An interesting article over at Mac Stories runs through the changing face of iOS as it has gradually ditched Google services and adopted more third-party options. In the beginning, Google services were a default part of the iOS experience. In iOS 4 Apple added Bing as a search option and removed the Google branding from the search box. In iOS 6 Apple is removing Google Maps and YouTube as default services. Search remains the last default Google service on iOS.

The contrast is clear. As iOS has gradually moved away from Google services, Android has integrated them more and more. Google Search is fully integrated on Android devices. There’s also Google Maps, YouTube, and Chrome will be the default browser in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

Is competition coming before user experience?

We’re all aware of the animosity between these tech giants, but you have to wonder if it is starting to impact on the quality of the final product. Apple acquired a number of companies in its attempts to put something together that can compete with Google Maps. The thing is, Google Maps works great, we’re all used to it and it does the job well. It seems unlikely that Apple’s own Maps app will be an improvement, it may be significantly worse.

The removal of YouTube could have other reasons behind it. Apple’s license expired and it’s possible that Google didn’t want to renew because the default iOS YouTube app did not support advertising and only gave limited access to content. The popularity of YouTube as a service argues that iOS users would naturally want it. They’ll still be able to download the third-party app from the App Store, but you can’t argue the loss of it as a default app is a good thing for iOS. However, the Google app will be better than the unsupported iOS version was, so for those who download it, the experience will actually be improved now.

In order to completely strip Google out of iOS, Apple would have to find a viable alternative for search. There obviously are alternatives out there, but do any of them offer a better experience than Google right now?

What about Android?

You could argue that Google is doing the same thing with Android. The integration with Google services is all well and good when we’re talking about the leading services like Google search and Google Maps, but who wants Google+ integration over Facebook? It’s also something of a surprise that Jelly Bean and the new default Android browser, Chrome, won’t natively support Flash anymore.

Of course the experience with Android devices has always been very different from iOS. The fact that manufacturers can create their own branded overlays, apps, and services, contrasts sharply with Apple’s tight branding control. Both approaches have their pros and cons.

What’s clear in all of this is that no one device will offer the ultimate experience straight out of the box because of competition. Unless one company manages to create, buy, or partner with, the cream of the crop for every service then we’ll always have to pick and choose.