For the past 15 years, since the day Steve Jobs stood on a stage and introduced the world to the iPhone, it has had one major advantage over the competition: Seamless integration with the overall Apple ecosystem. The iPhone, along with everything else Apple makes. just works together in a way that Android (or Windows, for that matter) devices never really do.
For example, you can copy and paste from your iPhone to your Mac, or vice versa. Or, you can start reading an article on a website on your iPhone, and a little icon will appear in the dock on your Mac that allows you to pick up right where you left off.
You can even start typing an email on one device and finish on another using Handoff. Then, there's AirDrop, which is by far the easiest and fastest way to transfer files and information between two devices.
Or, if I pair a set of AirPods with my iPhone, they automatically connect to any of the devices I've signed into my Apple ID on. Or, if I'm wearing my Apple Watch, it can unlock my MacBook Air, or my iPhone (if I'm wearing a mask).
All of those things "just work." That's what makes using an iPhone so great, and it's one of the biggest reasons people love using Apple's devices. It's also one of the biggest drawbacks of using anything else.
If you're an Android user, almost none of those things are easy. That's because there's a pretty good chance your smartphone and laptop weren't made by the same company. Neither was the software that powers both devices.
This year, however, Google wants that to change. Though it wasn't there in person, Google used the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), to highlight its "Android Better Together" campaign, announcing a series of features meant to make your devices play nice.
For example, Google announced Near Share, which, as I'm sure you can guess, is like Apple's AirDrop. You'll also be able to pair your Bluetooth headphones and easily switch them between devices, just like AirPods. Google also rolled out a feature to let you set up a Chromebook using your Android device to transfer settings. You'll even be able to use a Wear OS smartwatch to unlock a Chromebook or Android device.
There is a problem. Two, actually. The first is obvious--Google is about 15 years late to this particular party. I'm always a fan of a company making the user experience better, but in this case, Google is just playing catch up.
The other, more important problem is that while Google makes Android, it doesn't control most of the devices that run its mobile OS. Sure, Google makes some devices--mostly Pixel smartphones, Nest smartphone gadgets, and the Pixelbook line of Chromebooks. The problem, however, is that most of the Android devices people buy aren't made by Google. For that matter, most of the Chromebooks they buy aren't made by Google either.
That doesn't even take into account that most of the computers people buy aren't Chromebooks, they're laptops made by companies like Dell, or HP, or Acer. All of those are running Windows, which, again, isn't made by Google. It's made by Microsoft.
Apple, of course, has always had an advantage in that it makes its own hardware, as well as the software that runs on it. That means it can do things that other manufacturers can't.
Google can add all the features it wants to Android, but it's very hard to match the seamless experience of using an iPhone with any other device Apple makes. Google says it's working with Intel, Acer, and HP to bring some of these features to Windows PCs. It's telling that it didn't say Microsoft was building them into Windows.
Ultimately, that's the biggest reason using an Android device isn't like using an iPhone. For many people that's a selling point--they don't want to live in Apple's ecosystem or walled garden. That's fine, but they're also missing out on what many people find to be a much more seamless experience. Some might even call it the best reason to buy an iPhone.