Late last night I spotted a tweet mentioning Chrome for iPhone was now available. Since I use Chrome on my MacBook I couldn’t resist downloading it straight away and having a play before I went to sleep.
The overall design ties in with everything Google is doing, really clean and simple design but where it really sings for me is how you can interact with it. Swipe from the side to switch tabs, view all tabs with a nifty “deck of cards” style interaction to quickly flick through all your open tabs.
After just 5 minutes playing with the app, it had supplanted Safari in my dock which had been there since I got my first iPhone in 2008. I suddenly realised just how little Apple has done to keep some of its core apps up-to-date with new the array of interactions that have been discovered over the last five or six years. Safari on iPhone has always been a pain the arse. The tab interface is clunky and requires too much work from the user to get where they want to be (to switch tabs the user must tap an icon (1), swipe as many times as they need to get to their chosen tab (2) and select their tab (3) - three tasks which can be done now with swipes alone!).
Many of the apps Apple have released recently have a skeuomorphic design which, to me, makes them somewhat dated in a time where designers seem to be moving well away from replicating real-world interfaces in a digital medium. I started to wonder, in my half-asleep state, whether Apple are intentionally letting other apps replace their core apps so they can be relieved of the task of keeping all their core apps moving with the times or if they are simply missing the boat because their focus is on other things.
It seems to be a growing trend, with me at least, that I’m beginning to move away from Apple’s core applications on my iPhone and MacBook. On my Mac I never use Mail, iCal or Safari (replaced by Gmail, Google Calandar & Chrome) and on my iPhone I use Sparrow for email and Clear for todos (in place of Reminders) and now Chrome and I don’t think I’ll ever be coaxed back.