Google I/O vs. WWDC: Which software summit will rule the summer?

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Friday Night Fights returns!
Friday Night Fights returns!
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Android

Dueling developer events Google I/O and Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference will happen in the next couple of months, which makes this an exciting time of year for Apple and Android fans.

Friday-Night-Fights-bug-2Both events attract a lot of attention — they’re two of the biggest software-focused conferences in tech — and getting a ticket to either one is nearly impossible.

But which is better? Find out what we think in this week’s Friday Night Fight with Cult of Android versus Cult of Mac!

Killian Bell (writer, Cult of Android): So, Luke, in your opinion, what makes WWDC better than Google I/O?

Luke Dormehl (writer, Cult of Mac): Honestly, is there a single solitary person out there who could argue that Google I/O is more exciting than WWDC? Even Sergey Brin and Larry Page probably wouldn’t be arguing for Google’s side on this.

Before we cover this year’s event, let’s just sum up what Apple unveiled at WWDC last year. We got Mac OS X Yosemite, iOS 8, the entirely unexpected Swift programming language, and Craig Federighi’s hair. What exactly did the 2014 Google I/O give us? A cardboard box we can pretend is a virtual reality helmet.

Platforms, platforms and plenty of swag

KB: Well, last year’s Google I/O brought Android Wear, which really pushed smartwatches into the limelight. Before that, all we really had was the Pebble — which seemed to only ever attract the nerdiest of nerds — and a couple of wearables from Samsung and Sony that were pretty poor.

Android Wear showed the rest of the world what a good smartwatch platform should be like, and it’s improving all the time. Last year’s I/O also brought Android TV and Android Auto — two other brand-new platforms — Google Fit, Android 5.0 Lollipop and more.

Google also introduced new hardware, including Wear watches from Samsung, LG and Motorola.

Oh, it also gave conference attendees two of those devices absolutely free — plus a Google Cardboard headset. If I remember correctly, the only thing WWDC attendees got was a top … and the flu!

Photo: Tapstream and Guy Kawasaki
Photo: Tapstream and Guy Kawasaki

LD: Ugh. Platforms. That was what was wrong with last year’s I/O event. It was full of buzzwords and weirdly dystopian future visions, but hardly any actual hard news. It was like sitting on the train with a drunk venture capitalist who keeps rambling on but never making an actual cohesive point.

Which reminds me, how many people are running Lollipop these days?

KB: These are more than just buzzwords. Lollipop was a massive Android upgrade and, again, Android Wear helped make smartwatches what they are right now. Android Auto is doing just as well as CarPlay (admittedly that’s not great, but that’s beside the point).

And it’s not Google’s fault that its hardware partners are slow at rolling out new updates.

Incoming!

LD: OK, so I’ll let the ref do a standing 10 count so you can get back to your feet after that knockdown. What about this year? Can you genuinely say you expect more people to be buzzing about I/O than WWDC?

KB: Definitely. Let me tell you why. Google I/O will bring Android M, another big upgrade for smartphones and tablets. We also expect Google to announce big updates to Android Wear, Chrome and its other platforms.

It’s not just an exciting event for Android users, either, because many of the products and services we’ll see will also be available on iOS — such as Android Wear for iPhone (allegedly). In contrast, nothing announced at WWDC will be available to anyone without an Apple device.

Rumor has it Android Wear support is coming to iPhone. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Android
Rumor has it Android Wear support is coming to iPhone. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Android

Google I/O also gives Apple users a sneak peek at some of the futures they’ll be getting in a few years — when Apple’s iOS team has had a chance to copy them.

Do you want a wet flannel for that burn?

LD: Let’s not go down that last rabbit hole on a Friday.

Honestly, if Apple unveils either of its two big rumored developments at WWDC — that being a next-generation Apple TV and the Beats Music refresh — it makes the conference one of the biggest events of the year already.

The market opportunity for both is enormous, and they have the potential to be a big part of Apple’s business going forward. Then there’s the likely unveiling of iOS 9, OS X 10.11, the possibility of a 15-inch MacBook Pro, new displays and maybe even some hints about the plus-size iPad Pro.

Be excited for both

KB: Well, Google already has Android TV, which doesn’t just let you watch shows and movies, but also lets you play apps and games. If Apple finally brings an App Store to the Apple TV, then I agree it will be huge; I’ll admit that Apple can do a better job with TV.

But I’m not buying into Beats Music yet. Spotify is the current king of streaming music, and I don’t think Apple’s service will steal too many customers away from Google’s Play Music without any major advantages. Celebrity endorsements aren’t everything.

No matter what’s announced at Google I/O, though, you’ll be able to see it all from the comfort of your own home, because Google will live-stream its announcements — and the vast majority of its developer sessions.

Sure, Apple will attempt to do the same, but the chances of getting a stable stream that doesn’t cut out are very slim.

Remember this from Apple's last live stream? Screenshot: Cult of Mac
Remember this from Apple’s last live stream? Screenshot: Cult of Mac

LD: How dare you in-s-u-u-u-l-l-l-t App–‘s str… ming ab– lities. OK, I’ll agree with you there. At least with Apple there should be something worth watching. Fingers crossed.

KB: I think the one thing we can both agree on is that Google I/O and WWDC are equally big for fans of Google and Apple. A sneak peak at major upgrades that will be coming later this year is incredibly exciting, which is why these will be two of the biggest events this summer.

If you’re into tech, you won’t want to miss either of them.

Friday Night Fights is a series of weekly death matches between two no-mercy brawlers who will fight to the death — or at least agree to disagree — about which is better: Apple or Google, iOS or Android?