I read a great article breaking down the recent Google I/O developers conference and what it means to the larger computing world and to Google itself. The article contends, and I agree, that Google has hit another gear this year and is doing some of the most exciting things in technology.
It’s still the red headed stepchild of social networks, but I love what Google is doing with Google+. The new layout is fresh and exciting and the additional functionality behind it all is powerful and helpful. Google+ is a long play for Google and as they continue to wrap it around their other products, it will be hard for many people to avoid. Google’s new music service, for example, will gain social features powered by Google+. You also can’t write off the value your Google+ content will have in Google search. They’re not supposed to play favorites, but really, you want to take that risk?
Google continues to be the king of search but they are not resting on their laurels either. The big announcement in search this year is what they are calling conversational search in which you use voice to literally talk to Google. This has been working on mobile phones for awhile, but now it is coming to the desktop as well. It’s very much like what Apple is doing with Siri, but far better. With Siri, Apple is tapping into a very limited data set, while with conversational search, Google is tapping into the largest, most sophisticated search engine in the world. Apple really had the lead here but squandered it by not continuing to innovate. Kudos to Google for taking the one market they have complete domination in and pushing forward.
Again, Google has a fairly dominant position in maps as well although not as complete as search. Despite this, Google is innovating on maps, taking most of the interface and moving it right on top of the map itself. This makes the whole thing much cleaner and intuitive. The new Google maps is incredible and also nicely incorporates Zagat ratings for businesses. The Zagat ratings, by the way, are tied to your Google+ profile. Watch as Google+ becomes the social layer that goes on top of as many Google products as possible. Apple famously created their own map application in the latest iOS and failed terribly. Since then, I haven’t seen a great deal of visible improvement and many people have gone back and installed Google Maps in their iOS devices.
It’s hard not to see how much Apple has stagnated since Steve Jobs died. It’s been a very long time since Apple did anything really exciting. I think the last thing, for me, was Siri. At the time, Siri was amazing and cool. There was nothing like it on the market and it seemed magical. But since it’s introduction, Siri has stagnated, not improving or doing much else of what it originally did. In the meantime, as we saw at Google I/O, Google voice search is already vastly superior to Siri.
For my money, at this moment in history, Google is the most exciting big tech company. Apple is loosing it’s shine and by the way, what the hell happened to Microsoft?