What iOS 16 and Android 13 reveal about the future of smartphones

This story is part of WWDC 2022, CNET’s full coverage of and about Apple’s annual developer conference.

What is happening

iOS 16 and Android 13 include new features that aim to replace the physical wallet and improve connections with smart home devices and connected car interfaces.

Why it matters

The updates highlight the shared vision of Apple and Google to make our phones more essential to everyday life.

Your smartphone is about to become even more connected to the non-digital aspects of your life. This is one of the main conclusions of iOS 16 and Android 13, the new mobile software updates that will arrive later this year from Apple and Google. Both tech giants want to turn your phone into a digital wallet to store your legal ID and other essential documents, bringing your phone closer to your identity than ever before. Businesses are also continuing to improve the way phones communicate with cars, smart home appliances, and other everyday devices.

Both iOS 16 and Android 13 are full of tweaks and new features, some of which are more important than digital wallets and faster connections (such as Apple’s security check tool to protect victims of domestic abuse). and new Google privacy updates). But the overlap between the two operating systems underscores the changing role of the phone in our lives. According to the latest announcements from Apple and Google, what’s happening on your phone will be just as important as what’s happening on your phone.

The more intimately connected our phones are to everyday basics such as wallets, credit cards, cars, and appliances, the harder it will be to get away from them (or switch between iPhone and Android). The concept is not new; the industry has advanced in this direction for years. But the changes to iOS 16 and Android 13 bring significant improvements to the respective approaches of Apple and Google that are likely to accelerate these efforts.

Read more: iOS 16 lock screen updates make your iPhone more like a smartwatch

Physical portfolio replacement

Google is adding digital driver licenses to Google Wallet.

Google; CNET screenshot

The digital portfolio was a big focus both during Apple’s announcement of iOS 16 and during Google’s Android 13 preview. The most significant change coming to Apple Pay is a new option called Apple Pay Later, which divides the cost of a 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 IDs last year.

Google, meanwhile, detailed a major overhaul of its Wallet app during its I / O conference last month that updated it with Apple. The new Google Wallet will store personal documents such as payment and transit cards, immunization records, boarding passes, and student IDs, such as the Apple Wallet. Google also works with government agencies to support digital identifiers.

Overall, the Apple and Google updates represent a further step toward their common goal of making physical wallets obsolete, a change that will inevitably make us even more dependent on mobile devices.

Google reiterated that ambition just before detailing new updates to Google I / O in May.

“In fact, there are only two things I don’t leave home 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 for Wallet and Apple Pay, made similar comments during the WWDC presentation on Monday.

“With Apple Wallet, we’re working hard to achieve our goal of replacing your physical wallet,” he said.

People have already accepted the idea of ​​replacing physical credit cards with smartphone-based payment applications. According to a 2021 report from eMarketer, the use of mobile payment systems in stores like Apple Pay is expected to exceed 50% of all smartphone users in the U.S. by 2025. The new Pay Later option Apple and Google’s renewed focus on its own mobile wallet could make the idea of ​​leaving your physical wallet at home even more appealing.

Read more: What WatchOS 9 can reveal about the upcoming Apple Watch

Your phone, everywhere

Google’s new visual search tool details products on a busy store shelf.

Screenshot of Stephen Shankland / CNET

Replacing the wallet is just one of the ways that Apple and Google expect our phones to be more useful offline in everyday life. Both companies also introduced camera-based smartphone tools that could make it easier to navigate real-world points of interest. Another major issue is the increasing interconnectivity between mobile devices and appliances, cars and speakers.

Apple and Google believe that the camera will continue to play an important role in the way we interact with the world around us. In iOS 16, you can translate text into different languages ​​using a new camera option in Apple’s Translate app. During its main WWDC presentation, the company demonstrated how it could be used to translate a restaurant’s full menu into a different language. You can also track a flight or convert currency just by tapping the text in a photo.

Google showed an ambitious expansion of its Lens application called “Scene Explorer” to Google I / O, which basically applies its search skills to the real world. You could move your phone camera through a product shelf and overlay information and scores on the screen to help you find the right selection. Google search chief Prabhakar Raghavan cited the possibility of finding nuts-free snacks or odorless lotions in a physical store as an example.

Execution may be different, but the concept is similar. We are used to ordering food, taxis and essentials at the push of a button on our phones. Now Apple and Google want to make our phones a key part of performing these tasks in the real world as well, and the camera will be an important part of that.

Google and Apple have also perfected their respective visions to turn our phone into a hub for other devices around us. Google explained how Android 13 will improve your phone to connect to other devices with support for quick pairing, automatic switching between devices, and the ability to sync messages more easily between your phone and your computer . It also unveiled a new split screen interface for Android Auto that should make multitasking easier when you’re traveling.

Read more: A new Apple Watch SE looks more exciting than the 8 Series. Here’s why

Apple’s new CarPlay interface inspired by iOS.


Apple simplified the process of managing HomeKit devices with a redesigned home app for the iPhone. But perhaps the biggest area where Apple plans to expand the reach of the iPhone is the car. The company unveiled a revamp of its CarPlay software that looks like a complete car operating system, with application icons, widgets and other UI elements reminiscent of the iPhone and Apple Watch.

The smart home and the connected car are not new ideas. Both have been an integral part of the respective strategies of Apple and Google for years. But iOS 16 and Android 13 make it clear how Apple and Google’s visions are to communicate and interact for these devices.

As the smartphone becomes the link to everything from the credit card to the thermostat and the car, Apple and Google are making their aesthetics more personal. When iOS 16 launches this fall, your iPhone will have a brand new lock screen with Apple Watch widget support and new photo effects for background images. Google is expanding its Material You with prefabricated color sets that can be applied to the entire operating system.

iOS 16 and Android 13 include much more than new wallet functionality, real-world camera scanning tools, and improved connectivity. These updates not only indicate how essential the phone is becoming to our online and offline lives, but also to where the industry is headed.

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