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I never did like Facebook. In fact, I only joined the benighted data-grabber two years after I started tweeting. Perhaps this reluctance was an indication of my desire to communicate, rather than staying up to date with my friends’ latest FarmVille scores. Maybe I didn’t want to be the plaything of an advertising network. Or, I suppose that Zuckerberg might have been right, and I really was so darned anti-social that I detested my friends and never wanted to see their annoying faces again [note: sarcasm].

All the same, I joined. And now, I’ve had enough.

Except, there’s a problem with the Facebook-leaving sentiment, however appealing, fashionable and written about it might be. When you delete your account (…he says, as if such a thing were possible…), you’ll still want to keep in touch with your close friends when you can’t see them, and with your relatives on the other side of the world, who still want to see your latest pictures. You’re going to have to find an alternative.

Okay, so let’s have a think. Ah, yes, of course: Google+.

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Attention iPhone owners! You know how you can never seem to find a great music streaming service for iOS? Well, Google has released their Google Play Music app on iOS, which features their All Access service with library of 18+ million songs. At long last, I can ditch the gigs of music on my iPhone and tap into this cloud music business I’ve heard so much about.

Okay, so that was probably an unnecessarily snarky opening, but please forgive me if I don’t get excited about yet another streaming music service that’s incredibly late to the party. Especially when the last service to land on iOS ended up being rather lackluster (I’m referring to Xbox Music for those that didn’t wish to click the link). I can only speak for myself, but as a member of the Rdio faithful, Google’s music service has a lot to prove for me to even entertain the notion of jumping ship. Let’s find out if it can do just that. (more…)

With iOS 7’s release date just a few (supposed) weeks away, we’ve officially entered my favorite time of year: mass update season. When a new version of iOS is set to be unleashed, most developers release updated versions of their apps to support it. While iOS 7 has plenty of goodness under the hood, the most visible shift is, of course, the brand spanking new interface design, and many apps are sure to be updated to gel with the new look.

While the more minimal look and feel of iOS 7 is new to the OS, it’s been a staple of Google’s apps for quite some time. With the release of version 2.0, YouTube now falls in line with Google’s minimal design standards, and includes an interesting new method of interacting with videos. Hit the jump to learn more about the recently updated YouTube app. (more…)

Seven months have passed since Google Maps made its return to the iPhone, and, boy, people sure have been thankful. Since it’s return, Google Maps has racked up over 32,000 ratings — most of which are incredibly favorable — and has maintained a high standing as one of the top free iPhone apps in the App Store. To call Google Maps’ return a success is the epitome of an understatement.

Personally, I didn’t get caught up in the Apple Maps vs Google Maps hoopla. Being a loyal Waze user, I sat on the sidelines and watched the endless bashing of Apple’s attempt at providing a map and navigation service. However, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t eager to sample Google Maps when it was released, as well as when version 2.0 was made available earlier this month. Does the newest version of Google Maps have what it takes to be my go-to map and navigation service? Find out after the jump. (more…)

For the past few years, Google has made it a mission to build their own ecosystem in iOS. All of their core services, including Google Search, Google Now, Gmail and Google Maps, are readily available to iOS users. Better yet, each app is able to communicate with one another (e.g. tapping a link in Gmail will open the web page in Chrome), which is a great workaround for Apple’s staunchness for disallowing third-party apps to be used as a default app (a change I’m hoping to see in iOS 7).

During the keynote address at Google I/O a few weeks prior, Google introduced their new unified communications service, dubbed Hangouts. Before the announcement, Google offered multiple communications services, including Google Talk, Google Voice and Google+ Messenger, but their hope is that Hangouts will bring them into the fold of popular messaging services such as WhatsApp, iMessage and Facebook Messenger. Hit the jump to find out if Hangouts is indeed up to such a momentous task. (more…)

If you were to ask multiple Android Jellybean users what their favorite Android feature is, the smart bet is that most would say Google Now. As a non-Android user, I’ve had little hands-on experience with the feature, but it’s not from a lack of want. I’m a die hard iOS user, but I’m also a very emphatic user of Google’s services (Gmail, search, Google Docs, Chrome).

So imagine my surprise (hint, it was very) this past Tuesday morning when I learned Google Now had arrived on iOS by way of the Google Search app. Having lived with this much touted service for a handful of days now, getting to chance to experience what it really has to offer, it’s time to determine if Google Now has lived up to the hype. (more…)

We’re often admonished to be tourists in our own cities, and with money tight for a lot of people, a vacation in your own town isn’t such bad advice. It’s easier said than done, though, because we fall into ruts, visiting the same familiar restaurants, attractions and finding it hard to venture outside that bubble.

If I just had someone to tell me all the fun and cool things to do, I’d be fine. Well, Field Trip by Google does just that. It finds where you are and then tells you all the neat stuff nearby. But is Field Trip just another Google Maps search app or is there really something more here? (more…)

One of the primary functions of my iPhone (besides work related stuff, as it’s technically a work phone), are the general smartphone functions — check social media, take photos, check email. While the iPhone obviously has really fantastic apps, email apps has always been something that I feel leave more to be desired. The default mail app is a bit bland and at times unintuitive. Sparrow, which is beautiful, always seemed a bit slow to me, plus it really bothers me that the app doesn’t automatically get new messages.

But Gmail … well I’ve been a Gmail faithful since April 2004. When I saw they redesigned their iOS app, I was downright giddy. Let’s see how it stacks up. (more…)

Apple’s mapping system didn’t exactly work out as the company had hoped. After years of rumors and high hopes for the alternative to Google’s solution, Maps in iOS 6 was far from a success. It had so many bugs that all users could do was complain about the app rather than use it. In the end, they transitioned to alternatives like Waze and Maps+, or even Google’s own Web app, which was recently improved for iOS users. None of these really solved the problems for those who enjoyed the old ways. Now there is a fix.

Google worked hard on its own Maps app for iOS, bringing all the old features in a new and modern user interface. It’s won over a lot of users so far and since Google is more reliable when it comes to this sort of thing, there’s no reason not to use the free app. Or is there? (more…)

Just over a month ago, the Apple community learned that iOS 6, set to release tomorrow, would not include an integrated YouTube app. Google’s video streaming service has been available on the platform since its inception in 2007, but Apple’s agreement with the search engine was going to expire so it was up to Google to make its own app for the many iPhone users out there.

On September 11th, Google released a free native YouTube app for the iPhone; the iPad version was said to arrive “in the coming months.” Regardless of tablet support, Google’s official app boasts usability, a better video selection, beauty and simplicity. The search engine giant has the potential to make a great app for the iPhone, but does it live up to this promise? (more…)

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