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Although Apple has always intended for their products to form a closed ecosystem, a lot of people have Android phones and want to use them with Apple products. From streaming video to syncing music and contacts, these apps make it a breeze.

Transfer Files Between Mac and Android: AirDroid

AirDroid is a free service that allows you to move files to and from your phone from your web browser. You can even send and receive text messages from your computer.

airdroid-web-interface

To get started, just download AirDroid 2 (free) from the Google Play Store and go to airdroid.com on your Mac. Sign up for an account (you can use your Google, Facebook, or Twitter accounts, or your e-mail address), and sign in on your phone using the same method.

airdroid-android

To start transferring files, log into airdroid.com and click Start AirDroid at the top of the window from your Mac. Sign in and you’ll see the AirDroid online desktop, where you can send and receive messages, look at call logs, and transfer files. It’s as easy as dragging and dropping the things you want on your phone into the box on the right side of the screen.

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Get Your Music Anywhere: Google Music

Because a lot of the syncing done between Apple devices happens via iTunes, it’s really easy to get your music from your computer to your iPhone. It’s more difficult when you have an Android phone, but it can certainly be done.

In addition to a number of other apps that sync iTunes with Android Can I Sync iTunes With My Android? Three Sync Apps, Compared Can I Sync iTunes With My Android? Three Sync Apps, Compared When I speak to friends who prefer iPhones over Androids, many of them cite "ease of synchronization" as one of their most important reasons. I have to hand it to Apple on that point: even... Read More , Google has made it possible to sync through Google Play Music. You can upload your entire music collection—up to 20,000 songs—to their servers, where you can easily access and download them on your Android.

google-music-web

To get started, go to Google Play Music and sign in (assuming the service is available in your country). Once you’ve signed into, you’ll see a button on the top-right side of the screen that says “Upload music.” Click this button, and you’ll be prompted to download the Google Play Music Manager.

Once it’s downloaded, you’ll be prompted to sign in to Chrome, but you don’t have to—just close the new tab and return to Google Play Music. To choose the folders you’d like to Sync, click the cog in the top-right corner and then Settings. Under “Music From This Computer,” you’ll be able to choose the folders that you’d like to sync to Google Play Music. Click “Add or remove folders” and choose the folder(s) where you keep all of your music (usually “iTunes” or “Amazon Mp3”). Now, whenever you add music to one of these folders, it will be automatically uploaded to Google Play Music, ready to be accessed on your phone!

google-music-android

When I set up the sync, my music didn’t upload automatically, and I needed to start the upload manually. To do this, click on “Add music” in the top-right corner. Drag your Music folder (and any other folders where you have music) into the Chrome tab and the upload will start.

To access music on your phone, you’ll need to download the Google Play Music app (free). Open it and tap on My Library—you’ll see all of the music that you uploaded from your computer. Navigate to the album that you want to download to your phone, tap the pushpin icon, and it’ll start downloading. You can also just play the album without downloading it first – it will stream live straight to your phone.

Stream to AirPlay Devices: AllCast

If you’re looking to stream music, photos, or video to your AirPlay device, AllCast (free) has you covered. You can easily stream to Apple TV, another AirPlay-enabled device 4 AirPlay Receivers That Are Cheaper Than Apple TV 4 AirPlay Receivers That Are Cheaper Than Apple TV Built as a veritable entertainment box, the Apple TV isn't cheap. It's tempting to look for alternatives - AirPlay receivers that are cheaper than the Apple TV. We've laid out four options. Read More , and even stream directly to Samsung, Sony, and Panasonic smart TVs.

To get it set up, just download AllCast from the Google Play Store and open it up—it will automatically detect nearby devices that you can stream to. Tap the device you want, and you’ll see a screen that brings up all of the photos and videos on your device. Select the one you want to stream to your TV, and watch it appear.

There’s a free version of AllCast with a 1-minute limit on streaming, and a paid version that unlocks the full potential. Try out the free version to make sure it works before paying for the premium one.

Unfortunately, AllCast only streams things that are stored locally on your phone. If you’re going to be streaming things from YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, or a local media server, try out AppleTV AirPlay Media Player, an app that will stream audio or video to your AppleTV.

In researching options for streaming, it’s clear that there’s a lot of disagreement. Some people find AllCast best, others like iMediaShare, and some have the best luck with PlayTo. You should definitely try the free version of an app or two to make sure it works how you want it to before committing to a premium version.

Contacts, Calendars, Tasks, and Notes: SmoothSync and iNotes

Keeping all of these things in sync can be tough—Apple never really intended for iCloud to be accessed on non-Apple devices. But a number of apps have been developed that will help you keep everything organized. You can get the details on SmoothSync, iNotes, and a number of other useful apps in our guide to accessing iCloud from your Android phone Need To Access iCloud On Your Android? We Can Help! Need To Access iCloud On Your Android? We Can Help! Apple doesn't always play nice with other ecosystems, but you can access iCloud from your Android with the right apps. Read More .

Browsing History, Bookmarks, and Settings: Chrome

Chrome is a well-liked browser here at MakeUseOf, and one of the reasons we like it so much is that you can easily sync information from your browser between devices. If you use Chrome on your Mac, you can sync your bookmarks, open tabs, and other items to your Android phone, a Windows PC or even an iPad running Chrome for iOS.

To start the sync process, you’ll have to log in to Chrome with your Google account (if you don’t have Chrome yet, you can download it here). Open the Chrome settings menu (in the top-right corner of the window) from your Mac and click Sign in to Chrome – you’ll need a Google account for this.

chrome-sync-settings

Google will sync your apps, autofill information, bookmarks, extensions, history, passwords, settings, themes and open tabs. If you want a bit more control over what’s synced — whether for privacy, data, or work reasons — you can click Choose what to sync and select only the items you’d like synced.

To get this information on your Android (or any other device running Chrome), just sign into Chrome with the same Google account and watch it start syncing!

Sync Passwords: LastPass, KeePass, or 1Password

We’ve sung the praises of LastPass LastPass Premium: Treat Yourself To The Best Password Management Ever [Rewards] LastPass Premium: Treat Yourself To The Best Password Management Ever [Rewards] If you've never heard of LastPass, I'm sorry to say that you have been living under a rock. However, you are reading this article, so you've already made a step in the right direction. LastPass... Read More a number of times before LastPass for Firefox: The Ideal Password Management System LastPass for Firefox: The Ideal Password Management System If you've not yet decided to use a password manager for your myriad logins online, it's time you took a look at one of the best options around: LastPass. Many people are cautious about using... Read More , and I’ll do it again here. LastPass allows you to sync your passwords for websites and apps across devices. To sync to your mobile device, you’ll need the premium version, which is well worth the $12 per year.

There are two easy options for accessing LastPass on your Android: the standalone combination password-manager-browser app (free), and the Dolphin browser extension (free), which is used with the Dolphin Dolphin Browser HD - Fast & Elegant Mobile Browsing On Your Android Dolphin Browser HD - Fast & Elegant Mobile Browsing On Your Android Dolphin Browser HD is a mobile browser for Android 2.0.1 and up. With over 250,000 downloads, it is the most popular browser on the Android market. The browser supports flash, HTML5, navigation with gestures and... Read More  browser (much like you use the extension with your desktop browser). If you don’t already use Dolphin, I recommend downloading it. Once you’ve signed into the LastPass app or logged in from the Dolphin extension, your passwords will be synced and ready to go.

lastpass-xmarks-android

Of course, there are some other great options for managing your passwords, too — KeePassX for Mac is completely free KeePassX & MiniKeePass: A Free, Secure iOS & Mac OS X Password Solution KeePassX & MiniKeePass: A Free, Secure iOS & Mac OS X Password Solution Your options for a truly free and secure password solution that syncs with iOS and OS X are limited, but thankfully a combination of KeyPassX and MiniKeePass makes it possible. Read More , and there’s an Android client that will let you access all of your data from your phone. 1Password is another secure option Let 1Password for Mac Manage Your Passwords & Secure Data Let 1Password for Mac Manage Your Passwords & Secure Data Despite the new iCloud Keychain feature in OS X Mavericks, I still prefer the power of managing my passwords in AgileBits's classic and popular 1Password, now in its 4th version. Read More , and can be used with Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.

Conclusion

Regardless of Apple’s intentions, a lot of people have a Mac and an Android phone. If you’re a member of this group, you can use the apps above to wirelessly transfer files; get your music anywhere; stream to AirPlay devices; sync your contacts, calendars, tasks, and notes; and create a seamless browsing experience between your Android and your Mac. Don’t be held back by using two different systems — use these apps to enjoy mobile freedom!

How do you make your Android work with your Apple stuff? Do you have any recommendations for apps that work well? Share them below!

Photo credit: Johan Larsson via Flickr.

  1. CMKJAKA
    December 14, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    I am nearly a mac only user (2 iphones, 3 MacAirs, 3 Powerbooks 2 ipads and 2 Imacs in the last 12 years). I am fed up with the iphone. particularly the lifespan. What android phone do you think would be best to switch to and would sync well with apple devices?

    • Dann Albright
      December 17, 2015 at 3:31 am

      I'm a big fan of the Galaxy phones, and when I was using one with my Mac and iPad, I got about as much cross-compatibility as can be expected. It can be difficult, but we've written about some strategies that help!

  2. Howard B
    May 19, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    Even if you're on Linux, adding Samba compatibility is pretty easy; I'd guess it's easy on Mac as well.

  3. Howard B
    May 15, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    I don't need a website to transfer files from my Windows 7 PC to Android - Ghost Commander with the SMB Plugin makes it easy to copy from any shared folder to my phone OR my tablet.
    I've nothing to stream *from* my Android devices, so I don't need that; I rarely browse on my tablets (I have a PC for browsing), so don't need to sync *anything*; so with Ghost Commander, I'm pretty much all set.

    • Dann A
      May 16, 2014 at 6:01 am

      The system you describe sounds like a good one—if you're using Windows, that is. :-)

      If you're on Windows and you don't require many syncing capabilities, life with Android is pretty easy!

  4. likefunbutnot
    May 14, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Apple's lack of interoperability is Apple's own damned fault. Apple software is barely functional on Windows and has never risen above that level, so I wouldn't exactly hold out hope for native support for itunes or airdrop on Android. Truth be told, the best answer is simply to migrate as far away from Apple software as possible if broad interoperability is a possible concern.

    • Dann A
      May 16, 2014 at 5:56 am

      I don't think anyone is expecting Apple to ever provide even the slightest bit of native support for Android interoperability—they have just too much at stake with the iPhone. However, some people (like me) really like the aesthetic appeal and ease of use of OS X as well as the customisability of Android, and are willing to put in a bit of extra effort to have both. Fortunately, there are developers out there who are trying to make it easier for us.

      Thanks for reading!

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