Google plans to make its latest Pixel and Wear OS devices more compelling alternatives to iPhone and Apple Watch by ripping off some of Cupertino’s most popular software features — including spatial audio and AirDrop.
The Android-maker revealed the long list of improvements, which will span all of Google’s software platforms as well as Windows, this week at the CES trade show in Las Vegas. Here’s what you can expect if you plan to ditch your Apple devices and swap sides.
Google will steal more iPhone features to better compete
Apple and Google have been stealing features from each other’s operating systems for years. It’s nothing new. And while the practice might upset some people, in reality, it makes both platforms a lot better in the long run.
Android, Wear OS and Chrome OS users soon will see a number of significant upgrades inspired by Apple innovations, including an expanded Nearby Share feature that adds Windows support to more effectively compete with AirDrop.
Google also plans to bring Fast Pair to Windows, Google TV and Android TV, allowing users to connect compatible devices — such as wireless headphones — in just one tap, just like connecting AirPods or Beats to an Apple device.
What’s more, wireless headphone users (with compatible buds) can expect to see a feature similar to spatial audio, with adaptive sound that changes based on the wearer’s head movements. And Google also will make it easier to transfer audio from one device to another, like an Android phone to a Chromebook.
Unlock with Wear OS
Finally, Google plans to steal Unlock with Apple Watch — one of the best features added to Apple’s watchOS software in recent years. It will give wearers of Wear OS devices the ability to unlock their Android phone and Chromebook using their smartwatch. (This proves particularly handy when wearing a mask.)
Google did not confirm release dates for these upgrades, but they should appear sometime in 2022. One thing Google can’t steal from Apple, however, is the ability to roll out new features to all supported devices on the same day. So not everyone will see them at the same time.