The Android-iOS rivalry is a perennial battle that we don’t expect to end anytime soon. But if you’re on the Android side, you don’t necessarily have to sulk over the features only available on the iPhone.
Here’s how to replicate seven iPhone-exclusive features on any Android phone.
1. Universal Search
One of the most glaring deficiencies of Android is the lack of a universal search. Fortunately, there are third-party options available.
You have two main two ways to set up a feature like iOS’s Spotlight search on Android: you can either install a launcher that includes it, or set up an app dedicated to searching. The former is ideal for most users since it doesn’t require additional tinkering and ticks the majority of boxes. On the other hand, if you decide to go with the latter, you’ll have a more powerful search.
For a built-in search option, you can download a free app called Evie Launcher. It’s a rather straightforward launcher that allows you to search your phone’s data and the web by swiping down on the home screen, just like iOS Spotlight.
For the other method, we recommend Sesame Shortcuts integrated with Nova Launcher. Launch Sesame Shortcuts and grant all the necessary permissions. Then open Nova, swipe down on the home screen, and you’ll have a feature like iOS Spotlight.
Sesame Shortcuts integration is just one of the key highlights of Nova Launcher, especially if you’re a Nova Prime user.
Another longtime iOS feature is Assistive Touch, which adds a floating menu of quick actions on your screen. To replicate the same on Android, all you need to do is install a free app. And one of the best shortcut apps around is Easy Touch.
Easy Touch looks and functions like Assistive Touch on iOS. It brings a persistent floating menu that allows you to quickly access options such as taking a screenshot, return to the home screen, pulling down the notification shade, and more. In addition, you can customize the app and modify the order of these shortcuts or add new ones.
However, a new feature of Android Pie negates the need for these apps thanks to a new built-in Accessibility menu. This pins to your navigation bar and includes shortcuts to Notifications, Recent Apps, Assistant, and more. To enable it, head to Settings > Accessibility > Accessibility Menu and toggle it on.
While you can’t edit this menu yet, perhaps Google will add that ability in later updates.
Download: Easy Touch (Free) [No Longer Available]
3. Screen Recording
With iOS 11, Apple brought a native utility for recording the phone’s screen to iOS. Google, unfortunately, still hasn’t. But if you don’t want to be left behind, you can download a third-party alternative.
We recommend AZ Screen Recorder since it’s mostly free and even allows you to tweak an array of settings like video resolution, showing touches, and more.
Download: AZ Screen Recorder (Free, premium version available)
4. Notifications on PC
Apple’s closely knit ecosystem is one of the cornerstones of its products. That includes the ability to read and interact with iOS notifications on macOS. To have that privilege on Android, you need to configure Pushbullet.
Pushbullet not only mirrors your phone’s alerts to your Windows PC or Mac, but also lets you share files, browse your phone’s internal storage remotely on a computer, reply to SMS messages, and more. It’s the complete package.
Unlike what you’d think, it’s also free (with some limitations). To set it up, sign up on the Pushbullet website with your Google or Facebook account. Install the app on your Android phone and all your other devices via desktop and browser clients. Once you’re signed in everywhere, you can easily send files, links, and more across your devices.
5. Universal Clipboard
Similarly, Apple also allows Mac and iOS users to share a common clipboard. An app titled Clipbrd brings this functionality to Android as well.
Once installed and logged in, Clipbrd lets you copy text on an Android phone and paste it directly on your PC, or vice-versa. To get started, install the Clipbrd Android app and the Chrome extension on your computer. Create a new account and you’re ready to share. There are no in-app purchases or advertisements.
6. Screenshot Markup
Another native feature available on the majority of iOS devices but only a handful of Android phones (those running Pie) is a screenshot markup tool. To get that on phones running Android 8 Oreo or earlier, head over to the Play Store and install Screenshot Crop and Share.
The app syncs with Android’s default screenshot shortcut and presents you with an editing option as soon as you take one. You can annotate, crop, or delete the file if you want to take it again. The Play Store is full of comprehensive screenshot apps as well.
Download: Screenshot Crop and Share (Free)
7. Digital Wellbeing
Digital wellbeing features will soon arrive with iOS 12, but the comparable feature is only available on Android Pie. A free app called Social Fever brings nearly the same set of tools to any Android phone today.
Designed for people who find it difficult to put their phones down, Social Fever comes with a host of features. This includes a detailed summary of your usage, reports, limiting app times, and more. You can even specify your hobbies and Social Fever will recommend you other activities if it thinks you’re on your phone too much on a particular day.
Download: Social Fever (Free)
Third-Party Apps: A Compromise or Advantage?
While these third-party options certainly highlight how Android’s open environment allows users to replicate nearly every iOS feature, its fragmentation hurdles continue to remain a bottleneck. Features such as digital wellbeing tools and screenshot markup are available officially on Android Pie. But it will be a while before your phone gets the update (if it ever does).
But look on the bright side: Android still has plenty of features that the iPhone doesn’t.