WWDC 2016: What’s in it for Android users?

Will Apple introduce new software and services for the Android platform at WWDC?

Apple, iOS, iPhone, Android, WWDC
Credit: Jonny Evans

There is passion on both sides of the Android-versus-iPhone debate, but even as Google offers iPhone apps, Apple is developing apps for Android, which is why thousands of Android users will be waiting to see if Apple has any news for them at next week’s WWDC.

iMessage for Android?

They can’t wait to see if it will announce iMessages for Android.

It makes sense to do so. Messaging matters.

To get the best sense of just how important messaging will become you should take a look at the capabilities of messaging systems used in the APAC regions.

For example, WeChat doesn’t just offer messaging but also banking, financial services, enterprise chat support, offline chat, TV, video calls, taxi services, payments, games, delivery support, media access, a developer API... LINE and Kakao Talk offer similar feature sets.

Messaging is: “Evolving from simple social conversations to more expressive communication,” as KPCB analyst, Mary Meeker put it last week, in her Internet Trends 2016 report.

Logically, messaging replaces the computer, the handset, the home screen…

A recent study claims young Americans are spending as much time or more on messaging apps than social networks.

Apple watches trends. It knows that many of the tasks we traditionally used a computer to do will eventually be transacted using a mobile device – that’s why it calls PCs “trucks”. We will use a microphone on a shirt to ask Siri to get us a cab, watching progress using a flexible display on our sleeve, or, indeed, no display at all.

Apple Pay for all

It also needs to extend the capabilities of iMessage, and this is why the idea that it may enable Apple Pay payments via the system is so attractive.

If the company were to announce Apple Pay in iMessage, it makes absolute sense for Android users to expect a version of iMessages for them, soon. While fragmentation means not every  feature will work on every Android device, for Apple to offer secure payments it will need recipients to be using its software.

It must to if it wants its person-to-person payment system to proliferate. Apple needs to ensure its messaging system is made available across multiple platforms, and this may even extend to supporting systems, such as Siri.

The strategic importance of offering a powerful messaging platform will drive Apple to use every available avenue to overturn the recent VirnetX patent infringement judgment against it.

Software eats the world

I suppose it is a truism to say that software is eating the world. At every level we are seeing a device-centric model replaced by a service-centric one. We want to do the same things with our Apple Watch as we can with our Mac, and while that’s not always possible with solutions like Continuity Apple shows it has understanding of this and wants to at least make sure the devices we use complement each other. This is also causing the company to diversify its business, following the wave of digital transformation into the network, the electricity supply and the infrastructure. Apple Energy, anyone?

One more thing?

Speaking earlier this year, Apple CEO, Tim Cook described Apple Music for Android as a way in which the company could look into growing its services division by offering services to other platforms. This prompted a wave of speculation the company may offer iCloud, iWork, books or movie sales to Android users, and may also have significance if the company ever does offer movie streaming services through the Apple TV. Android users may also be wondering if Apple plans to introduce Android support to Apple Watch, once the wearable gains its own built-in SIM? It’s important to discount none of these possibilities as Apple works to build service and subscription income as it seeks to free itself from being completely dependent on ‘Next Big Thing’ hardware sales. All in all, WWC 2016, always a big deal for Apple watchers could this year be a big deal for other platforms, too.

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