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May 15, 2018

At Google I/O, an Apple fan discovers the importance of cross-platform support

by John_A

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I’m iPhone and you’re Android so we can’t be friends — that’s such a backward sentiment and it’s time we stop thinking that way.

If you wonder what it feels like to be an Apple fan in a sea of Android enthusiasts, you might be surprised to know that it’s really no different from being surrounded by people who are like-minded about the operating system they prefer. In other words, we all love technology and have the same agenda: to make great advancements and have the best user experience.

I spend the better part of a week with Googlers and my Apple-minded takeaway is let’s make great technology for everyone, no matter which devices we use.

Google shoots for the moon

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At the I/O keynote, Google announced a bunch of new features I’m super excited about that are supposed to launch “in the coming weeks.” Stuff like Continued Conversations using Google Assistant, Pretty Please to teach kids about manners while they’re using tech, smart editing features in Google Photos, Android Dashboard, which gives you a quick view of how much your using your phone and provide settings to help you reduce screen time, and visual positioning in Google Maps for more accurate walking directions.

Google encourages a culture of coming up with the most ridiculous of possibilities (or impossibilities), and then asks, “How can we make this a reality?” Some stuff doesn’t ever see the light of day, but when they get it right, it’s pretty amazing.

That’s the joy of exploring new technology. When it works, it has the potential to benefit everyone they’re willing to share what they’ve learned. Each one of the upcoming Android-only features made me think, “Cool! I wish iOS had this.”

What I’m tired of hearing when one company announces cool new tech is, “Big deal. Google/Apple has been doing this for years.” Guess what? It doesn’t matter who did it first. I only care whether everyone gets the chance to use it.

In the music world, we have this saying, “There are no more songs left to be written.” The idea is that there are only so many times the same chords can be used in a specific order. At some point, all the ways you can string together notes have been used. It doesn’t mean one artist is copycatting another. It’s about the song’s creation that matters, not who put C, D, and E together first.

That privacy though

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My Apple-loving brain is sometimes at odds with Google’s collection of my data. I could write a completely separate editorial about this, but that’s not why I’m here.

What I am here to say is that I see the benefit of allowing Google to store some of my data if it’s being used responsibly, which the company makes clear in its Privacy Policy.

I steadfastly believe that Google Assistant is markedly better than Siri, in part, due to the fact that Google Assistant is allowed to remember things.

I’ve compared Siri to a person who’s had a memory charm cast on them. If you remove your assistant’s memories every day before they leave the office, they’re not going to be a very good assistant, are they?

If you protect my data, maybe it’s not so bad that you store some of it on your servers to create a better experience for me.

Maybe (I’m still working this out).

The things Apple and Google are doing right

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One take away I have from attending I/O is how Google is working toward integrating more cross-platform content.

ARCore, for example, is something I’m really excited about because it makes it possible for me, on my iPhone, to play AR games with you, on your Android phone, thanks to Cloud Anchors.

Cloud Anchors connect multiple devices in the real world to augmented reality content. The information is sent to the cloud, which is then sent to a second (or third or fourth) device, which also sends information back to the cloud. The result is cross-platform supported multiplayer AR gaming and I love it.

I love that Google created this cool technology and made it compatible with ARKit. I love that Apple didn’t tell Google, “Nope” when it wanted to share the technology across all supported devices.

This is how Apple and Google should be working together on everything.

The things I hope Apple and Google will do more of in the future

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If I learned anything at I/O its that I want everyone to experience the same amazing technology.

I want to see more collaboration between the two companies (and, why not throw Microsoft into this discussion, too).

If Apple users are concerned with how Google collects data, maybe Apple should share some of its vast knowledge of privacy.

If Google is behind the times when it comes to accessibility, maybe it should ask Apple for advice.

If Siri can’t stop sucking as a personal assistant, maybe it should call up Google Assistant for an AI chat (um, I think I can help).

In conclusion

As much as I love practically everything about Apple, I also love practically everything I saw at Google I/O. Maybe that makes me a dope, but maybe there are a lot more people like me in the world and maybe we should stop talking about what the other guy is doing wrong and start figuring out how to make everyone’s experience better, no matter what tech we use.

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