Google is a big company, yes we know that’s obvious, but it had to be said, and despite popularity in mobile and now an attempt in Desktop, Google’s heart is online and they have an insane amount of online services helping Google become one of, if not the, most well known company online. Aside from online Search, Google now have YouTube, Mapping services, a Social Network, Android, Chrome, Chrome OS to name but a few, they also have apps for Smartphones to help people connect to these services easily … well, they do on Android and iOS. But what about Windows Phone, the third player in mobile?
Google are childish to Microsoft
Listen to this, Microsoft have published (as of this post date) 25 apps on Google Play for Android devices, Microsoft also make apps for iOS and Blackberry 10 as well, this is a company wanting their apps and services on as many devices as possible, this is good!
Now, let’s look at things the other way around. Google have made … ONE app for Windows Phone and ZERO for Blackberry 10, despite the fact that Google are the biggest, much rich, online companies around! This is not how a company should approach apps, despite the fact Google also want their apps on as many devices as possible in any interview you find. Google have been quoted to saying they will bring apps to platforms that grow, using their 22 iOS apps as an example, but we just think they’re ignoring Windows Phone in particular based on the really childish history between Google and Microsoft. Volume of sales you could argue is the reason, but if that’s true, why is their still only one app for Windows 8 by Google (Windows 8 Store).
Either way, despite their differences, luckily there’s people out there that will do Google’s dirty work for them and many alternative apps are available for Windows Phone, so let’s have a look!
Want Google Services on Windows Phone?
Below is a list of Google services, Description, Other service alternatives*, and Options on Windows Phone with best one listed first.
Google Search is the true heart of Google, which is fair enough as Google have indeed made a Google Search app for Windows Phone, and Windows 8/8.1.
The app features are pretty basic, but this is essentially an app to make people not touch that Search button on their Windows Phones.
The app doesn’t have Google Now *yet, we’re told*, but you can Voice Search Google, and you will get interactive reactions and Card results where available for standard Google Now like searches.
You can log in to the app and access Google’s other services in the app, but bare in mind, you will simply launch the Web Apps within the Google Search application.
Non Direct Alternatives: Bing, Yahoo, Ask, etc
Alternatives to the official Google Search: MetroG (Mimics Bing UI for Google Searches, HIGHLY RECOMMEND!)
YouTube, which was purchased by Google in 2005, is an interesting thing for Google when you think about it, which makes it genius for them to have it. Easily the two most visited websites online for anyone out there, is either Google, YouTube, or both, making the service very valuable, and it ain’t too bad of a service either!
Now… YouTube on Windows Phone is a long story. Microsoft were willing themselves to build a YouTube app for Windows Phone, Google said they must implement ads, so they did with Google’s private API for ads, then they blocked the app loading from their servers and requested the app to be build under complete HTML5, despite neither the iOS or Android apps are, this resulted in the app being removed due to it being dead when Google blocked it, this is pathetic and one of the reasons Google are just being completely childish and this was a completely no excuse thing!
As we mentioned, their are YouTube alternatives on Windows Phone, and luckily they’re really good! MetroTube is our YouTube app, we also recommend you try MyTube, both are brilliant apps that are actually so good you forget they’re unofficial, PrimeTube is also available but not quite as good! BUT, VEVO content will not work on these apps as they require an ad playing to play, you can still play that content through IE but not idea, which is why we also recommend installing VEVO for Windows Phone to get around this, VEVO who aren’t stupid like Google and make apps for all platforms they can!
Maps isn’t one of Google’s necessarily best services or most popular, but it’s fair to say it’s useful. Microsoft obviously had their own Bing Maps, until partnering with Nokia and gaining NAVTEQ data making Bing Maps/Nokia (HERE) Maps merge. Nokia also offers Drive making Maps kinda pointless for Google to bring to Windows Phone as a more than viable alternative is built in, still switchers want to use Google services so let’s see.
Their isn’t obviously an official Google Maps app, but there’s sure alternatives and they all work pretty well. If you pretty much search ‘Google Maps’ on Windows Phone, any result will work perfectly fine, some (at least for now) even have Google Maps name and icon.
Gmail is Google’s e-mail service, occasionally switches to being called Google Mail or Gmail when they make their minds up. Gmail is probably the easiest one of these to tackle on Windows Phone as, like an iPhone or a Blackberry, you can simply log in to Google through Settings > E-Mail and Accounts, from this you can get Gmail Contacts and Calendar from Google. An update is going very soon for Windows Phone as well (not Lumia Black) to tackle the latest API Google are using which is expected to make Sync much better.
BUT, if you want Gmail a separate app, which seems redundant, their are alternatives!
Non Direct Alternatives: Yahoo Mail, Outlook
Google Drive is Google’s Cloud offering, if you’ve ever used Android or was curious you likely know what Google Drive is. Of course, like iOS, even if Google made a Google Drive app for Windows Phone limited File Management on the platform would degrade the use of the app.
You could also, like Microsoft probably would, argue SkyDrive could be a viable option, like Apple would lie and say iCloud is actually good! Box.net is available on Windows Phone too as another decent alternative, but what about Drive?
What about Google Docs?
Most Google Drive apps support editing of Documents whether its downloading them locally and using Windows Phone’s built in Office applications and saving them back, if you wish to handle Google Docs there’s only one we’ve found to do that available here!
Google Music was my favourite app on Android, not because it was any better than Xbox Music or iTunes on iOS, it remains functionally better due to the ability to upload 20,000 songs to the Cloud as well as Google’s offering through their Subscription service All-Access. Now, you won’t be able to use All-Access on Windows Phone, but you will be able to stream all your uploaded Music in the Cloud with available alternatives on Windows Phone
But, do bare in mind Microsoft’s very own Xbox Music also offers unlimited streaming Music of songs you might not even have for the same price if All-Access is such a problem for you, Nokia also have offerings too. Beats and Tesco are also bring their own alternatives too very soon.
Google Translate is a great, but not perfect, service for easily and quickly translating text or sound in to another available language for later or current use. As we just mentioned the service is far from perfect and not reliable, but name a service that is. Google have Translate apps for iOS and Android, but yes no apps for anyone else, but as is becoming apparent in this post work arounds are more than available.
Microsoft have their own Bing Translate application, and I’m sure it will won’t surprise you to know multiple other companies make language Translation apps too.
Hangouts is a chat service by Google, which was recently rebranded from Google Talk. Both Android and iOS are available and allow cross platform Chat. But what about Windows Phone, easy, try pretty much ANY chat service!
The good thing about Hangouts is it still uses the same old Google Talk API, which means despite Google making it look like a restrictedly available service, it’s actually available anywhere supporting the old Google Talk plug-ins, whether its apps you had from iChat/Messages on OS X to anywhere!
Last, but not least although we use it least, we have Google+. I think it’s fair to say on the list this is Google’s least successful service. Everyone hates it’s new integration with YouTube, adoption is forced on Android devices whether you want it or not, and after all that, as a Social Network its a bit … well, we won’t say it we’ll just say low-key?
But, people use it, and for the select few that do we’ve good and bad news for you. Is there alternatives to use, yes, are they really worth using, not really. Most apps on Windows Phone for Google+ can only really use a limited number of functionalities from the WebApp due to Google’s tight restrictions on APIs with the service, which means if you’re on anything but a Desktop, Android or iOS, Google+ is pretty useless, and that’s completely Google’s fault, either way here’s what you’ve got!
So, there you have it 10 (counting Drive and Docs) of Google’s most used services with viable, in some case incredible, alternatives available for Windows Phone 8. If you’re rocking a Windows Phone and need help getting more apps, be it Google or anyone else let us know in the Comments section below.
*other service alternatives are recommended other than Google Search which is an official certified app by Google Inc