Apple has apparently spent a lot of the last year trying to catch up with Google in AI

Key Points
  • New tools are coming for developers, while end users get smarter apps.
  • Apple continues to emphasize privacy.
Kevork Djansezian | Getty

Apple just revealed what it's been up to in software for the past year ... and it's remarkably Google-y.

During the Monday keynote at the company's 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference, the company announced a bunch of catch-ups:

  • Siri got the ability to translate languages, something Google has provided through Google Translate since 2006. For now, Siri can only translate spoken English into five other languages, while Google's service can work with more than 100 languages, but it's a start.
  • A Do Not Disturb While Driving mode, which delivers a different user interface when iPhone users are driving. Google delivered an Android Auto feature for smartphones last year.
  • Improvements to the AirPlay feature for sharing audio from iOS devices, which one-ups Google's invasion of home audio speakers through the Chromecast Audio dongle. Apple will let people play audio in multiple rooms while Google works on introducing that feature to all speakers that have Chromecast built in.
  • Improvements to the Camera app that comes with iOS so it's able to make loops with the Live Photos video snippets that are automatically created out of each photo. Google introduced this feature in an app called Motion Stills last year.
  • Siri will soon be front and center on the Apple Watch, just like the Google Assistant has started showing up on Android Wear smartwatches.
  • A HomePod speaker that plays music and lets you talk to Siri. The Google Home does similar things but comes with the Google Assistant instead of Siri.

More broadly, Apple has built tools for artificial intelligence and augmented reality, and now the company is starting to let outside developers use those tools to enhance their own applications.

The thing is, Google already did the same thing, with the Tango mobile augmented reality system and services running in its cloud.

To be clear, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Snap have all been busy in both AI and AR. But Google has put AI at the core of its business, with CEO Sundar Pichai going so far as to call it an "AI-first" company.

With Apple doing small things to make AI more visible and powerful across more of its devices, the company appears to be acknowledging people's continued use of impressively smart apps like Google Translate and the Google App.

The message is clear: We're getting smarter now, so don't even worry about using the Google stuff. The uncertainties lie in how many Google developers and customers will defect.