Take a look at Apple's all-new iOS 9 software and it’s hard not to see where its influences come from. To say it wears them on its sleeve really is an understatement.
The new–look Siri, with typed search and cards delivering relevant, timely information, is clearly a nod to the success of Google Now. And the new Notes app takes cues from Samsung and Evernote.
The News app, which replaces Newsstand, is surely Apple’s own take on the excellent Clipboard. Maps finally does what Google Maps has done for years and offers transit directions in–app.
Spotlight’s overhaul, with so–called deep linking to search apps which have been indexed by Apple, parks Cupertino’s tanks on Google’s lawn.
Essentially, iOS 9 is Apple doing what it’s always done best. Take something that’s already decent on a different platform and (hopefully) make a better, Apple–flavoured version.
This has worked across hardware for years (just look at the iPod and iPhone) and now appears to be an ongoing tactic for iOS too.
Android users may cry foul, but this sort of back and forth is what happens when competition is so fierce.
Apple’s new software will at least make it to all compatible devices quickly.
Many of the Android features which Apple has aped are stuck on a small percentage of top–end phones due to Google’s mobile platform remaining fragmented beyond repair.
But while the argument among tech fanatics about who came up with what first rages, there is one area where Apple is undoubtedly taking the lead.
iOS 9 seems to be part of Apple opening a new front in its war with Google. One which tackles the thorny issue of privacy head on.
During the opening WWDC keynote, Apple exec Craig Federighi was at pains to point out that despite Siri offering far deeper integration, pulling details from texts, notes, contacts and emails, his company was not interested in keeping your data.
“We don’t mine your email, your photos or your contacts in the cloud to learn things about you. We honestly just don’t want to know,” he said.
“All of this is done on device and it stays on device under your control.”
Federighi explained that if you search for traffic details for example, every search remains anonymous and is not linked with Apple ID or shared with third parties.
In a blatant swipe at Google, he added, “Why would you do that?”
It’s a real issue and gets to the heart of where mobile platforms are going. Data is so valuable and Google has been more than happy to use it for profiling for its advertising business.
The latter is, after all, what Google is at heart. But Apple seems to want to do things differently.
Just last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook slated Silicon Valley’s biggest companies for ‘selling out’ consumers.
He said that taking personal information and monetising it was not part of the business Apple ‘wanted to be’.
This comes after Apple’s privacy was called into question in 2014 following the leak of a series of personal celebrity images from iCloud.
Cook and his team, however, are at least making it clear that they are determined to do things differently.
The CEO’s open letter, published last year explaining how Apple uses data, goes much further than any of its rivals.
Yes, iOS 9 might look a lot like Android. Yes, Siri might have many Google Now features.
But the new Apple software’s greatest achievement is to put the privacy debate into the mainstream. That can only be a good thing for consumers.