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DT Debates: Do we really want a Google-less iPhone?

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Apple recently made it clear that starting with iOS 6, it’s all Apple, all the time. Native apps like YouTube and Google Maps are getting the heave-ho, and for all the market sense this might make, there’s been some resistance on the user end. Writers Jeffrey Van Camp and Molly McHugh debate the merits of the coming change, whether it means anything for consumers and to what degree it will actually impact their iPhone experience. 

dt debates question

 

Jeff

 

Jeffrey Van CampWell, we’re really talking about a Google-less iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Apple is removing Google services from all of its products. Honestly, the iPhone and iPad will be fine without Google embedded on them. The only reason Google was integrated so long ago was because Apple hadn’t had time to make a competitive mapping or video product of its own. The original iPhone didn’t have an App Store either, making it more important to bundle software with the phone. Today, there are a ton of mapping apps available for download and Apple has come up with its own mapping app that looks nicer, in some ways, than Google.

Google has been giving Apple the short end of the stick on mapping for a while. Its Android phones have been bundled with a version of Google maps with turn-by-turn navigation and other cool features while the iPhone has lingered. I’m not sure if Apple didn’t want to pay extra or if Google didn’t want to give up the advantage of turn-by-turn, but I’d count the new mapping app as a win for Apple users. Now your device won’t be dependent on the whims of Google, which aims to outsell iPhone and iPad. Apple can now turn mapping into an experience consistent with the rest of iOS and integrate it deeply into whatever services it wishes.

And anyone who wants Google services can still get them. They’re going to be in the App Store.

 

Molly

 

molly-mchughAs a relatively unbiased iPhone user, I’m anti-dropping all things Google from iOS because I like a multi-device experience that is familiar. When I’m at my computer, I use Gmail and Google Maps — and obviously, for video purposes, YouTube. I hate the idea that I’ll be ushered into using all-Apple all the time.

I’m also not very impressed with Apple’s in-house iPhone apps. Siri is a joke, I don’t use my iPhone’s calendar or weather app, and I pushed Safari to the backburner a long time ago.

On the other hand, I live in Google Maps and YouTube, and Chrome replaced Safari on my dashboard as soon as it became available. I understand that these will be available in the App Store, but I’m of the belief that you shouldn’t fix what isn’t broke, and if there’s one thing that has consistently been my saving smartphone grace it’s Google Maps. Having time and resources on its side gives it a huge head start over whatever Apple is bringing to the table, I don’t care how shiny and new it is.

There are also rumors Apple will switch to Bing search results in Safari, too. It feels like a crusade pointedly focused on ridding the phone of Google, no matter the cost, even though its an ecosystem that, from a software standpoint, users are familiar and comfortable using. And I don’t like it.

 

Jeff

 

It sounds like you may want to buy an Android phone then. Apple pushes its own software and services heavier than any other company, even restricting other apps in its Store from offering some services because they compete. If you love your Google services, you should probably get a Google phone. Either that or you kind of need to deal with the slight inconvenience of having to download Google Maps from the App Store. Give me your phone after the update and I’ll do it for you. It’s not hard.

Apple’s new Maps app will have turn-by-turn navigation and other features. That is something Google Maps for iPhone does not have; making it a new feature you WILL have in the next couple months. That’s a good thing. If you don’t like it, you can still use whatever you want.

I’m not a huge fan of Apple’s anti-Google behavior, but it’s not like it doesn’t swing both ways. Google created Android to compete with the iPhone. If I were Apple and my good friend Google launched an operating system a lot like mine and was breathing down my neck, I’d start building my own maps team too.

 

Molly

 

I don’t really think it’s fair to tell me that I have to get an Android… I’m the buyer, I want it all! A precedent was set when Apple first introduced us to the iPhone, and I don’t know why I have to settle for less.

Why can’t we have hybrid mobile experiences? Google shutting us out of nothing but Android, Apple doing this with iOS, Windows doing the same with its mobile OS, etc, etc, etc, it’s anti-consumer. If someone else has the better mobile application, then use it.

And I’m not saying that has to be a universal code of sorts, but these are some extenuating circumstances — Google Maps and YouTube inarguably dominate their respective markets, and they make way to much sense to get rid of. They make the iPhone a better experience, and I use them both on a daily basis. Part of what the iPhone was originally about, when it first launched, was putting all the things from the Internet we used on a daily basis into our pockets, and with these two major applications gone, that’s not the case. Besides iTunes (which is nearly universally agreed to be the worst), Apple hasn’t managed to create an application that draws a mass audience. So why get rid of the Google-made ones that do before Apple even has any hits on its hands?

 

Jeff

 

I have two views on this. On one hand, it seems confusing and silly for Apple to bundle two separate mapping apps with its iPhone. They do the same thing. And if Apple is proud of its own new app, well… Apple does own the iPhone and iOS, so it has a right to promote its new product. Assuming it has a new video player to replace YouTube, it’s the same deal there as well. It isn’t blocking Google from the App Store (so far). 

The other side of me completely agrees with you. I think Apple set the precedent of control and walled gardens with the iPhone and iPods before it, but I think we’d all benefit if we had an app ecosystem that worked on Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and everywhere else. That would be awesome. It would also be great if I could freely make mixes of my music and send them to my friends however I wish and if I could get HBO Go without owning a cable subscription. The problem is that tech and media companies see money in controlling and restricting their platforms and locking people in, not in sharing. Google is, at least, making its Maps available on iOS still, along with other apps like Chrome. I can’t use iChat on an Android though? And I have to ask, why not?

 

 

Molly

 

For starters, like I said, the fact that I’m going to lose access to services I use often and prefer is bad enough. But there’s also the fact that this is happening because of a corporate-level pissing match: The Apple vs. Google ecosystem wars have escalated so intensely that it’s the buyers that are being forgotten in the midst of their control tactics. Even if I weren’t frustrated by losing Google Maps and YouTube from my home dash, I would be upset with this on principle. 

 

I’m really sick of people saying that a company has the right to do something; of course Apple can do whatever it wants with the iPhone, but it doesn’t mean they should. This isn’t in consumers interest. 

 

And if Apple were struggling to retain control of its platform, that would be one thing — but that certainly isn’t the case. This, combined with the rumors of years-long anti-Google sentiment over at Apple HQ, makes me feel like a cog in the machine. So in practice and principle, I am against the Google-free iPhone.