There is no way to live like an Android user on iOS and vice versa. But you can definitely try. Jumping back and forth between iPhone and Android phones in my recent journey, I thought it might be fun to try some of the “hacks” out there for people who want to take a dip in a different type of pool.
But I don’t know if the methods I’m about to mention will add much to your experience. I looked up some popular ways people are trying to mimic iOS on Android, then tried some tips iOS users give each other to get more Google on their operating system. It’s not the same. Even the most dedicated developer trying to bring the iOS experience to Android cannot understand the reasons why Apple users are doing it use Apple products. And while so much of Google’s ecosystem is open to iPhone users, it’s never quite the same experience as it is on Android.
Click through and I’ll show you how I tried to cross the line between two operating systems.
Launcher iOS 16
There is no shortage of apps on the Play Store to help Android look like an iPhone. But many of them either represent older versions of iOS or haven’t had a significant software update in years. I’ve spotted a developer who seems dedicated to the task of turning Android into iOS in an aesthetic way. The first of the apps is called Launcher iOS 16. It’s exactly what you think it is: a launcher with iOS 16-like flavors.
Once you have the app installed on your Android device, you can set it as your default launcher or set it up for those times when you want to switch to the wrong iOS mode. Most customization is done through the main page of the launcher app. You can customize the app grid, customize which widgets to add to the home screen, and adjust the amount of blurring and animations throughout the interface. There’s even an option for a parallax background effect, and you can change certain icons to their iOS-specific counterparts. For example, the Google News app is branded for Apple News instead.
While that all sounds decent, there are caveats to be aware of with this particular app: while it detracts from the aesthetics, it’s not the smoothest experience. Trying to drag and drop icons on the home screen is pretty annoying and doesn’t compare to the experience on iOS. The widgets are also somewhat limited. If you opt for built-in Android devices to play around with, the Google-designed Material You aesthetic doesn’t quite match the rest of the fake iOS 16.
Launcher iOS 16 is also teeming with ads. Almost every click within the app brings up an ad, which is frustrating when you’re trying to do a little tweaking. I’d happily pay for the option to remove the ads because I believe very much in supporting the developer community, but it’s not offered anywhere.
Lock screen iOS 15
Well, it won’t bring you Apple’s FaceID on Android, but Lock Screen iOS 15, from the same developer, will bring you an iOS-style lock screen. There are disadvantages to consider here too. For one, you need to disable the lock screen that you set up via Android, or the unlock situation will be a bit messy. It’s possible with whatever Android security you’ve put over it, but it takes longer to get into the phone.
Lock Screen iOS 15 provides a simple link to disable the default security measure, allowing the app to do its job, including providing iOS-style notifications. But you’re entrusting your phone’s security to a third-party developer you’ve never met. It’s the same problem with any copied iOS lock screen you choose from play store.
If you’re looking for a better solution that isn’t immediately iOS-y, KLCK can help get you where you want to be. It is a lock screen customization app for Android and has a robust community that can help you achieve your aesthetic. You can either create your lock screen from scratch using the included tools, or download what you find from a community member who figured out how to make Android lock screen look like iOS.
Control Center iOS 15
Let’s say you don’t want anything from that iOS wannabe interface, but you do want access to the Control Center. There is an app for that that comes from the same developer. Control Center iOS 15 replicates Apple’s Control Center, although it installs as a sidebar. It’s hidden behind a tiny tab that sits on the side of the Android home screen. If you want it to appear, swipe to expand it.
Unfortunately – I’m sure you’re noticing the issue here – not everything in this app works as seamlessly as it does on the iPhone. Although the developer kept updating the app, there was an error with the media playback module when I tested it. And anyway, if you’re on Android and using one of those fake iOS quick settings pages, you still have access to the pull-down notification bar, making this copycat control center almost redundant.
Get your Google apps
Now it’s time to shift our focus from the Google ecosystem and make the Apple iPhone look like an Android. Again, I have to tread with caution that the kind of Android parity you’re looking for doesn’t exist on iOS.
You could first try downloading all the available Google apps in the App Store. There are so many including Notes, Photos, Snapseed, Home and even Google Play Books that I didn’t even know existed on iOS until now. In my experience reviewing the iPhone 14 Pro, I think it’s a bit easier to leave Android for Apple since there are so many Google apps in the crossover.
Set Google Chrome and Gmail as default
You can set Google Chrome and Gmail as the default browsers and inbox apps on iOS. If you delve deep into the Google ecosystem, you might prefer it. Chrome unlocked most of the Android experience that I missed when using iOS. I also liked that the password chain was instantly available when I needed it, making it easier to load my accounts onto iCloud Keychain. What’s more, my searches and other activities I want to track within Google stay the same across platforms, so I can pick up where I left off on my Windows PC or back to Android.
Set up a Google Assistant shortcut in the roundabout
This isn’t the easiest way to manipulate Google Assistant on an iPhone, but it’s quick. With the iOS Shortcuts app, you can set up a quick link to bring up the Google Assistant when you need to ask a question or give it a command.
Download the Google Assistant app from the App Store. On the abbreviations App, tap the plus sign and then tap Add action > applicationsand scroll down until you see assistant. Tap there Ask Google. When you’re ready to talk to Googs, you can ask Siri to “Ask Google,” and then relay what you need. You can also set up a widget tile with the shortcut if you prefer to type and enter the wizard like you would on Android.
Gboard on iOS is missing the emoji kitchen
Take Gboard as a prime example of why Google’s apps are better on Android than iOS. The keyboard app on the iPhone doesn’t have access to the emoji kitchen, which is an amazing mishmash of emojis not typically available in Unicode. They are only available on Android devices.
If you’re using an iPhone, you can at least access some of the Emoji Kitchen mashups via a browser via this helpful little bookmark.
Of course you can change the icons
You can technically change the icons on iOS and Android as a quick bandage for switching between platforms, but it won’t do much to achieve the experience either way. On iOS, you have to create the Google icons widget by widget using the Shortcuts app, which sounds tedious until icon packs are widely accepted on the iPhone. Android itself has many iOS icon packs, but you’ll need to run a different launcher to achieve this. Not to mention that once you start pulling down that notification shade, people will understand.
When will Google widgets come to the lock screen?
At that point I gave up trying to have one experience like the other. At least I’ve found ways to allow an iPhone to access the information I would normally access on my primary carry, my Android smartphone. Apps like Android Messages and WhatsApp, which can only be activated on one device, can be used through the web browser when my phone is out of range. And the existence of many Google apps on the iPhone makes it easy for me to access all the data and information that I have stored in the Google cloud.
One thing I’m eagerly awaiting: Google widgets for the iOS 16 lock screen. Google announced earlier this week that widgets for Chrome, Drive, Search and Maps, among others, will be coming to the iPhone. At least it makes my Android life easier to access while I’m on the other platform.