From all the doom and gloom surrounding Apple as of late you’d never know that people are still buying iPhones and iPads in droves. A few weeks ago, after two years of Android ownership, I decided to become part of that hoard.
The transition was less painful than I feared it would be, but there were still changes I had no choice but to adjust to. Android can do things that iOS simply can’t, and vice-versa. Here’s what you should know about before making the switch yourself.
Unlocked devices are available
You don’t have to buy an iPhone on contract if you’d rather not. Apple does sell unlocked phones both in its stores and online.
There are really three models of iPhone to worry about. Two of them are listed as GSM models (the technology used by most carriers across the globe) and the third is for CDMA, which is used by a handful of carriers like Verizon. If you wanted unlocked, you either need to buy the unlocked GSM model from Apple or a CDMA model. That’s because the CDMA model actually supports GSM networks as well.
Pricing starts at $649 for the 16GB iPhone 5 and is $100 more for each step up in capacity. That’s a lot, but on par with unlocked high-end Android phones. Google’s $300 Nexus 4 is an exception, not the rule.
All iPads currently sold with mobile data support are unlocked and can work with GSM networks worldwide. However, users on a CDMA network (like Sprint or Verizon) will want to buy the version built for their carrier. The GSM-only models won’t function on a CDMA network.
Other Apple devices aren’t required
Many users worry that a Mac might be required to get the most from any iOS. That’s absolutely not the case. You will need to use iTunes, as that software is used to sync music and media with the phone and also can be used to backup the device, but that’s it.
Only Linux users are in trouble. Apple has never developed iTunes for that operating system.
Your contacts will be fine
Before I went to my local carrier’s store to transition from my Android phone I made sure to write down all my important contacts. Would my contacts be fine? I didn’t know. Google would have saved me a lot of time but alas, I didn’t think to search.
It turns out there’s no need to worry. Your carrier should be able to back up your contacts from your old phone and then transfer them to a new iPhone. If you’re still concerned, call your carrier to find specifics about how the transition is handled.
You’ll need an Apple ID
Android devices need a Google account to be fully functional. Apple devices are no different. You’ll also need to tie the account to your credit card to make any app or digital content purchases.
You can’t port your apps
A lot of apps available on Android are also sold on iOS, but that doesn’t mean you can use them on your new iPhone or iPad. With a few exceptions, like the Humble Indie Bundle, any purchase only gives you access to the app on a single platform. You’ll need to buy the app again on your new iOS device.
Google’s iOS apps are great
Jumping from Android to iOS doesn’t mean you’re going to lose access to the apps that you’ve come to know and love on Android.
In fact, in a strange twist of fate, Google’s apps on iOS are often better than those found on Android. The Gmail app available for the iPhone and iPad is much more attractive than that on Android and even Google admitted that Maps was better on iOS.
So don’t worry about being stuck in a Google ghetto. Buying an Apple device may even improve your experience!
Multi-tasking is more difficult
One feature that’s not improved, however, is multi-tasking. It’s both un-intuitive and less powerful on Apple’s products.
To open the multi-task pane you need to double-tap your iPhone or iPad’s home button. This will cause the icons of your four most recently closed apps to appear. Additional apps can be revealed by swiping left. A swipe to the right will reveal controls for the Music app.
And that’s it. You can’t view a thumbnail of apps like you can on new Android devices, and apps shown in the multi-tasking pane usually aren’t running in the background. You’ll obtain the same results by opening an app from the homescreen.
You’ll need to make new ringtones
Apple’s iPhone only recognizes ringtones that are formatted in a special “.m4r” format. This means that all of your old ringtones will not automatically work when transferred over from your Android device.
But it’s not all bad news. You can take your ringtones and make them into compatible tones with iTunes. You also can automatically sync those tones and make new ones out of any audio file that iTunes will recognize. Just follow the steps in our iPhone ringtone tutorial.
Your USB peripherals won’t work
All of Apple’s new iPhone and iPad devices use the Lightning connector. It’s a nice piece of kit, but also not compatible with USB. That means your new iOS devices are not going to work with any of your existing chargers, docks or most other peripherals. The only exception are devices that connect wirelessly – they should still function.
Apps are tightly integrated with iOS
Apps on Android are often their own little fiefdoms. With a few exceptions, like the universal sharing menu, apps rely on their own settings. Want to change notifications, for example? You’ll generally need to visit the settings for that specific app.
In some ways iOS treats apps more like an extension of the operating system. Many apps install their own control panel in the Settings menu and notifications are controlled from Settings -> Notifications. Apple also has baked in tight support for Facebook and Twitter, both of which can be updated directly from the iOS notifications screen.
This means some apps lack an obvious settings menu of their own, which can be confusing to Android exiles. Remember, if you can’t find the setting you want to change in an app, look in the Settings menu instead.
Moving from any operating system to another can be difficult. Habits so ingrained that they’d become invisible suddenly work against you, making both entertainment and productivity more difficult. With that said, the simplicity of a mobile OS makes the transition easier than it is on a desktop. I felt at home within a week.