What iOS 16 and Android 13 tell us about the future of smartphones

This story is part of WWDC 2022CNET’s full coverage of Apple’s annual developer conference.

What is going on

iOS 16 and Android 13 both come with new features intended to replace your physical wallet and improve connections to smart home gadgets and connected car interfaces.

Why it matters

The updates underline the shared vision of Apple and Google to make our phones more essential in everyday life.

Your iPhone or android phone is about to become even more closely intertwined with the non-digital aspects of your life. That is one of the main takeaways of iOS 16 and Android 13, the latest mobile software updates from Apple and Google, due later this year. Both tech giants want to turn your phone into an electronic wallet for holding your legal ID, bringing your phone closer to your identity than ever before. The companies also continue to improve the way phones communicate with cars, smarthome gadgets and other everyday devices.

Both iOS 16 and Android 13 are packed with tweaks and new features, some of which are more important than digital wallets and faster connections (like Apple’s Security Checkup Tool for the protection of 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. What happens based on the latest announcements from Apple and Google? around your phone will be as important as what happens On your phone.

The more closely connected our phones are to everyday necessities like wallets, credit cards, cars, and home appliances, the harder it will be to distance themselves 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’s and Google’s respective approaches that are likely to accelerate such efforts.

Read more: iOS 16’s lock screen upgrades make iPhone more like a smartwatch

Replacing the physical wallet

screenshot of Google I/O May 2022 presentation

Google adds digital driver’s licenses to Google Wallet.

google; screenshot by CNET

The digital wallet was a major focus during both Apple’s iOS 16 announcement and Google’s Android 13 preview. The most important change is coming to Apple Pay is a new option called Apple Pay Later, which divides the cost of a purchase into four equal installments over six weeks. With iOS 16, identification cards stored in Apple Wallet can also be used to verify your age in apps. The addition comes after Apple first added support for digital IDs last year.

Google has meanwhile worked out a major makeover to his Wallet app at its I/O conference last month bringing it up to speed with Apple. The new Google Wallet will store personal documents such as payment and transit cards, vaccination records, boarding passes and student IDs, much like Apple Wallet. Google also works with government agencies to support digital IDs.

Taken together, the updates from Apple and Google represent another step toward their common goal of eliminating physical wallets—a shift that will inevitably leave us even more dependent on mobile devices.

Google reiterated this ambition just before rolling out the new updates Google I/O in May.

“In fact, there are only two things I don’t leave home without today: my phone and my wallet,” said Sameer Samat, vice president of product management for Android and Google Play, on stage. “So the question is, can my phone replace my wallet?”

Corey Fugman, Apple’s senior director for Wallet and Apple Pay, made similar comments during Monday’s WWDC keynote.

“With Apple Wallet, we are working hard towards our goal of replacing your physical wallet,” he said.

People have already embraced the idea of ​​replacing physical credit cards with smartphone-based payment apps. According to a 2021 report from eMarketer, the use of mobile payment systems in retail stores such as 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 wallets can make the idea of ​​leaving your physical wallet at home even more appealing.

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Your phone, everywhere

Google Search Explorer

Google’s new visual search provides details about products on a crowded store shelf.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Replacing the wallet is just one way Apple and Google hope to make our phones more useful offline in everyday life. Both companies also introduced camera-based smartphone tools that could make navigating real-world points of interest easier. Another prominent theme is the increased interconnectivity between mobile devices and home appliances, cars and loudspeakers.

Apple and Google both believe that the camera will continue to play a major role in how we interact with the world around us. In iOS 16, you can translate text into different languages ​​with a new camera option in Apple’s Translate app. during his WWDC keynote presentation, the company demonstrated how this can be used to translate an entire restaurant menu into another language. You can also track a flight or convert currency by just tapping text in a photo.

Google showed an ambitious extension of the Lens app called “scene explorer” at Google I/O, which essentially applies its search power to the real world. You would wave your phone’s camera over a shelf of products, and it would display information and ratings on the screen to help you find the right choice. Google search headline Prabhakar Raghavan cited as an example the ability to find nut-free snacks or fragrance-free lotion in a brick-and-mortar store.

The execution may be different, but the concept is similar. We are already used to ordering food, taxis and household supplies with the push of a button on our phones. Now Apple and Google want to make our phones a vital part of doing those tasks in the real world, and the camera will be a big part of that.

Google and Apple have also refined their respective visions to make our phone a connection hub for other devices around us. Google explained how Android 13 would allow your phone to better connect to other devices with support for quick pairing, automatic device switching, and the ability to more easily sync messages between your phone and computer. It also revealed a new split screen interface for Android Auto that should make multitasking on the go easier.

read moreA new Apple Watch SE sounds more exciting than the Series 8. Here’s why

apple-carplay-wwdc-2022-preview-screenshot-0010x30m31s666.png

Apple’s new iOS-inspired CarPlay interface.

Apple

Apple simplified the process of managing HomeKit devices with a redesigned home app for the iPhone. But perhaps the biggest area where Apple plans to extend the iPhone’s reach is the car. The company teased a revamp of its CarPlay software that looks like an entire automotive operating system, complete with app icons, widgets, and other user interface elements reminiscent of the iPhone and Apple Watch

The smart home and the connected car are not new ideas. They’ve both been integral to Apple’s and Google’s respective strategies for years. But iOS 16 and Android 13 clarify how Apple and Google’s visions should communicate and interact on these devices.

With the smartphone becoming the link to everything from your credit card to your thermostat and car, Apple and Google are personalizing the aesthetic. When iOS 16 launches this fall, you’ll get iPhone a brand new lock screen with support for Apple Watch-like widgets and new photo effects for background images. Google is expanding its Material You with ready-to-use color sets that can be applied across the entire operating system.

iOS 16 and Android 13 have much more to offer than new wallet functionality, camera tools for scanning real-world objects, and improved connectivity. These updates not only reflect how essential the phone is becoming to both our online and offline lives, they also indicate where the industry is heading.

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