Last week, Google released its Chrome Browser for iOS. A few weeks earlier it had update its main search app for iOS. Both are extremely good. The Chrome Browser does something important, it synchronises data and also open tabs across devices. That means that when I am on my iPad I can now see what tabs are open on my desktop and vice versa. This makes it much easier to move around. Yes I know that Apple are bringing this to Safari but Chrome are there first.
Their search app is even more impressive. Bing had actually started with the idea that an app might bring together a heap of platform services but Google have now really brought that to fruition. If I want to search for something, the Google app is the way to go. It is just easy to use and also, helps tie in nicely with other Google services such as Gmail. What is more is that it utilises the multi-touch capabilities of iOS well allowing you to swipe to move back and forth etc.
Now on to the rant. It is time for Apple to losen up and let us choose some of our default apps. Yes, I know that having Apple apps as defaults allows for some easier integration of those functions with third party apps. But I have to believe that switching from ‘open Safari’ to ‘open in default browser’ isn’t that hard. And if the browser doesn’t do the function then a message can come back or else the developer can handle that by requiring an ‘open in Safari’ regardless. This already happens for things like pdf attachments and I can’t imagine it would be too hard to provide it more widely. This includes the camera app.
But there is more to it than that. Steve Jobs always said that if something has a file management system then it sucks (or something to that effect). Now you don’t have to manage files on an iOS device but you do have to manage apps. And the app management system sucks. Basically, it is hard to use anything but a few apps that you use often and are organised about. You put them in the dock or on your home screen. But what about the rest? It is the stuff that I use infrequently that is harder. Sure, if you have lots of apps you can store them in folders. But how stupid are folders? Where am I supposed to put, say, Yelp? I can put it in a folder called ‘local’ or ‘reviews’ or ‘find a restaurant.’ But I have to choose. Why can’t I put Yelp in all of those things? It is just a frigging short-cut anyway.
What is more, on a Mac I can just scroll through my apps folder to find apps. I can’t do that on an iPhone. Yes, I can search but I have to know what I am searching for. I can’t browse. Actually, I would like to browse by use — for instance, frequency of use. Yes, I know that I can get the last opened apps by a double click and then a random amount of swipes but really this is stupid.
Frankly, I am not 100 percent sure what app management system will work for me but right now it isn’t working. And it isn’t right. We want our apps to be light on function which means there are likely to be lots of them. That requires a way of working out what we need and getting to it intuitively. Apple have simply not been on the ball here and it is damaging the platform.