The Google I/O keynote has just ended and although the Verge’s verdict is “The moonshots, it seems, will have to wait“, I think they’ve presented some great new and updated products. Even though they left Gmail and Docs out, their product refresh feels pretty much like Apple redoing their entire hardware lineup (which they almost did last autumn):
- Google Maps gets a major update with a completely new user interface for desktop and mobile apps
- Google Search can be piloted with your voice in a conversational way and seems to become what Siri should be and it’s “don’t even ask me what you want to know because I already know your question”-sibling Google Now gets more functionality
- Google+ has been totally redesigned and continues on the route of becoming what Flickr could have been, if Yahoo had done it right: the best social photography network. Now Google+ automatically enhances your photos and choses the best ones based on algorithms that even know regionally specific tastes of what makes a good photo
- With Google Hangouts they launched a product unifying all their messaging apps into one seemingly very slick package including some very nice looking flat design
- They’ve go even a Music subscription service up their sleeves that rivals Spotify and the similar service Apple is rumored to work on but seems to have difficulties closing a deal on
Not too bad, I’d say. And it shows one thing: Google is not slowing down with what they know best – building great web services. At the same time they’re flexing their muscles in hardware design and seem to have built a great looking and great feeling machine with the Google Pixel.
In the meantime Apple’s web services haven’t really shined. Some streets and bridges seem to be made of molasses in the Maps app (if they are at the right spot at all), iCloud document syncing is really limited – no sharing across apps, across people and (obviously) beyond the Apple ecosystem – and seems to be buggy and a nightmare to develop for. Siri is still a hit or miss for me and anyway I don’t use it much – although I’m sure it has a lot of potential. Pando Daily commented the Google I/O announcements with “Google is keeping iCloud’s promises”
In John Gruber’s words: “Google is getting better at what Apple does best faster than Apple is getting better at what Google does best.”
Please Apple, can we reverse this trend at WWDC? I want to see some updates to Apple’s web services that knock me out, some real magical and “just works” iCloud syncing (and why not finally buy Dropbox…?) and Siri features that are so bloody useful that I wouldn’t mind any more that I’m chatting with a robot in my phone.
But that’s a tough call: Google has shown today that while they’re getting better at Apple’s design game they’re not slowing down in the web services game. And running faster than the leader after having stumbled a few times is going to be hard for Apple.