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Why an iPhone is a better work-from-home tool than an Android phone (and how Google can fix it)

iPhone 11 Pro
iPhone 11 Pro

Here on AC, I've made it no secret that I own and enjoy using an iPhone. Right now, my daily carry consists of a Google Pixel 4 XL and iPhone 11 Pro. The Pixel 4 is more fun to use, specifically thanks to its deeper level of customization, smooth 90Hz display, and better tie-in with the Google ecosystem (something I'm heavily invested in).

However, as someone that works from home, the iPhone is what I find myself picking up more often during the workday. The Pixel 4 is my go-to device for watching YouTube, playing CoD: Mobile, and using other mindless apps, but the iPhone 11 Pro has a clear advantage when it comes to being a tool that helps me stay productive and on-task.

That might seem like a sacrilegious thing to say on Android Central, but it's true.

Little features that make my workday so much easier

iPhone 11

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

As you'll find with a lot of my colleagues (and plenty of other people that work from home), Macs are often the go-to computer of choice. Whether we're talking about the MacBook Pro as a powerful video editing machine or the iMac as a simple, all-in-one workstation, there's no denying how good these computers are for getting stuff done. I work from a late-2015 iMac, and using an iPhone with it is a gamechanger for productivity.

Apple gets a lot of flak for its walled-garden of an ecosystem, but you'd be silly to say that living in it doesn't come with serious perks — my favorite of which is Universal Clipboard. It's a pretty simple feature, allowing you to copy something on your iPhone and paste it on your Mac (and vice versa).

Universal Clipboard is one of those features that's hard to live without once you've experienced it firsthand.

I personally get a lot of use out of this when it comes to entering passwords. As a 1Password user, all of my online credentials are stored away in my 1Password account which is locked behind a lengthy master password. My iMac doesn't have any biometric authentication of any kind, so if I want to access my passwords, I have to type in my entire master password and hope I don't misspell it along the way.

Since I have an iPhone (opens in new tab), however, I can also just open the 1Password app on that, instantly access it thanks to Face ID, copy the password I need, and then click paste on my iMac. Just like that, I'm logged in and ready to go.

This is a very specific use case I'm describing, but there are plenty of other instances in which it can be a lifesaver — whether it be copying and pasting links, notes, you name it.

Apple's Handoff feature

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

In a similar vein, there's the Handoff feature. I often take little breaks throughout the day to stretch my legs, but while doing so, I usually have my phone with me so I can still keep an eye on newsfeeds or ongoing Slack conversations. If I find a news story that I need to write about or if a PR contact sends me a link to a press kit, I can open it on my phone, sit down in front of my iMac, and click the Google Chrome icon that pops up to instantly transfer the tabs from my phone to the computer. It may sound kind of boring and only saves a matter of seconds in each instance, but all of that time added together over a couple of years is pretty significant.

Then there's the iPhone itself. It works beautifully in tandem with a Mac, but there are also standalone benefits that make it a more reliable work-from-home tool.

A lot of Android apps are now on-par with their iOS counterparts, but even here in 2020, iOS continues to have the better overall app ecosystem. Airtable and Concur are two work apps I rely on quite a bit, and comparing the Android and iOS versions side-by-side, they run better and are more nicely laid out on my iPhone than they are on the Pixel 4. You'll find this to be the case for a good handful of applications, and as someone that uses their phone as a tool for getting stuff done, having access to the best and most polished apps possible is a big deal.

What Google can do to fix this

Google Pixel 4 XL

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

As stated above, I love using my Pixel 4 XL (opens in new tab). If it offered the same functionality that my iPhone does from a productivity standpoint, I'd be happy to rely on it more often. I can't do that right now, but thankfully, I don't think it'd be too difficult for Google to make a few small updates to better compete with Apple in these regards.

Google's making steps to bring Android and Chrome OS together, but there's more that needs to be done.

In December 2018, Google rolled out a new initiative for Chrome OS and Android called "Better Together." Similar to how iPhones and Macs work so seamlessly with one another, Better Together aimed to bring a similar cohesiveness to Google's desktop and mobile platforms. It took the form of text message integration, instant tethering, being able to unlock your Chromebook with an Android phone — and that's it.

Google has a solid foundation with Better Together, but I would love, love, love to see it offer its own versions of Universal Clipboard and Handoff. Furthermore, if Google can find a way to extend these features to Windows and Mac through the Chrome browser or another app, that would greatly expand the number of people that would have access to these things (sorry, Ara, a lot of people still don't work on Chromebooks 😜).

As for the app situation, I think that's something that'll just have to get better with time. Android's app ecosystem is in a much better place today than it was a few years ago, and as more time progresses, I think that's something that'll continue to get better.

Find the workflow that's best for you

Pixel 4 and iPhone 11 displays

Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

Going out and buying an iPhone just for a smoother workday probably isn't the best use of your money, but if you do have an iPhone lying around and want to see how it compares to rocking an Android phone while you work from home, go ahead and give it a shot.

Yes, I could use my Pixel 4 XL and get everything done just fine, but compared to the iPhone, it's not as useful or as good of a fit with how I work.

Working from home is all about finding the balance that's the best for you, and for me, that consists of using an iPhone with my iMac. Your preferred workflow might look a little different, and that's perfectly fine, too. As long as you're staying productive and getting your assignments done in the best way possible, that's all that matters.

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

  • Keep jumping those sharks AC...
  • I knew the first comment I read would be didn't disappoint.
  • So using the iPhone fits better into your workflow because you use a MacBook. But that's a huge factor in why it's better with your workflow. And while MacBooks may be more common than they were in business environments, the vast majority of enterprise users are still on Windows based laptops. The real question would be if you didn't have a MacBook, would you still make the same sweeping generalization that an iPhone is just better for working from home that you suggest in the headline?
  • +1 for this. I was thinking the same thing, an iPhone works better for you because you use a Mac OS device for work. The same may not hold true for a Windows or Linux/Chromebook user.
  • My thoughts exactly. My firm is entirely a Windows shop
  • Let's see what latest news Android Central has on Andr...wait, what?!
  • I would also suggest most business users that use Android have a Samsung not a Pixel. Depending on one's needs, Microsoft Link and Samsung Dex both offer great things to help with efficiency.
  • So you use a Macbook and an iPhone works better for you, doesnt take a genious to figure that out. Anyone using a PC would say an iPhone SUCKS for working at home. And I work from home and have used a macbook pro before and currently using a Dell xps 15.
    The dell blows away the Macbook in every aspect.
    The Dell has better performance, battery life, 10x better keyboard, and I dont have to run bootcamp for my development tools. It is sad you write this article with the tone that what you are saying would apply universally when it actually applies to your limited use case and your limited view to how people work.
  • What development tools do you use that require Windows? I think Android and iOS are both good for working from home, just whatever works better for you or what you prefer.
  • With the exception of cross-device copy/pasting (although that's also in the works; in the meantime I just use the sticky notes app in Windows which is integrated into OneNote on Android) everything else this article stated as being so unique to iPhones my Pixel 4XL also does, and just as well, on my Windows 10 machine. All it requires is the My Phone app on both devices. Once that's installed and both are synchronizing I can make and take phone calls from my computer, compose and reply to texts, view pictures from my phone, and even share my phone's screen to my Windows machine. And as far as the beloved Handoff feature well there's a simple solution to that as well: install Edge on your phone and Edge Chromium on your PC. While browsing anything in Edge mobile you can just click on the menu and select "Continue on PC" and shows up on your PC. If you REALLY want the full Microsoft experience then switch to the Microsoft Launcher and some of this is already integrated. Don't need a walled garden to be productive or do your work.
  • I was going to mention everything you said but you beat me to it. I completely agree with all of it and use all of this (except the lanucher because I love Nova too much) but yeah IOS really has nothing. The clipboard syncing is a tough one but this can be accomplised too on my Note 10 via the share menu. So yeah android is just as good if not better.
  • I would say, a large number of people that are working from home right now are using PCs issued by work. With this in mind, Android is alot easier to use for work from home if you use Microsoft Your Phone on Windows/Android. Text messages, screen mirroring, phone calls etc all on your PC and built in already. Although universal clipboard might be a single feature of iOS vs Android, for remote work and a large number of people are now using, it probably makes more sense to use Android right now.
  • But those of us who don't use a Mac (incidentally for the same reason we don't use iPhones) wouldn't get a better experience on an iPhone? Sorry but this is a ridiculous article.
  • My job phone is an iPhone and I find being productive with iOS is so much more difficult. To me, nothing's intuitive on iOS and I end up using my Pixel 3a XL mostly. I don't even use any of the cross platform tools on either phone. I just find iOS much more difficult even after having it for 2+ years.
  • What is it about iOS that you find difficult? Is it restrictions in the OS?
  • I'd rather be able to download this from the internet without restriction. I would like to install my jobs work from home app without needing it to go through an approval process and wait for it to be placed in the store. I would like to multitask. I would prefer to connect my phone directly to my computer or other external display. I would then like to be able to use a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse. I would like to be able to move things to and from external storage. And when my battery runs low I want to be able to recharge it quickly.
  • This post is a bit outdated since newer iOS releases are much less restricted. iPhones can download from the internet without restriction, you can download straight from the browser and files just go into the Files app stored locally on the device. I can understand the app situation, I've never liked being forced to use the App Store. Multitasking does exist on iOS, although it really depends on what kind of multitasking you're talking about. You can use a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse with iOS, and you can move things to and from external storage via the Files app. Fast charging is possible but Apple doesn't ship the devices with fast chargers… for some reason.
  • Ha ha ha! Is this article a joke? Microsoft's services and any Android phone plus a Windows 10 PC trump anything Apple have to offer... Click bait article...
  • Mircosoft...LOL...from the same loving company that gave us the BSOD. Junk. How's your virus doing today?
  • The simple act of moving files between phone and PC, using just a default file manager, makes Android/PC the way to go. iOS, MacOS, and iTunes just don't make any sense. At all.
  • I don't have any Apple products but I think you can transfer files between Apple devices through airdrop. Because you have a PC Android is going to be better at transferring files.
  • iOS has a "Files" app now which allows you to manage files locally or on a cloud service as you would expect. Getting the files onto the device can be done in many different ways, with a Mac the easiest way is AirDrop, but on Windows you could find an "AirDrop" like app which has an iOS counterpart app, or run some sort of File Server and find an iOS app that can connect to it, or even run a HTTP file server where you can just download the files through the Safari web browser on the iPhone
  • I work for a bank. They cripple many features in iOS and Android. My Win10 laptop is truly the only device that makes me productive. I can't say my iPad is any better or worse than my Pixel 4xl. They both have limitations. I'd say Pixel wins because of the way I have setup my widgets for the BlackBerry Hub+ and Gmail enterprise app.
  • Yeah no, my. Android phone is perfect. I have been working from home for 17 years. Work machine is windows laptop.
  • What kind of unproductive idiot is using their phone to work from home instead of a PC?
  • PC's lick balls. Have fun with your junk
  • TheMarcus: Respectfully it has nothing to do with an "unproductive idiot", it has everything to do with the integration of ones devices. Often I do not want to be sitting in front of the computer, thus I take my phone for a walk or be productive while in the backyard looking at the pond enjoying our scenery. When I return to the computer all I accomplished on the phone is there on the computer. Often I am out with the iPad or iPhone only, again return to the Mac all I did is there. From my iPhone I can log into servers updated files transfer files created files, send and received files, etc., create and reply to emails, attach and open files with those emails. As you can see with a cellphone most of us are highly productive. Of course YMMV.
  • The title of this piece should have been "Why an iPhone is a better work-from-home tool than an Android phone [if you're using a MAC]". Everyone knows that and there's no way an Android phone will be able to integrate with a MAC as well as an iPhone can. In my case I use a Windows PC and a Chromebook which means an Android phone is a better work-from-home tool than an iPhone.
  • Am I in the right place? Thought this was Android central. Not IOS central. Anyway as an owner of an iPhone 11 and Pixel 4 myself, I never even thought or had an issue working from home on my Mac while using my Android phone.
  • Hey Joe, from all the comments so far it looks like you stuck your foot in your mouth on this one. Better stick with Android articles.
  • Apple probably has all your passwords now. Android is much better for work by the way.
  • They're stored encrypted as any reputable business would store passwords, especially if you're in Europe where the GDPR is in place
  • It looks to me like you're trying to start some kind of craziness by writing this article with Android and iOS reader for clicks but it's old and nobody cares anymore and I do think you should write articles about Android considering the name of the website.
  • This is funny. He gave two reasons. One of which can easily be replicated with a widely used major FREE app (OneNote) and the other - handoffs - is not something that people are going to want to do to/from their personal phone while working anyway. (And incidentally can also be done with a range of Android apps including Hangouts). And this is if you own a Mac. And buy the way ... do you know that more people buy Chromebooks than Macs? Have since 2016. Nothing against Macs. Or even iPhones really. But this article could (should) have simply been one line: the iPhone is better because of my own personal preferences.
  • This is a kind of a completely useless article... I think some have covered it with, "if you have a macbook" it might be better. But I would say nothing beats the versatility of some android phones, for instance, my laptop burned up (literally) the day before we were all sent home. So I ran the first week using vmware in dex mode with full mouse support while they shipped me another. If you use the new edge browser on android you can pass webpages as well as all my sticky notes and documents are always available on my phone through one drive. Also, one note happens to work way better on a phone with a pen in my opinion. So depending on your work the mac is completely useless and the iphone works okay but android beats the snot out of it for being a work companion and being able to work as efficiently as possible. Also, if you dont use a password vault that is extremely limited you might find that others have really good cross compatibility.
  • I use a Mac for work also. I didn't mention this because it is unique to Samsung BUT ... Sidesync. Great app. Works on macOS. Try it sometimes! Lots of iPhone users who claim this are people who either haven't used Android since Ice Cream Sandwich OR haven't bothered to take the time to find out all the productivity features and apps on Android devices as Apple devices just "connect and go" automatically with other Apple devices where with Android you either need to download an app or configure a couple of things. But good grief this isn't an Apple forum or even a general forum for all consumers/tech users. This. Is. An. Android. Forum. A person who WRITES for an Android forum should know that you can do MORE with a Chromebook than you can with a MacBook Air that costs twice as much. A person who WRITES for an Android forum should KNOW about apps like Pushbullet and AirDroid for Windows and macOS (and that Samsung and the other major Android OEMs have equivalent apps).
  • Can you really do more with a Chromebook than a MacBook Air? I find that hard to believe given that macOS has a much bigger range of apps than ChromeOS
  • Hi Danny JJK, I agree with you. Having used a Chromebook four years I fired up our 2010 MBP, added more RAM (from 4-8), now I am more productive:
    Can drag links to the desktop,
    Much easier logging into servers downloading files,
    Click a folder see how many files are in it and the folder size,
    Install needed apps not available on the Chromebook,
    Create workflows for changing file type such as .PNG to JPEG and the like
    Batch rename files
    Evernote and OneNote perform markedly better and have features not available using Chromebook
    The list goes on. After four years with the Chromebook I gave it to another family member in the house. Still, I am a strong supporter of Chromebook, yet it quite surprised me being more productive with this ten year old MBP.