This story is part ofCNET’s collection of news, tips and advice on Apple’s most popular product.
Smartphones have dominated our online lives for some time now. Most internet traffic comes from mobile browsers and iOS and Android phone apps are mandatory for any online service. However, the latest updates to these operating systems —and — Show how our phones can become even more connected to our offline lives.
Theupdate will be announced on and is expected to be released on September 16. for Google Pixel devices on August 15. It will roll out to other compatible phones this fall.
Both tech giants want to turn your phone into a digital wallet for storing your legal ID and other necessary documents, bringing your phone closer to your identity than ever before. Companies also continue to improve the way phones communicate with cars, smart home devices and other everyday devices.
from Appleand Google are full of improvements and new features, some of which are more important than digital wallets and faster connections (eg. for protecting victims of domestic violence and Google’s new privacy updates). But the overlap between the two operating systems underscores the changing role of the phone in our lives. Based on updates from Apple and Google, what’s going on around your phone will be as important as what’s going on on your phone
The more intimately our phones are tied to everyday necessities like wallets, credit cards, cars, and home appliances, the harder it will be to move away from them (or switch between iPhone and Android). The concept is not new; the industry has been moving in this direction for years. However, the changes in iOS 16 and Android 13 bring important improvements to Apple’s and Google’s respective approaches that will likely accelerate these efforts.
Read more: Follow Apple’s “Far Out” event live blog for the latest iPhone 14 and iOS 16 news
Physical wallet exchange
The digital wallet was a big focus at both Apple’s iOS 16 announcement in June and Google’s Android 13 preview in May. The most importantis a new option called , which divides the cost of the purchase into four equal installments over six weeks. With iOS 16, ID cards stored in Apple Wallet can also be used to verify your age in apps. The addition comes after Apple first added support for Digital ID last year.
Meanwhile, Google has detailed the major overhaulduring its I/O conference, bringing it up to speed with Apple. The new Google Wallet will store personal documents such as payment and transit cards, vaccination records, boarding passes and student IDs, similar to Apple Wallet. Google is also working with government agencies to support digital IDs.
Together, Apple and Google’s updates represent another step toward their shared goal of making physical wallets obsolete—a shift that will inevitably make us even more dependent on mobile devices.
Google reiterated that ambition when detailing the new updates at the addressin May.
“There are really only two things I don’t leave home without these days: my phone and my wallet,” Sameer Samat, vice president of product management for Android and Google Play, said on stage. “So the question is, can my phone replace my wallet?”
Corey Fugman, Apple’s senior director of Wallet and Apple Pay, made similar remarks during the WWDC 2022 keynote.
“With Apple Wallet, we’re working hard on our goal of replacing your physical wallet,” he said.
People have already embraced the idea of replacing physical credit cards with smartphone-based payment apps. According to a 2021 eMarketer report, the use of in-store mobile payment systems such as Apple Pay is expected to exceed 50% of all US smartphone users by 2025. Apple’s new Pay Later option and Google’s renewed focus on its own mobile wallet could make the idea of leaving your physical wallet at home even more appealing.
Your phone, everywhere
The wallet swap is just one way Apple and Google hope to make our phones more useful offline in our daily lives. Both companies also introduced camera-based smartphone tools that could make it easier to navigate real-world points of interest. Another important topic is the increased connectivity between mobile devices and home appliances, cars and speakers.
Both Apple and Google believe that the camera will continue to play a big role in how we interact with the world around us. In iOS 16, you’ll be able to translate text into different languages using a new camera option in Apple’s Translate app. During his, the company demonstrated how it can be used to translate an entire restaurant menu into another language. You’ll also be able to track a flight or convert currency just by tapping the text on the photo.
Google demonstrated an ambitiousat Google I/O called a “scene explorer” that basically applies its search ability to the real world. You’d wave your phone’s camera over a shelf of products and information and ratings would be superimposed on the screen to help you find the right selection. Google’s head of search Prabhakar Raghavan gave the example of being able to find nut-free snacks or fragrance-free lotion in a brick-and-mortar store.
The execution may be different, but the concept is similar. We have become accustomed to ordering food, taxis and household items at the touch of a button on our phones. Now Apple and Google want to make our phones a critical part of doing these tasks in the real world, and the camera will be a major part of that.
Google and Apple have also perfected their visions of turning our phone into a connection hub for other devices around us. Google explained howwould better connect your phone to other devices with support for quick pairing, automatic audio switching between devices and the ability to more easily synchronize messages between your phone and computer. It also revealed this should make multitasking easier when you’re on the go.
Apple has simplified the process of managing HomeKit devices with a redesigned home app for iPhone. But perhaps the biggest area where Apple plans to expand the iPhone’s reach is in the car. The company teasedwhich looks like an entire automotive operating system, complete with app icons, widgets and other user interface elements reminiscent of the iPhone and .
The smart home and connected car are not new ideas. Both have been integral to Apple and Google’s respective strategies for years. However, iOS 16 and Android 13 clarify how Apple and Google’s visions for these devices should communicate and interact with each other.
As the smartphone becomes the link from your credit card to your thermostat to your car, Apple and Google are making its aesthetic more personal. When iOS 16 launches this fall, your iPhone will getwith support for Apple Watch-style widgets and new photo effects for background images. Google is expanding its Material You with pre-made color sets that can be used across the entire operating system.
iOS 16 and Android 13 offer much more than new wallet features, camera tools for scanning real-world objects, and improved connectivity. These updates not only signal how essential the phone is becoming to our online and offline lives, but also show where the industry is headed next.