Google made some far reaching announcements today that give it an even stronger leg up in the mobile world. Android has gone from being a weak, buggy mobile OS to a fully mature ecosystem and these announcements encompass enhancements to every part of that Android ecosystem. These announcements cover consumer-facing updates and changes as well as developer changes that make the app development and support lifecycle much easier. They honestly ate Apple's lunch today, and they did so with prestige and without mentioning Apple. To me this implies that Google at least thinks they have already won the war. And perhaps they have.
The big focus this year, across all non-Android service announcements, was that the OS doesn't matter, but the services. And Google wants to bring their services, equally, to any OS, and iOS was a key target. We've already seen Google release better apps than Apple's own apps on iOS. Expect that to continue with updates to Google Search, Google Play for Games, Google+, and Google Music.
There was something slightly smug about the announcements today, though. In the past, Google sounded like they were running to catch up; this year they spoke from the head of the table. They never directly mentioned Apple, but iOS was mentioned multiple times. In fact, iOS devices were demoed, shown, or mentioned at just about every non-Android announcement. Google is taking their mobile assault to iOS, but from the inside. Of course, when mentioning Google Maps, Google could not resist taking a jab at Apple's beleaguered Maps app.
One big announcement was Google Play for Games, which is Google's answer to Apple's Game Center. Play for Games includes multiplayer features, leaderboards, achievements, etc. Google announced that it will be bringing this service to iOS in the near future.
Google continues to advance in the education world, an area that has traditionally been a stronghold for Apple. Apple hasn't really kept up with the technological changes. Google announced a few additions to Google Play--called Google Play for Education, and Google Apps for Education--that make administration of apps on groups of devices, like in a school, much easier. This is something Apple needs to respond to, and soon.
Make no mistake, the announcements today from Google were not a declaration of war in the mobile ecosystem, they were a victory dance. Apple needs to respond strongly at WWDC next month. Apple and the iOS app development ecosystem has been rather stagnant over the past year or two.
Big changes were announced in the executive structure at Apple late last year. Those changes were meant to streamline and integrate various product lines. It may be too soon to hope for some of those sweeping changes to be announced, but a sea change in direction and focus needs to be paramount. Let's not gloss over this, Google has taken the lead in mobile in just about every way you can measure. Apple must come on strong at WWDC to keep from facing a big loss in both mindshare and stock price.