Is this trend of Google putting good design and good services on iOS the beginning of iOS becoming more and more Android-like?
Has Google lost anything despite the them "stealing" iOS?
Yes, exactly. In fact, if I were to imagine Jony Ive's thought process as the new UI lead, I would want to make the software match the hardware as much as possible. In other words, make what's on the screen follow the clean lines and simple contrast of the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini hardware, which I consider the foremost version of Ive's design signature.
It's a safe bet. Many of my colleagues have essentially replaced Siri with Google Search, Mail.app with Gmail, Safari with Chrome, and now Maps with Google Maps. Then there are apps, such as The Magazine that allow the user to open URL's in Chrome by default.
Another thing -- I think it was Dan Benjamin, or perhaps Gruber, I don't know, that said -- and I'm paraphrasing -- "Google seems to be getting better at design quicker than Apple is getting better at services."
Think about that.
Yes, exactly this. Apple's core competency is not the web. They've made efforts with iCloud, etc. But they're not experts, and they never seem to want to become as such. Tough to tell if they will move outside of their comfort zone and really work hard to overcome this weakness.
On the other hand, Google's core competency is the web. They understand data, services, users and how all three can come together to create a seamless feature set that is incomparably useful. They were hopelessly utilitarian in their design talent, essentially a company of engineers. That is quickly changing. In the past year we've seen them grow by leaps and bounds, in part thanks to the leadership of former WebOS designer Matias Duarte.
The gap is closing.
I think we're getting away from the question.
Yes, if post zero day impressions of Google Maps are positive, I think it will add to the evidence that Google is reasserting their strength with Cloud services AND demonstrating that they can finally play ball in Apple's UI/UX court. If anything, that signals more people may be willing to forgo Apple's 1st party options so long as the status quo remains IE: Google keeps staying ahead of Apple in this regard.
But I don't think it means Google gets to steal Android. Google having successful apps on iOS still translates into users wanting to use iOS devices with good apps, not iOS users flocking away to Android. I don't think good Google apps = proof that Android is a better platform.
So I see it — at least for now, as Win-lose for Google and Win-Win for Apple from the users perspective. Maybe Apple sees it as Win-lose because A. they'd obviously rather people use their offerings and B. the more Apple Maps/Siri users lost to Google, the less rich their data set is, the slower they are at improving their cloud services.
For now, yes. But as I said, the real test will be in iOS 7 and Android 5. Will Google carry what they've done on iOS into their own OS? Will Apple improve their own services to the point where they still edge out Google's improvements? I have no idea what will happen, but I know it's a great time to be a smartphone user.
Google is making awesome apps on iOS in terms of both design and functionality. With Jony Ive as a head of Interface Design I'm confident that we'll see a more clean apporach on iOS 7 (no more leatjer stiches) but to what extent is tricky due to only 6-7 months to ship the new version of iOS so I think they will work mainly on iOS/OSX integration, iCloud sync and Siri on the desktop
Apple will need to step up their game.
So many of the iPhone users I see in libraries (I'm a teen librarian) mainly use Google products (specifically Docs and Gmail) and are constantly looking for ways to have a better experience with their iPhones (most times, these are their only ways to connect). One of my roles as a librarian is to find those ways and educate my community about them. Google's recent approach to iOS apps has made everything a lot simpler for the user. Simpler always wins.
I really wonder how Microsoft's Windows 8 innovations will impact iOS and Android. That design (FKA "Metro Design") takes simplicity to another level. No bling or extraneous design elements such as shiny buttons or leather stitches (as mentioned by @esquizometrico).
My wife's WinPhone is like Bauhaus -- and makes my iPhone look like a Rococo monstrosity.
Do I just have new-non-shiny-thing envy or does anyone else feel the same way?
Another item to consider is the difference between the OS user experience and App user experience and the degrees of freedom that an App should have re: UX.
For example, Flipboard on Android has an entirely custom system for navigation that is nothing like a "standard" Android app. That can be good ... or bad for the user.
We recently submitted an app to the new Windows Store and had it rejected because our navigation broke some rote UX rule. We appealed and it was approved -- but that gives you an idea about how the ecosystems are trying to control the App UX vs. just the OS UX.
@Scott I mostly understand the App control, because all of these ecosystems are trying to deliver to the consumer a cohesive look and feel on their apps to make them easily recognizable. But this situation also creates a grey area where it can go to some kind of stagnation when it comes to innovation and to keep pushing the app ecosystem onwards
For example we can see that for many people the iOS ecosystem it's starting to show the past of time while android is getting better and better in terms of aesthetics and functionality. It's true that iOS Didn't have to make so many radicale changes during their iterations because of the great job Apple did setting the OS. But as we are seeing now they're kind of been let behind in some areas and I think it's time for them to look around and realize that even Microsoft is daring to do braver things with their products. They need to think outside the box one more time
Thanks for your feedback! Team Branch