Turn Your iPhone Into a Google Phone

Upgrade your apps and services with Google goodness

Google makes iOS versions of its popular apps, and it often updates them before the Android version. Some of those apps are considered better than their Android counterparts. So, if you love the iPhone's build, interface, and consistent operating system upgrades, pair that with Google's top-notch apps for the ultimate experience.

Google Apps for iOS

You probably use Google's services, but if you don't, here are the apps you may want to download. All of them are available from the App Store on your iPhone.

  • Google Chrome. You may use the Chrome browser app on your desktop. Add it to your iPhone, and your web searches and preferences sync up on all your devices.
  • Google Maps. Although Apple Maps has successfully played catch-up following a poorly reviewed launch of its Maps app, if you're familiar with Google Maps, use it on your iPhone.
Google Maps on an iPhone.
  • YouTube. It's the go-to app for video watching. There's also a YouTube Kids app with curated content for tots. Set up parental controls to block searches and flag videos you feel aren't appropriate. The app has three options depending on your child's age: preschool, school age, and all kids.
  • Google Chat. It has multi-platform support so you can message your friends and switch between devices at your whim. You can also use it for video calls with one or more people and group chats.
  • Google Drive. It can replace iCloud for file storage and backups, and it integrates seamlessly with Google Docs and Sheets for on-the-go writing, editing, and collaboration.
  • Gmail and Google Calendar. With a Gmail address, you can access these apps on all your devices and back up your contacts to Gmail so you can quickly transfer them to a new phone (iOS or Android).
  • Wear (formerly Android Wear and Wear OS). This app works with all sorts of wearable tech, except the Apple Watch. Download it if you have any of the top-rated smartwatches from LG, Motorola, Samsung, and other companies.
  • Google Voice. It bypasses your carrier's voicemail service and transcribes your messages, so you never have to listen to another one. While the transcription was initially near-incomprehensible, it's more accurate now.
  • Gboard. Google's official keyboard launched on iOS devices before Android devices. It has top-notch features, including glide typing and built-in Google search. It also supports multilingual typing, so you can switch between languages with the press of a button, and GIFs and emoji.
  • Google Photos. Although the app no longer offers free unlimited storage, you receive some free storage space, and affordable fees can buy as much more space as you need. The app automatically tags your photos with the location and the subject or elements in the picture. For shots of people, Google Photos uses facial recognition to group them.
Google Photos setup screen on an iPhone.
  • Google News. The Google News app replaced Google Play Newsstand. It's the counterpart to Apple News; you choose the publications and websites you like to read and access them in the same place. Subscribe to digital magazines and newspapers and read issues within the app. Be sure to go into the settings and change the preferred browser to open links to Chrome.
  • Google Workspace. Google announced in June 2021 that it's making its collaboration tool Workspace available to anyone with a Google account. Previously, it was only available to paying subscribers. Workspace isn't an app; it ties all of Google's apps closely together and integrates them. You can access its features by downloading the Google Chat app for iOS.

Dealing With Default Apps

One advantage that Android has on iOS is that you can set up default apps for various services, including music, web browsing, messaging, and more. You can work around Apple's restrictions in most cases.

For example, when you click a URL in an app, it automatically opens in Safari, but Google's apps (and many other third-party developers) have found a way around this. You go into each app's settings and change the options for opening files, links, and other content from Apple's apps to other Google apps. This way, if a friend emails you a link and you click it in the Gmail app, it opens in Chrome, or a file attachment opens in Google Docs. Within iOS, you now have your own Google ecosystem.

You may still run into instances of Safari being the default browser, but not when you're using Google apps. Once (and if) Apple changes this, you could make your iPhone even more Google-centric.

Google Assistant

Another issue you run into is Siri support. However, you can download Google Assistant to your iPhone and issue voice commands via the "Hey Siri, Hey Google" Google Assistant shortcut.

If you lose your iPhone, you can call on Google Assistant to help find your device. Say, "Hey Google, find my phone" to your Nest smart speaker or another Google Home device. If your iPhone is within earshot, Google Assistant causes it to play a custom sound, even if it's set to silent mode.

Best of Both Worlds

So now you've got the best of both worlds: Apple's excellent interface coupled with Google's top-notch apps. Making your iPhone into a Google phone makes it easier for you to switch to Android if you ever choose to.

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