There are two types of people in this world: iPhone and Android. For years, the iPhone's been hailed as the mobile leviathan that revolutionized the industry. However, Google’s done the same with its open-platform OS, serving as a developer sandbox that’s paved the way for more advanced features on our handsets—many of which appeal to the hardcore pride of Android fans and spark the curiosity of others.
Despite some benefits of going the iOS route, Google’s smartphones and tablets continue to show why they’re ahead of the tech curve, boasting special powers that remain MIA on iOS devices. Here are several Android features that have Apple groupies feeling a little green with envy, at least till the next iPhone drops.
1. Power Saving Mode
The biggest complaint about the iPhone (or any smartphone at that) is the battery life. Motorola and Samsung seem to have cracked the vitality code with their Google-operated handsets, offering unique power-saving modes that squeeze every ounce of juice to keep it powered longer.
Enabling the Ultra Power Saving Mode on Samsung’s current phones will convert the interface into a grayscale theme that eliminates bright colors and disables all other non-essential features at your discretion.
2. Wireless charging
This isn’t anything new on the mobile spectrum. The only difference is iPhone users are required to purchase cases to enable wireless changing, while the latest crop of Android smartphones has the function built into the device. Since the Galaxy S6 supports both wireless-charging formats, it can be charged case- and cable-free.
3. Android profiles
It sucks sharing your iPad with others, especially when your weird roommate is leaving filthy stuff open in Safari. If you have an Android tablet, you can have separate profiles, giving each person a separate account in the OS with its own custom apps and settings. Rumor has it we can expect to see it on select Android phones later this year.
4. Download accelerator
When it comes to mobile, we all yearn for a solution to download large files at faster speeds. The technology exists and Samsung seems to be the only one taking advantage of it with the Galaxy-exclusive Download Booster feature. But since it combines wi-fi with your data connection, you'll want to be sure you have a solid data plan.
5. Charge with ANY micro-USB cable
Some believe Apple hoodwinked the i-community by introducing the Lightning connector. They’re right. The charging cable only works on current iPhone and iPad models. With Android phones, all you need is a micro USB cord to get some juice. Any one will do.
6. Dual-SIM card support
Frequent fliers are constantly tapping into their data plans to communicate overseas, and Apple isn’t in the business of creating dual-SIM smartphones. Many Android handsets have this capability, allowing one phone to be on two different plans. Anyone with an Android 5.1 handset can use the new dialer app to switch between SIMs and change the color of the interface to indicate which card is in use.
7. Customize widget setups
iOS supports widgets, but only inside the notifications panel. Adding more insult to injury, there is no way to move these around or place them on the home screen. Android is all about embedding these shortcut controls anywhere, on both the home and lock screens.
8. Split-screen multitasking
The one feature many Apple fanboys want most is a multi-window function similar to what’s found on the Galaxy phones. Continue holding your breath. LG and Samsung’s current offerings carry the feature—making it possible to run different programs on separate windows, and resize and shift them around the screen.
9. More security options
Both platforms have fingerprint scanning, PIN numbers, screen-swiping, and trace patterns as security protocols. Nothing we haven’t already experienced at this point. But what about a knock code? LG managed to program such a feature in its flagship devices, which requires users to tap a unique pattern on the touchscreen in order to unlock their phone. The Super Mario theme sounds pretty good right about now.
10. Infinitely expandable storage
The iPhone will never have a microSD card slot, mainly because it poses a huge threat for iCloud. Though the new Samsung Galaxy S6 ditched this expandable storage, most of Google’s hardware partners recognize the value of data and made it a fixture on their devices that frees users from cloud storage services and lets them add extra memory. A 128GB card sounds far more enticing than 5GB of free iCloud space.
11. Change default apps
Apple has this bad habit of forcing its apps on users—so much in fact that they won’t let you delete them for the sake of freeing up space. In most cases, you need to jailbreak the handset to accomplish this. Google makes it easier to remove all the annoying bloatware pre-installed on a device with a little help from the Google Play store. Downloading the Default App Manager Lite app is a good start.
12. Built-in heart rate monitoring
The iPhone can track heart rate through the use of certain health apps. Well, Samsung’s upped the ante and stuffed a monitor inside its next-gen smartphones—one that measures the speed of heartbeats more accurately than anything found in the App Store. Gimmicky as hell, but it works.
13. Tap-to-share photos
It took years for Apple to jump on the Near Field Communication bandwagon. Granted, the company’s using the technology for Apple Pay, but that’s mostly it. NFC is practically a standard on all Android phones these days and offers one special attribute that is MIA on the latest iPhone: tap-to-share functionality. This opens the lane to exchange photos with others by simply tapping both phones together.
14. Receive the latest Google Maps updates, quicker
Most iPhone users depend on Google Maps to be their travel guide since Apple Maps is terrible. But every time Google rolls out its latest software updates, Androidphiles get first dibs on the service’s newest features such as batching upload photos and speaking or typing phrases to check upcoming events. There’s advantage being in the Google Club.
15. Supports more mobile payment systems
Apple Pay is cool, but there’s just one major problem with it…the mobile payment system only works at NFC-enabled terminals. Some of Android’s compatible services like Samsung Pay lets users complete purchases at any store with a credit card reader, which is practically every shopping establishment in the world. You do the math.
16. Removable batteries
iPhones are designed to die fast. And even with a portable charger on hand, we still find the better option to be swapping out the battery. A handful of Android phones let you do so by popping off the back cover and replacing the rechargeable cell with a new one. On the other hand, the only way you’re removing an iPhone battery is by handing it over to a Genius Bar rep.
17. More customizable interfaces
As seamless as iOS operates, the level of control for customization on it is limited. Android gives us the freedom to personalize the homescreen as we see fit. The ability to sort apps and folders anywhere on the home panel and add interactive backgrounds and assign colors to folders is quite liberating in comparison to Apple’s OS.
18. Better file management
Searching for a lost document or unedited Instagram clip on iOS is a lost cause. Reason for that is Apple’s operating system has no centralized location to track down files. Hence why companies like Samsung programmed a file manager on its front-end touch interface to give people full control of their media.
19. No-touch voice commands
Siri is a diva. Not to mention she lacks the advanced skill set of other competitors such as Google Now and Motorola’s innovative “Touchless Voice Controls” feature. Anyone with a Moto X can engage the device without ever touching it by programming trigger phrases to execute commands.
Alex Brancetti is a contributor at Supercompressor. He prefers Mountain View to Cupertino.