.
Apple had also embarrassed Gmail by showing the amount of data it collects on your iPhone. Now with Mail Privacy Protection eliminating email tracking entirely, it’s time to flip Gmail from your iPhone too.
#4. Siri, Apple Map, and Translate Ensure You Won’t Miss the Google Counterparts
Despite Siri being around for so many years, it’s always played catch up to Google’s Assistant. To our dismay, artificial intelligence wasn’t the only differentiating factor between the two. Siri has been lacking an offline mode for trivial tasks since the beginning.
Gladly, with iOS 15 Apple has introduced on-device audio processing capabilities to ensure your recordings stay on the phone. Besides more privacy, Siri would now be able to do faster queries for most of the device tasks.
Allowing Siri to connect with third-party devices is another promising feature this year. It opens up HomeKit’s accessories for more voice-based interactions.
Like Siri, Apple Maps has also been way behind Google Maps too. In fact, Apple’s Map app has been ridiculed in the past for its lack of details. But with iOS 15, Apple might’ve just taken a step in the right direction.
Maps on Apple now boast of much richer navigation details like elevation, crosswalks, bike lanes, 3D road graphics in driving mode, night mode, and more importantly detailed transit routes. An all-new AR navigation mode for walking, much like Google unveiled a few years back is also much appreciated.
Elsewhere, Apple’s Translate app finds its way into the iPad ecosystem, with system-wide functionalities. It also brings auto-translate functionality to encourage more seamless conversations.
Thus, Apple’s Map, Translate, and Siri apps are now on par with Google’s counterparts — except with better privacy.
#5. Safari Includes Mobile Web Extensions and Encrypted Browsing to Appall Chrome
A redesigned Safari with new floating tab controls at the bottom isn’t the only browser feature to cheer for this year. Apple has also introduced the ability to install web extensions on iOS.
Now, this is a massive feature considering it lets you customize your mobile browser experience by adding a Grammarly or Adblocker extension. Also since Safari introduced extensions to your smartphone before Google Chrome could, this is a big hint by Apple to stop using Google Chrome.
Moving onto privacy, Safari has been the most secure browser available today. Its Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) already blocks third-party analytics from tracking you across sites.
The introduction of iCloud+ masks your IP address completely making your browsing anonymous. Basically, it uses a new Privacy Relay technology to encrypt traffic leaving the user’s device in a way that no one, not even Apple can track your identity. It’s worth knowing Safari already unveiled privacy-preserved ad click measurements in iOS 14.6.
Google Chrome has promised an upcoming FLoC technology that makes ad-tracking privacy preserved. Basically, it doesn’t reveal your identity and groups users based on interest-based categories.
Most would argue Google’s cohorts are as invasive as cookies and just a disguised way of keeping their advertisement business intact.
With Safari’s ITP getting a boost with iCloud+’s Privacy Relay, Apple has already eradicated fingerprinting from the web — a thing that Google Chrome probably won’t ever do.
#6. Apple’s Built-In Password Authenticator Will Make Google Authenticator Obsolete
The future of passwords is truly password-less. After all, passwords are sensitive information that can be easily breached or forgotten.
Apple and Google are both swiftly moving towards it. Except that, the iPhone maker has already delivered a working solution for us this year.
Passkeys are based on
WebAuthn protocol which strives to abstract the password generation process and stores them in an encrypted fashion that’s synced across your devices.
So, all you need is a public-facing key — Face ID, Touch ID, or Apple ID to authenticate anywhere. Though this feature is rolling out with iOS 15, it’s only for developers at the moment.
While Passkey still has time, Apple has already introduced a built-in authenticator. A lot of apps and websites today require two-factor authentication for more security. Users would typically install Google Authenticator or Authy on their phones.
But on iOS 15, Apple brings its own in-house authenticator that resides in the Keychain. And unlike Google Authenticators, where you’d have to manually copy the verification code, iCloud Keychain’s authenticator has an auto-fill feature.
When your iOS device already ships with two-factor authentication, no user needs a separate Google app.
#7. FaceTime Picks a Little from Google Meet and Adds SharePlay Bonanza
Surprisingly, one of the biggest announcements of WWDC 2021 concerned Windows and Android users more than the iPhone ones.
Apple has opened up FaceTime to the web. All you need is a link to join a FaceTime video call. To add to that, FaceTime has introduced features like spatial audio support in grids, portrait video mode, and more Zoom-like features to increase the competition in the video calling space.
One of my favorite features in iOS 15 is the new SharePlay. SharePlay is like a screen sharing you’d do on Google Meet but with a house party twist.
FaceTime SharePlay lets you co-listen music, watch videos with friends by synchronizing the playback across all participants. The best thing is, it works for non-Apple apps like Disney too. All it needs is the developer to integrate the SharePlay API in their apps.
There’s More, but I’m Sure Already You’re Already Convinced
iMessage also gets a nice overhaul this year. But I’m skeptical if Google Hangouts (now known as Chats?) is even its competitor.
Anyway, iMessage brings an intuitive way of browsing photo gallery in your chat conversation, a new “Shared With You” feature that highlights content links in their associated apps, and the ability to pin certain content.
On the flip side, I’m certain the Chromebook and Google’s Android tablet don’t occupy a significant market share to ruffle the Macbook or iPad.
But still, we now have a Universal Control feature to make continuity across a Mac and iPad seamless. To put it simply, your Macbook’s trackpad can now be used to control your nearby iPad, just like a second monitor.
Google had just announced its Workspace as a free tier for all. By seeing Apple’s own services getting better than ever and offering nice integrations, my heart goes out for Google. Their timing couldn’t be worse.
Besides privacy and user experience, another reason why Apple’s services are more attractive than Google today: The former doesn’t randomly kill its products.
This article was originally published on The Big Tech.