Monday, August 12, 2013

Going Google - An Overview of Google's iOS Apps

Just because Google & Apple are public competitors doesn't mean their platforms & services don't play nicely on your devices...

Google and Apple have a very contentious public relationship. Apple even went as far as to announce Bing as the search engine for the iOS 7 version of Siri at the World Wide Developer Conference back in June (for those who know Apple's history with Microsoft, a switch to Bing, owned by Microsoft, is a big deal - Google is still Safari's default search engine, so Apple is hedging a bit...).

All this public contention doesn't mean Apple's iOS devices aren't great platforms for accessing & running Google's app offering. I work in a Google Apps for Education school and every teacher has an iPad. We mix & match Google & the iPad on a daily basis to get the most out of each.

The best part of the Google iOS app suite is they are all free!

Here is a quick primer on a few of the Google apps I use the most on my iPad...

  • Chrome - keeping your tabs synced between your classroom computer & iPad is invaluable. Use the "Other Devices" menu to see what tabs you have opened on other systems you are logged into

  • Drive - real-time creating & editing of documents and spreadsheets (I keep my grade book in Drive as a spreadsheet), real-time sharing & collaboration on documents & spreadsheets (great for students working together in a 1:1 environment of teachers working together, remotely, on lesson & unit plans)

  • Google Voice - amazing tool for giving out a cell phone number that isn't your actual cell phone number. Give it to parents for easy outreach, have it go straight to voicemail & check messages & transcripts from your browser window. Use the iOS app on your iPad to send & receive text messages. Use the app on your phone to make & receive calls on your secondary, Google Voice, number

  • Google Earth - great for geography lessons, comparing terrain of different locations, looking at geographic implications of international relations, overview with Pictures & Wikipedia enabled to get a preview of field trip locations...

  • Translate - basic translations to ease communication with non-English speaking students & parents, using the translation errors to help illustrate the difference in language (grammar, etc) between a student's native language and English or vice versa if you are a foreign language teacher

I recently did a webinar for as a bit of a primer on the Google iOS offerings. You can view the on-demand recording here. The slide deck from that presentation is embedded below...

These are but a few of Google's iOS apps, what works for you might be slightly different, but hopefully these resources can get you started leveraging the power, and price, of Google's software with the genius that is Apple's hardware!

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