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Android in a Apple world?
April 20, 2014 12:51 AM   Subscribe

The ghost of Steve Jobs and I disagree on smart phone design. Can I make an Android phone work with all my existing Apple stuff? And if so, which Android phone should I get?

My house runs on Apple. Laptops, media centre and Apple TV, iphones, ipad...etc.

I have an old and busted iphone 4 that needs replacing. But I resent the small screens on the iphone 5s, and the inflated price. Also the lack of expandable memory. I would prefer a larger screen, and enough meory to carry my whole music library (64gb would be sufficient)

My question to you, dear MeFites; if I get an Android, can I make it work with my all my Appley stuff.

In particular:
- Can I make it work with itunes? How?
- Can I share a calendar with my lady friend, who will still be iphoning it (not a deal breaker though)?
- Will I be able to airplay to the Apple TV (nice to have, but also not a deal breaker)?
Would there be a replacement for imessage, which I use a lot?

Or should I just suck it up and buy an iphone 5s already?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
[Oh gods, so many typos. Forgive me.]
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:53 AM on April 20


No experience with Android, so can't speak to that side of it, but indications are that Apple are going to be releasing at least one larger screen phone this year. Would it be worth your while trying to get by until later in the year when the iPhone 6 is released?
posted by mewsic at 1:50 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


Check out Doubletwist for iTunes music syncing.
posted by Quilford at 2:21 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


You can use doubletwist to get back some iTunes compatibility. iPhone users can access Google calendar data, I think, but I don't think there's a safe way to do iMessage on Android without having your messages and username/password scanned by a third-party. I wouldn't do that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:25 AM on April 20


I switched from iPhone to Android (Samsung Galaxy S4) a little over a year ago. Still have my MacBook. The most frustrating thing has been the iTunes incompatibility, because of (I think) copyright law. I tried DoubleTwist, Kies, and loading things manually via USB drive, and I still only got about 70% of the songs, and it took about an hour to do so. Also no quick way to transfer photos to a Mac. Also very frustrating trying to upload voice memos / my personal sound recordings from Android to Mac. I had to do it via Google Drive and even then couldn't get them onto iTunes; they only played on the desktop, and you couldn't scrub ahead or back.

(But I could be missing something, 'cuz I'm kind of an old-fashioned techo-dolt.)
posted by Lettuce_Leaves at 3:19 AM on April 20


My iPhone was stolen and I bought... A Windows Phone.

Airplay is not available (although there is an analog, but not with the ATV), and iMessage is strictly Apple.

Mac syncing is really good (you can look up the Mac Windows Phone syncing app). It (as of this week) has native icloud account support (as well as Google, Exchange, IMAP, etc) for mail, contacts, and calendars. There are many powerful phones with many screen sizes and resolutions. Read a review on the OS (wp8.1), it performs well even on the lowest end hardware.

Right now the ONLY thing I'm missing vs my iPhone/iPad/Mac household is Photo Stream and my bank's app.

The hardware and software quality really feel better to me coming from all Apple than any Android (I looked at the nexus, the Moto, and the galaxy 4). No joke. I've become almost evangelical. Play with one. They're amazing.
posted by mhz at 4:38 AM on April 20


Yes you can.

- Can I make it work with itunes? How?
Variety of programs. Synctunes app comes to mind


- Can I share a calendar with my lady friend, who will still be iphoning it (not a deal breaker though)?
Yes. Google generates an ICS. No biggie to get this into iCalendar

- Will I be able to airplay to the Apple TV (nice to have, but also not a deal breaker)?
Yes. again a variety of apps. Airaudio comes to mind.


Would there be a replacement for imessage, which I use a lot?

Yes. Use WhatsApp. Your gf has to switch too but then you are free of device married messaging forever. Not an exact hook in replacement but WhatsApp is awesome.
posted by chasles at 5:18 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


If you want to fiddle with your phone and use jail-breaking and rooting software, the community is very Windows oriented. Many Android phones come with very crappy manufacture software (Samsung is known for this) which is better removed. I'd go with a Nexus or some other Android phone which is known to have decent firmware. It was unpleasant enough to do on a Windows machine.

Whatsapp is awesome.
posted by sockpuppetdirect at 5:42 AM on April 20


My experience is with using an Android tablet along with an iPhone and Windows and Mac computers. Everything should be ok if you switch, it just won't be as seamless as before - there will be a little friction setting everything up, and very occasionally something you want to do won't work.

- Can I share a calendar with my lady friend, who will still be iphoning it (not a deal breaker though)?

If you use Google calendar, you'll be fine. If you use iCloud to sync your calendar, there's an Android app called Smoothsync that works really well. Your gf can continue sharing as she always did.

- Will I be able to airplay to the Apple TV (nice to have, but also not a deal breaker)?
Yes. again a variety of apps. Airaudio comes to mind.


Just FYI, I think most of these apps require the phone to be rooted (not too difficult depending on phone model; was able to use my macbook pro to root my tablet). Not everything streams properly, but most things do.

- Can I make it work with itunes? How?

The iTunes thing is tricky. Most songs purchased in the iTunes store are DRM free, and you will be fine. But, if you have some older stuff, it might not be, and you'll have the same problem as Lettuce_Leaves. Music you bought elsewhere will work. What else do you use iTunes for? Do you watch iTunes-purchased videos on your phone? That probably won't work (perhaps there's an app for that now; I haven't investigated recently).
posted by bluefly at 7:46 AM on April 20


Seconding the above commenter that suggested holding out for the iPhone 6, which is going to come in 4.7 and 5.7-inch flavors. I think you'll find that a lot more tweaking and screwing around than you're used to is going to be needed to make one of the current Android phones meet your needs. Plus, if you go for one of the latest flagship Android models (which will be most similar to iPhone in terms of features and build quality), there is no purchase cost difference relative to the iPhone.

See here for some very well-informed renderings of the iPhone 6 based on leaked manufacturing documents.
posted by killdevil at 7:48 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


- Will I be able to airplay to the Apple TV (nice to have, but also not a deal breaker)?

Look into Chromecast. Works like a charm with the pretty much any HDMI TV and various devices and the most popular streaming services.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:57 AM on April 20


Or should I just suck it up and buy an iphone 5s already?

What's your time worth? Do you want to fiddle around with half measures that will probably never work as seamlessly with Apple products as what you're use to? Is that hypothetical larger screen, which may not appear later this yea,r and expandable library truly that important to you?

Whatever the answer is, that's fine. But I was in a similar boat as you, 40 gig music collection and iPhones were only 32gigs at the time. I stayed with Apple, because of the various little touches mean a lot, compared to having all my music in my pocket. I'm happy with that choice and pretty certain I'd be hating jumping through hoops to get half ass iTunes functionality. But that's me.

You know yourself best and it's all going to come done to little touches. Both Android and Apple are fine systems, but which one will you be happy with on a day to day basis?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:04 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


The problem with the Nexus suggestion is that they only go up to 32GB of internal memory and have no SD card slot.

If the DRM is bothering you, you can use Soulseek or whatever to download the problematic tracks again.
posted by K.P. at 2:31 PM on April 20


I recently made this same conversion -- after owning almost every iPhone since the first one I cracked a screen for the very first time and had to replace my 5. As a general tech fan, I've kept tabs on Android since its release, and generally found it to be sadly lacking as a mobile OS. Within the past year or two, however, for the first time Android seemed to me to have finally gotten to the point where I wouldn't hate it as a mobile OS.

That, combined with the general advantageous pricing and larger screen sizes available, plus a techy desire to try something new, convinced me to depart iPhone land. Finding a phone I actually liked was hard, though. One of my demands was that whatever I found have at least close to the quality fit and finish of an iPhone. Sadly, most Android phones, regardless of the price, feel like cheap plastic shit in the hand, which just would not make me happy. The two I found that were readily available that did not were the Sony Xperia Z1 and the HTC One M7. Both of these have now been superseded by new models -- the Z2 and M8, respectively.

Those phones both feel really nice in the hand, look like quality, and come with expandable storage. That right there, by the way, is something you should beware of. Android fans spent years scoffing at iPhones for their lack of expandable storage and easily replacable batteries. However, surveying the Android market now, one finds things much the same: very few phones have one or the other, and almost none have both. On the one hand, Android industrial design has finally caught up with Apple and they're realizing the same thing that Apple did years ago -- you can't have a super-thin device packed with technology and make it easy to fit and replace the battery. You either get thin and monolithic, or the chunky bricks that the original Android phones were. And, on the other hand, Google is trying very strongly to push everyone towards cloud services, and de-emphasizing the need for expandable storage on their own devices, and many manufacturers are following. So, amusingly, just as Android's OS is reaching the polish of iOS, the hardware fringe benefits that early adapters bragged about are going away.

Anyway, that's a digression. Both those phones are very nice, but you may find others that meet your requirements. Just beware that if you insist on expandable storage, you will limit your options heavily, and do not assume that an Android phone will have it unless it explicitly says so.

As far as integrating with your past iOS life, it's not too hard. I second the use of DoubleTwist with AirSync for synchronization with iTunes. It will do a bidectional sync of movies, music, and pictures if you want it to -- I just use it for music -- and will even update play counts in iTunes. For this last, though, you need to use DoubleTwist as a player; I don't, there are better options.

Integrating with your calendar and address book is easy with two bits of software: CalDAV-Sync and CardDAV-Sync. These will connect your iCloud calendar and contacts (or any other standard CalDAV or CardDAV data sources) to your device as first-class citizens. I can make appointments on my Android phone and see them on my MacBook without any trouble.

Playing with your AppleTV I wouldn't know about, as I don't own one -- I'm a Roku guy. It sounds like you got a good answer above, though. And yes, you'll lose iMessage, unfortunately. Almost everyone I know has an unlimited texting plan now, so I don't mind; when I go overseas for work on occasion I can use a third-party messaging app.

Anyway... that addresses most of your questions. As a huge iPhone fan who's recently switched, I definitely think it's something you should consider. Compared to iOS, Android still has some warts and rough spots -- there is much less consistency in UI, less centralization of things like notifications and device options, etc -- but it also has a lot of flexibility that I'm enjoying. It's nice being able to do things like replace your default web browser, camera, SMS app, etc... as long as you don't mind some of them still being butt-ugly. :) There's a lot more attractive software than there used to be, though. At any rate, speaking as a long-term user of iOS, I certainly wouldn't dissuade you from a switch. I've been happy with mine.
posted by jammer at 5:42 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


Android fans spent years scoffing at iPhones for their lack of expandable storage and easily replacable batteries. However, surveying the Android market now, one finds things much the same: very few phones have one or the other, and almost none have both.

I finally retired my iPhone 4 a week ago for the Samsung Galaxy S5, which has both expandable storage (up to 128Gb SD card) and an easily removable battery. It's not metal, but the build quality is fine (you can get a metal case if you really want one), and there's no bloatware. Touchwiz has come along way since the S4. Fits in my pocket better than my old iPhone since it's much thinner despite the bigger screen. The HTC One M8 is also a really nice phone, just with a somewhat inferior camera.

I didn't have any problems replacing any of the apps I used on my iPhone, though I haven't looked into a player compatible with iTunes. Copying your non-DRM laden music onto an SD card through an SD card reader, USB, or wifi and using it with any of the plethora of music players should work just fine.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 4:43 PM on April 22


Thanks, guys.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:31 PM on May 20


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