Thursday, July 18

Switching from iPhone to Android is easy

Apple announced that later this year it will improve messaging between iPhone and Android users by adopting advanced communications services, a standard that Google and others built into their messaging apps years ago. Texts sent between iPhone and Android will remain green, but images and videos will be higher quality.

For iPhones, the reference app for making mobile payments in shops is Apple Wallet and for Android users the equivalent app is Google Wallet. The experience of using each wallet app was identical: I loaded my credit cards and the Clipper card for Bay Area Rapid Transit.

The Justice Department’s criticism of Apple Wallet centers on how Apple gives its app access only to the iPhone’s payment chip, preventing competing wallet services from using that chip to make payments. But the way Apple designed its Wallet app had no impact on my ability to switch to Android.

For an iPhone owner, the main incentive to buy multiple Apple products is that they work seamlessly together. A Mac laptop, for example, uses many of the same messaging, note-taking and reminder apps as the iPhone, and data is synced between devices with Apple’s iCloud. In theory, the more invested you are in the Apple ecosystem — and the more Apple limits its products to working with competing devices, the Justice Department says — the harder it is to switch from an iPhone.

After switching to an Android phone, my feelings about using other Apple products ranged from moderate annoyance to profound frustration:

  • The iPad worked independently of the iPhone, but I could no longer see my text messages on the tablet. This was minor because I don’t write many messages on my iPad.

  • My AirPods Pro were fine: They quickly connected to the Pixel to play music. But the downside is that AirPods use adaptive EQ, a technology that adapts sound quality to the shape of your ear and only works with iPhone software. So the audio doesn’t sound as good.

  • I couldn’t use my Android phone to locate my AirTags, the little Apple trackers I use to find my wallet and keys, on a map. But when I had my AirTags in my pocket, the Android phone alerted me that an “unknown tracker” was moving with me, a security measure to combat stalkers.

  • The Apple Watch requires an iPhone to set up, but fitness tracking can work independently. Since I already had the watch set up, I was able to continue using it at the gym alongside my Android phone. But I could no longer see the detailed data of my training.

  • I ran into other annoyances not specifically mentioned in the lawsuit, and eventually reached peak frustration as I tried to find a replacement for Apple’s Notes, which I use regularly on my Mac, iPad, and phone for work and personal errands. I’ve used alternatives but didn’t like them, and combined with the issues mentioned above, it was all too much.

My experience is not universal. Some people would care more than others about how certain Apple products would change if they changed phones. Younger people would likely be very concerned about the lack of iMessage in schools, where, according to education experts, a green bubble is an invitation to ridicule and exclusion. Parents who use AirTags to track their children would consider it a problem to lose access to them.