What happened to the company that was once hailed as being "more innovative" and faster at introducing new features? Why did Android evolved into a disappointing slow follower?
Google started out touting HBO Now for Android, after Apple debuted the new service as exclusive to iOS in early April. From there, the company detailed the next Android "M," which plans to throw away all the confusing, flaw-riddled app permissions of Android and go with the exact same user request system introduced years ago by Apple's iOS, where apps that want to use the camera or access contacts simply ask to do so first.
Android's unintuitive copy and paste will also eventually be replaced with a new system that takes its design cues from iOS 3.0 (from 2009), as noted by John Gruber.
Google Pay similarly gives up on the failed implementation of Google Wallet to identically copy Apple's implementation of Apple Pay. And to make this workable, Android will also look to iOS in providing OS-level fingerprint authentication. The problem with this is that few Android phones have a functional fingerprint reader, and those that do have rolled their own support for competing payment systems, like Samsung Pay.
Apple introduced fingerprint support in iOS two years ago, and Apple Pay last year. Since then, every major bank (and many of their smaller competitors) in the United States have been relentlessly advertising Apple Pay on Apple's behalf. Additionally, even credit processors like Braintree have been screaming about their support Apple Pay from their billboards, despite Braintree being owned by PayPal, ostensibly a direct competitor of Apple Pay.
Google also introduced the same kinds of smart sleep technologies that Apple introduced for both iOS and OS X over the past years, in recognition of the fact that Android devices generally have less usable battery life even while many devices pack on bigger heavier batteries than a comparable iPhone.
And despite buying Nest and inheriting the company's "Thread" Internet of Things technology (now barely a year old), Google has now started over to roll its own new implementation of device control designed to compete with HomeKit, which Apple introduced a year ago (and is already appearing in silicon from major chipmakers).
One unique initiative Google introduced relates to blurring the app and the web browser, with browser tricks to make web pages look more like apps, "Now On Tap" to spy into what apps are doing and web hyperlinks to launch apps and automatically go to a specific function (what could possibly go wrong here, right?). That helps Google wrangle itself into apps, at least on Android, an area where the company has been frantically locked out as the world goes mobile. However, this ploy seems to be a little too little, a little too late, as apps are already well established with barriers to a web-like global search engine.