Hands-on with Google Chrome and Google Drive for iOS
Google Chrome on iOS is more than just another browser. When you install Chrome on your iOS device, you tie it into the Google universe in ways that other software can't accomplish. For example, when you create bookmarks in one version of Chrome, those same bookmarks are available in all other versions. Likewise, when you open tabs in Chrome, you can open the same tabs in Chrome on other platforms.
However, the ability to sync tabs and bookmarks between the iOS version of Chrome, and other versions, including Chrome for Android, Windows and Mac OS, is a great productivity boost. And once you create a bookmark in one version, it's shared instantly with the others. So when I imported my Internet Explorer and Firefox bookmarks into Chrome for Windows, I could also use the same bookmarks on an iPad. Chrome does separate mobile bookmarks from desktop bookmarks.
Chrome also adds some very welcome features to browsing on iOS, perhaps the nicest being a menu choice to select the standard rather than the mobile website when you're browsing. On the iPad, there's little reason to use mobile websites for most browsing, and the ability to escape from the simplified screens and large print is welcome.
During the course of testing Chrome, I downloaded the app to a first generation iPad and a third generation iPad. While Chrome was understandably a little faster on the third-generation iPad, it worked well on both.
One feature included with Chrome is speech-enabled browsing. To use it, you press the microphone icon in the search bar and Chrome asks you to say something. It will then try to search for whatever you say. It worked fine when I asked for the weather, but nothing I could do would make it work when I tried to browse to FierceMobileIT.
To use most of the features beyond basic browsing with Chrome, you must login to your Google account. This, of course, means that you've become part of the Google universe where every fact Google can gather about you, including what restaurants you browse for and what golf course you like to drown golf balls in, will become part of Google's dossier.
Google Drive for iOS
When Google announced Chrome for iOS at its I/O Conference, the company also announced Google Drive for iOS. This fills a big hole in Google's application lineup, and one that we noted when Google Drive was first announced. The biggest difference between Google Drive on iOS and on Windows or other platforms is that Google Drive on iOS appears as an icon, rather than as a drive folder listed along with other storage devices as it is on Windows.
Otherwise, its functionality is much the same. You have a cloud storage that you can access from any of your devices that support it. In this Google Drive is different from iCloud, which is primarily designed to hold backup data for iOS and other devices that are using iTunes. This means that you have one place to put data and then access it from your desktop computer, your laptop computer, your iPhone or iPad, or your Android device.
While it's not quite as flexible as Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Skydrive, Google Drive for iOS works well enough. You can share anything from files from Google Docs to photos of your pets between your devices.
Both of Google's new iOS apps work well, and both are worth having--as long as you don't mind being part of the Google Universe.