Google has recently announced some of the new functions included in its Android M mobile operating system. The search engine and software giant outlined the new features during its I/O conference. This latest version of the Android operating system will do battle against its huge Apple iOS 9 rival. So how will Android M compare to iOS 9? And what will be the key areas of comparison?
Android Pay / Apple Pay
By announcing the Android Pay system, Google is rebooting its mobile payment system and attempting to provide a rival to Apple Pay. Apple launched its proprietary mobile payment system in October last year, with the intention to ensure that large numbers of iPhone users utilize the system for the everyday purchasing of goods.
Google already had something of a head start in this domain with the Google Wallet system being a market-leader, but Google has now chosen to completely re-organize its mobile payment offerings. It has been particularly important for Google to form corporate partnerships with Android Pay, and thus the new system is compatible with Visa, MasterCard, AmEx and Discover cards, while carriers AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are also on board.
This will unquestionably be a major commercial niche in the coming years, as some of the more bullish predictions related to mobile payment suggest that it will completely supplant cash and credit cards by the end of the decade. This looks to be pretty unlikely as electronics manufacturers struggle to attract people to this new form of technology, but it is far more likely that mobile payments will be a significant part of many people’s everyday life by 2020.
Android M attempts to challenge Apple Pay by utilizing standardized fingerprint authentication, and addressing concerns about third-party access to smartphone and tablet data by making it easier for users to control permissions granted to each application. Users will be able to enter settings and observe what permissions each app is utilizing, before revoking ones those that are causing conflicts.
The Android M interface will obviously make mobile payments more convenient and secure, but Apple has obviously released its proprietary system first, and this has already established something of a stake in the marketplace. There was a huge amount of buzz surrounding Apple Pay when it was released, although this has yet to translate into mobile payments becoming a mainstream form of technology. This will remain a battleground between Apple and Google for years to come.
Voice Recognition / Personal Assistant
Another interesting aspect of the Android M system will be the introduction of superior voice recognition. This is becoming an increasingly important niche, with Microsoft strongly emphasizing its Cortana personal assistant lately, and also including functionality related to voice recognition in its Xbox One video games console. Siri is performing a similar function for Apple, and now Google is attempting to improve voice recognition for search tools, particular focusing on superior handling of mispronounced words and conversational requests.
Those who utilize voice recognition on a regular basis will know that it is an extremely useful form of technology, and in this sense this is a very welcome decision from Google. It will be interesting to see how it stacks up against the similar functionality included in iOS 9, and both companies will doubtless be advocating the strength of their own particular software in this department in the coming weeks and months.
Google has also stated that it will be significantly updating its Maps software, providing users with new capabilities. The corporation promises that the application will now include the ability to acquire turn-by-turn directions and destination reviews and opening times while offline. This will be achieved by enabling users to download various regions of maps before requesting the associated information.
It is interesting that Google has chosen to emphasize this aspect of Android M, as it is predicted that Apple will place a strong emphasis on improving Apple Maps when iOS 9 is released. Google Maps is unquestionably the most prominent example of mapping technology currently available on the market, and Apple is looking to close the gap and achieve more brand awareness for its own version of the software.
It seems highly likely that for the foreseeable future Google Maps will remain in front of the Apple offering, even if Apple is omitting this software from its iOS 9 operating system. These new updates from Google should serve to ensure that the Google Maps app is even more attractive to travelers that it is already.
Another application which was unveiled at the I/O conference is already available for download. Photos will compete with Apple’s new Photos app, a piece of software which offers cloud-based image organization. With the Google software, it is possible for users to save an unlimited amount of photos which are up to 16-megapixels in quality, along with 1080p videos.
Google launches this software into a crowded marketplace which already includes Yahoo’s Flickr, and it is a logical move in a computing climate in which photographs are becoming a more valuable asset to any company. Google is attempting to ensure that images are assigned specific value to companies driven by targeted advertising sales, and this software would seem to play a major role in this process.
Due to megapixel restrictions, Apple cannot match the offering of Google in this department, but its own proprietary software has at least reached the market first.
Google Play / App Store
Google has also instigated significant alterations to the Google Play store in an attempt to make it more friendly to families. This is a welcome addition to the software, but it must be said in mitigation that the Apple App Store is still the definitive marketplace of its type, and that Android M still has some catching up to do in this area.
Other Android M updates
Other Android updates focus on security, customization and battery life, as Google attempts to emphasize elements in which it has a clear advantage over iOS 9. Although there aren’t too many surprises with the release of Android M, it certainly looks to be a solid software upgrade, and it will be interesting to see what Apple comes up with in response when iOS 9 is unveiled.