The iPhone is once again one of the best Google phones on...

The iPhone is once again one of the best Google phones on the planet

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With Google’s latest generation of better designed iOS apps, including Google+, Gmail, YouTube, Google Search, Google Maps, Chrome, and more, the iPhone 5 is once again among the very best Google phones on the planet. iOS may not enjoy the deep integration into everything Google that Android does, but for most things, the overall performance of the iPhone, and the ability to use the best of Google alongside the best of Apple, all on one device, makes for an incredibly compelling experience.

And it’s been a while since any Apple or Google user could attest to that with anything approaching conviction.

When the iPhone first launched in 2007, then-Google CEO Eric Schmidt joined Steve Jobs on stage to announce their collaboration on the device. On top of Apple’s revolutionary hardware and multitouch interface, the iPhone would enjoy Google’s amazing services, including map data and, announced shortly after, YouTube. Then the dark days came, when Google switched Android from a BlackBerry or Windows Mobile Standard competitor to an iPhone competitor, strategically seeing where the market was shifting and deciding to ensure they wouldn’t leave their destiny entirely to devices outside their control and corporate interests. Apple and Google went from partners to increasingly bitter rivals, and from a great relationship to one shattered and ruined, at the expense of their mutual user base.

Yet now, because of Google making this new, better generation of apps, and Apple approving them, we’re approaching something of a renaissance. You can now, once again, have a phenomenal Google experience on the iPhone, whether that’s just the Gmail you use at home or work, or the full suite of apps you prefer over Apple’s built-in offerings.

Sure, it probably annoys both companies a great deal. But Apple needs great apps to sell more iPhones, and great Google apps are absolutely key to segment of their user base. Likewise, Google sells user attention, and iOS still provides the most valuable, persistent attention to sell. Both companies are smart enough to recognize this, and we benefit. For once.

In some ways, the Google experience on iOS still lags behind. For example, while voice control on Google Search is fast and accurate, it’s nowhere nearly as powerful as Google Now is on Android. And, of course, the lack of any way to set third party apps as the default in iOS, instead of Apple’s apps, reduces the convenience. Likewise, Google Chrome’s inability to use the more powerful Nitro JavaScript engine, while by no means a showstopper, is an unfortunate hiccup in Apple’s heavily sandboxed playground.

Yet in other ways, Google on iOS is even better. Using Android without wanting to use Google isn’t pleasant, but on iOS you can easily pick and choose your Google Services, and mix and match between them, Apple’s built-in services, and offerings from Yahoo!, Microsoft, and others. You also get the benefit of Apple’s still much smoother user interface, which doesn’t offer all the features of Android, but handles everything from scrolling to swiping to tapping with far, far more buttery-ness than even the latest version of Jelly Bean.

But I’ve been using a Nexus 4 for the last few weeks, and it’s an amazing complement to the iPhone, strong where Apple is weak and vice versa. But thanks to the much-improved quality of Google’s iOS apps, I can pretty much jump from one device to the other and back without missing a beat.

I’m trying to reduce the amount of social networks I’m engaged in, but Google+ works great on the iPhone. I prefer unified inboxes, so I generally stick to Apple’s Mail app, but when I’m in Gmail only mode, the new Gmail app is fantastic. I don’t sign in to my browsers, so Chrome doesn’t give me any advantages on iOS, but for those who do, it’s great. Google Maps, on the other hand, provides the reliability Apple’s Maps have thus far failed to provide. And the list goes on and on.

For anyone who loves Google but, for whatever reason, doesn’t care for Android, the iPhone is once again more than just a good alternative. For the first time in a long time, the iPhone is once again one of the best Google phones on the planet.

If you’ve gone all in on Gmail apps on your iPhone, especially if you’ve also used Android recently, let me know how you think the experience compare.

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