The debate betweenand fans over which platform is better is one I never see coming to an end. Both sides of the argument have their share of talking points, ranging from security and encryption for iPhone users to customization and Google Assistant prowess on the Android side. And for the most part, they’re all valid arguments.
Right now, I want to highlight some of Android’s strengths that the iPhone just doesn’t have yet, from being able to set default apps and using more than one app at a time to being able to replace completely customize the look of your phone.
Here are my favorite things your Android phone can do that people with iPhones can only dream of.
Use the apps you want, not the apps Google wants you to use
The ability to set Gmail as the default email app on an iPhone is something iOS users have been asking Apple to add for years. Even though Apple added the option to delete its own apps from iOS, you still can’t set a default app. It’s tragic, really.
For example, Android lets you set Firefox or Opera as your default browser, or set Google’s Messages app as your text messaging app of choice to take advantage of RCS, Google’s recently released.
Android users, of course, have been able to set default apps from the very beginning. It isn’t hard to see which apps have been labeled as default and, if you want to, change that default app. Start by opening the Settings app and go to Apps & notifications > Default apps.
Google Assistant for the win
iPhone users have Siri, but Android gives you Google Assistant. Google’s digital voice sidekick is a much more sophisticated tool than Apple’s Siri for a slew of reasons, but the most important one is that it builds off Google’s impressive database.
Google Assistant has an proven ability to understand common requests for businesses and names, and it gets requests right more often than wrong. It also returns high quality responses, drawing from Google Search, a tool that Siri doesn’t have access to.
Google Assistant also tightly integrates with the phone’s other functions, to tell you when it’s time to leave for your next meeting and nudge you that traffic is extra heavy going on the way home. If you have any Google Home or Nest Home smart speakers, or other compatible devices, you can also use Assistant on your phone to control stuff around your house like lights, outlets or your thermostat — even from afar.
And it’s built right into your Android device. “OK, Google” and “Hey, Google” are the two wake words. If you need help knowing what to ask, you can ask Google Assistant for a list of commands: “OK, Google, What can you do?” iPhone owners can also install the Google app to use Assistant, but it’s not built in and it’s not the default personal assistant.
Use two apps at once through split-screen mode
Even though iPadOS 13 supports using multiple apps at the same time, iOS 13 and the iPhone do not. Android users, however, have had the ability to use split-screen apps since 2016 with the release of Android 7.0 Nougat.
Using two apps is helpful if you’re trying to look up a contact’s phone number to send to someone on Facebook Messenger, or if you need to reference in information in a document when composing an email. It’s unclear why Apple hasn’t added this feature to the iPhone yet, but perhaps it has something to do with the size of windows on the iPhone’s smaller display, compared to the iPad ($323 at Walmart).
The easiest way to use split-screen mode is to open the multitasking view and tap on the app’s icon at the top of its multitasking card — it’s the same icon you use to launch the app from your homescreen. Select Split screen from the list of options, then select the second app you want to have open at the same time. (These steps might vary depending on which Android phone you use. For example, Samsung phones have their own skin.)
You can adjust the size of each app by dragging the small handle between the two apps to expand or decrease how much space an app takes up on the split-screen.
Customize your homescreen just how you like it
Apple’s approach to the homescreen is to place all installed apps in a rigid grid across multiple pages. Most Android devices take a two-pronged approach by giving you a homescreen and an app drawer. The homescreen doesn’t follow a grid layout, allowing you to place apps anywhere you’d like. Both platforms let you make folders containing groups of apps.
The benefit of Android’s approach is that you can completely customize the homescreen by arranging app icons in any pattern of your choosing, and Android supports widgets of varying sizes. Right now, Apple’s Today view is the only place you’ll find a widget.
You can use launchers to fully customize your phone
Launchers are the epitome of Android customization. These apps let you completely change how you interact with the homescreen, the app drawer and even the app icons on your phone. Using a launcher on your Android phone allows you to customize almost every aspect of how your phone looks and behaves, making your phone even more personal than it already is.
Launchers like Nova Launcher, Microsoft’s Launcher, Apex Launcher or Action Launcher, all add their own twists and features to your Android phone. For example, another popular Android launcher, Evie, emphasizes using a search bar to quickly find and open apps, or anything else on your Android phone for that matter. It’s minimalism at its finest.
I recommend taking some time to research the various launchers, try a couple of them, and really customize the look and feel of your phone. Just be forewarned: The deeper you dive into the world of launchers, the more time and energy you’re going to spend on tweaking your setup.
It’s hard to imagine a world where Apple ever lets something like this happen for the iPhone.
Never get bored with auto-changing wallpapers
If taking the time to find and customize a launcher feels like a lot of work, but there’s another way to make your Android phone constantly feel fresh, and it’s yet another thing your iPhone friends can’t do — use Google’s Wallpapers app.
The Wallpapers app refreshes the wallpaper on your homescreen and lock screen daily, without you having to do a thing.
There are several different categories of wallpaper styles to choose from. Pick your favorite, and let the app take care of the rest. Personally, I like to use the geometric shapes category. The wallpapers are unique and colorful.
Watch a video and text at the same time
If you’ve ever started navigating in Google Maps, only to leave the app and answer a text message, you surely have seen a small Google Maps window remain visible in a corner of the screen. Android gained a system-wide picture-in-picture mode for more than just video apps with the release of Android Oreo in 2017.
In addition to Google Maps and video apps, you can also use picture-in-picture for video calls with supported apps. My favorite use of picture-in-picture is to begin streaming a YouTube video and then leave the app to browse Reddit or reply to a text message or email while the YouTube video keeps playing in a corner of the screen. When I want to go back to watching the video full-screen, I just tap on the small thumbnail to maximize it.
iPhones don’t have any sort of picture-in-picture mode. What you see on the screen is what you get, and nothing more.
If you’re ready to switch to Android, or are looking to get more from the Android phone you already own, check out our list of the. If you’re new to Android, make sure to . Then after that, we have some helpful tips to .