The annual Google I/O conference is still underway on Thursday, the conference’s third and final day. Developers have plenty to gain from the final day’s sessions, but the general public’s interest in Google I/O likely started and finished back on Tuesday when Google hosted its big opening keynote. The company packed a ton of big announcements into its Google I/O 2018 keynote earlier this week and the tech media continues to unpack everything even now, two days later. In fact, Google’s big I/O 2018 announcements still make up the biggest stories in tech right now.
We’ve already covered all the most important announcements from Google I/O 2018 and we asked some tough questions, too. Is it OK that Google has bots calling people and pretending to be human? Is it OK that we’ve let Google grow to a point where it’s the one tech company on the planet that we truly can’t live without? Today we’re switching gears though, to cover one of the best things about Google from a user’s perspective.
Google sells hardware and it also maintains the biggest mobile platform on the planet, and yet it’s a software and services company first and foremost. Google want’s to sell you phones and laptops, sure, but we’re not dealing with Apple here. Google is more than happy for you to use products from other phone and laptop makers, and it wants to do everything it can to provide all the same great apps and services you would enjoy on a Pixel device. Whether you’re on a Windows 10 laptop, a Samsung smartphone, or an Apple tablet, Google’s mission is to put as many Google services as possible at your fingertips.
This is great news for iPhone users. We all know that my dream is to have Google completely take over my iPhone, and many other people share that dream. Apple’s iPhone hardware is still unrivaled after all these years, and I still believe the iOS experience to be far better than Android in many important ways; I’ve discussed many of the ways just this past week in not one but two different articles. But when it comes to apps and services, Apple isn’t even in the same league as Google.
From Gmail and Google Calendar to Google Photos, Google Maps, Google Drive, and more, I replace as many Apple apps as I can with Google apps on my iPhone. In fact, I don’t even use Safari. The main Google app serves as a starting point for anything and everything involving webpages on my phone. In fact, the only time Safari ever opens on my iPhone is when I tap a link in an email or an iMessage. Believe me, this isn’t by choice — I would love it if Apple finally let users select third-party default apps.
That brings us back to Google I/O 2018, where Google announced several exciting new features that are coming to its various apps and services. In Gmail, Google is adding a new “Smart Compose” feature that offers not just predictive words, but entire phrases; that’s right, Google is going to start writing emails so you don’t have to. In Google Maps, the company is adding a “Your Match” feature that tells you how likely you are to enjoy a new restaurant you might be eyeing. Google Maps will also get a nifty new augmented reality view a bit further down the road.
Then there’s the Google Assistant, which is getting a ton of new features like new voices, support for multiple commands at a single time, better support for continued natural conversations, and someday, a crazy new feature based on Google Duplex that will have Google Assistant making phone calls and scheduling appointments on your behalf.
Well guess what: you won’t need Android P on your smartphone to enjoy all these new features and more. In fact, you won’t need Android at all. Google’s goal is to put its services — and ads, and data collection — in front of as many eyes as possible, and that obviously includes the 1.3 billion or so iPhone and iPad users scattered around the world. That’s why Smart Compose and all the other new Gmail features Google showed off during its Google I/O 2018 keynote will be available in the Gmail app for iOS devices. And all those cool new Maps features are coming to the Google Maps app on iOS. And yes, all those crazy new Google Assistant features will roll out to the Google Assistant app for iPhones.
When it comes to the Apple vs. Google conversation, there are obviously both good and bad things about each business model. Allowing Google to take over your digital world and using all of the company’s great free services means coming to terms with the fact that nothing is sacred. Google has access to all of your data, and it uses that access to profile you and serve you targeted ads. Some people refuse to allow that to happen, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Apple offers its own email service, mapping app, voice assistant, and so on, and the company handles personal data much differently than Google.
But billions of people out there are happy to offer up access to their data in exchange for all of Google’s great services, and I count myself among them. I also count myself among the people who are very happy that Google makes all of these great apps and services available on rival platforms like iOS, and I can’t wait to check out all of the best new features Google announced at Google I/O 2018 on my iPhone.