The above statement is one of Apple’s taglines for their iOS/OS X ecosystem, which is mostly tied together by Apple ID and iCloud. It’s an okay experience. I mostly use it for iTunes, and that’s about it.
But what if it meant something else, like fantastic third-party software software tied with excellent hardware?
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the iPad: Google Edition, brought to you by Cydia.
What you’ll need:
-An iPad running iOS 6.1.2 or lower, ideally with an LTE antenna for always-on connectivity
-Minor software skill. You’ll have to click buttons.
-A box or dropbox account.
-The following jailbreak tweaks:
The following Google (or Google-based) apps:
-A Brydge or Logitech keyboard dock.
I’m using my iPhone for screenshots, but it should work about the same.
How to do it:
First, you’ll need to download evasion, which can be done here:
It’s available in Mac, Windows, and Linux flavors; the steps are basically the same on all three OS’s. Hook up your iPhone with evasi0n running, it will automatically detect it and begin the jailbreak process.
Be sure to have your lockscreen passcode off beforehand, as it’ll make the process slightly easier.
Once evasi0n has done its thing, you should see a Cydia icon located on your iPad’s home screen:
Click it and let Cydia do it’s thing. Keep in mind that it’s not as seamless as Apple’s app store. You will have to wait a bit while it updates its files and so on.
We’ll start with basic theming. I use Springtomize and Winterboard:
Springtomize allows you to edit the size of your icons, as well as a host of other features (you can cram another row of icons onto the home screen, for example, as well as hide apps from view. Here is a snapshot of Sprintomize’s options:
It is at this point that we start making the iPad Google-focused. Scroll down to the “Icons” submenu, and pick “choose icons”.
Hide everything but the app store itself, and possibly FaceTime and iMessage, as those are useful and stuff for video calling your cat.
Next, go back to Cydia and install Winterboard so you can theme your icons further. I am currently using the “Flat for iOS” theme, although iOS itself may be flat design before too long. At any rate, here’s my apps:
As you can see above, outside of gmusic none of my app icons have gloss/textures/etc to them. This choice is wholly up to you, but I like the simplicity.
Now we’ll buckle down and get to some system tweaking. iPads and idevices in general are pretty locked down.
These will change that.
Activator significantly opens up how you can interact with your phone. It features an expanded set of multitouch gestures and alternate hardware button toggles:
I mainly use the Status Bar tweaks; tapping the carrier logo results in a Google text search, and tapping the battery symbol results in a Google voice Search. Swiping right to left across the status puts the device to sleep, and swiping left to right results in a home page view rather like that of Nova Launcher:
Browser Changer…well, it changes your default browser to whatever you like, and sets your default maps to Google Maps if you want. I don’t use my phone for navigation, but alot of people do and its useful.
IntelliscreenX brings a massively expanded version of the Notification Center into it. You can install third-party widgets, reply to texts and emails without leaving the notification center, and view FB and Twitter feeds.
Dashboard X is easily one of the best widget implementations I’ve seen in a long time. It allows you to either put them directly in the home screen, or have them grouped in an overlay, which is how I use them on my iPhone:
PKB backup is one of the simplest and most useful tweaks/apps I have ever found. Remember how Box was giving away 50GB of cloud storage for free a year or two ago?
Well, it actually has a use now: Device backup.
Printify was a pretty damn big deal for me. I’d wanted to be able to use Google Cloud Drive for years from an iOS device and simply could not-the only option was Airprint, and as my printer is not Airprint capable (but can be used with Bonjour just fine-wtf Apple?) I wasn’t going to pop for a new printer for the random times I want to print from my phone (or in this case a tablet.)
Printify fixes that by inserting Cloud Print directly into the system. You can print anything to Cloud Drive, or save it to Drive, and so on.
Final step: Keyboard.
Let me put one thing out there: Your use of a tablet may not require a keyboard. But I absolutely love a physical keyboard, especially one that attaches to your tablet and can be removed or attached as you want-sometimes I have no need for one, and sometimes I do.
These are probably the two best keyboard docks for iPads right now:
Logitech Keyboard Dock:
The Logitech is somewhat less sophisticated than the Brydge, which we’ll be getting to in a minute, but is significantly cheaper-anywhere from 50 to 100 dollars less new. It “clips” via a magnet.
Brydge Keyboard Dock:
The Brydge is fantastic, but quite expensive. Prices on Amazon range from 150 to 229 dollars. It is very nicely made, and connects to the iPad via bluetooth, along with rubberized clamps to hold the iPad in place. Keep in mind that dependent on the iPad you buy the Brydge’s cost will move you into the same price range as a lower-end or refurb Macbook Air. This is compensated for by an equal degree of possible personalization with jailbreaking, and much better battery life as well, IMO anyway. Plus of course you don’t have to buy a Brydge.
That about wraps it up. Feel free to post questions in the comments.