One of the epic battles of the twenty-first century is surely Android vs iOS, playing out across the internet every day with millions of soldiers on each side. It’s a war of attrition, with no side ever quite winning, with fronts opening up on the subjects of security and encryption where the iPhone has strength, to customization and Google Assistant with Android going hard out in battle formation.  

Jason Cipriani decided to set out his arms in favor of Android, originally for cnet, demonstrating the power of default apps and having multiple apps in use at once, as well as the complete customization on offer. 

Here are some things that iPhone users lose sleep over that Androids have been doing for years. 

Choose your fighter: default apps

Users of iPhones have been demanding the right to set Gmail as the default email app for years. Yes, you can now delete Apple apps from iOS, but you still can’t select your own defaults for the tasks you complete regularly. Pretty tragic.

You’ve to go hunting for the default apps setting, but you’ll hit the mark eventually.  Image credit: Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

In contrast, Android users have full freedom to use Opera or Firefox rather than Google Chrome as their preferred browser. You can even set Google’s Messages app as your default so you can use the RCS features – the chat feature that mimics a lot of iMessage functions on an iPhone.  To find what your preset defaults are is pretty simple on your Android. First, you go into Settings, choose the Apps & notifications menu, and go to Default apps. To make changes to your defaults just choose the category of the app you want to change, e.g. Phone app or Browser app, and select from the apps you have installed that can do the job.

In command: Google Assistant

Image credit: itc.ua

Siri is the assistant that comes with your iPhone, but you get Google Assistant with your Android device. Google Assistant can do a whole lot more and is a lot more sophisticated than Siri. The biggest driver of Google Assistant’s superiority is its ability to tap into the impressive database that Google has.  

You’ll get more right than wrong answers when you ask Google Assistant for common things like businesses and names. The responses are of a high standard, too, since Google Assistant has complete access to Google Search, unlike Siri. 

Google Assistant also adeptly weaves itself into all the other functions of your phone; it’s able to prompt you to get going to your next meeting and what the traffic’s going to be like on your commute. You can also use your Android phone to control other Google kit like Google Home and Nest Home speakers, as well as your lightbulbs, power outlets, and thermostat, even when you’re not actually at home.

Google Assistant is fully hardwired into your Android device. To awaken the system from slumber you just need to say, “OK, Google”, or “Hey, Google” and you can even have it teach you how to use it by asking “Ok, Google, what can you do?” There’s an app on App Store to install Google Assistant onto an iPhone but it’s not able to deeply integrate and won’t ever be the default personal assistant. 

Pincer movement: split-screen mode

Image credit: ixbt.ua

The latest update for iPads, iPadOS 13, does allow users to access multiple apps at once, but it’s still not an option in iOS 13 for the iPhone. This might seem a little weird to Android users, who’ve had split-screen capability since Android 7.0 Nougat was released in 2016.

The option of running two apps simultaneously is handy, for example when you want to find details for a contact to send over Facebook Messenger, or if you need to look up information online to include in an email. There’s no logical battle plan why Apple hasn’t added the facility to iPhones yet. It’s possibly down to how big the windows are on the display of the iPhone when compared to the size of the iPad.  

To get into the split-screen mode, you need to open up the multitask view on your handset and click on the app icon at the top of the window, the one that’s the same as the icon you launch from on the menu. From there, you choose Split screen from the options you get, and then you choose the second app you want to use at the same time. There might be a little variation with these steps depending on your exact Android handset, like the Samsung interface is a little different. 

It’s even possible to change the space each app takes up on the screen. Just drag the handle between the two windows and you can slide the window size up and down. 

Lead the charge: Customize your home screen

On an Apple device, your only layout option on your home screen is to have a standard grid that runs over multiple pages. In comparison, on most Android phones you get two choices in the form of a home screen and an app drawer. On the home screen, you don’t have a rigid layout grid formation, rather you can place your apps where you want and some have adaptable sizes. On both Android and iOS you can organize your apps into folders to tidy things up.

The best thing about how Android does this is that you can customize your home screen, choosing your own app arrangement, and even get widgets for some apps that can take up more than one box on the screen. The only widgets on an iPhone come in Apple’s Today. 

Permission to launch: more customization

Peak customization comes with Android’s launchers. These are apps that can wholesale modify the way you interact with your phone, including the home screen, app drawer, and the look of your app icons. Having a launcher means you can personalize and customize nearly every element of your phone’s look and behavior. It’s the most personal you can get your phone to be. 

Check out launchers like Microsoft’s Launcher, Action Launcher, Nova Launcher, and Apex Launcher to see the ways you can add your own twist to the look of your Android phone. As an example, the Evie launcher focuses on a search bar so you can access apps, or anything else on your phone, really quickly. It’s pure, fine, minimalism.  

It’s definitely worth reading up on and experimenting with a few different launchers and see how you can fully customize how your phone looks and feels. There’s a whole army of launchers and you can spend myriad hours playing around with them to tweak things to be just so. 

Can you imagine a world where Apple cedes so much control over the look of iPhones?

Changing the guard: automatic changing wallpapers

The effort required to find and customize a launcher may be off-putting to many. There’s another option to keep your Android looking fresh and your iPhone owning friends jealous – the Google Wallpapers app.  

Wallpapers will change your background image and lock screen picture every day without you having to do anything. There are different categories you can choose from that’ll give you different wallpaper styles, just pick the one you like and leave Wallpapers to it. The images you get are bright, colorful, and unique. 

Sending dispatches: texting and watching 

Using Google Maps recently, you might have noticed that there’s a little window of your navigation that stays live if you have to pop out to reply to a text message. Picture-in-picture mode went systemwide for videos on Android back in 2017 when Android Oreo came out. 

On top of picture-in-picture for Google Maps and video apps, the capability is also an option for some supported video calling apps. A useful way to take advantage of this option is when you’re watching YouTube and have to reply to a message, the video still hangs around whilst you do what you need to, then you just tap on the thumbnail to restore the picture to full-size. 

There’s no iPhone equivalent of picture-in-picture. What’s on the screen is what you get, nothing more.

If you’re thinking of making the switch over to Android, or just want to be even more efficient with your existing device, these are the things you should be exploring. It’s always fun to make your iPhone buddies jealous of how pretty and useful your Android truly is.