Although Android is a feature-packed operating system, it misses several functionalities that have been integral to iOS for years. So, if you’re planning to switch from an iPhone to an Android device anytime soon, be prepared to miss out on the following features.
AirPlay is one of the biggest features that Android devices still don’t have. Since AirPlay is a propriety protocol that Apple developed, we don’t expect it to come to Android ever.
Although several third-party apps on the Google Play Store let you wirelessly stream audio and video content from your smartphone, nothing comes close to this built-in solution. This is why we want Google to crack the code and bring similar functionality to Android devices natively.
In 2020, Google managed to bring an AirDrop-like functionality called Nearby Share to Android 11 devices. So, we wouldn’t be surprised if the company is working on something similar to AirPlay for the Android platform.
FaceTime is Apple’s video calling service that comes baked into iOS, iPadOS, and macOS devices. Thanks to its simplicity and seamless functionality, FaceTime is extremely popular among Apple users.
On the bright side, Android users can still join FaceTime calls from their devices thanks to Apple’s FaceTime on the web functionality. But you’ll still need a friend with an Apple device to actually start the call and share the link with you.
Android devices have access to a similar built-in video calling feature in the form of Google Duo, but it’s not nearly as popular, since most users rely on third-party apps for video calling. Therefore, we wish Apple would bring the FaceTime app to Android devices at some point down the line.
Apple’s iMessage service is one of the biggest reasons most iPhone users hesitate to switch to an Android device. If your circle of friends is mostly Apple users, switching to an Android phone would mean feeling left out of iMessage groups.
Android users may have gotten a taste of FaceTime via its web functionality, but unlike its video calling service, iMessage will probably never see the light of the day on Android devices—at least officially. Why? Because Apple knows it brings a lot of users to its ecosystem.
This is evident from how Apple blocks third-party apps like Beeper Mini from accessing its iMessage servers. In December 2023, 9to5Google reported that Beeper’s popular workaround is broken for more than 60 percent of users.
4. Live Text in Videos
When Apple first introduced Live Text alongside iOS 15, Android users quickly pointed out that Google Lens had this functionality for quite a while and that Apple was late to the game. But soon enough, Apple took Live Text to the next level by bringing the same text detection functionality to videos. How cool is that?
You can pause any video in Safari or the Photos app to quickly copy text content to your iOS clipboard. The Live Text feature in videos can come in handy when you want to copy notes from an online lecture, tutorial, and whatnot. That said, you’ll need an iPhone XS, iPhone XR, or later to take advantage of this feature.
5. Lift a Subject From the Background With Visual Lookup
Visual Lookup is yet another feature that works similarly to Google Lens in the sense that you can use it to identify objects like landmarks, plants, animals, etc., and get more information on them. However, with the iOS 16 update, Apple integrated a machine learning feature into Visual Lookup that lets you lift a subject from a background and paste it into another app.
All you need to do is long-press on an identifiable object, and Visual Lookup will lift it. You can be really creative with this feature and use it to make fun stickers and emotes or remove the background from any image on your iPhone.
Google Lens doesn’t offer a similar feature, and the closest thing you’ll find on an Android device is the Magic Eraser tool that Google introduced with the Pixel 6 lineup. Unfortunately, this tool does quite the opposite—it removes unwanted objects from the background.
6. Check In
Check In is one of the hidden features of the Messages app in iOS 17. You can use it to notify your iMessage contacts about your whereabouts and stay safe while traveling. To access it, open a conversation with the contact you want to use the feature with, then tap the plus (+) button next to the typing field in the Messages app and scroll down.
You can either set up a location or time-based Check In, depending on your preference. If you select a location, Check In will automatically notify the recipient when you’ve arrived at the destination. But if you opt for a time-based Check In, you’ll be prompted to notify them when the time’s up, and if you don’t respond within 15 minutes, your contact will be alerted with your most recent location data.
NameDrop is one of the best iOS 17 features Apple announced at WWDC 2023. It’s an extension of the AirDrop functionality on iOS devices reserved for effortlessly sharing your contact information with other iPhone users.
To access the NameDrop screen, all you need to do is place the top edge of two iPhones next to each other. You don’t have to worry about your privacy because NameDrop requires both iPhones to be unlocked to work. The transfer isn’t automatic but rather user-initiated, and you have complete control over what contact details you share with the recipient.
Unlike other features on this list, Android devices used to offer something similar—called Android Beam—until Google slowly killed it over the years, as reported by XDA Developers.
8. Hide My Email With iCloud+
Apple is very strict about user privacy across its devices, and over time, it has made several changes to iOS and the App Store to improve security. In 2021, Apple introduced its iCloud+ service, which gave users access to the Hide My Email feature and a hidden VPN-like service called Private Relay.
While Google already offers a similar VPN service in the form of VPN by Google One, it doesn’t have anything similar to the Hide My Email feature for Android devices yet.
Hide My Email, for those who don’t know, allows you to use a random email address while signing up for websites. This random address will automatically forward all the emails it receives to your personal inbox.
Thanks to this feature, you can use a random email address while keeping your personal email address completely private whenever you create a new account on a website.
9. Shared With You in Messages
Apple has mastered the art of segregating the content you receive in the Messages app. “Shared with You” works together with Apple’s stock apps and puts shared content where it belongs, so it’s ready for you when you launch the relevant apps.
For example, let’s say your friend shared a link to a webpage. The next time you launch Safari, this particular link will show up under the Shared with You section on your start page.
Google has not yet found a way to smartly integrate content with its stock Messages app, so you’ll have to manually scroll around and find the content your contacts shared with you.
10. Focus Filters
Focus mode is available on both Android and iOS devices, but Apple takes it up a notch with Focus filters. With Focus filters, the Focus you set can work within Apple apps, like Safari, Messages, Mail, and Calendar, to filter out distracting content.
For example, if you have turned on Work Focus on your iPhone, Safari will only show you the tabs related to work to minimize distractions.
While Google introduced a proper Focus mode that can rank distracting apps alongside Android 13, it still doesn’t integrate with apps to hide distracting content.
11. Battery Health Check
Back in 2017, Apple admitted to intentionally slowing down its iPhones to compensate for battery degradation. Shortly after the public backlash, the company introduced a new feature that allows iOS users to conveniently check an iPhone’s battery health. When battery health goes below 80%, iOS prompts users to get their battery serviced or replaced.
There’s no built-in way to check an Android phone’s battery health, but you have other options, like using third-party apps that give you additional information about the battery.
iDevices Still Offer Unique Features
Comparisons between iOS and Android have been going on forever, but we can safely say there’s no clear winner to this day. Sure, iOS acts more like a walled garden, whereas Android is generally more open and feature-packed, but Apple still manages to stand out with the unique set of features above that seamlessly work across its devices.
In the end, the software alone isn’t the deciding factor for most people, which is why you’d need to compare the top-of-the-line iPhones with the latest Android flagships to get a better idea on this subject. As much as we love both operating systems, the hardware you choose can go a long way in determining the overall user experience.