Apple wants to make checking phone calls, dictating text messages, and receiving audio messages easier in iOS 17. For Google Pixel fans, this should sound very familiar.
At its Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, Apple showed off a slew of new features coming to the iPhone this fall. While the new Live Photo stickers and stylized contact photo “posters” may have grabbed the headlines, Apple also previewed a few features reminiscent of Google’s Pixel devices. Like Google, Apple is implementing more audio transcription and speech recognition into its phones and messaging apps.
Their approaches may differ, but Apple and Google clearly have the same goal: to modernize and improve the calling and texting experience. Communication, along with customization, was a major theme in both iOS 17 and Google’s recent Pixel updates. (Remember those new cinematic wallpapers for Pixel devices that Google showed off at its I/O conference last month?)
Apple’s iOS 17 shares some other similarities with Google’s latest products, such as its new standby mode, which essentially turns your iPhone into a smart display. Apple also added the ability to download offline maps to its navigation app, which Google Maps has had for years. (However, this functionality was technically available on the iPhone before through the iOS version of the Google Maps app.)
Here’s a look at some new features in iOS 17 that look similar to what we’ve seen from Google in recent years.
With iOS 17, you’ll be able to see transcripts of voice messages in real time, allowing you to grab them if it’s important. Spam calls will be automatically rejected and will not be displayed as transcripts. While it might not be exactly the same, it sounds a lot like Google’s Call Screen feature, which has Google Assistant screen your calls for you before you answer the phone. It’s one of many phone-call-centric features Google has added to its Pixel devices over the years, including Hold For Me and Direct My Call. The former keeps Google Assistant on hold for you when you call certain businesses, while the latter helps you navigate automated phone menus.
Transcriptions of audio messages
It is not always appropriate to listen to voicemails immediately. Maybe you’re out in public and don’t have your headphones on, or maybe you’re in the middle of a meeting. Apple wants to address this in iOS 17 with audio message transcription support that displays the text in a line below the audio file in a message thread. Message transcriptions were also a key feature that Google highlighted when announcing the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro last year.
Better voice dictation for text messages
When Google announced the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, the first phones to run its Tensor processor, it noted that the phones would have better speech recognition when dictating messages with Google Assistant. Apple made a similar announcement during WWDC, saying that dictation in the Messages app should be more accurate because it now uses an improved speech recognition model.
One of the more intriguing new features in iOS 17 is StandBy mode, which allows your iPhone to double as a smart display when it’s in landscape mode and charging. When in this mode, your phone can display the time, photos, widgets, notifications, and live activities that show real-time updates from time-sensitive apps on the lock screen.
While it may sound very similar to the always-on display on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, the content has been styled to look more like a night watch or smart display. Clock faces are colorful and can, for example, occupy the entire screen. It feels like a hybrid between the iPhone 14 Pro’s always-on display and the Apple Watch’s nightstand mode.
Google’s take is a bit different, but it achieves the same goal with its new Pixel tablet. Google’s tablet is designed to be a cross between a general-purpose tablet and a smart home hub. Google leans into this approach more fully by including a charging dock that doubles as a speaker in the case, allowing the interface to change automatically when docked.
Taken together, these updates mean phones are becoming more personalized, whether that’s by transcribing conversations or providing more customizations. And based on Apple’s WWDC keynote and Google’s recent Pixel updates, it looks like that will continue to be true whether you prefer iPhone or Android.