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WWDC 2014: Apple Becomes More Like Google, and That's Great News


At yesterday's keynote address, Apple unveiled features and strategies that were either directly lifted or heavily influenced by Google.

Hey, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), word of advice: It's time to put a moratorium on the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) bashing at the top of every live conference you hold. Not only does it remind attendees of the worst aspects of a political campaign, it's downright hypocritical when you unveil features and strategies that were either directly lifted or heavily influenced by Google.
But just the same, we're thrilled you're introducing them.
Kicking off Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, yesterday's keynote address did not contain any show-stopping hardware or glimpses of any new product lines. However, the upgrades made to future versions of OS X and iOS hint at some features that are much-welcomed and long overdue.
For Apple, at least.
Analysts and attendees noticed more than a few functions that will be introduced in OS X 10.10 Yosemite and iOS 8 that have been prominently featured in the Android OS -- some even dating back to the platform's very inception. Additionally, Apple's willingness to basically open up its ecosystem to more third-party control suggests that the company is becoming more like Google.
Take, for example, the ability to install third-party keyboards in iOS 8. Apple's mobile platform has stubbornly refused any change to its default and very basic keyboard. But much to the delight of iPhone and iPad owners, users will soon be able to install popular keyboards like Swype and SwiftKey, allowing them to enjoy the same word predictions and swiping controls as their Android brethren.
There was also the extremely long-awaited debut of widgets in iOS. A very handy feature of Android, widgets can now offer at-a-glance information and interactive functionality from third-party apps to iPhone users in their Notification Centers -- which, itself, was an Android-influenced feature introduced at last year's conference. And one can't help but think of the Google Now screen when looking at the "Today" view in Yosemite's Notification Center, displaying upcoming calendar events, reminders, and weather forecasts like its Google counterpart.
One of the biggest changes to functionality in iOS 8 is the implementation of inter-app communication. Until now, Android had been leagues ahead of iOS in terms of having apps "talk" to one another. Sandboxed iPhone users couldn't, for example, easily send a link from Safari directly to Gmail without a cumbersome cut-and-paste affair. But by permitting much better sharing and interoperability between apps, iOS' speed and efficiency is drastically improved.
But perhaps the most glaring Google "influence" in yesterday's event was the new verbal invocation of Siri. With iOS 8, mobile devices are always listening for the user command "Hey Siri" to bring up the virtual assistant. Considering "OK Google" has notably been a magic phrase for Android phones and Google Glass, one doesn't look far for where Apple got that idea.
But Apple's overall approach to its ecosystem is now significantly more open and Google-like. The third-party keyboards, the sharing between apps, even the mood on stage implied that Cupertino is relaxing its stranglehold on the walled garden and is now willing to relinquish control it had held back from its users.
And if being Google-like means more power to the user, then that's fantastic news.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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