If I could only be a fly on the wall in whatever room Tim Cook inevitably watch Google I/O’s keynote from. It’s one of those moments where the breeze shifts direction and the momentum picks up – just not for Apple. There is a changing of the guard happening and it’s already here. Most Android users have known this for years, but now it’s official. Android is the leader.
So here is my list of 10 features that make iOS look like a lowly follower to a product Steve Jobs swore to destroy.
Steve Jobs may have sworn revenge towards Android for “in theory” stealing his product, but one thing the ghost of Jobs could never claim was notifications. This was Android’s strength for years and it still looks to remain that way. So just as Apple adds more features to their own rendition of notifications, Android pushes the finish line a few yards farther. With expandable thumbnails, embedded functionality, rich text and images, all easily dismissed with a flick or a wipe, Android has raised the bar once more, leaving recent applause at WWDC seeming like empty echoes.
2. Offline Voice Typing
Voice typing was another feature native to Android for years before iOS 5 rolled in. With that said, voice typing has always been up to a data connection – this is no longer necessary. As Google has scrunched down the data center responsible for assisting this feature and packed it in Jelly Bean, thus alleviated the dependency of a connection. This offers the ability to voice type anywhere, no matter what. Google also launched live voice typing with Ice Cream Sandwich back in November – something Apple has yet to master.
3. Google Now
This is probably as close as Android will get to Siri, with a modified Google Search that works off of Google’s recently announced Knowledge Graph. Google Now learns (with your permission) off of your search results, giving you scores, remembering commutes, and reading back information it aggregates. With recent tests, one by Techno Buffalo, Siri doesn’t stack up to the new Google Search regarding performance. I guess grandma was right when she referred to the Internet as “The Google.”
4. Widgets with Auto Adjust
Widgets are another feature unique to Android. Some are more useful than others, with others sometimes becoming battery hogs, but the flexibility of choice has always been there. Now Android widgets intelligently adjust to their surroundings, can be manually adjusted, and offer more flexibility to get more information from a specific app without having to open it.
5. Google Chrome
Google Chrome is out of beta and now available on iOS. This now gives users a reason to stay within the Google environment, not an excuse from Apple to keep out of it. This means less mobile browsing with Safari, which has been unrivaled for years on iOS. With syncing across the Chrome ecosystem, each Google account is slowly embedding its way into the iOS environment – and that’s bad news for Apple.
6. Google Beam
Want to share photos, videos, contacts and more? How do I get it? Text message, email or chat? How about beaming it? By using the NFC capability only on Android’s Nexus S or Galaxy Nexus devices, sending information can be as easy as uniting devices with a touch.
7. Google Maps Offline
Now Android users can save maps for offline use. So when riding the T in Boston, where holding a data connection can be as bumpy as the Green Line, Google Maps still works. So by being able to save for offline use I can now check T stop schedules and get what I need, when I need it – and without a data connection.
Android’s stock camera keeps getting faster and faster. Now you can bounce quickly between the camera and recent photos, swipe up to delete, or tap to undo. Functionality is king, and for Apple who has touted its user interface as the easiest for years, iOS looks old.
9. Google Play
Android has had OTA updates for years. Before iOS 5 (released in October 2011), Apple failed to wirelessly update devices via the cloud. The Android Play Store has been able to install from computer to device wirelessly for a while now, but their store now offers the ability to update existing apps and uninstall others right from the cloud.
10. Incremental Updates
This might mean more for people who fail to have unlimited data plans, but now Android users can update apps based off of what’s changed, not continually update the whole product. This allows for smaller payloads to travel over the air. This will make carriers and users happy. Even if you have an unlimited data plan, it’s just less time you have to wait to install and more time to quickly use it.
So maybe it was Sergey Brin and his team of Glass athletes descending from the sky, repelling down the building, and biking their way into Google I/O to roaring applause; in turn, setting a new standard for product demoing. Or maybe it was the boatload of updates from Google+, the Nexus Q or Nexus 7. But what Jelly Bean did on Wednesday at around 10 a.m. PST, was not deliver a drastic improvement from Ice Cream Sandwich, but deliver enough to tackle and beat anything iOS could throw at it. It’s official. Android is the now leader.