Believe it or not, Google makes the best iOS apps available

Google_Loves_iOS

Google loves iOS, and they demonstrate this feeling making the best iOS apps available.

Actually they have more than 20 apps available for free [off course] on the App Store for the iPhone and a few less for the iPad, but those apps are not the kind of apps a company makes just to be on a platform, those are great apps. I won’t be too wrong if I say Google has the best iOS developer team available on the market, maybe at the same level Apple has, and they also keep it growing and growing by adding developers of some of the best iOS and web apps available to it. Here’s a few examples:

  • Sparrow iOS email client, acquired by Google on July 20, 2012
  • Meebo instant messaging web app, acquired by Google on June 4, 2012
  • Waze GPS navigation app, also acquired by Google on June 11, 2013

Those are only a few of the acquisitions made by Google to increase their potential and knowledge over the iOS platform. You can easily see the results of this using Google+, Hangouts and Google Maps apps. They are great, won’t crash, have fluent and consistent animations and nice and seamless integration with the OS, try by yourself if you don’t believe me.

Obviously there’s a reason behind.

Google+_iOSGoogle’s objective is to develop an iOS ecosystem inside the OS by making each app able to communicate with the others. For example if you have the Gmail app installed in your device and you also have Google Chrome and/or Google Maps, Gmail will open web links with Chrome and addresses with Google Maps, instead of using Apple’s Safari and/or stock Maps app. But that’s only a part of the story, in fact they want to make better counterparts of the Apple stocks apps so you won’t use Apple’s, in other words, they want to keep you in their ecosystem. Why? Because Google is an advertising company and they need to sell ads to make money, if you use their mobile app you’ll likely end using their web counterparts and that means more possibility for you to see their ads, that’s why.

Google_iOSAnd they’re doing a great job to make that happen since nearly all Google’s counterparts are better than Apple’s stock app, and not only for me but for many other websites. If you use Gmail address, for example, it’s impossible to receive push notifications unless you use Google’s Gmail app, if you want precise turn-by-turn directions on your iPhone you can’t use Apple maps since their inaccurate compared to Google Maps or Waze [Waze = Google, so…], and what about YouTube? Same story.

An other important thing that confirms what I have said is that Google does not give the same level of attention and quality standards to their Android apps. If you have both Android and iOS you’ll agree with me when I say that, sincerely, Google Maps on Android sucks and the Google+ app is the same. No matter what device you have, from the high-end to the 50$ Android smartphone, both of those apps are more sluggish compared to the slowest iPhone ever made. Also the iOS ones gets new features way before Android’s and they’re updated more often too.

Top 3 must-have Google Chrome extensions

The best Google Chrome extensions is, without any doubt, AdBlock [do not confuse it with his “little-big” brother AdBlock Plus]. I simply can’t live or even think to browse the web without having it installed anymore. Nowadays nearly all webpages are full of ads and there are so many types that you can even distinguish between them: banners, pop-ups, pop-unders, etc. and they all share the same aspect: intrusiveness. Not only, in fact they can even follow and track your browsing experience site-by-site without caring about your privacy and/or giving you to ability to opt-out from this process. Luckily AdBlock give you the possibility to block ads on all websites even before they get loaded from your browser and it also blocks companies which tracks you on the web [like Google’s DoubleClick] at the same time. Be sure to select EasyList and EasyPrivacy from the blacklists menu.

Auto_HD_for_YouTubeThe second best Chrome extension in my opinion is Auto HD For YouTube by JRA Apps. This simple and lightweight extension makes your YouTube experience more seamless by automatically selecting the video quality you prefer for any videos you watch. If you’re like me in fact selecting video quality for each videos is a pain and if you’re also as lazy as I am sometimes you prefer watching a video at the ugly resolution of 240p instead of selecting 1080p or 720p and waiting for the YouTube player to reload the entire video from the beginning with the selected quality. This extensions also works with embedded videos, unlike other similar extensions.

The third best Chrome extensions is DoNotTrackMe by Abine. This extension, also available for Firefox, protects your online privacy by blocking nearly all tracking and advertising companies from seeing which sites you visit, videos you watch, purchases you make, etc.. If you use it in conjuction with AdBlock your browser will be able to protect your privacy from 99.99% of websites out in the internet. It needs no configuration  so it does the job for you right after you install it.

How to speed up Google Chrome by disabling useless plugins

Google_Chrome_icon

Google Chrome has quickly become the most used internet browser surpassing Firefox and Internet Explorer and its user base grown seems unstoppable, and it deserves it. It’s a fast, safe and extensible internet browser compared to the second most used, Internet Explorer.

But, like any other PC and Mac software, it can become slow and unresponsive over time. Luckily there are a few ways to speed it up again and the most effective is by disabling installed plugins you don’t need.

When you installed Chrome on you computer for the first time there weren’t many plugins installed other than Chrome’s default ones but third party software [for example Adobe Reader, Quicktime, VLC Media player, etc.], already present on your computer or which you installed in a second moment, tends to install new plugins to better integrate with your browser without asking and, while this is a good thing for safe and good softwares its not so good with bad ones like viruses, adwares and/or plugins you don’t need.

You can think of plugin like toolbars, the more you have the slower your browser will be.

So how can we disable those plugins? It’s a simple thing to do, just follow those steps:

  1. Launch Google Chrome
  2. Once it’s launched type [or copy and paste] this in your URL bar and press Enter:
    chrome://plugins
  3. Now you should see a list of the currently installed plugins, you can safely disable the ones you don’t need by clicking the Disable link under them.

I suggest you to disable third-party plugins like:

  • Windows Media Player Plugin
  • Microsoft DRM
  • DivX Web Player [If you already have VLC and/or you never used it]
  • iTunes Application Detector [100% useless]
  • Chrome Remote Desktop Viewer [If you don’t need remote support]

Careful: Do not disable Default Browser Helper and/or Native Client or Chrome won’t work.

Chrome_Plugins

iPhone is too mainstream

Note to readers: I am not a hipster 😬.

By November 2013 over 421 million iPhones have been sold, with that number we can’t be wrong saying that nowadays the iPhone is in the hand of nearly everyone who have a smartphone and that’s a lot of [different] people. From the geek boy to the old woman, from the school girl to her grandma, they all have the same device. And they all keep downloading apps. In fact by October 2013 Apple announced that more than 60 billion total apps have been downloaded and there are more then 1 million different apps are in the App Store.

With so many apps we can easily imagine that while some of them are crafted with quality in mind, the majority are not. Before it wasn’t like this. I owned every single iPhone model since the original iPhone back in 2007, and I can easily remember how different the App Store was at the beginning. There were way less apps and it wasn’t full of stupid apps and games like today, and do you know what the reason of this “change in quality standards” is? People.

The biggest problem is that the most of users doesn’t even know what a quality iOS app looks like, and, since most of the people download pointless apps those are the results:

iTunes_Top_Paid

Seriously. How can an app like Pou be at the top positions of the most selled paid apps?.

We all know the only way iOS users can run third-party software on their devices is by using the App Store to search and download them, they can’t use any other store or website to do that, unlike Android. Also the App Store is totally under Apple’s control and for this reason it’s a completely closed environment, because they can decide which apps iOS devices can run or not and they can even pull them without any notice. Sure, this is made for security reasons and/or to defend already present apps from clones, but this behavior has a big downside in my opinion and I call it “software saturation“. With this term I mean that there are too many apps users can search for.

On the App Store those are confirmed facts:

  1. The most downloaded apps are the one that are more present on the top charts since they have more visibility over the others.
  2. Searching for apps doesn’t work anymore, there’s too of them.
    People doesn’t search anymore they simply download the most famous apps they find on the top 250 chart.

Mac_App_Store

On the other hand OS X, Windows and Linux [even if they now have their own stores] have an open environment  and anyone can write their own softwareIn fact, if you’re like me when you need a new software for OS X, Windows or Linux you simply search it on Google or any other search engine and then you pick the perfect one for you needs from a majority of similar apps, simple as that, no “App Store” needed. In this situation, with no “charts” or “top downloaded apps” anyone can have the visibility they deserve for their work and, even if there are tons of similar apps no one gets unnoticed [if the software is well made off course] and for this reason there are no conditioning.

How to use Google DNS to access blocked websites

Google_DNS

Recently various famous file hosting websites like Rapidgator.net, Uploaded.to and P2P torrent trackers such KickAssTorrent and ThePirateBay have been blocked and made unaccessible from various countries due to copyright infringement. While I understand and respect the reason who led to this strong decision made by numerous countries and I am totally not against copyright laws I want to share with you a completely legal way to access those websites even after the block by simply using Google Public DNS.

Note: Google Public DNS was not made for this reason in mind and Google is not against countries decisions, but since Google can bypass those blocks using crawlers and they don’t depends on any country decisions because it’s a multinational company we can use it for our purpose.

Before we begin, do you know what a DNS address is? Google explains that perfectly in the Google Public DNS official website:

The DNS protocol is an important part of the web’s infrastructure, serving as the Internet’s phone book: every time you visit a website, your computer performs a DNS lookup. Complex pages often require multiple DNS lookups before they start loading, so your computer may be performing hundreds of lookups a day.

Google DNS comes in two version, one for IPv4 and one for IPv6:

IPv4

  • Primary DNS: 8.8.8.8
  • Secondary DNS: 8.8.4.4

IPv6

  • Primary DNS: 2001:4860:4860::8888
  • Secondary DNS: 2001:4860:4860::8844

To start using Google DNS all you need to do is to insert it in your network preferences. I will show you how to do it with OS X:

  1. From the Apple menu, click System Preferences, then click Network.
  2. Select the connection for which you want to configure Google Public DNS.
    DNS_Tutorial_1
  3. Select the DNS tab
  4. Delete any listed addresses by clicking “” and then click “+” to add the Google DNS addresses [Choose the IPv4 or IPv6 according to your IP version]
  5. Click Ok and then Apply
    DNS_Tutorial_2.png
  6. Done.

Now you will be able to access blocked websites.

Has YouTube become the biggest illegal download website?

YouTube_logo

The new version of the application you desperately need has just came out but you don’t want to buy it? You already tried searching on BitTorrent but the file you downloaded is fake and/or you still can’t find it? Do you need a serial number too?

No problem, all you need is a Google YouTube search!

I’m not joking, YouTube is full of videos with download links to Uploaded.to, Rapidgator, Zippyshare, MediaFire, you-name-it and serial numbers too, placed in the description ready for everyone to copy-and-paste.

Let’s try with iExplorer, a famous OS X and Windows software made by the guys of Macroplant that lets you manage your iDevice [iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch], move files back and forth, backup SMS messages and other things. It costs 34.99$ but you can get it free on… YouTube! Just search “iExplorer serial” and that’s the result:

iExplorer_serial_YouTube

I’ve hided the serial in the picture for legal reasons off course, but you can try it by yourself if you don’t believe me.

Downloading illegal software from YouTube can be easier and faster compared to BitTorrent because you won’t need any BitTorrent client installed on your machine and the download speed is around 120 kB/s using a free account on those file sharing websites. Slower compared to BitTorrent, but generally an app, like iExplorer in this case, is around 20 MB so it won’t take more than 10 minutes.

Sadly enough, that’s only a little part of a bigger story. In fact there also are nearly infinite extensions available on the web for all browsers [here’s a few examples: ChromeFirefox] that let’s you instantly convert a video and download it in .mp3 and .mp4 [AAC] format so you can easily download music illegally.

Google recently discovered this problem and banned all .mp3 downloader from his Chrome Web Store, but the phenomena can’t be stopped in my opinion until they block 3rd-party extensions and/or scripts on YouTube and until they develop a filter for uploaded videos containing illegal links or serial numbers.