Google held it’s annual Google I/O event on Wednesday where they unveiled Android L (the next major version of the Android OS), Android Auto, Android TV, and a plethora of other new features and services. Quite a few of these announcements are very similar to announcements made at Apple’s WWDC just a few weeks back, and others have been on Apple’s roadmap for longer than that. Today we’re taking a look at a few of Google’s announcements and comparing them to Apple’s current (or upcoming) offerings.
Android L vs. iOS 7/8
As expected, Google took the wraps off Android L, the next major version of its mobile operating system. It brings a number of improvements in many areas, featuring a complete visual overhaul and some brand new features. Here we’ll break down each new feature in Android L that may remind you of what you’ll see in iOS 7 and 8.
Material Design vs. iOS 7 Redesign
Material Design is the name Google has given to its redesigned UI. It features a flatter design system-wide, with API’s that will allow developers to create 3D effects similar to what Apple introduced with iOS 7 last year. Android L will allow developers to choose where objects on the screen appear in a virtual stack, and will also allow the creation of real-time shadows that will move with the object to create a real-world effect. A similar effect can be seen in iOS since the redesign of iOS 7 last year, where you’ll notice items such as your home screen icons “floating” on top of the background.
Android L notifications vs. iOS 8 Interactive Notifications
Android L has brought almost an exact copy of iOS 8’s Interactive Notifications to its feature set. Just like on iOS, Android users will now have the ability to reply to certain notifications, mark them as read, or apply other actions to the notifications without interrupting whatever you’re currently viewing on the device. From my personal experience with the iOS 8 betas, this will become a huge time saver for both iPhone and Android users.
Android L lock screen redesign vs. classic iOS lock screen
For the first time ever, Google is bringing a feature to Android’s lock screen that iOS users have had since 2011, when Apple unveiled iOS 5. Android L will (finally) allow users to view their notifications in a list directly from the lock screen, without having to unlock the device or pull down the notification shade. Like iOS 8, it will also bring Interactive Notifications-like functionality to the lock screen, giving access to the same quick actions you’ll find when you get a notification with the device unlocked. Also, is it just me, or does the time and date on Android L’s lock screen look awfully similar to what was introduced in iOS 7?
Chromebook & Android vs. Apple’s Continuity/ Handoff
Arguably one of the biggest announcements of WWDC this year, Apple unveiled its Continuity/ Handoff features, which will allow you to pick up right where you left off on your MacBook, iPhone, or iPad on one of your other devices. With this, you’ll get access to your phone calls and standard text messages on your MacBook or iPad (assuming you also own an iPhone). Similarly, you’ll also get some of this same functionality if you own an Android L enabled phone and a laptop running Chrome OS. When in range, your Chrome OS device will display notifications you receive on your phone. One major setback, however, is that you will not be able to interact with the notification directly from your Chrome OS device. Instead, it just serves to alert you that you have a notification on your phone. Also worth mentioning is that Google plans to allow Android apps to run natively on Chrome OS, which will most likely allow you to sync the apps with your phone. It won’t be nearly as feature-rich as Apple’s Handoff, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Android Auto vs. CarPlay
Moving beyond Android (sort of), Google also announced its competitor to Apple’s CarPlay, dubbed Android Auto. Essentially, it allows you to do what Apple’s CarPlay already does, allowing you to access your favorite music apps, navigate using the Maps app, receive and place phone calls and text messages, perform voice searches, and more. Android Auto will also give you access to some of your Google Now cards, telling you useful information such as the weather and notifying you of reminders you’ve set. Android Auto will include a variety of music services such as Google Play Music, Pandora, and Spotify. This is to compete with Apple’s inclusion of your iPhone’s music, Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Beats Music, Spotify, and Stitcher, all of which are accessible via CarPlay. Both Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay will also support other 3rd party apps, with the MLB At Bat app on board for both options. Android Auto and CarPlay will require a compatible phone to be connected in order for it to work. Android Auto will require a device running Android L, where Apple’s CarPlay is currently iPhone 5S only. Interestingly enough, some manufactures will be manufacturing vehicles equipped with both Android Auto and CarPlay running on the same interface.
Android TV vs. Apple TV
After Google TV failed to gain traction in 2010, Google introduced the Chromecast, which has been fairly successful. Following it’s success, Google has now created the Android TV platform, which was unveiled at Google I/O. Android TV is capable of doing everything you would expect it to do. You have access to the Google Play store for all of your music and video needs, with apps such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Pandora to further suite your needs. In comparison, the Apple TV has access to the iTunes store for your video and music needs with many of the same apps you’ll find on the Android TV. Since its introduction, the Apple TV has had AirPlay functionality built-in, allowing you to stream music, videos, and games from your iOS device or Mac to your TV, while also allowing you to mirror your entire screen. As you would expect, the Android TV is capable of doing the exact same thing. Additionally, the Android TV platform will support special controllers used specifically for gaming, similar to Amazon’s Fire TV. This is one area the Apple TV falls a bit short. One major difference between the Android TV and Apple TV is that Android TV is a platform that TV companies will be able to implement directly into their TV’s, whereas the Apple TV is a set-top box which connects to your current TV.
Google Fit vs. HealthKit
Health has been a hot topic in the technology community as of late, with apple announcing its HealthKit platform and Health app for iOS devices, on top of the ongoing rumors that Apple will release an iWatch with many sensors to monitor your health. Understandably, Google wants to get into that market as well through its Google Fit Platform. Just like HealthKit, Google Fit will allow developers to send data from their health tracking devices to your phone to give you information regarding your health. However, Apple has taken it one step closer by implementing its own Health app into iOS 8, which will display all of your health information in one place, which will save you a lot of time, and eliminate the need for a bunch of 3rd party apps.
What do you think of Google’s stabs at Apple’s current offerings? Do you think Google or Apple did these things better? Let us know in the comments or let me know on Twitter @DarrenLinkNPark.