The app ecosystem on our mobile phones is huge. There are so many apps in Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store that you'll never be short of options. Many apps directly compete with one another, but it's practically impossible for us to agree on which apps are the absolute best. Nevertheless, we all have our preferences, and that's what this post will be about. I won't try to convince you of which apps in the showdowns I'm about to share are better, I'll just share with you which apps I prefer to use and why. Don't forget to share your own preferences after going through this post. It'll be interesting to see why other people use other apps. We might even learn some tips and tricks for the apps that we use that we never even knew about.
Navigation: Google Maps vs Waze
The first showdown is between two Google properties, Maps and Waze. While Maps may be the preferred service for many people in the West, Waze is very popular on this side of the world here in Asia. Especially in Malaysia, where Waze recorded the highest number of users among Asian countries in 2017. I've gone back and forth between these two services over the years. I used to use Maps at first, then I switched to Waze, but now I'm back on Google Maps and I think I'll be sticking with it for the foreseeable future. There are some features of Waze which I miss, like live reports from users about obstacles on the road, speed traps, and cars stopped on the side of the road, but I decided to switch to Maps because it just worked better most of the time. Waze works fine, but just seems less polished compared to Maps and some features were just broken. Also, all the mapping data that Google has in Maps makes it much more informative than Waze, which is great for navigation but not great for exploring the places around you. Ultimately, the entire user experience just feels better on Maps than Waze, which is why I give the win to Google Maps.
Cloud storage: Google Drive vs Dropbox
I used Dropbox a long time ago, but once I started using Google Drive I pretty much stopped using Dropbox. I like how Google Drive is integrated with Google's productivity services (Docs, Sheets, Slides), and how the files from these services don't take up storage space. Both services have free tiers and paid tiers which offer more storage, but recently Dropbox shot itself in the foot by introducing a device limit to the free tier, which limits free account holders to just three devices. Ouch. Not to mention that Dropbox's free tier only offers a measly 2GB of storage. That's quite pathetic really. I literally have no reason to use Dropbox any more and I don't see any benefit to using it, so Google Drive gets the easy win from me here.
Instant messaging: Telegram vs WhatsApp
This is a showdown that I've been writing about a lot over the past few years. On G+ I'd be promoting Telegram as a better IM platform than WhatsApp, even on Facebook back when I used to post once in a while. I continue to do so now on Twitter too. I got some of my friends and family to join, but many people chose to stick with WhatsApp which I consider inferior. You can read more of my thoughts on this in my other post where I share in more detail why I think Telegram is the winner of this showdown.
Keyboard: SwiftKey vs Gboard
Even though iOS users were stuck with the stock keyboard for many years, things changed with iOS 8 when Apple finally allowed users to replace the keyboard on their iPhone with a third-party option. When it comes to keyboards, the main battle is probably between SwiftKey and Google's own Gboard, even though SwiftKey actually had a 6 year lead on Google, releasing its keyboard in 2010 while Google only got involved in 2016. Google's machine learning capabilities and enormous accumulation of data over the years has allowed it to create a very good keyboard in just a short amount of time. However, having used both I still prefer SwiftKey. As someone who usually speaks/texts in two languages at the same time, simultaneous multi-lingual support is crucial, and SwiftKey does it best for me. SwiftKey's predictions and auto-complete are also better than Google's in my experience, which is why I'm giving SwiftKey the win in this showdown.
Music streaming: Spotify vs ?
Lastly, I want to do a showdown between music streaming apps. The problem is that I've only used Spotify, so I can't really do a showdown. I'm on a paid subscription (which gets cheaper per person as more family members join the plan) and Spotify has fulfilled my music needs perfectly so I've never felt the need to try anything else. It integrates with Google Maps too (with Waze as well), which makes it even better.
Of course there are many more apps in each of these categories, and many more categories like internet browsers (I use Chrome), photo galleries (I use Google Photos), and note taking (I use Google Keep), but in the interest of brevity I'll stop here. Have any showdowns of your own or do you use other apps that you'd like to share?