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These Android features are so great that iOS had to steal them


Companies innovate… but they also emulate. That’s the way of the world and one of the driving forces behind the tech industry. When talking about operating systems lifting features from their competitors, the names Android and iOS come up a lot. Here’s a list of some of the best features that iOS copied from Android.

Let’s face facts: neither operating system will be where it is without lifting features from the other, and that’s quite alright. Companies take ideas from others and add their own twist to them. This is something that helps the tech industry grow and allows more people to enjoy features. Maybe Apple will come up with a feature, and Google will find a better way to implement it, and vice versa.

Without emulation, there would literally be no smartphone market. There would be iPhones, Blackberries, and the deluge of “dumbphones” that populated the market in the early 2000s. So, we need emulation. No feature should belong to one ecosystem. Tech is tech.

Now, with all the sensible and civil talk out of the way, let’s be Android fanboys and talk about what features iOS copied from Android!

Features iOS copied from Android

We’re all used to accusing Apple of bringing basic Android features 5 – 10 years after they were made. We can’t deny that some of the features it launches bear a resemblance to features that we were using on the Samsung Galaxy Rush or Nexus 5 back in the day. Well, Apple is one of the few companies that have the money and brand loyalty to do so. So, let’s see what that means.

The ability to place apps anywhere on the screen

If you’re an Android user who watched WWDC 2024, we can tell that your blood was boiling when you saw Craig Federighi brag about placing apps anywhere on his iPhone’s home screen. Rather than saying “You can finally place the apps anywhere on your screen” he disguised it by advertising the ability to select and move multiple apps.

Let’s cut the crap, there’s no reason why Apple couldn’t have implemented this basic feature into iOS. It’s one of the reasons why Android has been so much better for customizations. Sometimes, you want to keep certain apps on one screen while keeping others on another screen. Heaven forbid Apple bring some sort of app drawer to let you only display the apps that you want to see.

These Android features are so great that iOS had to steal them

In any case, this isn’t an “L” for Apple, as the kids say; it’s actually a major win for iOS users. Now, they have a better way to organize their home screens.

Widgets

Now, this is another feature that we were using since the days of old, widgets! Everyone loves pasting a mini-calendar or media player on their screen to forgo having to navigate to the app. Widgets have been a major part of the Android user experience, and no other operating system does it better.

Apple tried to bring its own spin to widgets when it introduced them. In iOS 13, it only allowed you to pin them to your Today View. That was a little frustrating, as it was limiting. The home screen remained unchanged.

Then, in iOS 14, the company finally allowed users to add widgets to the home screen. Again, trying to bring its own spin to widgets, iOS 14 introduced “Smart Stacks.” This is a feature that allows you to stack widgets on top of one another. Then, you can swipe up to cycle through them. The feature will automatically cycle through the widgets based on your activity.

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iphone widgets AM AH 5iphone widgets AM AH 5

Dynamic Theming

Another feature that Apple announced during WWDC 2024 was the ability to theme your app icons. Firstly, the company advertised that, when you switch to dark mode, the color scheme of the apps will go dark. Then, he went on to say that you can adjust the color scheme of your apps by using a tint slider. Lastly, he said that you can change the color based on your wallpaper.

Sound familiar? Most of the people watching were saying that it is basically Android’s Material You. They’re not far off. Back when Google introduced us to Android 12, the company introduced one of the most popular features called Dynamic Color. This is the color that takes the main colors from your wallpaper and designs a system-wide color scheme based on them.

In Android 13, the company brought themed icons, and while it took a while for most app developers to bring their own themed icons, it eventually created a neat and unified look. This is something that characterizes the typical stock Android look.

Now, Apple didn’t copy Android 100%. Remember, Apple likes to bring its own spin to features, which is great. It brought a slider that allows you to add a custom color to your icons. So, you can have bright, electric pink icons over your picture of a dark New York alleyway.

Also, Apple only brought the colors to the icons, while Material You changes the color scheme for the entire interface, including first-party apps. So, that’s a bit of a bummer.

iOS 18 app icons colorsiOS 18 app icons colors

Clean Up

Apple realized that iPhone users don’t like photo-bombers. During WWDC 2024, the company announced the Clean Up tool in the Photos app. It allows you to circle an object that you want to remove from your photo. Once it does this, the app will use Apple’s trademarked Technological Wizardry™ to remove it.

The thing is that Magic Eraser existed a few years before this feature came out. Announced as a feature in Android 12, Magic Eraser is a Google Photos feature. It has since made it to devices outside of the Pixel ecosystem. Google also developed a camouflage feature that will make the subject blend in.

Split-screen apps

iPads are designed for workers. Well, how many busybodies like to be limited to only one app on their screen? With the large screen that the iPad has, there’s enough room to run two apps at the same time, and you can. It was revolutionary, but it wasn’t new.

Samsung brought the ability to split the screen with its Galaxy Tab 4. That tablet was released a year before Apple brought that ability. Both implementations were pretty limited. This was before Google revamped the split-screen functionality, so you could only use a limited set of apps in split-screen on the Samsung tablet. Now, we’re all waiting for iOS to bring the ability to pop your apps out as floating windows.

App library

This one is a little loose, but it hits on one complaint that Android users had about iOS for years. Any Android user migrating to iOS had to deal with the fact that all of their apps were visible on the screen. There was no way to hide the apps that you didn’t want to see.

Well, Apple eventually developed the App library. This is a screen that houses all of your apps organized into folders. Rather than swiping on your screen, you’d scroll to the very last page on your screen.

 

iphone app library AM AH 4iphone app library AM AH 4

With this, Apple finally gave users the ability to remove apps from the home screen. Again, the company went in its own direction with this feature. With the screen, users have an easy time finding their apps.

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Also, in Apple fashion, it deprioritized customizability. While it’s nice that all of the apps are organized into folders, it would also be nice to see the option for a screen with all of your apps organized into ABC order. But, that’s not the biggest deal.

Type to Siri

It’s great talking to Google Assistant when you need some quick help, but you’re not always going to be able to. This is why Google came out with the ability to summon the Google Assistant and type what you want to search. It takes longer, but it’s better than disturbing others.

Well, Apple welcomed this revolutionary feature… only it was seven years later. During WWDC 2024, the company revealed that Siri can read. It even had a fancy title to announce the feature. With this feature, you’re able to summon Siri and type what you want it to search rather than speak.

Photos movie maker

During WWDC 2024, Apple unveiled some new AI tools. During the event, we got a look at the biggest revamp to the Photos app. One of the new AI tools coming to the photos app is the feature that automatically compiles photos and clips into a movie. The tool will also add music to it.

Say, if you went on a ski trip, and you want a quick video of it, you can ask the AI to make it. You’ll be able to suggest what people should be in the video. It’s pretty advanced stuff, and you’ll type what kind of movie you want it to make like you would a chatbot.

Well, Google had a tool like this for several months before Apple’s take. It’s called the Highlights tool, and it allows you to do much the same thing. It will use AI to search for clips and photos to add to the video, and it will also add music. If you’re not pleased with the results that it produces, then you’re able to dig into the video and reorder or swap out clips/pictures. You’re also able to change the music.

Both implementations use AI to quickly craft a video memory from your photos. So, if you’re not a video editor, you’ll be good no matter which operating system you use.

Live voicemail

When Apple unveiled iOS 17, the company introduced us to a feature called Live Voicemail. This is an incredibly useful feature that will show you a real-time transcript of what the person on the other line is saying. This way, you’ll be able to see what the person is talking about before you pick up the phone. If the transcript starts to look shady, you can block the call without even picking it up.

The thing is that Google actually brought a feature like that with the Pixel 6 series. This was one of the more popular features that Google introduced for the then-refreshed line of phones. Just like Apple’s implementation, you’re able to see a live transcript of what the caller is saying.

Along with that feature, Google Assistant will answer the phone on your behalf. This way, you can avoid distractions and filter scam calls more effectively.

The Notification Center

When Android introduced the notification shade, it struck gold and advanced smartphone operating systems across the board. It was so impactful that Microsoft adopted the notification shade into its Windows phones. Not long after that, Apple also introduced this feature into iOS 5.

Obviously, Apple opted to call it something different. Rather than calling it the Notification Shade, it’s called the Notification Center. The company’s implementation is also fairly different from Android’s. It treats the shade as an entire screen rather than an overlay. If you want to dismiss it, you’ll need to press the home button/do the home screen swipe gesture.

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iOS Notification CenteriOS Notification Center

That’s a bit more tedious than Android’s method. On Android, all you have to do is swipe upward on the shade. The Notification Center is also different from the Notification Shade in that it’s only for notifications. In Android, the notification shade traditionally houses the quick settings along with the brightness slider. iOS keeps the notifications and the settings separate.

Hidden apps

This is a feature that just about everyone can use. During WWDC 2024, Apple introduced the ability to hide apps from view. This is different from tossing them into the app library. The app will be erased from view entirely. If you want to access the app again, you’ll need to unlock it using Face ID.

It’s a great feature to use if you lend your phone to another person to use and there are apps that you don’t want them to access. All jokes aside, it can come in handy if you need to hide your violent video games when letting your child play with your phone. Also, you can hide your Photos app from nosey friends.

This is a feature that’s a little debated because it’s not a native Android feature that launches innately on new devices. Rather, there are certain Android skins like HiOS that come with this functionality. A great example of a HiOS-powered device is the Tecno Camon 30 Premier (Review).

Either way, it’s still a feature that you can get on an Android device that you couldn’t on an iPhone. It works the same way as on iOS. You can hide your apps from view. The app won’t show any notifications, and you’ll need to authenticate in order to unblock it.

Game mode

iPhones have some serious gaming chops, and the developers are great at optimizing the games for the phones. We also attribute this to the powerful chips that Apple puts into its handsets. We’re still reeling from the fact that the company was able to put Resident Evil 4 on the latest iPhones.

Well, in case the company needed to make these phones any better for gaming, Apple introduced a new gaming mode for iOS 18. This is a mode that will prioritize the game running so that it takes full advantage of the processor. It also deprioritizes background processes. This way, you’ll have a smoother experience. Along with that, the game mode will improve the responsiveness of earbuds and controllers connected to the phone.

This is great. However, over the years, countless phones from tons of Android manufacturers have been using dedicated game modes to boost gaming performance and eliminate distractions. Game modes like these come in all different shapes and sizes, and they’ve been helping Android phones conquer the best games on the Play Store.

And there you have it!

If you’re an iOS fan, you’re probably frothing at the mouth. Look, this wasn’t a hit piece on iOS. It just sheds light on the fact that the road to new tech is paved with both innovation and emulation. We all know that there are tons of features that Android lifted from Apple.

Samsung “conveniently” revamped its lock screen customizations after Apple did the same. Google’s Find My Device network seems pretty similar to Apple’s Find My network. There are several third-party Android skins that stole the Dynamic Island. How many Android OEMs nipped the concept of Apple’s Control center?

So, we’re not overlooking the innovations that Apple brought first. Features travel back and forth between companies, and these companies bring their own takes. They improve upon them in ways that the original company didn’t. That’s what tech is all about, improving on ideas to improve the tech experience for the users.



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John Smith

My John Smith is a seasoned technology writer with a passion for unraveling the complexities of the digital world. With a background in computer science and a keen interest in emerging trends, John has become a sought-after voice in translating intricate technological concepts into accessible and engaging articles.

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