Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote speech today featured a number of exciting announcements: a new M2 chipset and a redesigned MacBook Air to hold it, new features that help Apple devices work better together, and privacy – and security improvements to Apple accounts. But from an Android enthusiast’s perspective, many of Apple’s announcements today seemed… familiar. Here are six things Apple announced today that Google has already done.
This is a big deal: iOS 16 lets users customize their lock screens, with multiple clock styles, fonts, and accents to choose from. Many of the customization options look flashy, and Apple even offers the ability to set different lock screens depending on the focus mode you’re set (allowing for different lock screens at home and on the go, for example). Work). There are even widgets.
That last part may sound familiar to longtime Android enthusiasts: Google introduced lock screen widgets in Android 4.2 almost a decade ago. However, the feature was dropped in Android 5.0 Lollipop not long after. Samsung still offers similar features, but it’s no longer part of Android itself. Assuming Apple doesn’t lose interest in lock screen widgets, it’s a good bet that we’ll find a similar feature back on Android for years to come — so it goes these things often.
Shared Photo Libraries
One of the best features of Google Photos is the ability to share albums with other people, who can add their own pictures. There’s even an option to automatically share photos with specific faces to specific albums.
In conjunction with iOS 16, iCloud Photos will get a similar feature – albeit one that’s expanded in a number of interesting ways. Users have the option to create a separate, shared iCloud Photo Library for up to six users — rumored to be a family. Any photo added to the group library is fully available to anyone you share the library with, including the ability to edit or delete it. Users can import photos manually, but Apple will also make suggestions to seamlessly add future photos featuring group members’ faces. Interestingly, iOS 16’s Camera app also has a switch that sends captured photos directly to this group library. That is practical.
It’s clearly not a one-to-one functional copy of Photos’ shared albums — Apple’s solution seems simpler in some ways and more involved in others — but shared photo libraries that automatically add specific faces are Google Photos 101. It’ll be interesting to see how Google Photos is performing over time as a result of this.
A fitness experience without a watch
This might be a small potshot considering the state of Google Fit, but still: Starting with iOS 16, iPhone users can track their physical activity with Apple’s fitness app without an Apple Watch. While Apple’s Health app includes some physical activity data, the actual fitness app was previously only available to Apple Watch owners. Soon everyone with an iPhone or iPad will be able to benefit from it. Revolutionary.
Jokes aside, opening up fitness to more users is a smart move: Apple’s subscription services are an increasingly important revenue stream for the company, and as more people try fitness, more people will want to pay for Apple Fitness+ (and probably an Apple Watch to buy).
Apple Mail improvements
Apple today announced that its Mail app is getting a slew of improvements for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Users can cancel an email for a few moments after pressing send, which buys valuable time to correct errors. There are new reminders to follow up on your own emails that you never got a reply to, as well as the option to hide an email and reappear at a later time. These are really all great changes.
These are also all the features currently available in Gmail. You’ve been able to “undo” sent emails on the web for almost a decade (the feature later came to mobile). Gmail introduced both nudges to remind users of inactive email and email snoozing as part of its major design overhaul in 2018, and received scheduled emails for its 15th anniversary the following year.
Apple Maps gets multi-stop support
Apple Maps gets the option to add multiple stops to a single trip – which should be handy for planning each trip to more than one location. Since 2016, you can do the same thing in Google Maps — although Google Maps only lets you add nine stops to a given trip. Apple Maps supports up to 15.
Dictate punctuation and emojis on iOS
Apple improves the dictation experience in iOS 16, allowing users to enter and edit text simultaneously using the onscreen keyboard and voice input. That’s pretty cool in itself — on Android, if you touch the keyboard while typing, your device will assume you’re done speaking and turn off the microphone. But iOS Dictation also gets a few tweaks that Android first got a taste of on the Pixel 6: It automatically adds punctuation (no longer saying “comma”) and lets you dictate emojis — so if you’re saying “laughing emoji” say is 😂 produced in your text.
Google credits its Tensor CPU’s on-device speech processing improvements to the Pixel 6’s improved voice-to-text capabilities, so it’ll be interesting to see how far back Apple can port its new emoji-filled dictation experience.
Apple’s new ideas
Today’s WWDC keynote was a lot from Apple copying Google’s homework, but two of our favorite announcements today are things from Google Not Do it first: iOS 16 lets you copy and paste things (and dogs!) directly from Photos, and Safari gets a simple but potentially game-changing feature that we’d love to see copied from Chrome.