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Can an iPhone user learn to love Android?

Kirk McElhearn | March 17, 2014
I've been using an iPhone for a few years, but I've always been curious about Android. Not because I didn't like my iPhone, but I wanted to know if I was missing anything. I'd seen how Android works when friends showed me their phones. But given the cost of smartphones and tablets, it wasn't worth getting an Android device just to play around with it.

Typing: Android offers two nice typing features: One is swipe typing; you drag your finger on the keyboard to type words. I haven't gotten the hang of it, but I've seen people type very quickly with this method. The second is typing suggestions that appear above the keyboard, which can make typing a lot faster than iOS's auto-complete.

Bundled apps: Both OSes have a full range of bundled apps; I didn't find anything flagrantly missing in Android. However, I did find that, when looking at a Google Android Quick Start Guide for KitKat that I didn't have some of the apps mentioned, or had different versions. Such inconsistency depends on the specific device you have, but it's where Android really loses out to iOS. That fragmentation makes it hard to find exactly what you can do with your Android device. While most apps work on all recent devices, some work differently, or not at all. I also saw some settings mentioned in the Quick Start Guide that I couldn't find on my phone.

Voice control: Android doesn't have Siri, but there are plenty of voice actions that you can use to have the phone do things for you.

Third-party apps: For the most part, third-party apps look exactly the same on Android as they do on iOS. I tried a number of well-known apps, such as Flipboard, WordPress, Waze, Evernote, Firefox, Skype, Kindle and many others. The only real difference is the screen size: I didn't have to learn any new tricks to use them. Still, there are many iOS-only apps that I miss: great Twitter clients like Twitteriffic, calendar apps like Fantastical, and games like Letterpress.

Syncing content: What helped Apple gain massive superiority in the portable music player sector was as much iTunes as it was the iPod. Everything in the iOS world syncs easily. Not so much with Android: While there are third-party apps that can sync content with a Mac, the default app-Android File Transfer-just lets you access folders; you have to manually drag items to sync them. The free DoubleTwist can sync to some phones over USB, but not mine. (For $5, it can sync over Wi-Fi.)

There are plenty of other tiny points of comparison I could highlight, but the main thing I found, after using the Moto G for a while, is that the differences between iOS and Android won't matter to most people. With an unlocked phone at this price, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Android to anyone who is not wedded to the Apple ecosystem. Getting used to Android doesn't take long, and it's a mature operating system that does what most people need. I won't be switching any time soon, however; I have too many apps on my iPhone that I'd lose. And there's still no Letterpress for Android.


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