The Android versus iOS debate is as controversial as Pepsi versus Coke. But like the two colas, Android and iOS today are more alike than they are different. So if one has to choose between the two platforms, there isn’t much to lose — you can do most smartphone tasks on either platform.
But now that we know what Android O and iOS 11 both offer, it turns out that there are still some things you can do on an Android phone that you just can’t on an iPhone. And although there are many other tiny advantages, we’re going to point out the five big ones.
1. App Defaults
If you Googled “iOS 11 Wish List,” you’d see that almost every publication asked for the ability to switch default apps. But alas, instead of Apple losing its iron grip over its platform, it prefers to update the features of existing default apps to keep them relevant.
For example, iMessage got a huge update in iOS 10 with stickers, and with iOS 11 came person-to-person payments — while Apple Maps this year got indoor details and Safari got privacy-focused improvements.
But even in iOS 11, clicking a hyperlink or a shared location on WhatsApp will open Safari and Apple Maps respectively, and not your favorite third-party service.
But in Android, you get the option to choose an app to perform a specific action. For instance, do you want to open addresses in Waze instead of Google Maps? Or do you want to open links in Opera instead of Chrome? You can do that. We’ve got detailed info on how it’s done right here.
2. Advanced Notification Controls
This was yet another feature that was untouched in iOS 11, despite a lot of people asking for improvements. The Notification Center on iPhones still spawns individual entries for every notification, resulting in a cluttered view. Compared to this, in Android 7.0 Nougat, multiple notifications from the same app are neatly tucked inside one single header that expands with a simple flick down gesture.
Next, there’s no one-step way to dismiss an iOS notification that doesn’t require any action. It’s a two-step process: swipe right-to-left, then tap the clear button. Whereas in Android, a simple long swipe over a notification dismisses it. This is a rather underappreciated convenience — just think about the number of notifications you end up clearing every day.
Android’s notification design also makes better use of the space. If you have multiple Gmail accounts configured, you can see which account you received an email from up top. Other apps like Slack also use this space to indicate the team you’ve received a notification from.
On top of all that, Android has something called Priority Notifications. If an app is marked as “priority,” then its notifications will get through even with the Do-Not-Disturb mode turned on.
Android O also takes notifications to the next level with the ability to snooze them. Plus, Android O introduced Notification Channels, which will give users granular control over the kind of notifications they want to receive from an app (provided developers are willing to offer such controls).
3. On-Device Call Recording
This feature has long been available on Android phones, and there’s been no easy way to do the same on an iPhone. There are legal implications of recording a phone call, which is a bit sad because there are times when recording a call can come in quite handy. For instance, when you’re conducting a telephone interview and want to keep a recording handy for transcription later.
Every Android phone supports third-party call recording apps, and some Android phones, like ones made by Xiaomi, have the call recording feature built into the dialer app.
Although there are call recording apps on the iOS App Store, many of them require a three-way call conferencing facility enabled, or use some kind of VOIP-based call-back system. And you have to pay for each recording.
The bottom line is: recording phone calls on an iPhone simply isn’t as convenient as it is on Android.
4. Multi-User Mode
Multi-user mode is yet another feature that Apple chose to ignore not just on the iPhone, but even the iPad, which has a higher chance of being shared by multiple people in a household.
Ever since Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google has built multi-user mode into the code. This means, like a Windows or Mac computer, you can switch from one account to another, with each account’s data guarded by pin, passcode, or fingerprint. For temporary use, there’s also a guest mode.
To access this multi-user mode, you have to pull the notification shade down twice and click the profile icon.
Unfortunately, there’s a good chance you may not find this icon on your Android phone, even if it’s running 5.0 and above. That’s because some manufacturers have removed a full-fledged multi-user mode and replaced it with their own solution (in Samsung phones, it’s called Private Folder). And these replacement features often aren’t as seamless as Google’s implementation.
5. Multi-Window Apps
iPad apps gained the ability to run side-by-side since iOS 9. And in iOS 11 for the iPad, you can not only run apps in a split-screen view, but you can even have floating windows of apps to drag around.
Alas, iPhone users don’t get this feature. Samsung’s Android phones have had the ability to run two apps simultaneously since 2012’s Galaxy Note 2. And last year with Android 7.0 Nougat, Google has officially baked in split-screen multitasking to the software.
There are plenty of benefits to running two apps at the same time. Say you’re watching an event live on YouTube and want to keep a constant eye on your Twitter stream — phone screens may have once been too small for multiple apps, but they’re certainly big enough now.
The iPhone Has Been Quietly Catching Up
Don’t let this post fool you into thinking that the iPhone is still the rigid mobile operating system it once was.
For example, in iOS 11, Apple finally introduced a File Manager app, something that it hadn’t done despite years of people asking for it. Also in iOS 11, the Control Center has become highly customizable, Siri can now do translations, and screen recording and screenshot annotation features are built-in (stock Android doesn’t even have that). Next year, we hope Apple knocks off a few of the above limitations.
What do you think? Are these reasons enough for you to switch from an iPhone to Android? Let your thoughts flow in the comments section.
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