What do I need to know about switching from Android to iOS for my phone?
I've been all in on Android for quite a while, but I'll be making the jump to an iPhone with the next phone I get, which will end up being soon, as my current one is having some hardware issues.
What do I need to know about crossing over?
In particular, I would like to leave my Google account behind and NOT have it logged into my new phone. I use Fastmail for my email and contacts -- will I be able to sync my contacts easily to an iOS device from it, or will I have to import them into iCloud?
I'm also open to app recommendations for basic stuff -- preferably ones that are open-source and privacy-friendly. On Android I run a lot of stuff out of F-Droid, but I know iOS is a lot more locked down, so I'm interested to know what the best options are in their store (I have no interest in jailbreaking mg device).
Also, are there any huge disadvantages I should be aware of regarding older models? The new line just came out, which means the older ones are cheaper, and I'm a casual enough phone user that I should be fine with older hardware, but I want to know if there are any big tradeoffs.
Finally, if there are any cool iOS tips or tricks I should know about, let me know!
Yes, the iPhone is absurdly locked down. If you do lots of advanced stuff on Android (and even some very basic ones), be prepared to jump through many hoops and also know that some hoops cannot be jumped. Research beforehand how each part of your workflow can actually be done on iOS.
I would advise you to purchase an iPhone if you own all things Apple (or intend to) and is comfortable doing things exactly how Apple expects you to do. Unless you require little to no integration with non Apple devices, iOS can be a pain.
The only real trick with iOS is doing what iOS wants. There really is not much you can do besides that.
It is not a bad ecosystem if you really buy into it, since the integration between Apple devices is one of their biggest advantages.
My usecase is simple enough that I don't believe I should run into too much friction. I don't own anything else Apple (nor do I intend to, outside of getting whatever converter it is I'll need for headphones), but I really only use my phone for the basics: calling, messaging, internet, camera, music.
Honestly, unless you want to listen on HiFi equipment you're better off just getting a set of wireless earbuds with W1 chips. The AirPods are the standard but the BeatsX are solid, cheap(er) alternatives as well. The convenience is really just too much to pass up.
Another thing to keep in mind. You're probably gonna want to pay for iCloud storage. The free tier is a paltry 5GB, which is basically enough to backup your contacts list and maybe your chat and email archives. Even if you go through the menu and disable automatic backups for everything it will still feel cramped and the OS will nag you constantly about how you're running low on iCloud storage. It's honestly the most annoying thing about having an iPhone.
The $0.99/month (50GB) tier will probably be fine for you as long as you don't shoot tons of photos or 4k video. I used to do 50GB and backup everything to iCloud. I do periodically offload older photos to my NAS (after de-duping/pruning them with Gemini), which keeps the actual footprint of photos and video on my phone/iCloud down. Being on Apple Music also obviates the need to keep my whole music library on the phone since it's automatically cloud syncs my iTunes library. But if you have a big music collection and don't use iTunes on your personal computer you'll need to factor that in too.
Now I'm on the Apple One family plan, though, which is 200GB between my wife and I and also an Apple Music subscription for half the price (for both of us) or $3 more than if it was just one person. And, funny enough, even though my iCloud drive at 50GB was always about 48 to 49GB full iOS never nags me about it. But when I was at 4GB out of 5GB on the free tier, always nagging. 🤔
Is iCloud something I can just turn off or ignore? I have other solutions for mail, contacts, photos, files, music, etc. and don't really intend to use iCloud at all.
Also, I do have some nice headphones and an amp that I listen to music through, so a converter is definitely necessary. Everybody does rave about AirPods though, so that might be something I look into down the road as a supplement for when I don't feel like being tied down with cords.
Yes it is. You don’t even need to use an Apple ID (although you can’t install apps).
If you do ever get more Apple devices, I highly recommend trying out iCloud.
Yeah if you're using some other cloud service for everything else you won't miss it. But the iPhone still doesn't do a great job of supporting non-Apple apps for the real basics so there might be some hitches. It'll all be slightly less convenient than it could be.
In my experience, I don't need that kind of HiFi on my phone. The contexts where I listen to music on the phone all have too much ambient noise or other considerations to where those kinds of small differences don't really matter.
You're not actually making a case for wireless headphones. Wireless headphones need to be charged and paired, how can that be more convenient than plugging in a pair of headphones and it just works?
Pairing isn’t really an issue with AirPods after the first time you confide it. You just kind of wave it around and it’s done. The only issue is charging, which is also not a big deal compared to the hassle of dealing with wires getting tangled in your pockets, getting caught on things, blocking your messenger bag strap, slapping against your chest and creating noise. . .
Honestly it’s shocking to me that you think a “case” needs to be made for wireless headphones. Wired headphones when you’re on the go are a colossal hassle.
Maybe it's just because I have been using them my whole life, but the so-called inconveniences of wires just don't bother me compared to the downsides of batteries. Like I recognize the examples you give above, but I've literally never thought to be bothered by the sound of my headphones cable "slapping" against my chest. Is this a real problem?
Additionally, you can get great wired headphones for a fraction of the price of airbuds, which is great for the clumsy and forgetful (of which group I am a proud member).
I don't know about "great." On sale, AirPods Pro are about $50 more than the very nice Denons I used to have and I find the sound quality better in addition to the fact that they have active noise canceling. Their main problem right now is that they only have a practical lifespan of 3-5 years based on how much stress you're subjecting the battery to.
Apple managed to make pairing AirPods to your phone an experience, not just a nuisance. You open the AirPods case for the first time, your iPhone slides up an often-unseen card style design (promoting scarcity, which often promotes desirability), with a 3D rendering animation of the AirPods, you tap "Connect" once, and it's done.
From then on, if your AirPods are in your ears, they just work. If they're in the case, your iPhone emits audio through its speakers. I've had a few occasional hiccups involving an unpair and repair process, but after that, it's really seamless.
I've previously had wired headphones snag while I'm commuting and neatly destroy my phone, and wired headphones and satchels do not work together either. They really are a game-changer of a product, and are significantly better than wired headphones. The FUD around "latency" and "low audio quality" are mostly nonsense.
I don't care about the latency, just the need to perform ritual maintenance on yet another battery-powered device, especially one I can't replace the batteries on. What do you do if you want to listen to music and your headphones aren't charged?
The headphones self-charge when they're in the case, so they're never not charged. I wouldn't call it "ritual maintenance" plopping your headphone case on a wireless charging pad once a week, but I'm also don't come from your perspective either. I guess this comes down to perceived tradeoffs. At least for me, I'd rather not have to deal with a cord for a number of reasons:
If I'm exercising or running, it means I have to take my phone with me. With AirPods, I can leave my phone at home and just take my watch which wirelessly streams music to the AirPods and doubles as my workout tool. The last thing I want to have to deal with it feeling a phone jump up and down in my pocket, or feel the extra weight of that on my arm.
Wires don't really work with satchels—or most items of clothing you might take on and off in public—as I've mentioned in my comment above. Either the satchel strap has to go above the wires, or the wires go above the satchel, and it's always a mess.
Now I'm sure you can list similar points for why batteries suck, and they're probably valid, but the concerns and frustrations with wires are very real for many.
I can see you interact with the ecosystem in a fundamentally different way. Apple Watch? The feature set overlaps so much with the phone itself that I don't understand the point of ownership. Can you replace your phone with it? Why have both? Full disclosure, I haven't bought an apple product since they killed the headphone jack on the iPhone.
Another battery that has to be maintained properly? In the case now? Can you replace that battery when it inevitably stops holding a charge someday in the future?
Yeah, the watches aren't for everyone. I mainly use it for its fitness and health tracking features—namely recording workouts i.e. runs or walks, which gets you GPS track logs + altimeter data + heart rate data + calorie burn information.
Apart from that, the main appeals are the automatic unlocking of my Mac, which eliminates the hassle of constantly typing in a password every time I sit down, and just... telling time really. I like some of the chronological watch faces that visually display where the sun is above the horizon, when civil and nautical twilight begins and ends, etc.
The biggest one is that the non-Pro/Max/<insert positive adjective> iPhones had LCD screens until this year as opposed to OLED.
Other than that, this is one of the big advantages of iPhones. Not only does Apple commit to 5+ years of software support, but they've also shipped stupidly overpowered SoCs for the last few years (The A14, a 5w phone chip, has a better single core performance than many flagship desktop CPUs). Combined with the fact that iOS is way lighter than android on RAM usage (because apple forces everyone to use objective-c/swift), they punch way above their weight for quite a while.
As for apps, I think the main difference is to trust the app store a little more than you trusted the play store. For some reason iPhone users are way more likely to spend money on apps, and as a result, there's way more quality apps that cost some amount of money, but have no stupid ads, and honestly that's so much better than the fremium ad riddled crapware that fills the play store.
I've posted about this before, but I'm here to remind people that better technical specifications don't necessarily map to better real world usage, and at least in my day to day usage of an iPhone, I would much prefer to have an LCD screen back—and although the OLED deep blacks are certainly nice when you're watching videos, the screen smearing you get when displaying dark content is god-awful.
: In fact, this comment was directly in reply to you, @stu2b50 ;)
Huh, the issues you describe there with the OLED screens sound exactly like the same phenomenon of the OLED screens of the PS VITA. Great screen and colours if you don't notice that kind of thing, but annoying as all hell if you do.
Have you used an Apple device with an OLED? I've seen the "speckled" look you're talking about, but only on cheaper OLED panels. Part of it is pixel spacing, but the real culprit is the subpixel arrangement used on low cost displays. The panels used in at least the XS and newer look indistinguishable from a good LCD in that regard.
I currently use an iPhone XS, yeah. As far as I'm aware, the sub pixel layout of the OLED panels on the iPhones since the X have not changed.
I've looked at iPhone 11 (LCD), iPhone 11 Pro (OLED) and iPhone 12 Pro (OLED.) The 11 Pro seemed a bit "grainy", but that's totally gone on the 12 Pro. I would personally take the 11's LCD display over that of the 11 Pro, and the 12 Pro's display over both.
I recently jumped to an iPhone 12 because I got a temp ban texting through my service. I got the iphone because I could still message via iMessage.
iMessage is great for bypassing SMS and doing FaceTime if you have a lot of iPhone friends.
Apple Arcade has way better games than on Android.
Appstore is better laid out and easier to find apps.
I actually use Siri more to ask questions and set appointments than on Android.
Camera has a cool hold and animate photo feature.
The phone is better at not interrupting you. My interruption level dropped by 50-75% since I switched.
Vivaldi browser isn't supported. Only webkit browsers.
Customizations are really poor.
Only 4 items on dock.
Desktop is a mess of icons.
Apple maps is terrible.
No fingerprint reader, so Apple pay is useless because of Masks.
App Library is pretty useless
System Configuration is a big hot mess of confusion.
The black notch is horrible, it cuts off text all the time as well as movies.
Android in my opinion is still better hands down and I will be switching back when new phones come out.
Thanks for all the great comments and pointers! This is really helpful.
I do need some additional help:
I went through my apps and mostly everything I use has a direct iOS counterpart, but there are a few replacements that I'm looking for recommendations for. Most preferable are apps that are open source and privacy-friendly, but closed source and privacy-friendly is acceptable too. I also don't mind paying for apps, so suggestions don't have to be free. Here are the categories:
No app required here. Open tildes in safari and under the export button (bottom center) there is an add to home screen option. Voila! Some caveats apply such as a new safari tab every time you open the app but it works well enough.
For 2FA I use Google for my professional accounts (because my work is on GSuite) and Duo for personal ones. I also have a family plan on 1Password for a password manager.
As an eBook reader I used to use Marvin, but eventually I just switched to the default Apple Books reader because it has really good library management.
The Health app on iOS does a good job as just a weight tracker (and basically any other health metric you could ever want). As far as health informatics go it’s actually better than just about anything available outside of a hospital. You just need an app or smart device that interoperates with it.
I’m not sure what Hermit does that Safari + content blockers doesn’t. Maybe you can elaborate? Not sure about the Music app either. But generally speaking, one thing you start to realize with the Apple ecosystem is that you’re basically outsourcing a lot of the design choices and decisions around how you interact with technology to Apple. The default apps are usually really good unless you have a specialized or high end use case. So what will probably make you happier as an iPhone user is if, instead of trying to port your Android based way of doing things to iOS, focus on just doing what you want to do with the default modes of operation built in the system and find how to fill the gaps where you can’t achieve something you want.
There’s a whole culture of Mac development and what it means for an app to be “Mac like.” Most of what makes people who love Apple love it so is that “Macness.” Usually people who aren’t happy with switching end up unhappy because they’re trying to replicate their old usage patterns rather than emptying their cup and figuring out how to do things the Apple way. That’s when folks get frustrated that it doesn’t work like they expect.
I pretty much use Hermit as a Tildes-only browser. I clear history/cache for my main browser on exit, so if I used Tildes there I'd have to log in each time I went to the site. Hermit keeps me logged in and gets the browser interface stuff out of the way so that Tildes "feels" like an app, but that's not particularly necessary. I could easily replicate almost the same thing by installing another browser and not clearing it out, or even just whitelisting Tildes' cookies in my main browser. I realize my posts here make me look extra particular in my use habits but really, I'm very flexible and undemanding.
I'm aware of the "Apple way" of doing things and genuinely admire what they're able to do with their ecosystem in the abstract, but I also have no desire to buy in to it at large, which is where you really get to appreciate the sort of harmonies they're known for creating. I won't mind the friction in porting over my current setup and even adjusting it to fit whatever Apple's restrictions are, and even then they're not the main focus: genuinely 95% of my phone usage will be spent in messaging apps and a browser, which is easily handled.
Also, no matter what I'm going to be happy because it's going to alleviate my biggest friction of all: group messaging. Because schools are well behind the times and have no idea that Slack and any Slack-alikes even exist (we still struggle with basic email), all team communication is done through group text messages on our personal devices (please, someone save us). Literally everyone else I work with has an iPhone. I'm the one who "messes up" every group chat I'm in on account of not having iMessage and I've had to explain to untold numbers of coworkers why we can't just add a new member to a group chat and have to start a whole new one and why their reactions don't work like they expect them to. Also, group MMS delivery has a terrible failure rate, so I regularly miss others' messages and they often fail to get mine.
My main reason to get an iPhone is ultimately because iMessage will drastically improve my work environment. This is patently absurd because we shouldn't be doing work collaboration on personal devices; we shouldn't be doing it though personal messaging apps; and Apple could just release an iMessage compatible app on non-Apple hardware so I don't need to buy a specific device, but ultimately I'm making the jump because this is the hand I'm dealt, not the one I want to play, if that makes sense.
This is the kind of thing that frustrates me. I sort of would understand the duopoly that we have if this was all in the late 90s or early 2000s (the earlier mobile phone days, and yes i know mobile tech spans back to the 70s). But this all exists in the 21ste century - an age where we are talking of satellites providing internet access, great strides with artificial intelligence, considerations for travel to Mars, and all manner of other tech innovations...but still companies are stingy with their basic messaging; bleh. I dream of a day when matrix (the protocol) becomes the de facto, underlying comms foundation (like email has been for so many decades)...and we will get to choose whatever client we prefer. This "choice" of only android or iphone is just so ridiculous!
The bare protocol isn’t enough. The apps would need to all have the same UI features to interoperate, or it would be like dropping to SMS for “foreign” chat systems. Everything that people use for communication needs to be standardized.
Look at what Gitter’s list of what they have working for Matrix and what’s still broken, and they are motivated to make it work.
I think Apple is the odd one out though. The other companies at least have apps for Android and iPhone.
Huh -- I genuinely had no idea they were all the same protocol. That makes it all the more baffling (and frustrating) that they
can'twon't talk to each other.
You're absolutely right @tindall i guess i thought too much about the tech and forgot about the intent and decisions which are made need not align with tech superiority and such! (And thanks for the info about iMessage, FB Messenger and Signal sharing that underlying base, TIL) I guess it is back to Morse code and ye old telegraph for me; kidding! :-)
This is the third or so signal/comment that i've received related to "get a ham radio license" in the last couple of months, from different sources...Clearly the universe is trying to tell me something! :-)
I guess I have my new year's resolution! :-)
That seems so insane to me. Why don't Americans use Whatsapp like the rest of the world?
That's a fair point and that's why I use Signal with my family and closest friends.
But iMessage is also proprietary and extremely anticompetitive. That you need an Apple device to communicate in America is so bizarre.
It's not really that bizarre when you consider the stats:
Europe = 68.2% Android, 31.42% iOS vs. USA = 61.23% iOS, 38.59% Android
And as with most things, here in Canada we're somewhere in between at 51.53 iOS, 48.08% Android.
Is there a social or cultural divide between the 60% using iOS and 40% using Android?
In Europe and India everyone uses Whatsapp regardless of the OS but it's also really important to communicate with people in other countries and family around the world. We have relatives in America but they at least use Whatsapp to communicate with us and their other global family members.
In my experience, plain old SMS messaging or email are the ones you can assume people have (not necessarily both) and beyond that it seems pretty fragmented, varying depending on the social group.
I don't know if I would say there is a cultural divide, but most of the people I know who have Apple devices generally stick to iMessage and Facetime. This is likely because they're included on the devices and the majority of other people they know have them too, so there isn't really a huge reason to switch to something else.
StepTwo is my recommendation here. Indie dev, well designed, adheres to the iOS HIG fairly well.
I use the Withings/Nokia Body+ smart scale. It has its own app, but more importantly integrates with HealthKit so the data is properly logged and stored securely in the Apple ecosystem.
For an ebook reader, I think the iBook app will do it. I don’t read ebooks, so I cannot comment on the quality, but it’s worth trying out.
For tildes, I just use a Home Screen shortcut. Let me know if you find a hermit alternative.
For weight tracking, are you planning on using HealthKit? If you want just basic weight tracking, it will work fine. If you grab an app that uses HealthKit, you shouldn’t have an issue with privacy.
Sadly there still isn't one, last I checked. :( However, the dev behind Hermit was supposedly working on an iOS version, so fingers crossed they eventually finish it, and it gets approved by Apple.
Yes. When you first set up a new iOS device there is a migration option that should do most of the hard work for you, and there is an official android app to go along with it. See: https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT201196
I recently upgraded from an iPhone 4 to an 8, and I barely use the thing other than for texting, so I'm probably not the best person to ask about that. Though I do know that the cameras and processors are significantly better on the new ones. And also worth keeping in mind is that the newer models will also receive updates for longer, so if you are a super heavy user, take a lot of photos/video, and plan to keep the phone for a long time it's probably be worth getting a newer model.
My iPhone 4 was getting pretty well unusable by the end, with even basic browsing getting difficult since the latest version of safari it had was getting seriously outdated. However it was still perfectly serviceable for my needs for a bloody long time though, so getting a slightly older model is not that huge of a deal overall, IMO.
p.s. If you need any help once you get the iPhone, feel free to PM me.
The only time I've ever used an iPhone I spent five minutes trying to get out of the menu - in the end I had to ask it's owner - but it turns out that's just how iOS works. There's no 'desktop' like on Android, the default view is the app menu.
This may have changed in more recent versions.
If you use WhatsApp and don't want to lose your messages, I suggest you to read this reddit post.
There's no official way to transfer WhatsApp data between Android and iOS, and the only third party software that worked reliably for me was the one mentioned in the post. If you value your conversations, it may be worth spending 20$.
The software has some quirks though, that's why I suggest you to follow the steps in the post.
I’m an iOS user who uses Fastmail. I have everything synced to the default Contacts and Mail app, but I tend to use the Fastmail app because it’s really slick.
Great to know! I love their app on Android so I'll probably do the same on iOS. My main concern was whether or not Contacts easily sync. I have to use a third-party solution on Android to get it to talk to Fastmail.
Fastmail can generate a configuration profile for iOS devices that automatically configures email, contacts and calendars. See here for details.
If you're a tech person with an iphone there is a fun little app called iSH. It's basically a full virtual i686 linux shell to play around with. It's a stripped down Alpine linux so musl and busybox but you can get the apk package manager and install whatever you'd like. Works great with a Bluetooth keyboard and a remote-accessible workstation to take your work on the go without a laptop.
Sounds similar to termux on the android side, which i have used to great benefit...though never tried it with any bluetooth keyboards and such. Good to learn about iSH too for the iOS side!
A big thank you to all the helpful people in this thread. I now have an iPhone and it’s up and running and doing all the phone things I need it to. People at work are now excited that my bubbles are blue.
One final question:
I have my work email and calendar through Google. I don’t love putting work stuff on my personal device but it’s unfortunately an occupational hazard of being a teacher. Is there a way I can “sandbox” my work email and calendar so they’re kind of sequestered over in their own corner in a certain app/apps and don’t touch/mix with my personal ones?
I tried doing it with Android but Google just laughed at me and pulled the account in at the OS level anyway, making my whole phone become logged in to both. I’m hoping iOS has a more private option for this kind of thing?
Any way to block ads in the web browser or in apps? I use Firefox Nightly on Android in which you can install uBlock, and there are solutions for rooted (AdAway) and non-rooted (Blokada) app ad blocking.
Yes, you can block ads on iOS and iPadOS now. I personally use AdGuard Pro, but there are other options out there too. Though the nice thing about AdGuard Pro is that it will even block ads from loading inside most ad-supported apps too (instead of just the browser), with no jailbreaking required. It occasionally breaks some free to play games that have interactive video ads in them, but other than that it's pretty rare it breaks anything, and it's super easy to quickly toggle off the blocker temporarily to fix the issue anyways.
Is AdGuard Pro essentially a VPN that blocks ads, or would I be able to use it at the same time as my separate VPN?
You likely want AdGuard, not pro. AdGuard will block all ads in safari for free. I’m not sure if it works with other browsers (I really like safari though). AdGuard premium, bought within the AdGuard app, works through dns. I don’t know if it is compatible with a vpn. AdGuard for safari definitely is.
Adguard Pro also offers DNS level blocking (you just have to enable it in the settings), which does work with other browsers and in other apps. And you can also go into the advanced settings and change it from "full tunneling" to "split tunneling" in order for it to work with your own VPN app as well.
But if all you want/need is blocking ads in safari, the free version of Adguard will likely be sufficient and shouldn't require any fiddling to make it compatible with your VPN, @kfwyre.
This is so timely, and informative! I've been seriously considering jumping from android to iphone. (I've never owned an iphone, and have always been on android since they've first existed). I find myself fiddling so much less with my phone nowadays, and really just need a secure-ish and private-ish device to handle calls, text, email, camera, and maybe a simple map. So wondered if maybe i jump to iphone and worry less about my phone. It seems like most mid- and low-priced android phones nowadays are becoming more and more about planned obsolescence. I just want a dependable phone without needing to get yet another one in 2 years time. I would get a pinephone (or some similar alternaive that has a company behind it) if they were prime time ready...but i acknowledge that i don't think they are just yet. I wonder if i jump to iphone and it holds out maybe 5 or 7 years...by then pinephone will be ready? Its funny as a technologist I have no hesitation fiddling with other tech, but i've grown tired of hassling with mobile phones; or am i just crazy? Anyway, thanks everyone for these tips, comments as @kfwyre is not alone! :-)
I also am moving away from google for email/contacts (from G Suite to likely Zoho).
You're definitely not crazy, and that's exactly how I ended up on iOS for about three years. I couldn't help fucking with my phone with roms and icon packs and "because I can" Tasker profiles. Those three years broke the habit, and I'm currently using an old XZ1 with LineageOS that I use about two hours a day.
I love the simplicity of iOS, and I've kinda replicated it on Android with my usage patterns. Lineage was even preinstalled by the seller!
Often technology is truly at its best when it gets out of the way and is just simple. That's what I love about the Apple ecosystem—it's got its rough edges, but it just allows me to do what I want to do and focus less on the devices themselves.
I don't want to spend my time navel gazing about themes or complex configurations—although I understand some people find that fun.
Great to hear that I'm not the only one! :-)
If your experience is anything like mine, you will order it three weeks ago and still be waiting.