Recently, I have been spending quality time on the Android platform. Being an iOS user, I gravitated towards Android version of those apps that I already used on iOS for years.
I was keen to see how iOS indie developers were porting their apps to Android. The results were a mixed bag.
Stellar Android Apps
The following apps on android were stellar and just as good as their iOS counterparts:
- Pocket Casts: this is a beautiful multi-platform podcast client. Amazingly, I did not find any features absent on the android app that are present on iOS, except for Airplay. Sync is reliable, and I frequently bounced between iOS and Android incurring no sync issues. Pocket Casts Premium is also unlocked on all platforms. It truly is platform-agnostic without compromise.
- Spark: This is a popular email client on iOS, and it does not disappoint on Android, as evidenced by the positive reviews on both app stores. Core Spark features are available on all platforms. Integration with other services is limited on Android, and this isn’t a dealbreaker.
- Hello Weather:I cannot understand why this weather app is not popular on Android. It has a beautiful design, identical to iOS. The only downside is that the premium subscription on iOS is not transferable to Android. With that said, it's a great weather app that deserves more credit and admiration on both platforms.
- 1Password: If this app was lacklustre on Android, it would have crushed my dreams of ever using Android. I am pleased that 1Password on Android flies and takes advantage of all the Android features it offers. In addition, the design is identical to the iOS version. It’s not perfect on Android. However, I suspect the autofill APIs are different, especially compared to the recent addition of extensions on Safari.
- iA Writer: I purchased this app on Android years ago, and its focus on writing is core to the overall iA Writer experience. Even though I use Ulysses these days, iA Writer is one superb app for writing and this holds true on Android just as it does on Apple platforms. Interestingly, on Android, iA Writer is available as a subscription and a one-time payment option.
Disappointing Android Apps
The following apps that are gems on iOS are disappointing on Android:
- Day One:: This app was almost unusable for me on Android. The app does not support encrypted journals, which means I cannot access my journals on Android. I understand encryption is difficult, but three years ago, Day One indicated on its Google Play listing that encryption support is coming soon. To this very day, it's not even available on Beta. Automattic recently acquired Day One, and I am hopeful the Android app receives much-needed attention.
- Carrot Weather: compared to its iOS counterpart, Carrot Weather on Android is subpar. Carrot Weather is made by a solo developer and no doubt it's difficult to keep pace with adding new features to iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, macOS and also Android. One person supporting so many platforms is a massive task. That being said, Carrot Weather on Android desperately needs some attention. Honestly, the mac version also needs some love. The Android version is manageable and captures the essence of the Carrot Weather AI and its quirky weather forecasts. I found OverDrop to be a much better weather app on Android.
iOS Apps I missed on Android
The following apps I use that are exclusive to the Apple platform and as such are not on Android:
- Things 3
- Ulysses (found iA Writer)
- Castro (Pocket Casts is a great alternative)
Not having Things 3 was a serious dealbreaker.
Even though I managed to access my iCloud Mail, iCloud Calendar and iCloud contacts on Android, there simply is no way to access iCloud Drive on Android. This was also frustrating because I moved from Dropbox to iCloud a few years ago and today, I am kind of regretting that decision.
Most apps I use are available on Android
The Android app situation has dramatically improved over the years. The following key apps I use on iOS are also available on Android, with almost feature parity.
- All my banking apps
- Google Apps (Maps, YouTube, Calendar, Photos)
- Microsoft Office Suite
- And many more
Through this exercise, I found new respect for Google’s stance on being platform-agnostic. Google apps on iOS are superb, and they are equally good on Android. Apple barely has any apps on Android, and the ones they have (Apple Music); are buggy and disappointing. Google Photos and Google Maps are vastly superior to Apple’s version, and they are available on all platforms. Obviously, Google’s business model allows them to be platform-agnostic while Apple’s does not.
The downside of adopting an iOS first approach from my perspective
Because I am largely if not exclusively in the Apple ecosystem, I seek Android counterparts of my favourite iOS apps. Adopting this approach prevents me to discover new apps that are exclusive to Android and are pretty remarkable. Infinity for Reddit is one such client, which I only discovered because there is no Apollo on Android.
If instead of being on two platforms, I was migrating to Android and not using iOS devices, my scope on Android would have significantly widened. It is clear to me is living on both platforms is frustrating because I cannot take advantage of the features exclusive to each platform. The reason for this is that in most cases, apps that take advantage of Android features are not present on iOS and vice versa.
Moral of the story: pick a garden and grow veggies there. In my case, I opted for the Apple walled garden many moons ago.
My problem is that I cannot help but look at other gardens and wonder if the grass is greener.