Apple’s ecosystem is perhaps the most valuable asset the company possesses, after its brand, so eyebrows were raised when Google yesterday announced plans to replicate many of the key elements of that ecosystem.
While some Apple fans were outraged at what they saw as blatant copying of Apple features, my view is that this is good news for Android and iPhone users alike …
First off, the company has announced that it will expand its AirDrop-like “Nearby Share” feature to Windows PCs, allowing Android users to easily and wirelessly share photos, videos, and files from Android phones to PCs. This is, of course, incredibly similar to using AirDrop between an iPhone and Mac.
In the audio space, Google has announced that it will bring its Fast Pair feature to Windows PCs, Google TV, Android TV, and Matter-compatible smart home products. This means that Fast Pair-compatible headphones will be able to seamlessly connect to these devices, just like AirPods can effortlessly pair with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.
Google went on to describe its plans to allow Wear OS smartwatches to unlock Chromebooks, and to adopt Spatial Audio.
Of course, Apple has borrowed from Android just as Google has borrowed from Apple, so neither company can be too surprised or aggrieved when this sort of thing happens. All the same, the extent of this replication is unarguably aggressive on Google’s part. If I were in Tim Cook’s place, I might feel at least a little peeved.
As an Apple customer, however, I’m delighted. The Apple ecosystem is my number-one reason for choosing the company’s devices, and it’s one of the main reasons for switchers to move from Android – but we all know that things don’t always work perfectly
I still use Dropbox rather than iCloud because it syncs faster. I still sometimes have to copy, paste, and email text to myself when I want to instantly switch devices and Handoff is still waiting to, er, handoff. My Apple Watch generally unlocks my Mac, but there are times when it says it’s unlocking and then fails, and other times when my Mac doesn’t even acknowledge the existence of my Watch. I could go on, as I’m sure we all could.
So when Google starts offering the same benefits in the Android/Chromebook ecosystem, that puts a lot of pressure on Apple to do two things: add new ecosystem benefits to stay ahead, and improve the performance and reliability of existing ones. That’s a win for everyone; bring it on.
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