I joked a little about this on Twitter but, really, I’m not surprised to see both platforms converging. iOS comes from a philosophy of adding features slowly and trying to do it well from the start — the copy and paste UI hasn’t changed since it was introduced, for example, but it took three full versions to get such “basic” functionality. Android comes from the school of adding as much as possible, and then refining as many of them as possible over time.
In iOS 8, Apple is adding interactive notifications and a much more extensible experience. Meanwhile, Android “L” (Lollipop?) has a completely reconsidered design language and lock screen notifications similar to iOS. It’s therefore no surprise, in my mind, that there’s some convergence happening.
There’s even a common theme this year at Apple’s and Google’s developer conferences: continuity. With iOS 8 and Yosemite, Apple has a vision of customers completing tasks on the right device for the right occasion, with smooth transitions; so, too, does Google, with Android everywhere. But there’s a noticeable difference in execution between their two strategies: Google is using the same OS everywhere with the same user interface design principles. You’ll even be able to run Android apps on a Chromebook, for example, but why would you want to run software designed for touch on a largely keyboard-and-mouse system?1
But, contrary to what you may think, I’m not necessarily knocking Google’s strategy. I’m interested in seeing how it pans out. It’s obviously far too early to tell, as these are developer betas and previews, but quite a lot of what was announced today feels a little underbaked. It may simply need more time for this strategy to be fully fleshed out.
As for the presentation itself, it was long — over two and a half hours — and felt even longer. Presenters were interrupted by protesters on two separate occasions, and someone at Google decided to run the code debug demo over two hours into the presentation. Really tiring.
Now, Apple and Google have both laid out their product strategies for the next year or so. It’s showtime.