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Apple Events Vs. Google Events: A Developer's Thoughts

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A developer of a popular podcasting app for both iOS and Android talks about the differences between attending Apple's WWDC and Google's I/O events.

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Whether you're a diehard fan of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) or Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), last month brought a wealth of good news and promise for the two ecosystems. At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference and Google's I/O event, both tech giants unveiled multiple show-stopping products and features that prove the companies -- especially their mobile departments -- are developing mature, polished platforms.

For Apple, iOS 8 is not only a natural progression from the current version, the operating system adds quite a few key features that have been long overdue for iPhone users. Third-party keyboards, drastically improved inter-app communication, and actionable notifications are finally gracing iOS -- though they've been familiar to Android users for years. (See: WWDC 2014: Apple Becomes More Like Google, and That's Great News.)

At I/O a couple weeks later, Google demoed a sneak peek of its new Material Design, which gives the mobile OS a sheen and functionality that will make it arguably the best-looking platform on the market later this year. Like its competitor, Google is also merging the look of its mobile and desktop interfaces to achieve a uniformity across smartphones, tablets, Web apps, and wearables. And speaking of wearables, with fine smartwatch entries from LG, Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF), and Motorola, Google has a solid head start on what will likely be a massive industry.

Both events were huge successes for their respective companies, but what were the moods like at either function? How did they reflect the attitudes of the developers present?

Russell Ivanovic, a developer for the popular cross-platform podcasting app PocketCasts, attended last month's I/O conferences and multiple WWDC shows and shared his thoughts on the social moods he experienced.

Almost immediately, Ivanovic was struck by the open-mindedness and affability of I/O's attendees, who were willing to discuss competing platforms and often pulled out their own iPhones to check information. Even though he is primarily an iOS developer, he commended Google developers and developer reps for their approachability.

"This attitude is also reflected in Google Employees themselves," he writes. "None of them care what phone you use, what laptop you choose or which platforms you develop for. They are actively interested in what things they can improve to make developing on their platforms better, and they are quite happy to acknowledge when a competitor like Apple or Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has done something good."

In stark contrast, Apple developers are incredibly loyal (read: fanatical) about their own platforms with little patience for anything else. The developers at I/O, Ivanovic notes, "highlighted just how insular and superior a lot of Apple developers act and feel."

Adding, "If you don't believe me, just join a group of them at WWDC and whip out your Android phone. Within moments, you'll wish you had whipped out something less offensive, like your genitalia, instead."

As for the stage shows themselves, there's still no company that comes close to Apple. Ivanovic says that Google started out strong, with Google SVP Sundar Pichai looking comfortable and friendly on the stage -- even in the face of a couple protesters in the audience. But closing the show with a seemingly endless live coding session was unnecessary -- which isn't surprising given how many attendees professed to squirming in their seats at that point.

Comparatively, Apple knows how to run a tight show. Execs run through features and products at a breakneck speed on stage without breezing past the important stuff. As it was when Steve Jobs graced the stage, audiences at Apple events rarely feel bored or are itching to leave.

Despite I/O's dull closer, Ivanovic noticed something new about Google this year: a lack of divisions. "What I saw was a unified Google, finally getting its act together. Android is now clearly their platform of choice, it runs on TVs, cars, phones, tablets, watches and in your home. The same OS, different screens was their message."

As Apple picked up more than a few specific features from Android at this year's WWDC, Google co-opted Apple's approach to its entire ecosystem by uniting, as Ivanovic puts it, "all those divisions into one coherent functional team with one common vision." Ivanovic adds, "Talking to various Google Engineers at the event it was clear they all had the same sentiment."

And yes, Ivanovic was blown away by the Android L preview, calling it "an amazing OS, with great visual design that excites me about the future of that platform."

But hopefully that future contains a lot less live coding on stage.
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