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7 Android tricks that put the iPhone to shame


Android phones can do a lot that iPhones can't.

Sarah Tew / CNET

The debate between Android and iPhone fans about which platform is better, is one that I never see ending. Both sides of the argument have their share of discussion points ranging from security and encryption for iPhone users to customization and Google Assistant skills on the Android side. And for the most part they are all valid arguments.

At the moment, I want to emphasize some of the strengths of Android that the iPhone does not yet have, from being able to set up standard apps and using more than one app at a time, to be able to fully customize the look of your phone.

These are my favorite things that your Android phone can do that people with iPhones can only dream of.

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

The ability to set Gmail as the default email app on an iPhone is something iOS users have Apple asked to add for years. Although Apple has added the option to remove its own apps from iOS, you still cannot set a default app. It is really tragic.

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Finding the default app setting can be a bit of a dig, but at least it's there.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

For example, with Android you can set Firefox or Opera as your default browser or set Google & Messages app as your preferred texting app to take advantage of RCS, the recently released chat feature from Google that looks a lot like Apple seems iMessage .

Android users have of course been able to set standard apps from the start. It is not difficult to see which apps are labeled as standard and, if you want, to change that standard app. Start by opening the app Settings and go to Apps and notifications > Standard apps .

Google Assistant is always there for you.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Google Assistant for Victory

iPhone users have Siri, but Android gives you Google Assistant. Google & # 39; s sidekick for digital speech is a much more sophisticated tool than Apple's Siri for a number of reasons, but most importantly it builds on Google's impressive database.

Google Assistant has a proven ability to understand common requests for companies and names, and it gets requests more often than not. It also returns high-quality answers from Google Search, a tool that Siri has no access to.

Google Assistant also integrates tightly with the other functions of the phone, telling you when it's time to leave for your next meeting, and bothering you that traffic is extra heavy on the way home. If you have smart Google Home or Nest Home speakers or other compatible devices, you can also use Assistant on your phone to control things around your house, such as lights, sockets, or your thermostat – even from a distance.

And it is built directly on your Android device. "OK, Google" and "Hey, Google" are the two watchwords. 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 is not built in and it is not the standard 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 the same time via split screen mode

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

Using two apps is useful if you are trying to find the phone number of a contact to send to someone on Facebook Messenger, or if you need to refer to information in a document when composing an email. It is unclear why Apple has not yet added this feature to the iPhone, but perhaps it has something to do with the size of windows on the smaller screen of the iPhone compared to the iPad ($ 325 at Walmart) .

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

You can adjust the size of each app by dragging the small lever between the two apps to pull out expand or decrease how much space an app takes up on the split screen.

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

Sarah Tew / CNET

Customize your home screen the way you want it

Apple & # 39; s approach to the home screen is to place all installed apps in a star 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 does not follow a grid layout, so you can place apps wherever you want. With both platforms you can create folders with groups of apps.

The advantage of the approach to Android is that you can fully customize the home screen by arranging app icons in a random pattern and Android supports widgets of different sizes. At the moment, the Today view of Apple is the only place where you can find a widget.

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The way the home screen of your Android phone looks is because of the launcher. But you are not tied to what is pre-installed.

Óscar Gutiérrez / CNET

You can use launchers to fully customize your phone

Launchers are the epitome of Android customization. With these apps you can completely change the way you interact with the home screen, the app drawer and even the app icons on your phone. With the help of a start-up program on your Android phone you can adjust almost every aspect of how your phone looks and behaves, making your phone even more personal than it already is.

Launchers such as Nova Launcher, Microsoft & Launcher, Apex Launcher or Action Launcher all add their own twists and functions to your Android phone. Another popular Android launcher, Evie, for example, emphasizes the use of a search bar to quickly find and open apps or anything else on your Android phone. It is minimalism at its best.

I recommend taking the time to investigate the different launchers, try out a few and adjust the look of your phone. Be warned: the deeper you dive into the world of launchers, the more time and energy you will spend on adjusting your setup.

It's hard to imagine a world where Apple makes something like that happen for the iPhone.

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The Wallpapers app is a must for every Android user.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Never be bored again with automatically changing backgrounds

When taking the time to find a startup program and adjust it when a lot of work feels like, but there is another way to keep your Android phone constantly feeling fresh, and it's something else that your iPhone friends can't – use the Google Wallpapers app.

The Wallpapers app refreshes the background on your home screen and the lock screen daily, without you having to do anything.

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

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

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Watch a video and text at the same time

If you've ever started navigating Google Maps just to leave the app and reply to a text message, you've certainly seen a small Google Maps window remain visible in a corner of the screen. With the release of Android Oreo in 2017, Android has received a system-wide picture-in-picture mode for more than just video apps.

In addition to Google Maps and video apps, you can also use picture-in-picture calling for video with supported apps. My favorite use of picture-in-picture is to start streaming a YouTube video and then exit the app to browse Reddit or reply to a text message or email while the YouTube video is in continues to play a corner of the screen. If I want to go back to watching the video in full screen, I just tap the small thumbnail to maximize it.

iPhones do not have any picture-in-picture mode. What you see on the screen is what you get, and nothing more.

If you are ready to switch to Android or want to get more from the Android phone that you already have, check out our list of the best Android phones of 2020 . If Android is new to you, make sure that you immediately change these settings . Then we have some useful tips to help get started with Android 10 .

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