In a stunning display of innovation, Apple took the stage at this year’s WWDC 2023, capturing the attention of tech enthusiasts worldwide. While the spotlight shone on the Vision Pro augmented reality headset, there was more to behold with the introduction of iOS 17. However, the most recent iOS version, on the other hand, seems to take a more understated approach, focusing on enhancing the user experience.
While this latest iteration seems to prioritize enhancements to user experience, our assessment is met with a mixed bag of feelings. However, despite the excitement, mixed feelings set in when we saw several features in iOS 17 that had a striking resemblance to those on Android. Surprisingly, Apple’s most recent operating system had a ton of these capabilities. Here, we highlight some of iOS 17’s standout features, which Apple appears to have lifted directly from Android.
Apple Unveils iOS 17 with Features ‘Inspired’ by Android
The landscape of mobile operating systems has evolved significantly since the late 2000s and early 2010s, witnessing remarkable progress from both Android and iOS. In those earlier days, Android struggled with speed and refinement, while iOS fell short on feature offerings. However, an intriguing pattern emerged: a mutual exchange of ideas between the two rivals.
This trend continues with the latest release, iOS 17, where Apple openly appropriates some of Android’s most prominent features. Brace yourselves as we delve into the most significant features in iOS 17 that Apple shamelessly adopted from its Android counterpart.
1. StandBy Isn’t Something New
Apple brings a distinct Android feature to the forefront in iOS 17: the Standby functionality for iPhones. This remarkable addition transforms your iPhone into a dynamic hub of information when placed in landscape orientation on a wireless charging pad, resembling a smart display experience.
While Apple introduces the Standby functionality to iOS 17, it’s worth noting that Pixel phones, such as the Pixel 7, 7 Pro, and 7a, when placed on the Pixel Stand (2nd gen) charging dock, have already pioneered the concept of smart display capabilities. By simply placing a Pixel phone on the charging dock, users have long enjoyed the convenience of transforming their device into a smart display.
Once you put your Pixel down on the charging stand, a whole new world of possibilities unfolds before you. As your Pixel charges, it transforms into a multifaceted device, showcasing an immersive Google Photos frame, providing seamless access to smart home controls, granting you the power by Google Assistant at your fingertips, and offering a myriad of additional features to enhance your charging experience.
2. Live Voicemail is Old Too
Apple’s iOS 17 introduces the much-touted Live Voicemail feature, which transcribes voicemails in real time, granting users the ability to make an informed decision about answering the call. However, it’s worth pointing out that this concept isn’t entirely new, as it bears a striking resemblance to a feature pioneered by none other than Google itself.
Google takes the crown for being the first to venture into this territory with its feature called Call Screen, available on Pixel devices like the Google Pixel 7. With Call Screen, the ingenious Google Assistant takes charge, skillfully answering incoming calls and requesting additional information from the caller.
When you get to this point, you are given a transcription of the caller’s response, which offers helpful information. With this knowledge at your disposal, you may use your discretion to decide whether to accept the call or politely decline it.
3. Interactive Widgets for The Home Screen
It all started with the iOS 14 update when Apple first introduced widgets to iPhones, revolutionizing the home screen experience. Since then, Apple has been diligently enhancing these widgets with each subsequent iteration. Now, with the arrival of iOS 17, iPhones take another leap forward by embracing interactive widgets. These dynamic and versatile widgets not only provide quick access to essential information but also grant users the ability to control music playback, manage smart devices, and effortlessly navigate different services within an app, all without the need to open the respective app itself.
However, it is no secret that Apple has arrived a bit late to the interactive widget party. Android, in all its glory, has been showcasing interactive widgets for quite some time now. Android made its grand entrance with widget support right from its inception in 2008, swiftly followed by the introduction of third-party widget support the following year. Android users were then treated to even greater flexibility in 2011 when widgets took a significant leap forward, granting the ability to scroll, resize, and even incorporate interactive elements within them.
4. Offline Maps
Back in 2012, Apple made a bold move by replacing Google Maps with its proprietary mapping application, Apple Maps, as the default choice on iPhones. However, it’s quite astonishing that it has taken Apple over a decade to catch up in one significant area: offline map support. Finally, with the arrival of iOS 17, Apple Maps embraces offline map functionality. This development pales in comparison to Google Maps, which had already introduced offline downloads as early as 2012, and even went a step further by offering an offline navigation feature in 2015.
5. Predictive Text
Predictive Text, a feature that sparks mixed emotions, falls into the category of either love it or hate it. For those who embrace it, this tool proves immensely useful, sparing them from the laborious task of typing out lengthy messages. However, it’s worth mentioning that Gboard, the keyboard application, has already taken this convenience a step further by mastering the art of deciphering what users intend to convey.
Amidst the electrifying atmosphere of the WWDC ’23 Keynote, Apple dedicated a brief but notable segment of its action-packed event to highlight advancements in keyboard functionality, with a particular focus on predictive text.
6. Put a Lock on Your Private Tabs
One notable addition sticks out among the many things Apple “borrowed” from Android for iOS 17, and it also happens to be a very recent development. Google unveiled a feature earlier this year that enables users to protect Incognito tabs using the biometrics integrated into their phones. Apple now adds a similar feature to Safari as iOS 17 gets ready to reach the general public later this year.
With iOS 17, users will have the convenience of locking & unlocking “Private” tabs in Safari using either Touch ID or Face ID.
7. Name Drop
Apple introduces “NameDrop,” an attention-grabbing new addition to its feature lineup, enabling users to effortlessly share their contact information by simply bringing their iPhones nearby. Undoubtedly, this technology carries a certain allure, but it’s essential to note that Apple is not pioneering this concept. Android beat them to the punch with a similar capability known as Android Beam, which made its debut years ago. Through the utilization of NFC, Android users were already able to swiftly exchange data with one another.
Adding to the irony, the situation takes a comical turn as Android 14 seemingly bids farewell to Android Beam altogether. This once-prominent feature, which made its debut back in the Android 4.0 release, faced deprecation in Android 10 and has now been entirely removed with the arrival of Android 14.
Google has bid adieu to Android Beam and introduced a worthy successor called Nearby Share. Making its entrance in 2020, Nearby Share harnesses the combined power of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to facilitate seamless data transfer.
Within iOS 17, I’ve identified seven prominent features that appear to have been inspired by their Android counterparts. While there may be additional discoveries to be made as we delve deeper, these particular elements immediately captured our attention. In the big picture, the mutual sharing of ideas between Apple and Google never changes. The dynamic cycle of invention created by the mutual inspiration between the two businesses ultimately benefits all of us.