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5 Tips for Using Google Apps on an iPad

by Kasey Bell on September 16, 2014


Kasey Bell is an instructional technology consultant with a Master’s degree in Educational Technology, and more than ten years in the field of education. Kasey will be presenting the session “Ooey Gooey Google! Google Apps for the iPad” at the 2014 Teaching and Learning with the iPad Conference this November in Raleigh, NC. Follow Kasey Bell’s blog, Shake Up Learning, for more great Google tips and edtech resources.

Google and Apple are two very different ecosystems. Both provide great technology and digital tools for use inside the classroom and beyond. When these two worlds collide, they offer a powerful toolbox for educators giving you the best of both worlds.

When iPads were first introduced, they did not play nicely with Google Apps. We have come a long way, and the two CAN play nicely with each other if you know a few tricks! Here are five tips for using Google Apps on the iPad.

Tips for Using Google Apps on the iPad

1. Google works best with Google.

Go figure! Google Apps work best with other Google Apps. So be sure you install all of the featured apps on this page: Google Apps for iOS. All of Google’s mobile apps were designed to work as a team. Links will open in Chrome instead of Safari, tap on an email address and it will open the Gmail app instead of Mail, etc. If you leverage this team of apps, using Google on the iPad will be a much better user experience.

2. The Google Search App deserves a second look.

If you are like me, I downloaded the Google Search app ages ago and forgot about it. Why do I need a separate search app when searching is built into the browser? Here’s why I challenge you to give this app a second look.

The Google Search App integrates with Google Now cards. Google Now gives you timely, convenient, and customized information like weather, traffic patterns to work, tracks packages, travel information.

The second reason you should give this app another go: “Okay, Google!” If you haven’t heard this phrase yet, you will! “Okay, Google,” is a hands-free, voice search trigger for the app. (You must enable the feature on your device.) Then simply say, “Okay, Google,” the device will beep, and start “listening” for your search query. Bonus: If your search is in the form of a question, Google will read the answer back to you! Think of how much this little gem can help students.

Note: “Okay, Google,” can also be enabled in Google Chrome on the desktop. Chrome on the iPad can also do voice search, but not “Okay, Google.”

3. Forget the native Mail app on the iPad!

Native iPad apps may not be the best app for the job. Just because it came on the iPad, doesn’t mean it is the best app for task at hand. If you use Gmail, and you should, stop using the native Mail app on your iPad. There is a better way. The Gmail app is better, faster, and is cloud-based. The Mail app takes up precious storage space on your device because it is downloading your messages to the device. Have you ever tried to search for an old email in the Mail app? It can be frustrating and time-consuming as you continue to download more messages to search. The Gmail app will also let you connect multiple gmail accounts. Try the Gmail app for a better, faster solution.

4. Forget the native Calendar app!

Google Calendar plays nicely with most other calendar applications out there, but if you want to mimic the gcal functionality you have on the desktop, you must let go of the native calendar app on the iPad. Google does not offer an official Google Calendar app for the iPad, but there are many out there with gcal functionality. I recommend Sunrise (free) or Calendars 5 by Readdle ($6.99).

5. Google+

Google+ is currently the fastest growing social network. Even if you have no interest in adding another social network to your repertoire, you will want the Google+ app on your iOS device for one simple reason: auto-backup your photos and videos to Google! The number one storage hog on iPads is photos and videos. Let Google+ do the work for you and back up to your Google+ account.

Google+ is also a great way to expand your personal learning network and collaborate with like-minded educators. Here are 5 Reasons Educators Should Use Google Plus.

Using Google Apps on the iPad is not only possible, but if you just know a few simple tips, you can have the best of both worlds. These tips only scratch the surface of what’s possible. So what are your favorite tips for using Google Apps on the iPad?

Come and learn more from Kasey and dozens of other practitioners at the original iPad focused education conference – Teaching and Learning with the iPad, November 20 – 22, in Raleigh, NC. Hope to see you there!


Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
5 Steps for Planning Lessons Around Technology – Starting with the End in Mind
One Teacher on a Mission to Change his School by Enabling Teachers with Technology
Digital Tools for Pairing Literary and Informational Texts and Close Reading Skills


Kasey Bell is an instructional technology consultant with a Master’s degree in Educational Technology, and more than ten years in the field of education. Kasey was the lead content developer for the Technology Applications TEKS professional development online courses created for all K-12 teachers across the state of Texas. She has led a variety of instructional technology trainings for all levels of educators, including presentations at TCEA, Texas Google Summit, iPadpalooza and other conferences across the state. A Individually Qualified Google Apps Trainer, Kasey is the lead developer and trainer for the Google Certification Bootcamps, and Intro to Google Apps for Region 10. Kasey is also a lead developer and trainer for the Digital Fluency Academy for Region 10, an all-encompassing 30-hour technology integration training for teachers that incorporates and models 21st Century classroom strategies, differentiation, lesson design, and implementation. Kasey uses her blog to create and curate resources for teachers.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly Walsh November 13, 2014 at 7:15 am

Thanks Erica – I hope you’ll stop back and drop a comment to let us know how Sunrise works out for you!

Erica Lea November 12, 2014 at 10:30 am

This is a nice article, thanks for sharing! I’m going to try Sunrise for the calendar app…I have it set up through the native app on my iPhone and it does work okay, but I’d love it if this works better!

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