iPhone and iPad

10 Lesser Known Google iPhone Apps You Should Be Using

Saikat Basu 29-07-2016

There are plenty of essential Google apps for your iPhone that you already know about. Think about the everyday utility of Google Maps How to Measure Area and Distance in Google Maps and Google Earth Google Maps and Google Earth can automatically measure both distance and area for you. Learn how in this step-by-step guide. Read More or the hour by hour use of Google Calendar 10 Unique iPhone Calendar Apps You Probably Haven't Heard Of View and interact with your calendar like never before with these apps for iPhone and iPad. Read More . There are also some lesser known apps that bring unexpected benefits to little corners of our worlds.


With over 2 million apps in the App Store, it is easy to forget that Google and its little band of merry apps aren’t only about search and email. They are also a bit about education and creativity, which is what this article is all about.

Yes, “lesser-known” is a very subjective hyphenation, but just like the not so obvious Google services 3 Lesser-Known Google Services That You'll Find Useful Google offers plenty of awesome services, many of which you may not be aware of. Here are a few that you'll find handy. Read More on the web, these apps can be surprisingly handy when you put them to the task.

And Google has the pocket to offer them all to us for free.

Arts & Culture – Become an Art Historian

Google Arts & Culture

Google Arts and Culture is not only for the arts devotee. If you have given this hidden Google gem 7 Hidden Gems from Google That Can Still Surprise You Add a little fun and education to everyday tasks with the help of seven brilliant tools from Google. Read More a miss, try out the website and revamped app in that order. The app is a more useful implementation of Google using its search power to catalog art and cultural artifacts from more than a 1000 museums around the world. One of the most eye-popping features is the 360-degree panoramic tours of hundreds of museums, heritage sites, and landmarks. And then there’s the Street View-styled virtual reality experience if you can get via Google Cardboard How to Get Started With Virtual Reality for Under $30 Virtual reality is finally here, but the various devices can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Want to try VR without investing a huge amount into it? Here's how. Read More .


The strength of the app is in the different ways you can discover interesting content. It opens with a fresh featured item of interest every day. You can search artifacts by medium, study art movements, go back to historical events, locate places, and even filter by color or objects.

Thanks to high-resolution photography, you can pinch and zoom into the brush strokes and look at the paintings or artworks in finer detail.

Motion Stills — Turn Your Photos into GIFs

Google Motion Stills

GIFs are the new language of the web GIFs, The Language Of The Web: Their History, Culture, and Future Everything you ever wanted to know about the history of GIFs, how they've evolved, and their cultural impact and significance. Read More . The trend has led to a surge of websites and apps that can turn your videos and photos into animated GIFs. Apple caught on with its launch of the iPhone 6S and the Live Photos How to Turn iPhone Live Photos Into GIFs in One Easy Step Live Photos are great but they're limited because you can only share them with other iOS 9 and El Capitan users. Here's how to quickly convert them to universal GIFs instead. Read More feature, but it fell short of the mark as Live Photos are not GIFs – they are actually a combination of a JPEG image and a tiny MOV file.


Now, you can turn any Live Photos into a GIF with this unique experimental app from Google. Motion Stills not only does the “conversion” but also uses image stabilization technology to remove the jerkiness from Live Photos. GIFs with sound can also be shared with apps like Instagram which does not allow Live Photos yet, or take it further by combining a series of Motion Stills into a mini-movie.

Google Spotlight Stories — Visual Storytelling with VR

Google Spotlight Stories

Keep the VR glasses on, we are heading into the future with interactive stories and immersive storytelling. Google Spotlight Stories is a world of 360° stories specially made for the mobile by Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group.

The selection is small now but you can spot the likes of Justin Lin (Fast & Furious, Star Trek Beyond) and Glen Keane (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast) here. You can watch the stories unfold on YouTube but it won’t be as much fun because the app is specifically designed to use the VR experience and smartphone sensors to make the experience interactive.


For example, when you move your phone to any scenes, you are able to move within the virtual world and unlock mini-stories within the story. The app also produces 3D sound, though you’ll need a good set of headphones for this to work properly.

iPhone users get a dedicated app while Android users can watch the stories with the YouTube app. Google Spotlight Stories are compatible with Cardboard. Don’t forget to click the menu and switch on Download over WiFi only. The movies pack a big punch.

YouTube Capture — Be Your Own Storyteller [No Longer Available]

YouTube Capture

Why leave it to Hollywood? You don’t need a film degree to start shooting your own shorts with YouTube Capture. Get all the tools of the trade in one window, and make beautiful movies quickly on the go by recording, editing, uploading, and sharing. Remember to sign-up and create your own channel 9 Key Ingredients of a Successful YouTube Channel Truth be told, there is no set formula for a successful YouTube channel. But there are a few key ingredients that will make your chances of YouTube fame all the more likely. Read More first.


The app is intuitive – start recording with a single tap. All recording settings (e.g. enable recording with landscape mode only) can be found under Settings. Editing the start and end points is as simple as dragging a pair of handles across the timeline. Drag and drop to re-order clips, remove them, or add another saved clip. You can add your own soundtracks or use free soundtracks supplied by YouTube.

Correct your videos with color correction and use video stabilization to smoothen the shakes. Upload it to your channel and share with your network.

If your channel is up and coming, pair it with the YouTube Creator Studio app to manage your channel on the go.

Chrome Remote Desktop — Remote Control for Your Computer

Chrome Remote Desktop

Get secure access to your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer from anywhere with Chrome Remote Desktop [broken link removed]. Think of it as a skinny TeamViewer. Once you’ve set up the remote connection via a Chrome browser extension, you can access your entire computer from your iPhone. You can also give remote support to anyone, access your personal files and folders, or monitor any process on your desktop while on the move.

We had done a complete review of the Chrome Remote Desktop Control Other Computers Remotely For Free With Chrome Remote Desktop [Cross-Platform] Like many other tech nerds, I am often called upon to seize control of some system remotely and rescue its user from some evil manifestation of technology. This isn’t my job (I don’t do this... Read More and things haven’t changed that much for this simple software.

Gboard — Search Anything from The Keyboard


Google search is such a need that we often switch to it for very common stuff. Gboard speeds up these searches by letting us search and send right from the keyboard, instead of switching apps every time. The built-in keyboard handles the usual Google searches (flight numbers, restaurant addresses and so on) and even lets you search for GIFs and emoji you can paste into a message field.

You can use it anywhere. If Gboard isn’t your main keyboard, touch and hold the keyboard button to bring it up. Get another speed boost by using Glide Typing, where you type words by sliding your finger from key to key instead of tapping. Slide your finger along the space bar and use it like a trackpad to move the cursor. Do note that you can’t use your voice to search Google and send messages with Gboard. And like any other third-party iOS keyboard The 10 Best iPhone Keyboard Apps: Fancy Fonts, Themes, GIFs, and More Tired of the default iPhone keyboard? These alternative iPhone keyboard apps offer GIFs, themes, search, and more. Read More , you cannot enter passwords.

Primer — Learn a Bit About Digital Marketing

Google Primer

Are you a fan of bite-sized learning Reap the Benefits of Microlearning with Bite-Size Lessons Every Day A little learning is always better than no learning. That's how the idea of using little snatches of time for bite-sized learning every day becomes a good habit to start. Read More ? You should be because you can learn a lot even in the little runs of the minute hand. Primer is an interactive learning app that focuses on digital marketing topics like branding, storytelling, remarketing, SEO, and online ad buying.

The summarized lessons are ideal for startup founders, small business owners, marketing executives at big companies with a spare 5 minutes in hand. The app saves your progress even as it updates, with new lessons every week.

Who’s Down — Hang out with Friends [No Longer Available]

Who's Down

Who’s Down is invite only for now but could be worth watching. Google is targeting teens and school goers with this social app as it asks for a school name. Or is it just another testing of the social waters (there’s also Google Spaces) by Google?

The idea is to move away from the noise of larger group messaging apps and keep things simple. Very simple as the screenshot below shows you:

Who's Down

Let your circle know you are free to hang out. Toss out group activities nobody agrees on and settle on one. It looks like a quick decision-making How to Be More Decisive and Get More Done Decision making is stressful. It is also a skill which allows you to get better with practice. You should find it easier to make the right decisions with some of the tips outlined here. Read More  poll that helps you arrive at a consensus within a few seconds.

Google Authenticator — 2-Step Verification for Security

Google Authenticator

Protect your Google accounts from password theft and stealth entry. The app supplies the verification codes, even if you don’t have an Internet connection or mobile service. Two-factor authentication Lock Down These Services Now With Two-Factor Authentication Two-factor authentication is the smart way to protect your online accounts. Let's take a look at few of the services you can lock-down with better security. Read More is easy to set up but can be somewhat annoying to use. That’s the price we pay for increased security and peace of mind.

Google Authenticator can issue codes for multiple accounts from the same phone. But, every Google Account needs a different secret key, which you will get by going through the setup process as explained in the support page above.

One Today — Make a Difference Today

One Today

Now, let’s end by making the world a better place. With the One Today app (U.S. only), you learn not only about the vital social issues facing us today but also create a small impact with a contribution. The donation can be as little as $1. You can also challenge your friends to match or go above your donation. The app features a new project every day, but you can also choose the causes you care about and give to them instead.

As Google says, One Today makes fundraising easy for nonprofits; it also makes giving simple and fun for users.

What’s Your Favorite Google App for The iPhone?

Thanks to the horde of apps to choose from on the App Store, it is easy to give those above a miss. This has partly been an exercise in curiosity about the little-known activities of a tech giant. It is always a pleasant surprise when some shadowy underdog catches our attention amidst the popular lineup of apps like Snapseed and Google Photos.

Did any of these Google apps catch your fancy? Are you using them? Which is the one Google app that is indispensable on your iPhone?

Related topics: Google, Google Search, iPad, iPhone.

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  1. Chip
    August 1, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Longtime Google Voice user. Unfortunately the service is no longer marketed and the app is long in the tooth.

    For iOS 10 Apple has built in hooks for VOIP services to better integrate them. It will be telling as to whether Google bothers to update the app for this integration.

    • Saikat Basu
      August 9, 2016 at 10:52 am

      The app hasn't found an appreciative audience so far it seems. Poorly rated on iTunes.

    • Ben
      August 16, 2016 at 11:42 am

      Google Voice, once Grand Central, is another example of Google just killing a wonderful app by trying to make it something else instead of concentrating on what it was when they bought it. This was by far the premier voice telephone app when Google bought it. Then instead of working with what it was to make it better, they forced it into their crappy face book clone and claimed it wasn't doing well because they refused to allow it to do what it was designed to do.

  2. Lina
    July 31, 2016 at 8:48 am

    I was wondering how I could create gifs. Will try Motion Stills, seems very easy.
    Also liked the Chrome Remote Desktop. Very useful, i think.

    • Saikat Basu
      August 1, 2016 at 8:27 am

      Let us know how it turns out Lina. I can also recommend Adobe Spark if you are into animated videos. It is also free.

  3. Bryan Wolfe
    July 29, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    What a great list. The biggest worry is that Google will kill these.

    • Saikat Basu
      August 1, 2016 at 8:25 am

      Let's hope not Bryan. I hope they stick around like Snapseed (so far).