In Part 2, we’ll continue our journey into Google’s services on the LG Nexus 5. If you’ve made it this far, it’s obvious that you want to know more about what the Nexus 5 experience can bring. If you’re like most consumers, it’s unlikely you have Android 4.4 KitKat yet, and are simply curious to know what the latest Android update is like and what you can expect. Regardless of the reason why you’re reading this review, you want to see more of Google’s services. In this second part of the Nexus 5 review, we’ll look at more of Google’s mastery at internet services.
Gmail is Google’s email app, allowing you to access email at the touch of an icon. I wanted to mention Gmail here so that someone who may not know about Google ownership would be informed. In the Gmail app, just swipe to the right to delete an email. You can also undo an email after deleting it by selecting the “back arrow” undo button. The Nexus 5 has Gmail app integration built into everything, from other Android applications to its camera app – so sending photos, articles, and documents to Gmail is “only a click away.”
Google Keep is one of Google’s central apps that exists on the Nexus 5. It is one of the only Google apps that I do not choose to live without, since it serves a purpose that is so central to the Android experience – the need to keep necessary links, dates, and other important information.
If you’re the kind of person that finds yourself always making reminders about appointments, dates, bills, business conference calls, and so on, Google Keep is rightly named to allow you to “keep” all of these important pieces of information. The Google Keep app, with a yellow “Post-It” icon, allows you to copy and paste all sorts of necessary information into an app that can save it and retrieve it later. I have used Google keep to retain links to excellent articles that I like, so it could serve as a Pocket alternative for those who do not want to use a Pocket article app to download and save articles. I must warn you, however: as excellent as Google Keep is to Google’s Android offering, it cannot compete with Pocket, however. The Pocket app retains articles so that you can read the entire article offline – even if you find yourself in a place that lacks a data or Wi-Fi connection.
Google Keep, I believe, is an Android 4.4 KitKat offering – so Android users who upgrade to the best of Android will enjoy this neat app. I have found myself using it, and I believe you will too.
You would think with all of Google’s unlimited photo storage that Mountain View would not need to give you more – but that’s precisely what Google does with its own Google Drive. Google Drive is Google’s cloud storage service that grants you 15GB of free cloud storage just for signing up for the service. Depending on what Android smartphone you upgrade to, you could receive an extra 50GB of free Google Drive storage for two years. The HTC One, HTC One Max, and other Android smartphones now come with a 2-year, 50GB free Google Drive cloud storage offer, to encourage Android users to sign up for more cloud storage than current numbers suggest. If so, take advantage of this. Although, I must warn you: Box is a cloud storage provider that offers you 50GB of cloud storage on a permanent basis, not a temporary one. 2-year, 50GB free cloud storage offers are nice, but it’ll be nice when Google and other Android manufacturers offer permanent cloud storage above 15GB (and scrape temporary cloud storage offers).
For Nexus 5 users, however, Google’s Google Drive storage provides 15GB of cloud storage for your documents, seeing that your photos are already saved in Google’s unlimited photo cloud storage capacity. This has been excellent for me, since I purchased a 32GB Nexus 5 and still have approximately half of my local memory storage remaining. Keep in mind, however, that sending documents and photos via Gmail will consume more and more of your cloud storage. What few individuals know is that Gmail and Google Drive (like Google Docs) are connected: if you send documents via Google Docs, it eats up your Google Drive storage. The same can be said for Gmail.
Google Hangouts is the default messaging app on the Nexus 5 – a reason to rejoice. This is another area where the Nexus 5 shines brightly. Since Google is in charge of Android OS, and the Nexus 5 is Google’s smartphone, it makes sense that Google would do what it does best: condense Android into a more convenient encounter. Gone from the Nexus 5 is the typical dichotomy of SMS app/ text messaging app. In fact, you’ll fall in love with using one text messaging app (Google Hangouts) for everything that you’ll never even miss an SMS app ever again. I found myself excited about Google Hangouts as the default messaging app, seeing that I would no longer have to email my friends from two different text messaging apps, and so on.
With this said, however, I want to make it clear that I still use messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger. The reason pertains to Facebook’s connection to all my friends and family and the fact that I do not have to remember phone numbers and email addresses to reach my friends. This, coupled with the fact that my friends are on the go and can rarely be reached at times, makes Facebook Messenger a must-have app, even on the LG Nexus 5.
To appreciate the one-app experience with Google Hangouts, I decided to customize my Galaxy Note 3 and eliminate my use of the regular messaging app in favor of Google Hangouts. Although I like Google Hangouts on the Note 3, the regular messaging app still works – and it still provides notifications, whether or not I like them. If you’re a Google fan who wants to get all the other apps out of the way and have one go-to app for your phone and text needs, look no further than Google Hangouts.
Here is where I go into a comparison between the Nexus 5 offering and the iPhone experience. I realize that the iPhone 5s has been a huge hit for many consumers, and China Mobile customers may be relieved to finally have the iPhone 5s, but I think that a comparison here deserves some attention. When I owned my iPhone 5, I remembered thinking that Apple did not utilize FaceTime to its maximum ability because FaceTime only offers a face-to-face chat experience. I used FaceTime a few times, then quickly abandoned it in favor of Skype because Skype, as you know, offers a more integrative social experience than FaceTime. I can video chat at FaceTime, but I could also make Wi-Fi calls and send texts. Apple has improved FaceTime in iOS 7 with audio calls over Wi-Fi, but there’s still no texting capability implanted in FaceTime; rather, iPhone users have to go to iMessage in order to text other users.
With Google Hangouts, however, I can text, video chat, place phone calls to the person I’m texting, and so on. With Apple’s iOS, a number of users have resorted to other apps to fill the void that Apple cannot provide: Wechat, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and so on. Now that Facebook just purchased WhatsApp this week and placed its CEO on the Facebook Board of Directors, there are a number of iOS users that will turn to Facebook once again for their text messaging and chat needs. Apple, on the other hand, has yet to capitalize on the social chat/text revolution – and Ping, Apple’s original social network, was a flop and died quickly.
Google’s own Google + social network hasn’t been as much of a hit as Facebook, but it does have one thing going for it: Google knows how to provide integrative, social services for the Nexus 5 user. Even if you never use Google +, you will still enjoy the ability to place calls, send texts, and even video chat – all within one Google Hangouts app. Google Hangouts happens to be the best thing that happened to the Android operating system, and one of the “sweetest” things to arrive with Android 4.4 KitKat.
Google News & Weather
The Nexus 5 comes with Google’s pre-installed apps, but few Nexus 5 reviews I’ve read ever detail the kinds of apps you can expect with your Nexus 5. I don’t know if this is the case because tech analysts and writers assume users are familiar with Google’s experience, or tech analysts and writers simply don’t have the space to detail such things. In any case, the Google News & Weather app is an unexpected app that has proven to be more reliable than I ever expected.
Google’s Google News & Weather app is nothing short of an app that provides up-to-date coverage of the weather, in addition to breaking news stories in the country and world. In other words, I can take a look at “Top Stories,” “National News,” as well as Sports and Entertainment news. I’m not particularly too keen on reading about sports and entertainment, but I’m always interested in news about the United States and international news from around the world.
Do you realize how many newspapers, journals, and articles exist on the Web on a daily basis? With so many to choose from, how do I know whether to choose one news app from say, the Washington Post or Huffington Post? What about the Wall Street Journal or IB Times? With Google’s News & Weather app, I don’t need to ponder such questions. I have a wealth of reliable news sources at my fingertips, everyone from the Washington Post to USA Today, and so on.
News apps with an abundant provision of news sources from around the world are becoming hugely adopted, thanks to the guesswork they take out of searching for breaking news on your own. Google does the same thing with its Google News Alerts on laptop/desktop PCs, and I am thankful that the company does this. Without it, I couldn’t be a thorough news reporter on a daily basis. If you want an app that will make you more productive (not just make you feel like you will be), the Google News & Weather app is ideal. It’s a rare app that you don’t find on any other name-brand smartphone offering I’ve seen.
With Google being a software master, the above features are not surprising. They are excellent and will make the Nexus 5 experience sweeter than you ever imagined. We’ve covered all of Google’s special services here, but the internet is another area of Google prowess. Stay tuned for part 3 of our Nexus 5 review, where we’ll tackle Google’s search engine capabilities.