The great thing about competition is it drives innovation. But when a company tries to one-up its competitor, it's not always with something brand new. Sometimes, one party will draw heavy inspiration from the other — but hey, it's still all good, because the consumers benefit either way.
Some of the best new additions in iOS 12 almost seem like they were created in direct response to features Google added to Android. Two of these features were announced at WWDC right on the heels of Google announcing something strikingly similar at last month's I/O. We're not complaining, though, both companies copy each other left and right. These are just the latest features in an ongoing tit-for-tat.
iOS 12 has a slew of new features to help curb your smartphone addiction. Dubbed Digital Health, these features accomplish their goal by minimizing distractions from notifications, automatically engaging Do Not Disturb mode, and even showing you a graph of your app usage to help you see where all your time went.
If that sounds familiar, it's because Google announced almost the same exact set of features for Android P last month. Google calls theirs Digital Wellbeing, and though the features aren't present in the current Android P beta, they're expected to roll out this week with the DP3 release.
There's almost no way the two companies came up with these features independently. But that doesn't mean Apple ripped off Google — it could've happened in reverse. These features surely took months to develop, so if someone stole someone else's idea, it probably happened months ago.
In the quest to help you get off your phone, both companies have improved the Do Not Disturb functionality on their operating systems.
With iOS 12, Apple will let you set up a Bedtime Mode schedule that causes your lock screen to stop showing a long list of tempting notifications in case you check your phone to see the time overnight. Similarly, Google's new "Shush" feature in Android P will stop the phone from making sounds or showing visual interruptions when you lay it face-down.
FaceTime now lets you video chat with more than one person at a time in iOS 12. This is definitely a welcome addition considering the overall quality of experience FaceTime offers, but it's a bit overdue. On the Android side of things, Hangouts used to be the default video calling service, and it always had group video calls.
- Don't Miss: How Group Calls work in FaceTime on iOS 12
Ironically, Google is zigging while Apple zags. The new default video calling app on Android is Duo, which, as the name indicates, has been purposefully limited to just two parties at a time in an attempt to simplify the user experience and better compete with Apple's FaceTime. We're betting Google eventually copies Apple again to complete the circle.
In a way, iOS stole this feature from itself. Grouped notifications were added back in iOS 9, but then inexplicably removed from iOS 10 and 11. Finally, they're back (for good?) in iOS 12, so notifications from the same app will be bundled together as one, where you can act on them as a group or individually.
The same feature has been present in Android for quite some time. The implementation is slightly different — on iOS, you tap a grouped notification to expand it and view the individual messages, while on Android, you swipe down to expand — but the end result is very similar. This is one major step towards closing the gap in notification functionality between the two operating systems.
iOS 12 introduced Siri Shortcuts to help you get things done faster. Put simply, now you can set up custom commands involving third-party apps. For example, you could ask Siri "What are my travel plans" and the Kayak app could provide your travel itinerary.
Google Assistant has a very similar feature that's also called "Shortcuts." Combined with the "Routines" feature, it's virtually identical.
Third-party integration is fairly similar to what we expect from Apple's version, but it's not the focus for the same feature in Google Assistant, which just calls up third-party apps as needed. Nonetheless, Google's shortcuts work very similarly: Use a custom command to make your virtual assistant call up relevant information from any source available to it and/or trigger a chain reaction with Routines.
New parental controls in iOS 12 will let you limit your child's screen time and app usage, and even do so remotely to some extent. Google's Family Link program from 2017 accomplishes many of the same things for Android devices, including the ability to monitor app usage and screen time, as well as remotely locking the child out of the device.
- Don't Miss: How the New Parental Controls Work on iOS 12
CarPlay finally gained support for third-party mapping apps in iOS 12. This means when you plug your iPhone into a CarPlay-equipped vehicle, you can finally get directions using Google Maps or Waze.
Of course, Android Auto has had this ability since the beginning. Like with all things Android, you've never been forced to use a certain app. But to be fair, you still can't use Apple Maps on Android Auto (not sure why you would want to, but still).
As I said at the beginning, this is just the latest installment in a longstanding pattern where one company catches up with features the other recently added. Google has definitely done their share of Apple-copying, particularly with their own Pixel phones, which are rumored to get an iPhone X-style notch in the fall. What are your thoughts on these new iOS 12 features? Let us know in the comments below.