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5 things from the iPhone and iOS we want Android to get ASAP

There are some features from iOS that I wish were on Android.

I know those are dangerous words, but hear me out on this one before you pick up the pitchforks. Android does a lot of things right, and in many regards, does these things better than iOS. However, while using both platforms side-by-side after picking up the iPhone XS, I've come across a few things that I desperately wish would make their way to Android.

Here's what I'd like to see.

First-class app support

Android apps have come a long way since the dark ages of the Android Marketplace, and while applications are now more readily available on Android and are higher-quality than ever before, there continue to be discrepancies between them and their iOS counterparts.

Many apps run much more smoothly and with greatly increased speed, there are UI elements and animations that make things look prettier, and there are still instances in which apps are available on iOS with no Android counterpart to be seen.

The fact of the matter is that iOS apps continue to receive better support from developers, and unsurprisingly so. There are fewer device variances and software versions to accommodate for, and as a result, developers can spend more time working on better, richer features than having to put so many resources into ensuring stability across an entire open-source platform.

It's hard to see this ever completely changing considering the fundamental differences between Android and iOS, but it's still a goal I'd like to see us make progress towards.

AirDrop

The closed-source nature of Apple's ecosystem comes with many downsides, but one of the biggest benefits is the interoperability between iOS and macOS. There are a few features that are available as a result of this, but one of my favorites is the use of AirDrop.

If I'm watching a video on my iPhone and want to continue it on my iMac, all I have to do is tap it from the AirDrop menu and it's instantly shot to the computer. There's no need to find the right link or site on the iMac, it's just instantly there.

Apple's been in a position to do this for a while, and now that Google's establishing its own line of products with the Pixel series running Android and Chrome OS, I don't see why we can't see a similar feature between the two operating systems in the near future.

Syncing of texts and calls on desktop

On a similar note, iOS does a great job at syncing iMessages and phone calls with macOS. As soon as I booted up the XS, it automatically connected to my iMac in the background so that it started pinging with texts and phone calls as they came in.

Google's beginning to make some progress on this front with Android Messages and its desktop site, but the process is still considerably more clunky and not nearly as feature-rich.

These are things that I believe can now be worked out with Google's continued focus on its Pixel line, but in the meantime, we're still left waiting.

More intuitive gestures

Following the release of the iPhone X last year, Google decided it was time to reveal its own take on gesture-based navigation with Android 9 Pie. The final product we have today is much better than what we saw initially in Developer Preview 2, but there's still work to be done.

Google nailed the fluid feeling of cycling through recent apps and swiping up to see the multitasking menu, but the dangling back button and the complicated swipe gesture to access the app draws keeps it feeling like a half-baked effort at times.

Gestures on the iPhone XS aren't perfect, but when used side-by-side with Android Pie on the Pixel 2, they do feel better thought-out than what Google's currently offering. I expect we'll see Android's gesture system improved with future releases, but in the meantime, iOS is still the reigning champ in these regards.

Streamlined facial unlock

As bezels continue to shrink and displays grow larger, facial unlock systems are going to become a norm for biometric authentication on smartphones. Companies like OnePlus, Samsung, Honor, and plenty more have introduced their own face unlock systems, and while some are faster than Face ID with iOS, none of them go beyond the lock screen.

After you use your face to unlock the iPhone X or XS you can then also use it to log into your banking app, pay for an app on the App Store, autofill passwords with LastPass or 1Passwords, and so much more.

Face ID is baked into every nook and cranny of iOS that it can exist, and even though it may not be as fast as face unlock on the OnePlus 6 or Honor 7X, it's far more secure and justifies the removal of the fingerprint sensor.

Let's hear from you

Those are my hot takes about iOS features I'd like to see come to Android, but what about you? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below!

The Apple Watch Series 4 is light-years ahead of anything running Wear OS

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

67 Comments
  • Sadly, Android Central has now flipped from Android-centric to simply another general tech site. The distinction that made them worth reading is now gone, lost in the sea of a million other tech sites that seem bent on generating clicks and revenue through affiliate sales on 'tech deals.' RIP, AC. Congrats on your upcoming name change.
  • Yeah, you really need to look for Jerry's articles if you want to get the feel and perspective of the OG/AC. Android needs some criticism, but this list was ok. It wasn't particularly deeply thought out.
  • There's still plenty of great content on the site. Most anything from Jerry, Andrew, Alex, Russell is the same stuff we've come to love. But yeah mixed in with that is click-bait articles like this and all the ads...
  • They have to support their broader mobilenations partners because there is hardly anyone left engaging at iMore. It's a ghost town due to the ads and meaningless articles.
  • Agreed, hasn't been worth the bandwidth since Phil left.
  • If Apple has it you can be sure Google is looking to copy it regardless of whether it is actually good or not (notch, headphone jack removal...)
  • And same goes for Apple. At this point there is no shame in aping something the other one does.
  • Both will copy features from each other as they have been doing. What is shameful when you copy to much to look and or behave like a competitor and that is exactly what Google is doing with Android trying to be more like iOS.
  • I agree on the app support, could use a little more polish. I could care less about facial recognition though. Work on WearOS and make it something I want to buy.
  • Simultaneous software upgrade for all compatible devices no were to be seen on this top 5? That's my major gripe with Android
  • This... I get updates as quick as pixels do, but most people I know using an Android device are still on Nougat or Oreo with a security patch that's several months old.
  • This. iOS can have 50% adoption of the latest update for supported devices in a month. For Android it is like 0.01%.
  • You misunderstand the fundamental nature of Android if you think that possible.
  • So android is fundamentally bad in updates 🙄
  • No the carriers and OEMs are.
  • If chrome OS sync'd messages and calls I think it would bit up a bit slower no?
  • Amazing. Those are five things that I believe Android already has (App support is very good, despite what you say), or that I completely don't care about.
  • Syncing of texts and calls on desktop - I am using Pushbullet, good app for sync and send files between phone and PC
  • We would love Apple to make it's apps on Android instead of limiting to just iOS and MacOS
  • Does anyone know the Wallpaper?
  • The only thing I want Tim Crook to do is make his watch compatible with both IOS and Android but I guess he doesn't seem to give a hoot that some of us that prefer Android and our Notes really miss the Apple watch. If he did this I would be at my local Apple Store the day it announced
  • As someone who uses both Android and iOS every day I think the "app support" aspect is overblown. Most apps I use on both systems are pretty much on par feature-wise. Most of the time the differences come down to design preference, with Android apps following Material Design / Theming and iOS apps following Apple's guidelines. And, yes, some apps come to iOS first, or are exclusive to it, but there are also exclusive apps for Android. In fact, in terms of simple numbers, the Play Store has more apps than the App Sore.
  • I think Android has more apps - but Android is more fragmented than Apple too. There are multiple designs - different hardware components for different phones - different device drivers - that are coded differently on the Android side. A single app on Android will not run the same on all of the Android phones - compared to Apple who supports their main objective hardware design and doesn't have to support various vendors. Plus I think iOS is native on their phones compared to interpreted code. Plus - each vendor on the Android side - tweaks the stock code - to enhance their version - their eco system - to their main goal and to financially support them... Apple supports Apple, Android supports multiple different ecosystems.
  • I barely trust face unlock just to unlock my phone...but to trust it for banking???? Absolutely no way! I can see it now, some unscrupulous person has a photo of you, steals your phone, unlocks it, and maxes out your credit cards, and drains your bank account. No, no way.
  • Facial ID with one of them I was hoping Android would adopt, that and retinal scan. My hands get wet, other things happened - fingerprint ID will not work in those instances - we still need a pin ID to unlock; but the others would be nice or as another option to unlock your phone. There are multiple instances of where facial ID or a fingerprint sensor wouldn't be the most secure. But I think usability has to weigh in at some point too - at least make those options practical and user-friendly - and have other options to make it as secure as you deemed necessary.
  • That can hap0pen no matter what you use, don't be a moron.
  • I'm just glad my Android Phone charges up properly...
  • Small chuckle when I read the concern about facial unlock. I mean, I've owned cell phones for over 20 years... Unlocking my phone has never been the obsession it has become for developers. I recently turned off all locks on my phone. Nobody at work is going to get into my phone.... They have their own. Fingerprint sensors are ok, but I got tired of the obsessive compulsive nature of phone and app locks. Why own a premium phone, only to be slowed down by app locks? Granted, some users to need phone and app locks.... But 99% of the public don't. If I travel internationally, that's when I'll lock up my phone.
  • I don't want an insecure system like FaceID. Iris scan or fps is more secure as there aren't enough unique aspects of the face.
    Don't want airdrop because it doesn't add anything. File sharing or casting is already seamless and doesn't bring unwanted spam.
    Gestures are subjective. I find iOS gestures like the control center one to be brutally inefficient. Excess max forces reachability or two hands where as an android large screen device isn't as limited.
  • No mention of still not having an iMessage competitor? That’s basically been the only reason why more iPhone users stay with the iPhone.
  • So for the "Syncing of texts and calls on desktop"....the author mentions how it syncs right up to his iMac but he fails to mention that if you use a Windows machine which MOST people use then you can't sync up messages at all. At least with Android, you have the ability to sync messages between all platforms (yes that includes Linux). I prefer Pulse myself, but the Android Messages desktop application isn't bad and works across platforms. Sad that the author assumes all of us spend thousands of dollars on apple products.
  • How I see it, Google's efforts on Chrome OS integration are fruitless (pun intended) and their lack of cooperation with MS and Windows support is keeping android back from becoming great phone OS. Without desktop OS partner, unified integration cannot happen.
  • He missed that point. With Android, you can connect, and use any other os', except ios. He missed android 's problem with sharing, and printing though, still not on a level with other os's.
  • The APP "thing" is subjective. There are applications available for Android that will do what all the applications do for iOS.
    Facial recognition is a legitimate request, but as long as my fingerprint reader works, I don't "need" that. Most of us who have Android devices with the fingerprint reader on the back, LOVE them.
    (Because they are so easy to use)
    "intuitive Gestures" are a VERY subjective thing. We all had to learn them on our phones from the word go. Even on iOS, we had to learn them. There are things about the "Raise to activate", or whatever it's called about iOS (work phone) that I don't like.
  • I agree with your points.
    I want facial recognition using something more secure than what's already been around since ICS. Fingers crossed the Pixel 3 (XL) will use IR dot projectors or something similarly secure.
    I know I'm in the minority but I actually like the gestures.
  • The way that apple does their backups is the one thing that I wish Android had. I hate that I can't force my phone to do a new backup like iOS does. It sucks more that I have to use a third party app to do this, especially when doing a factory reset.
  • Easy on a Samsung phone.
  • Retinal scan - Iris scan - Facial recognition. 👍 Also - What about having some kind of dongle with something like near field communication, Bluetooth or something similar that will automatically lock your phone when you're near it and will automatically lock your phone when you walk away from it? I like that idea... I work in the area where if I walked 40 feet away from my desk I have had other people grab my phone to see if it is unlocked...
  • Granted, Google knows everywhere we go... I don't like where facial recognition is going in society. In China, facial recognition extends to access to apartment buildings, and stop light cameras which now track people within cities. I want less facial recognition, or none at all. The lack of interest as to how we handed over privacy to the surveillance economy is remarkable.
  • I'm on the fence on this one. Google and others (OEMs etc.) can track wherever you go, what you do, where are you staying and possibly who you are in contact with - all within the Android ecosystem as a whole. Might as well throw Apple in there too... I am saying that is a big possibility. That to me is far more invasive than facial recognition can ever be... I'm not too worried about facial recognition for entry access or or Street cam recognition. I think social apps are far more public or reckless than the threat of facial recognition.
  • W1 chip for superior bluetooth
    Smaller form factor that doesn't get gimped for being smaller
    Superior haptics / vibration motors
    Crap ton of accessories That's why I switched and don't really want to go back to Android.
  • I have both the pixel 2 and an iPhone X. I don’t want Face ID on my android phones. If I want to just glance at a message or a notification I don’t want to have to pick up the phone every time to unlock it. Also if your hands are full and ask Siri to open an app Siri will say you have to unlock your iPhone first. I would rather have smartlock.
  • As an option I use third party apps (such as 'ReadItToMe 2.0') to announce texts - who it is from - and the message if so chosen; which works great at work and in the car while driving. That way I don't have to check my phone to see who the text is from - great at work and informal meetings. There are options for apps too - but haven't used them.
  • System wide backup/restore and rich encrypted messaging by default with other Android users. That is all.
  • Consistent badge notification...or dismiss without clearing notification
  • I would like to have screen recoding with internal audio
  • Besides gestures, and facial lock can't all this be done with MS devices already for a while.... https://www.windowscentral.com/how-use-continue-pc-windows-10 https://www.howtogeek.com/265994/how-to-sync-android-notifications-to-yo... Coming from WP the good thing about Android is it integrates well..
  • Google needs to stop tracking everything we do on our devices.
  • Let's keep Google Imprint no matter how much faster face ID gets on Android. There is no reason we cannot have both. I haven't gotten my Pixel phone yet, but how complicated is it to swipe up? Half swipe, full swipe. Agree the back button can go, but there must be a standard back motion that can be implemented into every app used on the phone.
  • Still hate the new recent tabs gestures. Much more difficult to cycle through. I much prefer being able to SMOOTHLY scroll through cards instead of them jerkily whizzing by at an incomprehensible speed.
  • "We want" Who is "we"? Certanly no me.
  • The editors I guess. These are things they want to see. I certainly don't care for them.
  • I've got iPhones laying all over the place because I have 137 apps on my U11, and about 50 of them don't exist in iOS. The ones that iOS has are polished a bit more in some cases, but the Android versions get updated more frequently. I'm not a gesture fan, so not really interested in that, but the iOS version does work well. Face unlock by Apple is more advanced, but I still don't want it. Oh, and your face is not protected against unlocking your devices by police. Not that it affects me, but it's in the same category as your fingerprint and has no advantages there. Oh, can we have the iOS 12 feature that sends messages to the wrong people? It sounds like fun!
  • Maybe there are some things ios does better, but it's only a few. Gestures can be had on android much better than what is out there now for ios, and android mfgrs now(as long as you're rooted). You can't change ios, or android 's implementation of how gestures work, but at least, with Android(rooted), you can change it.
  • The only thing I somewhat care about on that list is better app support.
  • Android has solutions to sync phone, text, and voice mail. I have had a Google voice number for years and can pick up any device and login and view and reply to texts or voicemail.
  • By the way, I've also wanted seamless backups and restores like in iOS, and I was quite surprised when I got my HTC U11 back from service and only had to login and pick which phone backup to use. It did a nice job restoring on the fly, and I'm not sure if this is something Google has done or if it's an HTC only thing, but I appreciated it. On the other side of the coin for iOS, restoring your phone when there's a glitch, and you don't have another active iOS device? It becomes a nightmare. It took Apple support two WEEKS to get the issue resolved.
  • WHAT THE HELL?!!!????
    @JoeMaring NO NO NO. I want to see as little from iOS in Android as POSSIBLE.
    Apple Stole Siri (Iris)
    Apple Stole the notification screen
    Apple stole a lot from Android. Look at your own articles on iOS 7&8 If Apple is paying you guys then I understand this article. Otherwise, I want a choice of phones and OS. Based on the articles here in the last 6months you guys only want ONE phone choice. STOP KISSING APPLES DAIRY AIR. Android is better and always will be because it is not proprietarily locked into its own OS and infrastructure. I want all androids to drop this chasing Apple and get up enough balls to be their own unique thing. Give up that stupid notch and buttons on the sides. JUST STOP TRYING TO BE AN IPHONE. iPhone is for old people or basic users that don't need a phone to interface with different systems. I am not anti-Apple as I have 3 macpro's, 2 macbookpros, 2 ipads and a collection of ipods (4versions) but I have tried the iPhone 3, 7 and X and they all still suck and have the most boring home screens ON EARTH. I like what Android is. Yet, Android Central keeeeeeeeps advocating for merging all phones into an iPhone like device. I want different devices with different features and I would easily bet $1k that 68% of all people would agree on having diverse choices in whatever they go to buy. For every writer and contributor on this website. If you want an iPhone, buy one but stop trying to convince people that the iPhone is better or that Android is behind iPhone BECAUSE IT IS A PROVABLE LIE. Buy your iPhone and write stories about how you love it but MOST people, do not like iPhones. How are you guys calling yourselves Android Central but keep bolstering iPhone? RE - DIC - ULOUS!!!!
  • "but MOST people, do not like iPhones."
    Your rant just lost all credibility.
  • That would be Derriere not DARIY AIR. Jesus fanbabies.
  • I use Google Voice and it syncs my calls and texts. The Chrome browser on desktop and phone sync lots of stuff and if you go to recent tabs you'll find where you were on the other device. Finally, the face ID on my P20 is stellar, even when it's relatively dark, only lit by the TV or phone lockscreen itself. But yes, thankfully Android and IOS borrow heavily from each other, making each better. That's why it's too bad Windows phone failed and there isn't a 3rd or 4th OS to push the software further along.
  • These would all be great features to have on my Pixel 2 XL.
  • The ability to send photos to friends and family like AirDrop is very needed. But it needs to work with iPhones too.
  • What I want to see Android borrow from iOS is an actual number on the notification dot (number of unread emails, number of missed calls, etc).
  • I just want the tap the status bar and auto scroll to the top feature of iPhone 😋
  • My ten year old grandchildren each have an iPhone 7+ ( my ex wife bought them last Xmas, more money than sense), and they love their phones. But I've lost count of the times they become wide eyed when they see me do something on Android phones or my old Windows phone and say ”make mine do that, Grandad" and I have to tell them Sorry, Apple won't allow anyone do that on an iPhone. Ten year old grudgingly accept they aren't allowed to do certain things but they both say they want their next phone to give them the freedom my phone has.
  • Apple integration is going bonkers, they tie in every aspect closer and tighter each year, sure apple is slow when it comes to a lot of features and hardware, but so far from the first touch id, they have moved to tie in apple pay into touch id, then apple pay comes to the mac, then touch id comes to the mac and you can unlock your watch originally with touch id and now face id. You can unlock your laptop with your watch, funny enough not with the phone yet. And until pixel adopts face unlock and authentication there will different api from different brands and developers are usually more hesitant to jump onto the platform api when they know google will come in sooner or later. And if you haven't notice, even though google is trying to have RCS to match imessage, it is unencrypted, a lot of 2fa comes to sms, so there might be a loophole malicious people might target. And in Mojave, have anybody noticed security code autofill from the phone sms? yes sms is linked to the mac, and so are phone calls, you can receive and make calls from the mac. So it makes sense for security code autofill to come to the laptop too, very underrated mojave feature. Android apps are generally more flexible and useful, like the netflix smart downloads or ifttt system triggers, some parts of the apps like netflix is less intuitive compared to ios, less gestures. However if you are hoping more developers would move away from iOS first to concentrate more on android apps, it would be bad timing for them now, even though you already get android apps running on chromeOS, iOS applications are also similarly migrating to macOS, and macOS is quite a big platform. Right now you work back and forth with the phone/ tablet then macOS, but when native iOS apps live on the mac, hand off will more seamless, like say you watch or listen to a podcast on the phone, and the dock on the mac already prompts you to continue on the mac now, more native ios apps will prompt the same, I want a native overcast app or prisma or deliveroo on the mac. As well as native new features like working on a doc and you need a quick scan from the phone, the mac will wake the phone into document scanner, that is quite wild. This is where google instant apps will make a lot of sense too if they work natively on windows or macs. Windows is trying to do that right. One thing I appreciate the ecosystem doing is wifi syncing, google does this, and so does apple, so when you go to a friends house one day, your friend can beam the wifi login to your phone, all without you seeing the password, then the wifi password is synced into your keychain. When you come again with a laptop or tablet, the wifi immediately connects. And the interface for this wifi login beaming is similar to the airpods connection on the phone, as well as ios migration from iphone to iphone. Android does something like wifi qr code reading but like the airpods it is not doing some multi device cloud connection. Am I right?