The Essential apps for your iOS smartphone

Hi all, its time to have a look at the obvious. Sometimes with all the excitement of discovering new apps, we overlook the basic ones we use every day, which is like looking at all the other cars on the road without looking at what our car provides. So here is a quick peek under the iOS smartphone app bonnet and let’s see what basic and essential apps we need to assure our continued existence in the virtual reality world of digital life.


Obviously, I will start with the Google app. This is the global access app that gives you immediate access to all things searchable online. Google app is, in fact, a gateway to all your apps and google accounts. What can this app provide you with? Essentially, everything.

Search and browse:

  • Nearby shops and restaurants
  • Live sports schedules and scores
  • Movies reviews, casts and screening times
  • Online videos and images
  • News, all kinds, and stock information
  • Basically, anything and everything you could search for online

You can personalize your updates and feeds, and this will let you maintain a constant stream of updated data for all your topics and hobbies. You can arrange your first page with weather and news and get constant streams of information as and when they are uploaded onto the www.

Google can also be reached through its many app extensions, and these include:

  • iMessage: this is where you search and share all your information and interests without leaving your conversation.
  • Search Google: this is where you can surf using other browsers and still maintain a Google search by tapping on the Google icon.
  • Gboard: This is Google virtual keyboard where you type in your searches directly from the VK to Google.
  • Trending on Google widget: this is the google widget for constant updates without using the app. Place it anywhere on your screen and get immediate widget updates.
  • 3D Touch: this is where you use the 3D touch icon for fast shortcuts.
  • Search by Voice: just say “Ok Google” (similar to Siri).

Bottom Line: All your Google affairs in one place, a must, mandatory, should have, will have, if you don’t have to get it.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome is the Google browser you can use instead of the Apple Safari browser. Google Chrome does give you speedy access to the web and is friendlier for all your Google accounts. If you log into your Google account in the Chrome browser, you can then access all your Google account apps from the browser too.

Chrome is different from Safari, it looks and feels like the real Chrome with adaptations for the smartphone screen. What Google does do is give you more quality surfing experience, it removes the bottom bar and makes provides a smaller upper bar, so you get more content reading surface. All the browser features are accessible from the upper bar.

Tab switching is easy in Chrome, all you do is drag from the left or right. You can also tap the tab button in the top right corner, and this will show you all the open tabs. Chrome also has an incognito mode set from within the browser. You go to the Chrome menu where you choose the incognito mode and open a new tab from there; this will open up a new set of tabs on your screen. What is incognito? It’s a private service that doesn’t save your browser and search history and cookies.

When using the Chrome app, you can sync your tabs across all your devices; this enables you to work from multiple stations when on the move. You access tabs from other devices in the “other devices” section of the new tab window. When you click on another devices tab, it will open the page on your screen.

Chrome is still one of the fastest browsers around, but it is not as fast as the Apple Safari when on an iPhone. This is obvious due to the technology handshake between Safari and iOS. So, while Safari on iOS does provide faster browser power, it does not give you access to Google account activities and syncing. It’s basically a toss-up between the speed and power of Safari to the cross-device accessibility and syncing of Chrome.

Google app vs. Google Chrome – What is the difference?

Now for the perplexed, why are there two Google apps giving us similar results? The answer is simple; they are not the same. Google app is an app; it is not a browser. It sits on the iOS and connects you to information that is available on multiple sites across the www. Google app is a comprehensive search engine that brings you data from searches in multiple formats. Google Chrome is a browser for opening web pages. This means that Chrome will open web pages, while Google app will open everything using the appropriate app extension, it’s a smart tool for finding information. If you happen to know the source of your data, and it’s a website, then use Chrome, if you don’t have a specific source, use Google app.

Google AMP

There is one update that has blurred the lines between the two apps, and maybe is a sign of things to come. Google has developed and integrated a platform called AMP, which stands for accelerated mobile pages. AMP is a software technology that compresses data for fast transfer and fast opening and will present the information without opening a browser. Another important issue with Google is their market leading AI system that is still light years ahead of anyone else. Here they manage to extrapolate your search, reading and browsing preferences and predicts information that is or should be interesting to you. The algorithm takes information from every Google account you have including e-mail, messenger and other Google apps you connect to.

AMP is an exceptional tool, and it is replacing the use of Chrome, since it provides accurate contact data as well as information about businesses you seek online, for instance. A restaurant local to you, or a car shop. You get the business data as well as quick contact buttons.

Summing up the Google section

Google is. No matter what they do, they will always be, at least for this generation. Google is a must app to have, Chromeless so. If you are an iOS smartphone or iPad owner make sure, Google app is on your screen at all times.


Now it’s time to discuss the leading social media platform, even if it has become the target practice favorite of all countries and social platforms.

Let’s start off by stating that unlike Google, Facebook is not immortal, sure it has nearly a billion users, but how many of them are active? It has competition and stiff ones at that. Facebook can be lost in time, and you don’t really need a Facebook account to live.

However, Facebook is still the leading social media account and is still connecting everyone from around the world. Essentially, Facebook is a must if you have a Facebook account. So, let’s take a closer look at the iOS version.

Facebook for iOS

Facebook for iOS brings you the highest quality of visual data the site can provide. You get clear access to all your information, and settings as well as a neatly streamed timeline with links to all the pertinent screens such as albums, about and more.

The Facebook menu is on the left, which uses the standard Facebook blue background. The notifications section is set to the tip of your screen. The links are set in the same way the PC version is set, so you don’t need to learn new navigation rules with this app. You access the main Facebook menu by tapping on the “+” sign at the top of the screen, and this gives you the profile settings, account settings, events, calendars and so on.

Everyone that has a Facebook account and uses an iPhone claims that the Facebook app is a must. It gives you constant updates and connectivity, where you can comment, and reply to comments. Read updates and upload your own new timeline stories, photos and videos directly from your album or camera.

Conclusions: If you have a Facebook account and use an iPhone it would be daft not to have this app on and ready for immediate use.


YouTube is part of the Alphabet compilation, and for those behind the times, Alphabet is another name for Google. Alphabet is Google’s holding company, and under Alphabet comes Google, YouTube and many more companies you might know about and not care about.

YouTube for iOS is a much more manageable app, and it comes with all the PC features including extension apps for editing videos and uploading them to your account. The main screen enables you to either log in to your YouTube account, and if you have a Google account it will log in automatically to that one., so if you have more than one Google account, make sure you are using the right one for YouTube.

You get access to all the trending videos, latest uploads, and also, as part of the Google experience, YouTube watches what you watch and then makes suggestions as well as gives you trending videos based on your preferences.

YouTube Red

What was once predominantly red is now predominantly white. The upper bar is a thin line with the YouTube icon on the left, and the “record” icon, search icon and account icon on the right. At the bottom of the screen are the navigation buttons, home for your front page, trending, subscriptions (if you subscribed to any channels) inbox and library. The library is where you have all your saved, downloaded and view later videos. The inbox is where you shared videos with others and get videos shared with you. It also connects with your contacts, and you get a list of your contacts you can share videos with.

Opening a video is standard, and all the features you get on the PC you get here too, including full screen, pause, and video and quality calibration.

There is one major con. When you open a video, you get a list of videos linked to the one you view, sometimes you want to continue visiting more videos from the list, and when you press another video, the original list is lost. This is an issue and causes a lot of frustration. The only way I found around this is by storing videos in “watch later.” This enables me to save videos without downloading them and enjoy the navigational exploration without worrying about the lost video to view options.

The future Competition

Some might argue that YouTube has no competitors. However, there are many other video channels out there. Since they are not as comprehensive as YouTube, they get lost in the white noise of the www. However, a recent update in Instagram, their IGTV upgrade will pose a direct threat to YouTube, and I expect the effects to become apparent over the next 12 months.

Conclusions: YouTube is the video google, and yes, if you are a video freak and don’t have YouTube on your iOS you are like a drug addict without drugs – high and dry and shaking all over.


Instagram is owned by Facebook and is essentially an extension of their social media platform dominance. Instagram is a visual platform that shares photos and videos rather than content. However, Instagram has led a sneak attack recently, and their new IGTV channel that appears in all Instagram apps provides users with the ability to upload 1-hour videos too. So, watch out YouTube, Instagram is gunning for you.

Now let’s look at Instagram as a social media platform. The app is really simple. You register a profile, very limited number of fields to register to make this an extremely user-friendly experience. You get to create your own photo album of information with a timeline of photos and videos.

You upload the graphics and give (or not) a brief description; you can also play around with the filters too.

You can search for interesting people or channels to follow, and if you build up a big enough following, you can start to make some money from your Instagram uploads. Although to truly feel this effect you need to reach over a thousand followers.

Simple but Perfect

Many chefs claim that less is better, where you try to squeeze as much flavor out of the products you use, and the more flavor you squeeze out of one item will enable you to use fewer items. So too with video and photo networking. You don’t need a lot of words, a picture is worth a thousand words, and yes, you can play with your pictures to create millions of words.

The search item is great, you type in a word or string, and get loads of photos to choose from. You can pick a channel or an individual feed. Some profiles are private and require the user to accept you, others are public, and acceptance is immediate.

You might also be picked, and all you need to do is accept the request or make your profile a public one and that way you get the immediate, unfiltered following.


Instagram is for the visual explorer, if you prefer to see rather then read, a comment rather than discuss, then Instagram is the social network for you.

Overall Conclusions

These are the top four, there are more apps to consider, such as Skype, WhatsApp, VPN’s, other social networks, banking and news sites. In fact, there are thousands of options. These four make up the holy quad of smartphone apps that appear on the most smartphones around the world.

Wait for my next ten top apps, which will include the messengers and other important apps that are found on most smartphones, under these four leaders.