This story is part ofCNET’s full coverage from and about Apple’s annual developer conference.
What’s going on
iOS 16 and Android 13 come with new features that aim to replace your physical wallet and improve connections with smart home devices and connected car interfaces.
why does it matter
The updates underscore Apple and Google’s shared vision of making our phones more essential to everyday life.
Your smartphone is about to become even more linked to the non-digital aspects of your life. That is one of the main conclusions ofY , new mobile software updates coming later this year from Apple and Google. Both tech giants want to turn your phone into a digital wallet to store your legal ID and other essential documents, bringing your phone closer to your identity than ever before. The companies also continue to improve the way phones communicate with cars, smart home devices and other everyday devices.
BothY are packed with tweaks and new features, some of which are more important than digital wallets and faster connections (like to protect victims of domestic abuse and Google’s new privacy updates). But the overlap between the two operating systems underscores the phone’s changing role in our lives. According to the latest announcements from Apple and Google, what is happening around your phone will be as important as what’s going on in your phone.
The more intimately our phones are tied to everyday essentials like wallets, credit cards, cars, and appliances, the harder it becomes to walk 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 improvements to Apple’s and Google’s respective approaches that will likely accelerate those efforts.
Replacement of the physical wallet
The digital wallet was a big focus during both Apple’s iOS 16 announcement and Google’s Android 13 preview. the most significantis a new option called , which divides 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 detailed a major revamp forduring his I/O conference last month that brings him up to speed with Apple. The new Google Wallet will store personal documents like payment and transit cards, vaccination records, boarding passes and student IDs, just like 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 common goal of making physical wallets obsolete, a change that will inevitably make us even more reliant on mobile devices.
Google reiterated this ambition just before detailing the new updates inIn May.
“In fact, these days there are only two things I don’t leave the house without: my phone and my wallet,” Sameer Samat, vice president of product management for Android and Google Play, said on stage. “So the question is, can my phone replace my wallet?”
Corey Fugman, Apple’s senior director of Wallet and Apple Pay, made similar comments during the WWDC keynote address on Monday.
“With Apple Wallet, we are working hard on 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. Use of in-store mobile payment systems like Apple Pay is expected to exceed 50% of all smartphone users in the US by 2025, according to a 2021 report from electronic marketer. Apple’s new Pay After 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, everywhere
Replacing the wallet is just one of the ways 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 it easier to navigate real-world points of interest. Another prominent theme is the increased interconnectivity between mobile devices and home appliances, cars and speakers.
Apple and Google believe that the camera will continue to play an important role in how we interact with the world around us. In iOS 16, you’ll be able to translate text into different languages using a new camera option in Apple’s Translate app. during his, the company demonstrated how this could be used to translate a restaurant’s entire menu into a different language. You can also track a flight or convert currency just by touching the text on a photo.
Google showed an ambitiouscalled “scene explorer” at Google I/O, which essentially applies its search prowess to the real world. It would pass your phone’s camera through a shelf of products and overlay information and ratings on the screen to help you find the right choice. Google search chief Prabhakar Raghavan cited the ability to find nut-free snacks or scent-free lotions in a physical retail store as an example.
The execution may be different, but the concept is similar. We are already used to ordering food, taxis and basic household items with the push of a button on our phones. Now Apple and Google want our phones to be a critical part of accomplishing those tasks in the real world as well, and the camera will be a big part of that.
Google and Apple have also refined their respective visions to turn our phone into a hub for the other devices around us. Google explained howIt would improve your phone’s connection 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. also revealed that should make it easier to multitask when you’re on the go.
Apple has simplified the process of managing HomeKit devices with a redesigned home app for iPhone. But perhaps the biggest area Apple plans to extend the iPhone’s reach is in the car. The company jokedwhich looks like a full car operating system, complete with app icons, widgets and other UI elements reminiscent of the iPhone and .
The smart home and connected car are not new ideas. Both have been an integral part of Apple and Google’s respective strategies for years. But iOS 16 and Android 13 clarify how Apple and Google’s visions for these devices should communicate and interact.
As the smartphone becomes the link to everything from your credit card to your thermostat to your car, Apple and Google are making its aesthetic more personal. When iOS 16 launches this fall, your iPhone will getwith support for Apple Watch-like widgets and new photo effects for background images. Google is expanding its Material You with pre-made color sets that can be applied throughout the operating system.
There’s a lot more to iOS 16 and Android 13 than new wallet functionality, camera tools for scanning real-world objects, and improved connectivity. These updates not only indicate how essential the phone is becoming to our lives online and offline, but also point to where the industry is headed next.