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5 tips for Android users to live in harmony with iPhone users

iPhone 11 Pro and Google Pixel 4 XL
iPhone 11 Pro and Google Pixel 4 XL (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

In a perfect world, everyone's phones would work seamlessly with each other. They'd all use the same services and apps for blissful communication and sharing regardless of manufacturer. Unfortunately, that's not the world we actually live in.

We have to deal with the feud Android and iOS, of iMessage and WhatsApp and various messaging apps, social networks, and photo-sharing services keeping people siloed into closed-off ecosystems. While it'll always be easier to share between two iPhones or two Galaxys, we're offering some tips on how to make cross-platform communication a little simpler and more reliable.

We'll start with the basics and move on from there. The trick is communication: if you have friends or family members with iPhones, talk to them beforehand about what services you use, and which ones you'd like them to use to communicate with you. Even set it up for them so they're familiar, which will prevent a bunch of confusion down the road.

The iMessage conundrum

iMessage open on an iPhone X

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

This mainly applies if you've recently moved from iPhone to Android and have recently disabled iMessage: make sure to tell your iPhone-using friends to start a new conversation with you on their phone, otherwise you may never receive their texts, or they may never receive yours. This is doubly true in the case of group chats, since iMessage has a very difficult time (read: impossible) routing group chats to people who are no longer using the service.

The issue is informally referred to as the "iMessage Black Hole," and it crops up even when you, as a former iPhone user, do your due diligence in disabling iMessage on your old device before switching, or disabling it remotely using Apple's online tool (opens in new tab). The reason is simple in theory, but complex in reality: Apple uses your phone number as a registration, telling iPhone owners that when it sends or receives a message from another Apple user it should "turn blue" and use iMessage.

The iMessage "Black Hole" is a real thing you'll probably have to contend with at some point.

While the deregistration process has improved over the past few years, it still causes problems when the iPhone user receiving a text from a now-Android user still tries to respond with an iMessage and the text never goes through.

A couple suggestions: ask your friend or family member to enable "Send as SMS" in the iPhone settings so, if the iMessage fails, it will try to send it a second time as a text. That should trigger future texts to go through properly. The other option is, if there's nothing terribly exciting in the thread, to ask the iPhone user to delete the old thread and start fresh. That will ensure texts will go through properly in the future.

Finally, if you're suddenly finding yourself shut out of group texts because of your green bubble, the best thing to do is, well, keep reading.

Getting everyone on the same page

iPhone 11 Pro and Pixel 4 XL

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

iMessage is great when everyone uses an iPhone, but you don't — so how do you get everyone chatting the right way?

You could keep on using old-fashioned SMS texting since your iPhone friends will still be able to talk to you through their Messages app, or you could shift everyone over to a different platform altogether.

WhatsApp (opens in new tab) is one of the most popular messaging app on the planet, and there's a good chance people you know already use it to some extent. It's 100% free to use, supports high-resolution file sharing, voice and video calling, and much more.

For group chats, we're going to suggest using one of two services: Facebook Messenger (opens in new tab), which was built with group chat in mind and performs incredibly well on mobile and desktop; or Telegram (opens in new tab), which isn't nearly as popular, but does an incredible job if you want to recreate the iMessage experience without having to, you know, actually use an iPhone. Telegram not only allows for big, beautiful, dynamic group chats, but it's fast and secure — and doesn't force you to have a Facebook account, which is, for many, a bonus.

Turn off your Advanced Texting options

Google Mesages on a Pixel 3

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

One of the biggest complaints I hear from iPhone users is that they're never sure their texts are getting through to their Android-using friends. At first, I scoffed at this — it's likely user error, I thought — but I looked into it and it turns out some Advanced Messenger protocols from carriers, often built into carrier-sold devices from Verizon and AT&T, have the potential to be quite disruptive and may prevent texts from getting through because they're competing with iMessage.

You see, these "Advanced Messaging" apps try to recreate an iMessage-like experience for everyone using those proprietary apps on that particular carrier, but that's not an enormous subset of the population, and causes trouble in the long run. My suggestion, unless everyone in your life uses Verizon Messages (opens in new tab), is to switch to a more universal SMS app like Google Messages (opens in new tab) or Textra (opens in new tab). You'll thank me later.

The best texting apps for Android

Use other cross-platform services

Google Duo logo

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda/Android Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda/Android Central)

The death knell of any Apple-only friendship is trying to use Apple-only services. The iPhone is great for some people, but Apple's photo backup service, for instance, isn't really compatible with the outside world.

To that end, if you want to send and receive photos easily, get your friends and family on Google Photos (opens in new tab). We talk about this in our back up guide, but Google Photos also has some of the best sharing features of any photo service. Similarly, if you want to share notes or task lists, get them using Google Keep (opens in new tab).

And if you miss FaceTime, there's always Google Duo (opens in new tab) for video calling, which is pretty darn good and uses less data.

Buy 'em an Android phone

Best Android Phones in 2020

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

This is kind of a joke, but not really: many iPhone users know nothing of Android, or may not have used it since the early days when Droids ruled and HTC was the king of the heap. Android in 2020 is everything iOS is and more, offering robust customization tools, incredible cameras, and a rich variety of handsets at a bunch of different prices.

It's easy and safe to stay within the confines of the Apple ecosystem, but if your family and friends are getting fed up with their iPhones and are looking to switch to something new, maybe it's time to school them on the best.

Best Android Phones in 2020

Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central. 

17 Comments
  • Firstly, thanks for the effort behind the article! :-) But then, no offense intended, at least Apple has an ecosystem. (At least Google, Huawei, Microsoft and Samsung are working on theirs.) And from my outsider view, the suggested Facebook and WhatsApp apps belong to the Facebook ecosystem. Apple's idea would be summarized in "Get me there!", like when ordering a taxi, while the rest would be summarized by "Tweak your car this way, and it'll get you there!". Everyone's preferences and needs may vary per person, per situation, so (in my opinion) having a foot in both worlds (Apple's and non-Apple's) is preferable. Like having both a spoon and a fork.
    But yes, that costs "twice" the money, which may force you to choose. Me, I don't want to choose. It's a way of keeping the world economy going. ;-)
  • I hate it that I hear on TV/Radio people saying use Apple Podcasts or FaceTime which Android users cannot use since Apple won't make its apps for Android. We cannot assume everyone uses Apple devices. Everything is always Apple this Apple that, but what at a Google. It's not fair Android and Google apps doesn't get the same recognition as Apple
  • They don’t because they keep changing. Which do you suggest? Too many. Google won’t back their own apps, it’ll change names, get discontinued, or they make an app to compect with their own app. Apple for better or for worse creates an app and ride it for a long enough time to allow people to get on board and feel comfortable with recommending it. I’m an apple user and recommaneded hangouts to all my apple friends my apple friends as better than facetime. What did google do? create duo and move away from hangouts.
  • A big reason is the absolute volumes that Apple podcasts has. Not a single podcast app on Android has ratings, and if they did it would not integrate into anyone elses and would be fragmented and obnoxious. It's the big dog for a reason.
  • Be happy you weren't a Windows Phone enthusiast.
  • It would be great if this advice extended to the comments section as there are a lot of salty Android users who are narrow minded and point blank refuse to use anything Apple and case in point, the release of the new iPhone SE 2 which has shaken things up for the mid range segment.
  • How do you suppose this article would be received over at imore? Bunch of Apple fanboys over there.
  • Agreed both camps are as bad as each other.
  • It's ANDROID Central, not Android/iOS Central. Yeah, I refuse to use Apple/iOS because I don't like it. Why would I purchase a product, for hundreds of dollars, that I don't like? (FYI, I've had several iPhones and an iPad...plenty of experience with them)
  • An Android central where we just simply pretend Apple doesn't exist even though all of our friends own iPhones is just fanboy silliness.
  • I didn't say anything like that. The article is about working with our friends with iPhones, not buying iPhones so we can be like them.
  • It's actually android central, iOS central, blackberry central, Amazon central, PS4 central, Xbox central, and intrusive ads central all rolled into one big tapered t.u.r.d
  • So why are you here? It's not iOS Central or Blackberry Central BTW. Have a look at the brands https://www.futureplc.com/brands/
  • Same reason you are. We are hear for information about everything but Android. Any questions?
  • I dunno. I've never had problems communicating with Apple people, and I just use stock Android Messages App. I get it, there are a few minor benefits with Apple to Apple messages, but none of them interest me.
  • Getting Apple users to change anything is an attempt at futility.
  • I think most iPhone users are actually impressed with Android phones if you show them what the phone can do, I think iPhone users are open minded to Android if it's Samsung since they're the big dog in the yard.