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Google on Apple: The end is near

Mike Elgan | June 16, 2015
Mike Elgan love using Google services on Apple hardware, but now he fears those days are numbered.

So if you're an iPhone user like me who favors Google Search, Google Calendar and Google Maps, Siri won't let you take full advantage unless you switch to Apple's alternatives.

Like the Now on Tap feature in Google Now, Siri will offer developers an API for third-party integration. Needless to say, these will be iOS apps and no other kind.

Both Google Now and Siri just got way, way better. But they both achieved those improvements by favoring the full-time, exclusive use of either Google or Apple apps, services and operating systems.

Let's follow two trend lines and see where we end up. The first is the way virtual assistant apps are becoming increasingly reliant on an entourage of products from a single company.

The second is they way users are becoming increasingly reliant on virtual assistant apps. As we move into the wearable era, and as virtual assistants like Google Now and Siri become better, we'll depend on them more and we'll believe them to be more important and central to us in our daily lives.

As these trends converge, people like me will be forced to stop using Google services on Apple hardware; we'll have to fully embrace one platform at the expense of the other.

And there's one other factor forcing the choice between Google and Apple: Apple's business model.

Apple's mission to replace Google services

Google makes its money on advertising, mostly. So Google has an interest in encouraging people like me to use advertiser-supported Google services on my Apple hardware.

Google tries to make its apps work as well as possible on iOS. One recent example emerged last week in the Google Maps for iOS app. Let's say you're using Google Maps on your desktop computer and you want to send a location to your phone. Google can't enable this feature for iPhone users in the same way it does on Android because it doesn't have the same access to the mobile operating system. So Google came up with a brilliant workaround that uses notifications to transfer the command. (To use the feature, enable notifications for Maps in your iPhone's Settings, then a new "Send to device" link will appear in Maps for any location you find via a Maps search.)

Apple, on the other hand, makes money by selling hardware, software and cloud services, and by distributing content. Apple has no interest in encouraging me to use Google services. In fact, it's trying to replace them because it sees Google services as nuisance gateway drugs into the Google ecosystem.

That's almost certainly the explanation for the following Apple moves:

  • Apple CEO Tim Cook recently dissed advertiser-supported businesses (a not-so-subtle reference to, mainly, Google). He said: "You might like these so-called free services, but we don't think they're worth having your email, your search history and now even your family photos data-mined and sold off for God knows what advertising purpose."
  • Apple announced new features for its Spotlight search on OS X that replace key aspects of Google Search. For example, Spotlight now has natural-language search, making it easy for users to search both desktop and Web at the same time by asking simple questions. Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jason Calacanis says the use of Spotlight to replace Google Search is part of a mission to "destroy Google."
  • Apple launched Apple Maps in 2012 as a replacement for the default Google Maps on mobile devices and is now copying aspects of Google's StreetView system of driving around and photographing everything.


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