This story is part ofCNET’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 smartphone is about to become even more closely connected to the non-digital aspects of your life. That is one of the main takeaways ofand , the 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 hold 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, smarthome gadgets and other everyday devices.
Bothand are packed with tweaks and new features, some of which are more important than digital wallets and faster connections (like 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.
Replacing the physical wallet
The digital wallet was a major focus during both Apple’s iOS 16 announcement and Google’s Android 13 preview. The most importantis a new option called , 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 toat 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 updatesin 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 stores like 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.
Your phone, everywhere
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, 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 ambitiouscalled “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 howwould 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 that should make multitasking on the go easier.
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 teasedthat looks like an entire automotive operating system, complete with app icons, widgets, and other user interface elements reminiscent of the iPhone and †
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 iPhonewith 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.