This story is part ofCNET’s full coverage of and about Apple’s annual developer conference.
Your smartphone will soon be even more closely connected to the non-digital aspects of your life. That’s one of the key takeawaysand , the new mobile software updates coming from Apple and Google later this year. Both tech giants aim to turn your phone into a digital wallet where you can store your ID and other important documents, bringing your phone closer to your identity than ever before. Companies continue to improve the way phones communicate with cars, smart home gadgets, and other everyday devices.
Bothand are packed with tweaks and new features, some of which are more important than digital wallets and faster connections (such as to protect victims of domestic violence and the new privacy updates from Google). But the overlap between the two operating systems underscores the changing role of the phone in our lives. Based on the latest announcements from Apple and Google of what’s happening around Your phone will be just as important as what’s happening on your phone.
The more closely our phones are connected to everyday things like wallets, credit cards, cars, and home appliances, the harder it becomes to move away from them (or switch between iPhone and Android). The concept is not new; the industry has been moving in this direction for years. But the changes in iOS 16 and Android 13 bring important refinements to Apple and Google’s respective approaches that will likely accelerate such efforts.
Replacing the physical wallet
The digital wallet was a big focus of both Apple’s iOS 16 announcement and Google’s Android 13 preview. The most significantis a new option called , which splits the cost of a purchase into four equal installments over six weeks. With iOS 16, ID cards stored in Apple Wallet can also be used to verify your age within apps. The addition comes after Apple first added support for digital IDs last year.
Meanwhile, Google has announced a major overhaulduring its I/O conference last month updating it with Apple. The new Google Wallet stores personal documents like payment and transit cards, vaccination records, boarding passes, and student ID cards, similar to Apple Wallet. Google is also working with government agencies to support digital IDs.
Taken together, the updates from Apple and Google represent another step towards their shared goal of making physical wallets obsolete – a shift that will inevitably make us even more dependent on mobile devices.
Google reiterated this ambition just before detailing the new updates belowin May.
“In fact, these days there are only two things I never leave home without: my phone and my wallet,” Sameer Samat, vice president of product management at Android and Google Play, said onstage. “So the question is, can my phone replace my wallet?”
Corey Fugman, Apple’s senior director for wallet and Apple Pay, made similar remarks during Monday’s WWDC keynote.
“With Apple Wallet, we’re working hard toward our goal of replacing your physical wallet,” he said.
The idea of replacing physical credit cards with smartphone-based payment apps has already been embraced. According to a 2021 report by eMarketer, in-store mobile payment usage like Apple Pay is expected to surpass 50% of all smartphone users in the US by 2025. Apple’s new Pay Later option and Google’s renewed focus on its own mobile wallet could make the idea of leaving your physical wallet at home even more appealing.
your phone, anywhere
Replacing the wallet is just one way Apple and Google hope to make our phones more useful in everyday offline life. Both companies also introduced camera-based smartphone tools that could make navigating real-world points of interest easier. Another prominent topic is the increasing interconnectivity between mobile devices and household appliances, cars and speakers.
Apple and Google both believe the camera will continue to play a huge role in how we interact with the world around us. In iOS 16, you can translate text into different languages using a new camera option in Apple’s Translator app. Meanwhile, the company demonstrated how it can be used to translate an entire restaurant menu into another language. You can also track a flight or convert currencies just by tapping text on a photo.
Google showed an ambitiousdubbed “Scene Explorer” at Google I/O, which essentially applies its search abilities to the real world. You would pan your phone’s camera over a shelf of products and information and reviews would pop up on the screen to help you make the right choice. As an example, Google search leader Prabhakar Raghavan cited the ability to find nut-free snacks or unscented lotions in a physical retail store.
The execution may be different, but the concept is similar. We are already used to ordering food, taxis and household goods with the push of a button on our phones. Now Apple and Google want to make our phones a crucial part of accomplishing those tasks in the real world as well, and the camera will play an important role in that.
Google and Apple have also refined their respective visions to turn our phone into a connection hub for other devices around us. Google explained howyour phone would be better able to connect to other devices, with support for quick pairing, automatic audio switching between devices, and the ability to more easily sync messages between your phone and computer. It also turned out this should make multitasking easier on the go.
Apple has simplified managing HomeKit devices with a redesigned Home app for iPhone. But perhaps the biggest area where Apple plans to expand the iPhone’s reach is in the car. The company teasedwhich looks like a complete car operating system, complete with app icons, widgets and other interface elements reminiscent of the iPhone and .
Smart Home and Connected Car are not new ideas. Both have been an integral part of the respective strategies of Apple and Google for years. But iOS 16 and Android 13 illustrate how Apple and Google’s visions for these devices to communicate and interact.
As the smartphone becomes the link to everything from your credit card to your thermostat and car, Apple and Google are making its aesthetic more personal. When iOS 16 launches this fall, so will your iPhonewith support for Apple Watch-like widgets and new photo effects for wallpapers. Google is expanding its You material with ready-made color sets that can be applied to the entire operating system.
iOS 16 and Android 13 offer much more than new wallet features, camera tools for scanning real objects, and improved connectivity. Not only do these updates signal how important the phone is becoming to both our online and offline lives, they also hint at where the industry is headed next.