Ap­ple opin­ion

Is Steve Job’s war on Google over, or has Tim Cook just changed tac­tics?

Mac Format - - CONTENTS - Scots word-mon­ger Gary Mar­shall has been play­ing with Ap­ple Mu­sic. “If it had a theme tune, it’d be The Prim­i­tives’ Crash”, he says.

The hu­morist Jack Handey once wrote of a fight: “Even though he was my en­emy, I had to ad­mire his strat­egy. First, he punched me, then he kicked me, then he punched me again”.

Tim Cook ap­pears to be do­ing some­thing sim­i­lar to Google.

Biff! Maps is off iOS, re­placed by Ap­ple Maps. Pow! Siri’s search goes to Bing, and in­side apps. Whack! Spotlight in OS X El Cap­i­tan is de­signed to make Googling un­nec­es­sary. Smack! Proac­tive fea­tures in iOS 9 are like Google Now, but nicer.

And that’s just the ob­vi­ous blows. Else­where, Ap­ple is of­fer­ing an al­ter­na­tive to Google ads plus a new plat­form for pub­lish­ers in the Ap­ple News app, a ri­val to Google Play Mu­sic in the form of Ap­ple Mu­sic, a pay­ment sys­tem that works bet­ter than Google Wal­let did, in the form of Ap­ple Pay, and if re­ports are to be be­lieved, al­ter­na­tives to Google Street View. Not only that, but it in­tends to help block ads in iOS 9, some­thing that strikes di­rectly at the heart of Google, which still makes most of its money from them.

It’s clear what’s hap­pen­ing: Tim Cook is mak­ing good on Ap­ple’s belief that it should con­trol the tech­nolo­gies it de­pends on, and if that means mak­ing Google’s life more dif­fi­cult then that’s a bonus. Maps, mu­sic, wear­ables, home au­to­ma­tion, search, advertising, pub­lish­ing, in-car en­ter­tain­ment, soft­ware dis­tri­bu­tion… it’s a grow­ing list.

You can see how putting tanks on Google’s many lawns might ben­e­fit Ap­ple, but does it ben­e­fit us? The an­swer has to be a qual­i­fied yes, be­cause – whis­per it – the Ap­ple Way isn’t al­ways the best way. I can’t be the only one whose iTunes Match ex­pe­ri­ence has been frus­trat­ing, un­re­li­able and buggy, or who finds Google Maps more ac­cu­rate and more use­ful than Ap­ple Maps, or who finds Google’s voice recog­ni­tion more ac­cu­rate than Siri’s, or who would like to use a dif­fer­ent mail ap­pli­ca­tion but can’t per­suade Yosemite to open any­thing other than Mail.app.

So why do we stick with Ap­ple if the Google grass is greener? The an­swer, for me at least, is sim­ple: trust. We know that ev­ery­thing you do in Google is feed­ing its al­go­rithms – Google Photos isn’t free be­cause Google’s gen­er­ous; it’s free be­cause Google wants as many im­ages as pos­si­ble to train its im­age recog­ni­tion al­go­rithms – and that more of­ten than not you’re the prod­uct Google is selling to oth­ers. That isn’t the case with Ap­ple, of course. Ap­ple might not al­ways have the best soft­ware or ser­vice, but it of­ten has the more trust­wor­thy of­fer.

So why do we stick with Ap­ple if the Google grass is greener?

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