Benedict Evans writes about Apple’s announcements at WWDC 2014.
So edit a photo and the edits are on all your devices, run out of room and your photos stay on the cloud but all but the previews are cleared off your phone, tap a phone number on a web page on your Mac and your phone dials it. But none of this says ‘CLOUD™’ and none of it is done in a web browser. Web browsers are for web pages, not for apps. Hence one could suggest that Apple loves the cloud, just not the web (or, not URLs). This is obviously a contrast with Google, which has pretty much the opposite approach. For Google, devices are dumb glass and the intelligence is in the cloud, but for Apple the cloud is just dumb storage and the device is the place for intelligence.
Each of them are utilising the cloud from their area of expertise: Apple in making devices and Google in online services.
I’ve described this before by saying that Apple is moving innovation down the stack into hardware/software integration, where it’s hard for Google to follow, and Google is moving innovation up the stack into cloud-based AI & machine learning services, where it’s hard for Apple to follow. This isn’t a tactical ‘this’ll screw those guys’ approach – it reflects the fundamental characters of the two companies. Google thinks about improving UX by reducing page load times, Apple thinks about UX by making it easier to scroll that page.
Google’s approach relies on a good internet connection, whereas Apple relies on the device to do the lifting and might be a more feasible in places where connectivity is spotty. This difference might be subtle for users living in big cities with high speed mobile internet, but it would have a big impact in emerging markets where internet connectivity is not prevalent. Project Loon makes a lot of sense from Google’s point of view now, doesn’t it?