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Google goes more Apple than ever in ad for rebranded mobile app

Company relaunches the app formerly known as Google Search with an ad that, for all the world, could have been made by Cupertino.

Children and dogs and piano music. Will it work? Google/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

For the longest time, warm feelings in gadget ads seemed to belong to Apple.

While others peddled irrelevant features, Apple slathered the consumer in a balm of warmth and humanity.

A couple of years ago, however, Google woke up to the idea that it could do that too. It produced ads of sometimes brilliant humanity -- one for Google Chrome called "Jess Time" immediately comes to mind.

A new ad, however, launching during Thursday night's opening NFL game, might be the most Applesque ad yet.

It exists to offer the new Google mobile app. And the atmosphere, the piano music, even the editing make it seem like so many Apple ads of late.

There's the requisite simplicity, the charming characters, even the slight sense of magic, especially in the last question: "Do dogs dream?"

The app used to be called "Google Search." Now, it's just "Google." It wants you to talk to it, every day, all the time. Because Google needs to know where you are, every day, all the time.

As the company's vice president of branding, Jeff Whipps, explained to Ad Age: "This app and experience is really essential to making sure that as the world spends more and more time on mobile devices, Google's relevance only grows."

Google must grow. It must make more money from ads. It can only give you the "best" ads if it knows what you're thinking and doing all the time.

"This is the core of the company. This is what we do at our center," explained Whipps. As people slip away from browsers toward dedicated apps, Google must slip away with them or slip behind.

This particular advertising vehicle, which will be backed by broader activity including banner ads on the New York Times site, is one that Samsung, too, has come to embrace.

It's worth comparing the two ads below, one from Apple and one from Samsung, to see how similar gadget ads are becoming.

Gadget brands all want you to feel something, not merely be informed about a feature or two. They want to cuddle you, coddle you and slide into your life like a pet you just cannot resist.

In the end, though, will you be able to distinguish one from another? It will surely take more than an ad.