Reiterating what we said recently, Android and iOS aren’t as different as they used to be many years ago. Hence, even if both smartphone platforms have their own strengths and weaknesses, choosing between the two has become much harder.
Today, we take a look at ten useful features of Apple iPhones that aren’t easily available on Android.
Note: Thanks to Android’s relatively relaxed policies, there’s a chance some of these features can be activated via a third-party app or a custom ROM. But often, the experience doesn’t end up being as seamless. Also, some of the features mentioned work in tandem with other Apple devices.
1. Scroll to Top
This gesture has been around since the first iPhone in 2007. When you’ve scrolled below in a web browser or an app, a simple tap on the status bar quickly takes you back to the top. Sure, many websites employ a floating “Jump to Top” arrow button which does the same thing. Apps like Facebook and Twitter also scroll upwards if you tap the Feed or Home button respectively. But it’s the consistency of this feature working anywhere on the iPhone that makes it special.
And if you’re wondering since the iPhone X has the status bar cut into two thanks to the notch, don’t worry — you can tap either side for the same effect.
2. Shake to Undo
This is yet another feature that’s been around since iOS 3. Similar to the “Shake to Shuffle” feature on iPods, executing this gesture lets you undo (or redo) an action while typing or doing other things. This feature is useful when highlighted text gets deleted because of an accidental tap on the keyboard. It’s also handy if you move an email message by mistake.
Some folks don’t like this feature because it can get accidentally triggered when on a bumpy ride. You can turn it off under Settings > Accessibility.
3. Superior VoIP and Cellular Call Management
Hey Android users, have you ever received a regular phone call when you’re already on a VoIP call? It basically just barges in, putting your VoIP call on pause until you answer or cut it. Since iOS 10, VoIP calls get the same treatment as cellular phone calls on an iPhone.
That means you can continue your VoIP calls without any interruption.
What’s more, the call list on an iPhone shows all calls (internet-based or otherwise) in a consolidated form. Apparently, Android 8.0 Oreo has APIs that let VoIP apps act like first-class citizens. But given its historically slow adoption rate, it’ll be a while till most Android phones improve on this front.
4. 3D Touch
3D Touch offers quick shortcuts and previews when you press a bit harder than usual on the screen. This feature is built into all iPhones on sale today except the iPhone SE. There are a ton of things you can do. For example, when typing, 3D Touch the keyboard and you can quickly and accurately move the cursor to any position.
5. Taking Calls and Texts on Other Devices
This feature works if you’re in possession of other Apple products like a Mac, iPad, or Apple Watch. Cellular calls and text messages that come to your iPhone can be received via either of these devices. For calls, they need to be connected to the same WiFi network.
But think about it: you’re listening to music while working on your computer, and a call comes in. It’s super convenient to take it right there, instead of juggling multiple devices.
Getting text messages on other devices is also nice when you’re making an online transaction that requires a One Time Password (OTP), which in many countries is sent via SMS.
6. Sound Check and Volume Limit
Volume Limit, as the name suggests, lets you adjust the highest possible volume an iPhone can output through the connected earphones. This is great for avoiding music blaring through your ears at full blast accidentally. You can change it by going to Settings > Music. Unfortunately, we noticed that it doesn’t limit the volume on AirPods yet.
Sound Check is another neat feature that tries to equalize the volume of music. As you’re probably aware, some tracks have a higher default volume than others. This means you don’t have to keep fiddling with the volume control often.
7. Centralized Media Playback Controls
With Control Center, any media playing on an iPhone can be quickly controlled with a swipe up from the bottom (swipe down from the right ear on an iPhone X). Android to date doesn’t have centralised controls — each app has its own play/pause/forward/back buttons that show up in the notification drawer.
“What’s so special about that?” Well, say you’re listening to something on Spotify or a podcast via Overcast, you can pick up where you left off any time from the Control Center. On Android, if you close the app, the media control notification also goes, requiring you to start the app manually and then resume.
And if you’re listening to a song and you receive a call, when you’ve finished the call the song will continue, whether you’re playing from Apple Music, Spotify, Soundcloud, and so on.
8. Clearer Battery Usage Stats
On Android, it’s sometimes hard to tell what exactly is consuming your battery. Quite often, you’ll see an entry titled “Google Play Services” eating some of it (sometimes a lot of it). In a nutshell, Google Play Services does a lot of things, including helping other apps get location data, and so on.
The problem with this is, you can’t actually tell which app exactly is using your phone’s resources.
On iOS, battery stats doesn’t have this vagueness; it’s pretty clear which app is using how much battery. This can help narrow down on the culprits and take action to prevent further battery drain.
9. Customizable and Consistent Share Sheet
A share sheet is the list of apps you see when you’re wanting to share content from one app to another. On Android, apps are positioned dynamically, based on how often you use them in the share sheet. While this might sound smart, there’s no scope for muscle memory as the positions keep changing. And that wasn’t enough, there’s no consistency of these positions between apps too (YouTube might show a different arrangement from say, WhatsApp).
On the other hand, iOS not only has consistent positioning of apps in the share sheet, you can manually reorder them as you please. To do this, tap the share button in any app, swipe rightward, and click More.
10. Universal Clipboard
Lastly, you can copy text, photos, and even videos on one Apple device, and paste it to another. Just highlight the item and copy like you typically do, and the paste button will activate on devices using the same Apple ID. You’ll need to enable the Handoff feature first.
On Android, Pushbullet tried to bring copy-pasting of text between multiple devices, but things didn’t pan out as expected.
Which other iPhone features make you stick to Apple’s platform? We know for a lot of people iMessage is a big reason. Anything else? Let us know in the comments below.