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Google

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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How on earth have we become so addicted? To online video, I mean. According to comScore, Americans alone watched 41 billion videos in May 2013. This figure is remarkable on its own, but it seems even more so when you consider that the market-leader — or monopolizer, some may say – YouTube, is only eight years old.

Given the solidity of YouTube’s dominance, and the continuing growth of the online video market, it seems likely that Google‘s video goliath will continue to corner the market for some time to come. It is starting to show its age, though. We live in a world that is rapidly adopting online television as its favoured form of audiovisual entertainment, and although YouTube’s sprawling network provides diversity, it does not provide an ideal environment for the passive viewer. Equally, YouTube’s design has barely changed in years, with only a few Cosmic Panda-inspired tweaks providing some kind of refinement. Even the most hardcore YouTuber could hardly call the site, and its associated apps, pretty.

Rockpack, a new video-based iOS offering, is attempting to add a layer of its own polish on top of YouTube’s massive library of content. Within its stunning interface, Rockpack offers up YouTube’s content in a channel-focused way, as well as offering an independent, in-app video sharing network. Is a snazzy interface and a copycat network really enough to elevate Rockpack above its parent platform, though?

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Google Maps for iPad has been a long time coming. iOS 6 was introduced ten months ago, and the beta was out even sooner — we’ve been living with Apple Maps on our iPads for quite some time. And it’s not that Apple Maps is a terrible experience – visually, it’s extraordinary — but most of us don’t use our iPads as GPS devices.

Maps on tablets, in that sense, are a bit different than maps on phones. Although GPS is important on them, what I really want is a way to browse my local neighbourhoods as efficiently as possible. In fact, what I want is a fast and accurate way to find cool places I want to go. Let’s see if Google Maps finally fits the bill. (more…)

This week, Google made a ton of announcements about new software products, but the one that we spent the most time talking about here at iPad.AppStorm is Google Hangouts. This is the product that makes Google Plus worth having for many of us. We see it as kind of a big deal.

When the opportunity came to review the new Hangouts app for iPad, I jumped at it. I don’t need another way to communicate — in fact, I think we all communicate with each other way too much — but I wanted to give it a shot and see what all the hoopla was about. I’m always looking for a better way to communicate. Let’s find out if Google Hangouts is, in fact, a better way to chat with friends.

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For some people, the stock Mail app on iPad is old-school. It can be difficult to fully integrate with a Gmail account and it doesn’t seem as swipe-intuitive as some of the other options that are available for iPhone. On that note, the iPhone has more email options than I can count but admittedly, the iPad feels really left out.

But I’m staunchly in love with Mail.app. It handles all of my email perfectly well in a beautiful, easy-to-read and easy-to-navigate interface. That makes me the perfect candidate to review Birdseye Mail, the first third-party email app for Google users I’ve ever seen that tries to take full advantage of the iPad’s large 10″ display. If an app like Birdseye can win me over, you know it’s good. (more…)

When Apple decided to remove the YouTube app in iOS 6, I can’t say I was very heartbroken. The app was rarely updated, didn’t function very well and was a tad lacking in features. Nevertheless, if you upgraded to iOS 6 when it was first released near the end of September, you’ve either had to use Safari (or another browser app) or one of the many unofficial YouTube apps (Jasmine being the best option) to get your video content; that is, until now.

In a recent update to the iPhone version, the official third-party YouTube app finally gained iPad support. After spending some time with the app, I’m ready let you know if it’s been worth the wait. (more…)

When it hit the news that Google acquired Sparrow, a very popular third-party email app at the time, there was a harsh outcry by tech blogs and social media. Users were saddened by the notion that their beloved app would essentially be abandoned and stripped for parts. Unlike most app developers, the team at Sparrow was very good about collaborating with users in order to continually improve the app, which users really admired; so, the outcry was understandable.

At this point you may be wondering if I’ve forgotten that I’m reviewing an iPad app, since Sparrow is only available for the iPhone. Rest assured, I haven’t. If you’ve ever used Sparrow on the iPhone you know that the development team behind the app is obviously very talented, but when they shifted gears to work on the Gmail app, post buyout, I began to wait anxiously as I wanted to see if they’d be up to the challenge of fixing Google’s all but failed first attempt at developing a native Gmail app. Now that version 2.0 of Gmail has been released, maybe now I can find out. (more…)

The battle for dominance between iOS and Android is not diminishing. Since the iPhone was introduced in 2007, and Android the year following, a back and forth struggle between the two operating systems continues to endure, with Android clearly winning the numbers game with a 75% worldwide market share. While not a very big threat at the moment, Microsoft has thrown their proverbial hat into the ring with the recent release of Windows Phone 8 and the Surface.

With all three mobile operating systems striving to become the clear choice for would-be smartphone buyers, I find it rather interesting that Google and Microsoft continue to build their presence on iOS, while Apple seems content to playing in their own backyard (so to speak). Why is this important? Hit the jump to find out. (more…)

It’s no secret that I’m a big Google fan. I like using all of the tools they have to offer, including email, calendar, RSS reader, operating systems and of-course, cloud storage. When Google first announced and released Google Drive for Android and a little later for iOS, I was really excited — only to find out that while I could edit files on my Galaxy Nexus, I could only view them on my iPad. Well some time has gone by since then, and Google has made improvements to it’s iOS app. Let’s see how they stack up! (more…)

I love RSS Feeds. They’re a little more focused than Twitter, and I love the way they encourage long-form article reading. At iPad.AppStorm, we frequently cite Reeder as one of those must-have iPad apps for people who have just purchased their wonderful new tablet, but we’ve never once posted our thoughts on what makes the app so great. Today, we rectify that.

Reeder, by Silvio Rizzi, is one of those rare apps that seemed to birth an entire genre. I use it on my iPhone, iPad and Macs, and despite the constantly growing and changing competition, I have yet to encounter a single RSS Reader that I like more. (more…)

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