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Phones with Friends
March 19, 2012 12:41 PM   Subscribe

What are the advantages of owning the same brand of smartphone as your friends? Or to ask the same question another way: if all my friends have iPhones, what will I miss out on by getting an Android?

1. I'm assuming I'll have to pay for text messages instead of free options like Apple's imessage?
2. Will we able to play games together? Words with Friends, Draw Something, etc.
3. Other stuff I'm not thinking of
posted by 2bucksplus to Technology (48 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sharing chargers when you're at a friend's house and your battery dies.
posted by radioamy at 12:42 PM on March 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


Facetime.
posted by empath at 12:45 PM on March 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


2. Will we able to play games together? Words with Friends, Draw Something, etc.

I'm sure it depends greatly on the game itself, but I know I have played those particular games against friends with a differing smartphone operating system.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:47 PM on March 19, 2012


So far, Apple's iOS doesn't have turn-by-turn spoken GPS baked in yet. There are apps available that provide that function--Waze, for example. GPS was the only good thing about my old Android phone.
posted by emelenjr at 12:49 PM on March 19, 2012


1. Yes, but there are third-party apps that let you message for free and work on both operating systems. (I use WhatsApp and it works perfectly.)

2. In most cases I think the answer is no, but some games do allow cross-platform play.

3. You won't be able to use Facetime if they have iPhones and you don't. Facetime isn't THAT spectacular, though, so you won't be missing out unless you really want to do some video calling.
posted by anaximander at 12:50 PM on March 19, 2012


The chargers are all on a standard now. They're interchangeable between manufacturers.

Most of what you want is on both iphone and android. Anything big that isn't will get there if there's a big push in public demand. Anything else that isn't will likely have a reasonable replacement on the other platform.

Everyone should use the platform that they're most comfortable with, and not settle for something different because of a fear of non-compatibility.

For the record, all the big social games are coming out for both platforms nowadays, anyway. (e.g. Draw Something.)
posted by Citrus at 12:50 PM on March 19, 2012


Citrus: "The chargers are all on a standard now. They're interchangeable between manufacturers."

This is false. iPhones use proprietary iPhone chargers. Most android phones use micro-USB. As do blackberries I believe. And Kindles.
posted by Grither at 12:52 PM on March 19, 2012 [15 favorites]


You could be left out of the fun when someone says "CHECK OUT THIS COOL APP!" or is wondering how to do X on their iPhone.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:52 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The chargers are all on a standard now. They're interchangeable between manufacturers.

iPhones still use a 30-pin connector that no Android device does. Arguably you could say "cable" instead of "charger" but the point remains valid.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:53 PM on March 19, 2012


Sharing chargers when you're at a friend's house and your battery dies.

If you're going from a feature phone to a smart phone for the first time, don't underestimate the usefulness of this. My old Samsung flip phone worked for about three days on a single charge. Smartphones, on a general basis, need to be charged every day, and if you're heavily using them, sometimes they crap out before nightfall. If it sees moderate-to-heavy usage, my iPhone craps out at around 1 AM from a full charge at 8 AM. Considering how many people you know that have an Apple device, that's a lot less worrying about conserving phone charge.

The chargers are all on a standard now. They're interchangeable between manufacturers.

...except Apple. So if everyone you know has an iPhone, the chances are slim that they'd have the correct sort of USB cable on another device in their home.
posted by griphus at 12:54 PM on March 19, 2012


Serious answer: Due to the shape of the "thought balloon" on the iPhone messaging system, it is possible to make a whale using two periods, some underscores and some carriage returns. My kids would be very sad if dad could no longer send them Babby Whale.
posted by jbickers at 12:54 PM on March 19, 2012 [25 favorites]


I don't know what Citrus is talking about, the iPhone charger is still that giant dock connector from ~10 years ago. You can buy an "adapter" that'll let you plug a micro usb charger into it, but this is essentially no more convenient than just having the regular iPhone charger.

That being said, I recently attempted to switch from an iPhone 4S to the Galaxy Nexus (flagship Android ICS phone), so I was thinking about these exact issues. Conclusions:

Missing iMessage: This sucks, no doubt about it. Texting is slow, requires a signal (as opposed to just wifi) and costs more money. But it's not a definite deal breaker unless you have a girlfriend who expects instantaneous responses to texts, it just sucks.

Cross-platform games: The big ones "work", like words with friends. But without exception these apps are more poorly developed on android, and just suck more to use than their iPhone counterparts.

Chargers: WOW DID I NOT THINK ENOUGH ABOUT THIS. The iPhone charger is EVERYWHERE. Quite possibly everyone I know has an iphone charger at their place, whether they own an iPhone or not. Could be for their iPod or their iPad, same charger. Or maybe it'[s just the usb cable. Either way, never had a problem getting a charge when out. On android, despite the fact that they all use the same charger as well, there were several instances where the place I went did not have a free charging cable. This was kind of awful. I know this doesn't sound like a big deal, but the first time you realize your phone is dead and your idiot friend doesn't have the charger you need, you'll hate your phone. Not rational, but true.

New app releases: This one made me sad, really. People would be all like "check out this cool new app that came out! get it!" "No, I have android : (" I mean really, the apps basically all sucked, but I felt left out, and you probably will to.
posted by Patbon at 12:58 PM on March 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


As an Android user, "check out this cool app" from an iphone user often results in it not being available for my OS.
Which is not to say there isn't usually an equivalent, but a surprising number of apps are either iphone only or iphone first.

If you're the kind of group that is often sharing things like that, I'd go with whichever is most prevalent in your social circle.
If you're mainly sticking to popular online games or just the major apps, then it doesn't really matter much.
posted by madajb at 1:00 PM on March 19, 2012


1) iMessage is great, and works seamlessly. I've cut down on texts by ~70% since iMessage went live with iOS 5. Conversely, any "cross platform" messaging app, save maybe Facebook, that you have to have your friends install is going to be a nonstarter.

2) Yes, the big social games (WwF, Draw Something) are on both platforms, but owning both an iPhone and an Android tab has shown me how ridiculously deeper the iOS app store selection is over android, especially in games.
posted by Oktober at 1:01 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh and because it was brought up above, my conclusions of switching and losing facetime: COULDN'T MATTER LESS. No real human beings use this service.


And overall, just so you know, I ended up getting rid of my Galaxy Nexus after several months. Android just kind of sucks. I imagine my 14 year-old-self would have LOVED the endless customizing you can do with Android and not really cared that it virtually never worked as well as iOS, but my 14 year old self also thought Linux was a viable alternative to Windows or Mac for everyone.
posted by Patbon at 1:03 PM on March 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


3) Updates: The 3 year old iPhone 3GS has been updated to the current version of iOS, whereas there are loads of people that that bought android phones last year that will never, ever be updated to Ice Cream Sandwich.
posted by Oktober at 1:10 PM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh! Also, unless you're jailbreaking it, only two networks -- Verizon and AT&T -- support iPhones right now. I'm not sure if either have free (as in, no minutes used up) network-to-network calls, but if they do, there's a good chance calling your iPhone friends will cost you nothing.
posted by griphus at 1:11 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


You'll miss iCloud, ad-free Apps, iMessage, and FaceTime. You'll also be pushed, more or less, into the Google ecology for mail and calendaring, in order to get full Android integration. Unless you're technologically inclined and willing to crack your phone, you'll also be locked into whatever version of Android you get with the phone, while you'll at least get two (usually three) free OS upgrades with iOS, and all the features that go with that, which you'll be able to use with friends.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:13 PM on March 19, 2012


griphus, you forgot Poland Sprint
posted by emelenjr at 1:15 PM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh and because it was brought up above, my conclusions of switching and losing facetime: COULDN'T MATTER LESS. No real human beings use this service.

My friends and family use Facetime to amuse ourselves. If someone is outside in the car and can pick up the WiFi signal, it's not uncommon to Facetime instead of beeping the horn.

There are two or 3 people with Droids though and they don't give shit about not having an iPhone and look down their nose at the rest of us.

Also, unless you're jailbreaking it, only two networks -- Verizon and AT&T -- support iPhones right now.

You're hurting Sprint's feelings!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:16 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Number one answer: iTunes. I've found some apps for my Android that allow me to import itunes music, but they are inefficient and often don't work well. Also, I can download podcasts, but I had to find a separate app for that (Doggcatcher is great. You have to pay for it, but it is worth it).

On another note, I'm a designer of sorts, and the iphone is just... prettier to me. Aesthetics are important. I plan to switch to iphone for this reason when my plan is up.
posted by MsMartian at 1:17 PM on March 19, 2012


griphus, you forgot Poland Sprint

You're hurting Sprint's feelings!

Oh, I had no idea Spring had the iPhone. However, I assume the OP also wants things like "connectivity" and "coverage."
posted by griphus at 1:20 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is turning into an iPhone v everything else thread.

The "No ICS upgrade" is mostly a hardware limitation of older phones, since Android devices have variable hardware from various manufacturers. If you are an Android certified device, you get two MAJOR upgrades for free (just like iOS). Whereas all iPhones look like they are from 2005.

iMessage is cool? Gtalk is just as cool -- and is platform independent. You can add your AIM/ICQ/Google/(any XMPP) buddies to your list.

Facetime? Gtalk has it built in.

iCloud? How is Google calendar/gmail/contacts/etc --- how is that any different? It isn't. Just doesn't have the iCloud name.

Charger? You can buy a micro usb cable at any Walgreens, Walmart, gas station in North America. That isn't true for iPhone cables. If you don't have a cable, it is easy to find one.

As for the apps and losing out on the 'hip factor' of getting the latest app, perhaps that is true, but that never appealed to me.
posted by LeanGreen at 1:22 PM on March 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


Texting is slow, requires a signal (as opposed to just wifi) and costs more money.

You can text all you want for free (and on wifi) if you use Google Voice, of course you either would have to get a new GV number or port your number to GV.

If you do get an Android phone, I can't recommend Google Voice enough. The integration is great and you never have to worry about number porting again, and there is no longer any reason to pay for text messaging on your phone (and GV does regular texts from its end, so its compatible with any phone, even non-smartphones).
posted by wildcrdj at 1:24 PM on March 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Gtalk is just as cool -- and is platform independent.

The only problem here is that anyone you wish to speak to needs to have and be actively running into to an app that's talking to the gChat server. iMessage, on the other hand, is integrated into the iOS text message app and automatically chooses whether to send an SMS or an iMessage message. If "everyone" the OP knows is running iOS, asking them all to install a chat app -- I haven't seen any native support for gChat in iOS yet -- seems like a lost cause.
posted by griphus at 1:25 PM on March 19, 2012


Unless you're technologically inclined and willing to crack your phone, you'll also be locked into whatever version of Android you get with the phone, while you'll at least get two (usually three) free OS upgrades with iOS

It's more dependent on the carriers and the manufacturers, but this isn't true. Every Android device we've owned has been updated through a major version at least once, one several times. Some manufacturers are better than others though.
posted by bonehead at 1:27 PM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


...wait, never mind, I got GTalk and GChat confused. CARRY ON.
posted by griphus at 1:27 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


As far as the "No ICS upgrade" goes, it's not a hardware limitation in the sense that, say, the Samsung Galaxy can't run it, it's that every vendor has to do a substantial amount of integration to get Android running on their hardware with all of the various vendor-specific widgets intact, and frankly, the vendors don't give a crap about updating your phone once you've bought it. Unlike Amazon or Apple who stand to continue making money off of you for the life of your device, once you've bought you phone, Motorola or Samsung or Sony doesn't see a penny of the money you spend on Google Marketplace or Google Music or whatever.
posted by Oktober at 1:31 PM on March 19, 2012


the vendors don't give a crap about updating your phone once you've bought it

The problem is that this is the true with pretty much all the hardware vendors out there, and so you're almost certainly going to be locked in with an already-obsolete version of Android, regardless of who you go with. The lock-in situation is particularly bad with Motorola and Samsung, so unless you want to be a system administrator for your phone, as opposed to just using all the features you paid for and having a good time with friends, that's more or less the basic deal as it stands today.

On the other hand, to answer your question, you might have friends who like that kind of work and so you might have a group that will help with that, but it might depend on your situation.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:44 PM on March 19, 2012


In the event that all of your friends have Blackberries, the BB Messenger app has replaced pretty much all of my SMS traffic. Do not laugh at me, my children do that enough already.
posted by cgk at 1:50 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh and because it was brought up above, my conclusions of switching and losing facetime: COULDN'T MATTER LESS. No real human beings use this service.

I have a 3 month old baby and distant relatives. FaceTime gets used multiple times weekly at my house. I don't see its use diminishing much in the near future as he grows and learns who his grandparents are.

Facetime? Gtalk has it built in.

Re-read the OP's question. If all of the other friends are on iPhones, do you think they will be bothered to use Gtalk?

Charger? You can buy a micro usb cable at any Walgreens, Walmart, gas station in North America. That isn't true for iPhone cables. If you don't have a cable, it is easy to find one.

You're saying that one can't buy an iPod charging cable at any Walgreens, WalMart, or gas station in North America? Really?
posted by Fleebnork at 2:09 PM on March 19, 2012


unless you want to be a system administrator for your phone, as opposed to just using all the features you paid for and having a good time with friends

I understand this thread is about opinions, but this is factually not what having an Android phone is like. You can, shockingly enough, use an Android phone and all the features you paid for, without being a "system administrator for your phone". Is it possible a newer version of Android OS could come out, and not deployed to your phone? Sure. Just like people with a 3G iPhone.
posted by inigo2 at 2:10 PM on March 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Jesus Christ, it's just a fucking micro-USB cable.

Yes, you can get them for 65 cents or less at Monoprice. Buy a bunch, distribute them like candy—I have one in each room of my home, one in my girlfriend's car, one at work, and one in my go bag for quick traveling so I don't even have to disturb the other ones. Total cost: $3.72. I'm amazed that this is supposed to be some sort of issue.
posted by grouse at 2:12 PM on March 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


Find My Friends.

Google has Latitude, but in my 18 months of being stuck with an android phone I've used it exactly never.
posted by mullingitover at 2:21 PM on March 19, 2012


I love iMessage, so the more family members that have iPhones the better.

3. You won't be able to use Facetime if they have iPhones and you don't. Facetime isn't THAT spectacular, though, so you won't be missing out unless you really want to do some video calling.
posted by anaximander


Well, that depends on the need. For just normal joe user making the average call it's not needed. There are many situations, especially where distance is involved, where FaceTime is pretty awesome.

The "No ICS upgrade" is mostly a hardware limitation of older phones, since Android devices have variable hardware from various manufacturers. If you are an Android certified device, you get two MAJOR upgrades for free (just like iOS). Whereas all iPhones look like they are from 2005

No, it isn't. It's a carrier issue. It's obvious you're a big android fan (gtalk?), but framing the issue as you have is disingenuous, and hides a real problem.
posted by justgary at 2:36 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I did start off by saying this is veering off the OP's question and turning into iPhone versus everything else.

I guess I did make it sound like you couldn't find iPhone power adapters, but I really meant to focus on the cost of replacement. My babysitter lost her iPhone charger and showed up with a dead phone, I had to go out and buy her a new adapter/cable so I could reach her at all times (when she had my baby that day). It set me back $25 or something absurd... when a micro-usb at the incredible marked up Shack would cost me $8.

There is something on Android for everything on iPhone -- and vice versa. IMHO, it boils down to hardware and there are some very nice Android devices for the same money on an old looking smaller iPhone.

I really don't like being .10 and .05'ed into oblivion and that is the reason I don't venture into the iPhone world. I like my swipe keypad, sync'ed contacts, all the google apps and a nice looking ICS phone application. I really don't need a bubble wrap popper game or flinging birds into pigs.

As for what you miss out on, it is not being able to log into the Apple apps and you miss out on the "ZOMG YOU NEED THIS APP" feeling.. but hey, maybe you will find it on the Android Play store?
posted by LeanGreen at 2:36 PM on March 19, 2012


I have a Galaxy Nexus. I haven't customized anything or installed any apps, since I don't really care. It works just fine the way it is.

The one thing I have missed out on that my friends with iPhones all do is some kind of group messaging thing. I'll get these MMSes that are addressed to a bunch of people. If one of the iPhone users responds to one of these messages, their reply will go to the whole group, but if I reply, it only goes to the person who sent that message. Like a mailing list but for text messages. It'd be nice if I could participate in that, but not so nice that I care enough to switch phones.
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:46 PM on March 19, 2012


1. I'm assuming I'll have to pay for text messages instead of free options like Apple's imessage?

You could use Google Voice (or Text4Free or a few others) and your iPhone using friends could just send normal texts your way and on your end at least it would be free (not necessarily their end, unless they are also using Google Voice). Whatsapp and other like it are OK, but I don't like the idea of telling everyone that they need to use this particular app just to message me for free. Facebook is probably the most wide-spread messaging agent around if you are ok with them.

And, don't forget, there is good old-fasion email. With Push notifications it seems that biggest problem with email is that pesky feature of a subject line.

iMessage is OK. I like it and like how it is seamlessly integrated into the messaging app for iPhone. But there is nothing ground shattering about it.

2. Will we able to play games together? Words with Friends, Draw Something, etc.

Some games (like the ones you have listed I think do). If you are interested in particular games, I suggest searching Google for them. If you are very interested in playing multiplayer games on your mobile device with your friends who all own iPhones, I recommend you get an iPhone simply because of Gamecenter.

3. Facetime. Its actually really really good.
posted by nickerbocker at 2:53 PM on March 19, 2012


I recently switched from an Iphone4 to the Nexus. I was extremely peeved when I found out that I couldn't switch providers because the iphone was locked. Don't have that problem with the pentaband nexus.

If your friend all have an iphone, I suggest you get one too. Really, I don't think there is a vast difference with regards to apps/ease of use between them. It will be something you all can talk about (a new cool app, etc).
posted by drug_dealer73 at 2:54 PM on March 19, 2012


My friends and boyfriend all have iphones, I have an android. I can't think of a single issue this has caused.
posted by Wantok at 3:32 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The "No ICS upgrade" is mostly a hardware limitation of older phones, since Android devices have variable hardware from various manufacturers. If you are an Android certified device, you get two MAJOR upgrades for free (just like iOS).

This is not guaranteed to be true. I bought a Droid 3 last fall (physical keyboard FTW!) and as yet there is no upgrade scheduled for ICS. Nor will Motorola even confirm that my phone will ever get ICS.
posted by asterix at 4:48 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


It used to be that everyone at work, friends, etc. seemed to be getting iPhones. But lately it seems like everyone I know is switching to Android—one of my best friends sold me on it last year, and now my husband and I have droids, as do many of my friends at work, and my officemate is probably going to switch soon. Would it be nice to be able to use some of the fancy new apps everyone's been talking about at SXSW? Sure, but I'm not worried about it.

In the meantime, I can play Pocket Frogs and Words Free and Tap Fish and Angry Birds just fine, and Square up with coworkers after lunch, and read/look things up (with my own extensive set of search shortcuts) in Firefox, and save bookmarks on Pinboard and music I play (via Poweramp) to Last.fm, and Shazam and SoundHound songs I hear, and watch stuff on Netflix and listen to Pandora, and tweet with Seesmic, and chat through Gchat (superfast with Swype), and see my calendar and the weather at a glance, and get all my voicemails transcribed with Google Voice, and navigate with Google Maps, and take amazing pictures that all my friends with iPhones instantly envy. My HTC Droid Incredible 2 is almost exactly the size of my coworkers' iPhones, and definitely faster, and I wouldn't switch for the world. The charger thing? Yeah, there are micro-USB chargers everywhere, including in households with no smartphones at all, and it's so cheap to get replacements. (A lovely thing: Buying a cheap 9-foot USB cable so I can charge my phone and still use it while sitting on the couch or lying in bed.) Re: texts, text-message plans are cheap, and there are lots of easy Android solutions if you don't want to spend the money.
posted by limeonaire at 4:58 PM on March 19, 2012


I've been an Android user since it came out and the only real issue that I've found is a tiny one: Instagram (super-popular social photo app) is not yet available for Android. There's a somewhat similar app called Retro Camera, but without the social aspect. This is not a big deal, but is the only thing I can think of as "lacking".

Not having Facetime has been a non-issue for me. I use Skype instead and most people I know have a Skype account and iPhones have a Skype app.

I also regularly receive Android OS upgrades, so that's also been a non-issue for me. YMMV according to your carrier/device.

My two favorite Android things that I use a lot: Swype and Google Voice (super cheap international calling). I think Apple finally let Google Voice into their app store, but I don't think they have Swype yet.
posted by quince at 5:06 PM on March 19, 2012


One thing that is probably not a concern for you, but who knows: Google Voice works for shit on iOS. I actually started using it because of the free texting, and I ended up switching to Android because it just does not work reliably on iOS (this was before iMessage). It works very well on Android, unsurprisingly, but I would not say my Android experience has been one of unalloyed joy.
posted by adamdschneider at 5:16 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


In your case, if "all of your friends have iPhones", I'd... get an iPhone. You get iMessage and Facetime, app recommendations, and any games you want to play will just work. You'll have zero luck getting them to all sign into gtalk or anything else, so why fight it?
posted by Oktober at 6:33 PM on March 19, 2012


I guess one thing I'd add -- unless you're friends with people who are evangelical about their technology allegiances (and there are plenty in this thread, on both sides), I truly believe it's not that big a choice. A good number of my non-tech obsessive friends that started with android switched to iphone, and vice versa. The grass will always be greener and all that.
posted by inigo2 at 5:02 AM on March 20, 2012


iMessage is nice, but the cost savings may be underwhelming if you are on AT&T. AT&T has gotten rid of all texting plans except the $20 unlimited, and pay-per-text is $0.20 each. So if you send more than 100 texts to non-iPhone users each month (which is very easy to do unless ALL your friends are on iPhones), the free iMessage doesn't end up saving you anything.
posted by smackfu at 6:43 AM on March 20, 2012


OK, yeah, I did get the charger thing wrong. That said, I like the idea that non-iphone chargers are that much smaller, which means it's easy to just always have one around or on your person.

The biggest issue for me right now is that the current iphone 4S doesn't have a 4G antenna. People will tell you that it's a battery drain, but once you start seeing things happen on your phone faster than they do on your hardwired home network, you'll never want to go back.

I suspect that the next big iphone release will have 4G, and then the offerings become a lot more even for everyone.

Last thought: It's not exactly super-pricey to get a plan that give you unlimited texting. And SMS is a universally recognized and supported standard. Things like iMessage and BBM only give you a headache when it comes time to decide on what your next phone should be.
posted by Citrus at 9:48 AM on March 26, 2012


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