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Home / Tips and Tricks / 7 Things Your Android Phone Can Do iPhone Owners Can Only Dream

7 Things Your Android Phone Can Do iPhone Owners Can Only Dream



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Android phones can do much that iPhones cannot.


Sarah Tew / CNET

The debate between Android and iOS 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 skill on the Android page. And they are almost always valid arguments.

Right now, I want to highlight some of the Android strengths that iOS just doesn't have yet, from being able to set default apps and use more than one app at a time to fully customize the look of your phone.

Here are my favorite things Android users can do that people with iPhones can only dream about.





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Use the apps you want, not the apps Google wants you to use

The option to set Gmail as the default email app on an iPhone is something iOS users have asked Apple to add for year. Although Apple has added the option to remove their own apps from iOS, you still can't set a default app. It's tragic, really.

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Finding the default app setting can take some digging, but at least that's it.


Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Android, on the other hand, lets you set Firefox or Opera as your default browser instead of Google Chrome, or set Google's messaging app as your text messaging app that you choose to use RCS, Google's recently released – feature that works much like Apple's iMessage .

It's not hard to see which apps are selected by default on your Android device: Open the app Settings and go to Apps & Notifications > Standard apps . To change the default values, select the app category, for example Phone app or Browser app and select from the options.

Google Assistant is always ready for you.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

Google Assistant for Profit

iPhone users have Siri, but Android gives you Google Assistant. Google Assistant is a much more sophisticated tool than Apple's Siri for several reasons, but the most important thing is that it uses Google's impressive database.

Google Assistant can understand common requests for companies and names, and it gets requests right often than wrong. It also provides high quality answers, drawing from Google Search, a tool that Siri does not have access to.

Google Assistant also integrates tightly with the other features of the phone to tell you when it's time to go to the next meeting and alert you that traffic will be heavy on the way home. If you have any smart speakers or other compatible devices from Google Home or Nest Home or other compatible devices, you can also use the Assistant on your phone to control smart devices in your house such as lights, outlets or your thermostat – even remotely.

And it's built into your Android device. "OK, Google" and "Hello, Google" are the two wake-up phrases. If you need help knowing what to ask, 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 is not built-in and is not the default personal assistant.

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Split Screen is easy to use on an Android phone and increases the versatility of a phone.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

Use two apps at once through shared screen mode

Although iPadOS 13 supports the use of multiple apps at the same time, iOS 13 and iPhone do not. However, Android users have had split-screen apps since 2016 with the launch of Android 7.0 Nougat.

Using two apps is good if you are trying to find a contact's phone number to send to someone on Facebook Messenger, or if you need to reference information in a document when writing an email. It's unclear why Apple hasn't added this feature to the iPhone yet, but it may have something to do with the size of the windows on the iPhone screen compared to the larger iPad ($ 325 on Walmart) .

The easiest way to use split-screen mode is to open the multitasking view and tap the app's icon at the top of the multitasking card – it's the same icon you use to launch the app from your home screen. Select Shared Screen from the list of options, then select the second app you want open at the same time. (These steps may vary depending on which Android phone you use. For example, Samsung phones have their own version of the interface.)

You can adjust the size of each app by dragging the small handle between the two apps to expand or reduce how much space each app takes up.

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Move icons around to arrange or remove them and use only the app drawer.


Sarah Tew / CNET

Customize your home screen exactly how you like it

Apple's home screen strategy is to place all installed apps in a rigid grid over multiple pages. Most Android devices have a two-pronged approach by giving you a home screen and an app drawer. The home screen doesn't follow a grid layout, so you can place apps wherever you want. Both platforms let you create folders that contain groups of apps.

The advantage of Android's approach is that you can customize the home screen by arranging app icons in any pattern and Android supports widgets of different sizes. Right now, Apple Today view is the only place to find a widget.

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The way your home page on your Android phone looks is because of its launch. But you are not stuck with what comes pre-installed.


Óscar Gutiérrez / CNET

You can use launchers to fully customize your phone

Starter is the symbol for Android customization. With these apps, you can completely change how you interact with the home screen, the app's drawer, and even the app icons on your phone. With the help of a starter on your Android phone, you can customize almost every aspect of how your phone looks and behaves, making your phone even more personal than it already is.

Starters like Nova Launcher, Microsoft Launcher, Apex Launcher and Action Launcher all add their own twists and turns to your Android phone. For example, another popular Android starter, Evie, emphasizes that you use a search bar to quickly find and open apps, or anything else on your Android phone for that matter. It is minimalism at its best.

I recommend that you take some time to research the different launches, try a few of them and really customize the look and feel of your phone. Just be aware: The deeper you dive into the world of launches, the more time and energy you will spend on fine-tuning your installation.

It's hard to imagine a world where Apple ever lets something similar happen for the iPhone.

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The Wallpapers app is a must for all Android users.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

Never get bored because wallpapers that change automatically

If you take the time to find and customize a startup feature feels like a lot of work, there is another way to make your Android phone constantly known and that's one more thing your iPhone friends can't do it – use the Google wallpaper app.

The Wallpaper app updates the wallpaper on your home screen and lock screen daily, without you having to do anything.

There are several different categories of wallpaper styles to choose from. Choose your favorite and let the app take care of the rest. Personally, I like to use the category geometric shapes. The backgrounds are unique and colorful.

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Watch a video and browse Twitter at the same time? Go on, I'm listening.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

Watch a video and text at the same time

If you started navigating Google Maps lately, just to leave the app to respond to a text message, you've probably seen a small Google Maps window remain visible in a corner of the screen. Android got a system-in-picture mode for more than just video apps with the launch of Android Oreo 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 start streaming a YouTube video and then leave the app to browse Reddit or respond to a text message or email while the YouTube video continues to play in a corner of the screen. When I want to go back and watch the video on the full screen, I just click on the thumbnail to maximize it.

iPhones have no kind of picture-in-picture mode. What you see on screen is what you get.

If you are ready to switch to Android or if you want to get more from the Android phone you already own, check out our list of best Android phones 2020 . If you are new to the operating system, make sure change these Android settings directly . Then we have some useful tips for getting started with Android 10 .

Originally published earlier this week.


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