May, 17 2013

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If Google I/O was any indication, I picked the right time to drop Android and move to the iPhone. OK, that’s not a totally fair statement. Google’s goal for this year’s developer conference was to be just that: a developer conference. Hence, the show returned to its roots and focused on the more technical side of Android: developer services, app building, and all that Google is doing behind the scenes. But where was the pomp and circumstance? The skydivers wearing Google Glass? An updated Nexus 7?

Sure, there were a few big announcements. Namely, the launch of Play Music All Access and Hangouts, as well as new features and redesigns coming to Search, Maps, and Google+. But the biggest hardware announcement was a Galaxy S4 running stock Android. The biggest software announcements weren’t a new version of Android.

No one expects Apple to unveil a new iPhone at WWDC, which is right around the corner. Whether or not we will see iOS 7 previewed is up in the air. However, there were high hopes for Google I/O, right up to hours before when Android 4.3 appeared to be ready for its grand unveiling. No dice.

So what gives? It’s as though Google has lost any sense of showmanship. They’ve given up the grand unveil for often understated product releases. Or have they? Perhaps the low key Google I/O keynote was intentional, a return to the days when Google could simply roll out a service with a beta tag and watch it grow its stake slowly. Perhaps Google really didn’t have anything major ready to reveal.

Maybe I expected too much from Google. Maybe some part of me wanted to be blown away, instantly envious that my mobile life is now resigned to an iPhone when Google would soon offer some revolutionary phone or software experience. Really, what Google did present was just enough, and it even had something for us iOS users out there.

Google Hangouts might have an uphill battle against the likes of Facebook Messenger, What’s App?, and others, but for a dedicated Google Talk user like myself, it marks the first time that Google is offering a native iOS app for their chat service. I had searched far and wide for the best replacement, eventually coughing up somewhere around $10 total to get a half-decent Google Talk experience on the iPhone. I won’t be getting that $10 back, but I now have a free and fully featured messaging service tied directly into my Google account, and it’s one less reason to miss Android.

Google Play Music All Access new

One reason why I will continue to miss Android, though, is Google Play Music. There still is no support for iOS, and while it may come in the future, the day did not accompany the announcement of All Access, Google’s answer to streaming music. It looks like it could be one of the best subscription services out there, and combined with Play Music’s free cloud storage for up to 20,000 of your songs you would be hard pressed to find a better all around solution for taking your music mobile. iTunes might be great media management software, but iTunes Match doesn’t do for $25 a year what Play Music can do for free.

Obviously, Google I/O leaves me with mixed feelings. Half of me wishes there was more to show, but the other half is glad Google didn’t give me reason to switch back to Android just yet. Unless the search giant has something up their sleeve, however, they’ve left the door wide open for Apple to blow us away at WWDC. Fingers crossed.

Longtime Android user and Phandroid blogger Kevin Krause has made the switch to iPhone. Follow his exploits as he navigates the world of Apple over at iSource.com.

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