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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?

What it means for Apple: Google has caught up with Apple on geofencing. Neither the gaming nor the store announcements will cause any sweaty palms in Cupertino--this is all old hat for Apple, its developers, and its customers. As for the development tools, iOS app makers will be listening closely during June's Worldwide Developers Conference to see if similar features--long wished for, never available--are finally announced by Apple.

Google Play Music All Access
Google's new $10/month subscription music service doesn't have a direct counterpart in the Apple ecosystem. The closest service Apple offers is iTunes Match, and that's not close at all. Google Play Music All Access gives unlimited access to music and curated playlists, where iTunes Match--a $25/year service--only lets you stream music you already own.

What it means for Apple: There's yet another competitor in the streaming music business, should Apple ever decide to wade into those waters. And that's no sure bet.

Chrome

Google's looking for ways to boost Chrome's performance. Apple may want to take note with the mobile version of Safari.  

Google's Chrome-related announcements focused on the company's aim to make that browser faster. Google pointed to technologies like its WebP image format and VP9 video codec, which it says lead to smaller download times without sacrificing quality. Apple's Safari Web browser doesn't support those formats, but then again, neither do most websites.

Should Google's formats take off, expect support for them to land in Safari. Of course, unless support for such formats comes to Safari and Internet Explorer, many larger websites may be hesitant to bother implementing them.

Google also talked about a new mobile interface for shopping with its Chrome browser, claiming to cut the typical 21-some-step checkout process to just three for Chrome usersby syncing shopping data to your Google account. Safari has no direct match for that feature.

And the company highlighted its continued support for Web standards and implementing them in efficient ways. Apple's WebKit development team would likelyand justifiablymake the same argument for Safari.

What it means for Apple: The company may need to pay more attention to improving mobile Safari not just by making it faster, but by thinking about clever solutions to common mobile surfing problems, including shopping.

 

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