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Switching from iPhone to Android is easy. It's the consequences that hurt.| GuyWhoKnowsThings


When I temporarily switched from an iPhone to an Android phone last week, I was bracing myself for a world of hurt. I've only owned Apple phones since I bought the first-generation iPhone in 2007. And like many, I've bought other Apple products that go together very well, including AirPods, an Apple Watch, and an iPad.

That kind of loyalty is the basis of an antitrust case against Apple brought by the Justice Department, which accused the company of using monopoly control over the iPhone to harm competitors and discourage customers from switching to other phones. To test that theory, I decided to briefly break up with my iPhone.

At first I was surprised at how easy it was to transfer data from my iPhone to an Android smartphone made by Google. By simply installing a app on my iPhone that Google made To help people make the switch, I was able to copy my contact list, photo album, and calendar to my Google account. So, voila, all that data appeared on Android.

It was almost over. After calling my carrier, Verizon, to port my phone number to the Android device, my mission was accomplished: I had become an Android convert.

At first, I was happy with my choice: I had upgraded to a fancy Google Pixel phone. But by day 6, I was ready to switch back.

A lot of annoyances accumulated. Although I could still use most of my Apple products, I began to miss my Apple Watch, which requires an iPhone to fully function. Software-wise, I was able to find Android alternatives for all my favorite apps except Notes. While switching phones wasn't technically difficult, Apple's hooks were still in me.

How Apple keeps customers loyal to the iPhone (and whether its practices hurt competition) is at the heart of the issue. government antitrust lawsuit against the Cupertino giant.

Apple and the Justice Department declined to comment.

In its 88-page complaint, the department said several Apple products protected the company's competitive advantage with the iPhone, including iMessage, Apple's Wallet app and the Apple Watch. How difficult do those advantages really make you get rid of your iPhone? This is what I found.

For the most part, iPhone and Android users can communicate with each other easily through email, phone calls, and apps like Slack, but when it comes to text messaging, there's still an obvious divide known as Disparity between “green bubble versus blue bubble”.

When iPhone users send text messages to other iPhones, the messages appear in blue and they can take advantage of exclusive perks like a birthday confetti animation. But if an iPhone user sends a text message to an Android user, the bubble turns green, many features break, and the quality of photos and videos deteriorates.

Before transferring my phone number to the Pixel phone, I used my iPhone to send iMessages to my blue bubble comrades warning them that our conversations would soon turn green. “Yuck!” responded a friend. But after many joking comments, no one protested and I moved on.

Next I had to disconnect my phone number from iMessage on the Apple website to make sure my text messages stopped passing through Apple's servers and reached my phone. Unless you did this, you would not receive text messages from other iPhones. Finally, the conversations turned green. I prepared myself for humiliation.

But no one gave me a hard time or excluded me. However, I noticed that many friends suddenly stopped texting me photos, perhaps because they knew the pictures wouldn't look as good anymore.

For years, some of my closest friends have texted me solely through Signal, the third-party messaging app with strong privacy protections and many of the same features as iMessage. Signal is also available on Android, preserving that tradition.

Apple has announced that at the end of this year improve text messages between iPhone and Android users by adopting rich communication services, a standard that Google and others integrated into their messaging apps years ago. Text messages sent between iPhone and Android will remain green, but images and videos will be of higher quality.

For iPhone, the preferred app for making mobile payments in stores 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 my Clipper card for Bay Area Rapid Transit service.

The Justice Department's criticism of Apple Wallet focuses on how Apple only gives its app access 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 more Apple products is that they work perfectly together. A Mac laptop, for example, uses many of the same apps for messaging, note-taking and reminders as the iPhone, and data is synced between devices with Apple's iCloud. In theory, the more you invest in Apple's ecosystem (and the more Apple restricts how its products work 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 deep 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 text much on my iPad.

  • My AirPods Pro were fine: They connected quickly with the Pixel to play music. But the downside is that AirPods use Adaptive EQ, a technology that adjusts sound quality to the shape of your ear and only works with the iPhone's 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 my AirTags were in my pocket, the Android phone displayed an alert that an “unknown tracker” was moving with me, a safety feature to combat stalkers.

  • The Apple Watch requires an iPhone to set up, but its fitness tracking can work independently. Since I had already set up my watch, I could continue using it at the gym along with my Android phone. But I couldn't see my detailed training data anymore.

  • I ran into other annoyances that weren't specifically mentioned in the lawsuit and finally reached peak frustration when I tried to find a replacement for Apple Notes, which I use regularly on my Mac, iPad, and phone for work and personal errands. I used alternatives but didn't like them and combined with the aforementioned issues it was too much.

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

The upshot of this experiment is that while it's not technically difficult to switch to another phone, there are a lot of things that could make you regret it.


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