Have you ever questioned your choice in smartphone? What about your choice in smartphone platform?
You are reading Android Authority, and we do love Android phones, but once in a while I (can’t speak for anyone else) find myself questioning – would I, or could I, ever jump ship and become an iPhone user? The answer is obviously yes, I could if I wanted to, but what would drive me to do so?
The primary argument of Android vs iPhone used to always come down to the snappiness of the UI, the instant response when swiping between home screens and opening app, and the “clean” interaction with the devices. And it was true; Android phones, with their customized “skins,” bloated interfaces, and unpolished designs, garnered a bit of a bad reputation and a deficit in that argument – primarily with the everyday user. However, Android (and even hardware manufacturers) has come a long way in years past. With the likes of the Google Pixel and the Galaxy S8, lag or stutter is pretty much a thing of the past, and a vanilla Android experience is pretty much as clean as anyone could ask for.
So now, thinking Android vs iPhone, it comes down to specific features between the two that would make one consider trading sides. For me, though I’m an avid Android user, and have been for years, I’m surrounded in personal and professional life by iPhone users. I sometimes find myself coveting the features that they have, and wishing that the interaction between our phones could be a bit more seamless. To be more specific, here are 5 features that I would/have considered leaving Android for.
At the top of the list, taking the cake as the primary reason I’d consider switching to iPhone, is iMessage.
iMessage has proven itself to be one the largest selling points of the iPhone. Apple obviously knows that it has a winner here, and they’ve put significant time and resources into making sure it stays a top-dog in the messaging app space. When iOS 10 was released last year, iMessage stole the spotlight, with more new features announced than any other aspect of the device. Other apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Allo and more are always nipping at its heels, but iMessage remains leaps and bounds ahead of its closest competitors.
Outside of the messaging experience itself, iMessage has a ton of functionality to improve your everyday usage.
The app itself is feature-rich. It has a ton to offer its users in the way of messaging, trying to overcome that stigma of communication stripped of any inflection or tone by using animations inside the app such as slam and whisper. Other embellishments inside the app, including full-screen takeovers of balloons, fireworks, or hearts elevate the texting experience from one iOS user to another. There are also some very utilitarian features built right in, like invisible ink which prevents nosy screen-peekers from reading a message that was sent to you, or looking at a photo in your message thread, before you’ve had the chance to do so yourself. Text conversations can contain very sensitive information as we know!
Outside of the messaging experience itself, iMessage has a ton of functionality to improve your everyday usage. With apps designed to be used directly within iMessage, you can do much more without switching around to other apps, especially while you’re in conversation with a group of friends. For instance, if you need to pay a co-worker pack for picking up your lunch bill, you can transfer the money in iMessage. If you’re trying to decide where to go for your next lunch, you can use OpenTable’s iMessage app to propose a few spots for your friends in the conversation to vote on, and then handle reservation all at once. There are ample amount of iMessage apps available to help you get stuff done.
Being surrounded by so many people who use iMessage as their primary messaging app makes it tempting to switch to iPhone, just so I too can partake in some of these features that bring text conversations to another level. On Android, your messaging options are far from limited. Each manufacturer has their own stock messaging app, some carriers have messaging apps, and there are more third-party options than I care to count. However, none of them quite stack up when it comes to the value that iMessage can provide. Google Allo was a good effort, but the lack of SMS functionality and a limited install-base brought that train to a halt early on.
As an Android user, all we can hope is that there can soon be some sort of synergy between carriers and manufacturers by way of RCS to get something close to what iMessage has to offer.
Let’s admit it. Transferring files, photos, and videos, has never been very straightforward or easy for Android users. Sure, we all have our workarounds to get the job done, but there isn’t one simplified method out there that everyone fully understands. To be fair, transferring files from a smart phone to a computer isn’t very easy on any device, even an iPhone. However, iPhone users have a leg up when it comes to wireless transfer with AirDrop.
If you aren’t familiar with AirDrop, it basically allows you to seamlessly transfer files from one Apple device to another via Bluetooth. So if you need to transfer a large amount of photos from your iPhone to your MacBook, or to another iPhone user, it’s incredibly easy. In the normal share menu when selecting files, an AirDrop icon will appear when the option is available.
Transferring files, photos, and videos, has never been very straightforward or easy for Android users.
Though this feature seems sort of minor, I can’t count the number of times this could have come in handy for me. Don’t be mistaken, though. I wouldn’t trade Android’s file management for iPhone’s any day of the week. Whenever I use an iOS device, I painfully resent not being able to simply download a file without having an app for it to live within. But, when I’ve needed to send something to a coworker or to my wife, having AirDrop would have made life much simpler.
When it comes to Android, you have plenty of options to get the file to where it needs to go, it just isn’t quite as seamless of an experience. If you’re an Android user who also uses a Mac, things get even trickier. Google’s official file transfer app for that subset of users is Android File Transfer. When the app works, it works. But, when the app doesn’t work, which is greater than 50% of the time, well, it doesn’t work. Unfortunately, the app hasn’t been updated since late 2013, so needless to say, it needs some love. Fortunately, there are other alternatives such as AirDroid, Pushbullet, or the standards – Google Drive or Dropbox. There’s much to be said, however, about having a file transfer system that works, built in.
A couple of years back, when Apple introduced iOS 8, as well as OS X Yosemite, a new feature called Handoff, made its way onto the scene. We live in a multi-screen world. At any given moment, I could be watching TV, using my laptop to buy something from Amazon, and periodically scrolling through Facebook with my phone. That’s an everyday occurrence for many people. Taking the same concept into the working world, most of us won’t find it unusual that you could be using your phone or iPad in a meeting, and then transition back to your laptop when you get back to your desk.
The idea behind Apple’s Handoff feature is that you can start a task on one device, and finish it on another. When you’re stuck in that meeting, and start typing an email on your phone, you can quickly transition to your laptop to finish the email, attach a document and hit send. The great part about it is that it works both ways. No matter if you start from MacBook and move to iPhone, or if you start from iPhone and move to MacBook.
Handoff works with the majority of Apple’s proprietary apps, including Mail, Safari, Calendar, Keynote, etc. but it also works with a ton of third-party apps as well. For me, this would come in most hand with Chrome. If I’m using Chrome to research something with my MacBook, I could continue that research on the go by picking up my iPhone and resuming with Handoff.
I’m trying to find an Android equivalent for this feature, but to my knowledge, there is nothing available outside of Chrome itself being able to sync tabs when you are logged in. If you know of anything in the Android world that can do something similar, let us know in the comments below!
#4: Apple Pay
While mobile payment options continue to grow in popularity on both the Android and iOS platforms, it’s no surprise that Apple Pay reigns supreme in terms of its wide acceptance with both banks and retailers. In fact, according to the head of Apple Pay, Jennifer Bailey, Apple Pay is now accepted at more than 4 million locations in the U.S. alone.
Mobile payment is something that more and more people are getting used to. As more retailers accept this as a form of payment, and as people get more comfortable reaching for their phone instead of their wallet, social acceptance is continuing to grow. Owning an Android phone, which happens to also be a Samsung phone, I use Android Pay (not Samsung Pay) as often as I can. However, outside of its ever-reaching acceptance, there are a couple of benefits to using Apple Pay instead.
Apple Pay reigns supreme in terms of its wide acceptance with both banks and retailers.
For starters, since Apple Pay only has to worry about its functionality on Apple devices, there’s much better integration with the iPhone’s hardware – Touch ID specifically. So, unlike with many Android devices, you don’t need to draw an unlock pattern or type in your PIN to unlock your phone before you pay. Simply hold your finger on the Touch ID sensor and place your phone near the NFC terminal.
Outside of the ease of payment in the store, Apple Pay can also be used online to make purchases. This is something that can be accomplished with the Android Pay app as well, but again, it comes down to Apple Pay’s immense selection of apps and online destinations that are supported.
And, of course, the other benefit of using Apple Pay, especially if you are a Mac user, is that you can use the same account across all of your devices. If you have the new MacBook, you can authorize purchases via the Touch ID sensor with the Touch Bar, and of course, you can use the Touch ID sensor on the iPad as well.
If you want to learn more about the differences in Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay, check out this post.
#5: Timely & Consistent Updates
Last, but not least, a feature for which I would consider leaving Android would be the timely and consistent updates. There’s no hiding the fact that this has been a pain point among Android users for a long time. It’s easy for people to complain about it taking nearly a year in some cases to get the latest Android OS, but there’s actually a lot that goes into that. If you think about the number of different Android devices that need to add support for the new OS, paired with the number of carriers that need to do the same, it’s easy to see why it might take some time. However, that doesn’t make up for the frustration that comes from being teased with the latest features but can’t get them until months have passed.
On the contrary, with iPhones, the software updates are nearly instant. When Tim Cook or Craig Federighi gets on stage and talks about the latest iOS, you’re almost guaranteed to have it within the next few days. Since Apple has so much more control of their hardware, pushing out updates is much easier and timely than on the Android side of things.
There’s not much else to say here other than, when will I get Android O?!
Hopefully, after reading this post (or just reading the headline), you aren’t hunting for my address while holding a burning pitchfork. Look, I love Android, and I love Android phones. As much as I can sometimes fantasize (maybe too strong of a word) about owning an iPhone, and what that might mean for my day to day life, it would be very tough for me to actually jump ship. For nearly every feature I’ve talked about here, there is an Android counterpart in some form or fashion. Sure, the experience may not always be as buttoned up or polished, but the Android experience also doesn’t get boring.
Back when I did own an iPhone (years ago now), I found myself yearning for the ability to make even the slightest bit of customization, such as having my app folders at the bottom of the screen instead of the top. Apple is taking baby steps in loosening their death grip on the user experience, but they’ve still got a long way to go if they want to reach a specific audience who doesn’t want to be just another iPhone user. But until that day comes, Android reigns supreme for me, even if I’m willing to admit there’s a few features from the other camp that I sometimes covet.