It’s developer conference season – Apple’s WWDC (the one we care about the most) will be in June, Microsoft will host it later this month, and the Google I/O conference kicked off this week. Developer conference keynotes are fun because you get to see what companies are working on and what new products and features are coming in the future. And sometimes we get a bunch of cool new stuff that non-developers are also interested in.
That was the case with the Google I/O keynote, which took place on Wednesday and introduced a host of new products and features, some of which we hope Apple has paid close attention to. Here are five Google I/O announcements that we wish were coming from Apple.
Magic Editor in Google Photos
Google is using its AI research to create some cool features for its Google Photos app. Last month, Googe One subscribers were introduced to Magic Eraser, a previous Pixel exclusive that allows users to easily remove unwanted people and objects from a photo. Now it greatly expands this feature.
At Google I/O this year, the company unveiled its next AI photo editing tool, Magic Editor. This feature uses shading, which is the use of AI to create an extension of the image that retains the style of the original. This is another way to fill in a gap in an image while editing, but it provides more editing flexibility than Magic Eraser.
One example Google showed included a photo of a child holding balloons while sitting on a bench. Using Magic Editor, the child, bench and balloons were selected and moved, and the program created extensions of the elements that were cut off by the edge of the photo.
Magic Editor is coming to “selected Pixel phones” later this year, but it’s certainly possible (and likely) that they’ll add Magic Editor to the Photos app at some point. But for those of us who are fully invested in the Apple ecosphere, these are the features we would like Apple to announce for its own Photos app.
Pixel Tablet Dock
Google has announced a new Pixel Tablet that will compete with the iPad, but it’s not the tablet we’re jealous of, it’s the speaker dock that comes with it. When docked, the tablet enters “hub mode” and becomes the control center for smart home devices, media streaming, video calls and more, turning the Pixel Tablet into a true 2-in-1 device.
The dock has a 15-watt speaker with a 43.5mm driver, and Google claims that the dock delivers “four times the bass of the Pixel Tablet alone.” The tablet attaches magnetically to the docking station, which also charges it like MagSafe.
There have been rumors of an Apple HomePod with a screen for some time now, and that’s exactly what we have in mind. Perhaps Google’s announcement will give Apple the support it needs.
Multiple user accounts
Like other Android tablets, the new Pixel Tablet allows for multiple user accounts. So if it’s a shared environment – let’s say a family home – each person using the device can have their own user account and don’t have to worry about keeping their settings, privacy and security of their files, etc.
To this day, the iPad—outside of school—doesn’t support multiple user accounts. This means that anyone can see the files on the device and users must either adapt to the settings or keep changing them. iPad users have been wanting this feature for so long that hope has been lost, but maybe this year we’ll get lucky and Apple will introduce multiplayer support in iPadOS 17.
Fold Google Pixel
When foldable Android phones started hitting the market, I chuckled, thinking they weren’t necessary. Then I took a few flights and realized how nice it would be to have a screen larger than the iPhone Pro Max for watching videos on long trips. Another time I was using iTranslate to try and communicate with someone who didn’t speak English and wished I had a bigger screen to show both sides of the conversation. A larger screen would also be helpful when recording video so I can see more of what I’m filming. Other times, I just want a bigger screen without taking out my iPad.
The foldable Android phones available now don’t look like they’ll last very long. But Google’s new Pixel Fold looks like it’s taking the right approach – of course, I’ve only seen online photos and videos, but it looks like the design, display, and construction have been carefully considered based on what the user wants and expects. The bezels leave a lot to be desired, and we don’t fully trust Google to provide a folding capability that isn’t buggy, but the approach feels solid.
If there’s any company that can make a foldable phone right, it’s Apple. We’ve seen some evidence that Apple is working on one based on rumors and several patents the company has filed, but that doesn’t mean a foldable iPhone will ever see the light of day. As much as I don’t want to see it.
Immersive viewing for maps
Apple Maps has come a long way since its inception, but Google Maps is still leading the way, mainly because Google continues to innovate and add new features.
The latest is Immersive View for Routes, which provides a rich digital model of your route with “bike lanes, sidewalks, intersections and parking lots” as you follow turn-by-turn directions. This gives you a better idea of your environment than the typical flat chart you see in Apple Maps directions, so you get a better idea of where you are going and where you are.
The closest Apple offers to Immersive View is a satellite view, but it’s not that close. We can’t wait to try this on Google Maps – and we’d love to have something similar on Apple Maps.