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How Google's I/O moves measure up to what Apple offers

Lex Friedman | May 20, 2013
At Google I/O, the search giant showed off a slew of updates for developers and customers alike. How do Apple's products and tools stack up?

Google had a lot to say during Wednesday's Google I/O keynoteso would you, if you had three-and-a-half hours to fill. And while new features in voice-powered search functionality, Google Maps, and other pronouncements from the search giant were certainly eye-catching, just how much of what was said at this week's developer conference should make iOS device owners sit up and take notice?

Quite a bit, actually, though there was nothing that'll cause a parade of iPhone and iPad users to swap their devices for the Android counterparts. With the understanding that Google will still need to deliver on many of the promises it made this week--and that Apple has a developers conference of its own in a month's time--more than a few Google I/O announcements deserve your attention, even if the only way you'll give up your iPhone is when it's pried out of your grip. After all, it's a safe bet that more than a few people in Cupertino were keeping a close eye on Google I/O this week.

For developers
I/O is a developers' confab first and foremost, so it stands to reason that Google would start off its keynote highlighting new tools and features with special appeal for software makers.

AndroidAndroid's new game services will seem familiar if you've used Game Center in iOS or OS X.

  • Improved location APIs: Google says its new APIs for finding a user's current location will reduce power consumption. The company is also introducing new tools for apps to create "geofences," so that notifications can be triggered based on where the user is. Such features have been part of iOS for some time.
  • Games services: The company also unveiled new APIs for cloud-based gaming features. That way developers can sync game progress across devices, log player achievements, and simplify tasks related to multiplayer games. This is another case of Google playing catchup with iOS (and Mountain Lion, too), in this case, with Game Center. Now, Google's gaming offering will offer one distinct advantage over Game Center, which is that it will be accessible across multiple platforms—Android and iOS alike.
  • Development tools: Google showed off new code-editor features, including the ability to generate previews of what an app would look like on different Android devices. That feature is familiar to iOS developers, who have far fewer devices to check compatibility with. Other new development features, however, are unique, most notably an automated translation system: Developers can browse different translation options, at various price ranges, to get foreign language translations for the snippets of text in their apps. Other new features for Android developers include better analytics options for seeing where customers found their apps, and the ability for developers to gradually roll out alpha and beta versions of their apps and features.
  • The store: Developers also care plenty about the stores where their apps are sold. Google showed off a Google Play redesign, which adds features like algorithmic app recommendations and indications of when apps are tablet-optimized.

 

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