A Tale of Two iOS Developers

Watching Google and Microsoft develop applications for iOS over the last few years has been interesting. Microsoft under Steve Ballmer took a pretty soft approach to preparing applications for the iPhone and iPad. Microsoft Office was reserved for Apple operating systems and hardware and those Microsoft apps that did come to iOS left a lot to be desired. On the flipside, Google seem to get the idea of apps on the iPhone from day one.

Somewhere along the line, however, things flipped. These days Microsoft’s iPad apps are arguably better than their Mac apps. I’m particularly impressed with Microsoft Word on the iPad Pro, which I’m using just about every day. Google, on the other hand, has declined.

Google Documents has always been the preferred platform for heavy document collaboration. As a word processor, it’s not particularly good but it is rocksolid in the collaboration department. Nevertheless, there has been a definite slowdown in engineering talent thrown at the Google iOS applications. Google Documents on the iPad just got iPad Pro keyboard support this week. This new update, however, still does not add iPad multitasking. Apple announced multitasking last June at WWDC. We are now approaching nine months and Google’s iPad apps still don’t support this feature. At this point I’m seriously looking at alternatives to Google Docs.

As far as I can tell, Google has not said anything publicly about why app development slowed down for the iPad and iPhone. Maybe they just don’t care and, like the Microsoft of a few years ago, want to put their best stuff on their own hardware. Either way, if a few years ago you had asked me to pick which of Microsoft or Google will suck at creating iPad apps, I never would’ve guessed Google.