​Apple vs. Android at WWDC 2015: Can privacy, Proactive Assistant win vs. Google Now?

Apple and Google want to be proactive with their mobile platforms and anticipate your needs. It's unclear whether Apple's privacy pitch will dent Google's machine learning in Android.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Apple plans to be just as proactive with machine learning and its mobile platform and anticipate your needs. The catch is that Apple's master plan revolves around being more human and tuned into privacy concerns.

Here's the question: Who do you trust? And does privacy matter if your service is being helpful?

WWDC 2015 was an interesting contrast with Google I/O. Google is looking to anticipate your needs and get to know you. Google is also looking to integrate its algorithms and machine learning with everything from photos to music to apps. Search---and the text ads that go with it---are integrated throughout the platform. With Google you're always logged in. Google's goal in a picture goes like this.


Apple took shots at the Google approach to being proactive repeatedly. Apple Music revolves around humans and good music not algorithms and playlists the company's execs dismissed. Apple also said that its news app isn't going to be tethered to your account.

"News is designed from the ground up to be focused on your privacy," said Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering. Apple Pay is based partly on convenience and keeping your card numbers secure. If you look up directions or anything else, Federighi promised it's anonymous.

"If we do a lookup on your behalf, such as traffic, it's anonymous. It's not shared with third parties. Why would you do that? You are in control," he said.

The positioning here is obvious. Android ties you too much to Google. Apple can anticipate your needs without strings. "The best assistants are proactive. In iOS 9 we're bringing proactivity to the system," said Federighi.

The big question is whether customers care about the privacy strings. People regularly share information with everyone. Your data is the new currency. There are no free rides.

Apple clearly thinks it can deliver a personalized experience throughout iOS 9 without a direct marketing feel. After all, Apple sells hardware, software, music and apps. And Apple sure doesn't need to market to you since cash falls out of the sky.

Federighi said:

"You've seen how we've been able to bring intelligence throughout the experience in iOS 9. It's done in a way that doesn't hurt privacy."

Apple thinks its privacy hook vs. Google has so much legs that it is opening its search APIs to developers. Apple made it clear that when it comes to search it knows more than it ever did. But the promise is that Siri can dip into your world, email, calendar and life in a way that's going to respect your privacy.

Overall, Apple's privacy theme is certainly notable. However, Google Now has a habit of delighting too. Ultimately, the privacy theme matters only to the degree the trade-off makes sense. Whether it's a Google ID or an Apple one, the return on being productive will be weighed against log-ins and tracking.

Apple WWDC 2015 keynote highlights

Google I/O 2015: How Google is trying to simplify Android

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