Does Apple’s ecosystem lock in users? Here’s The Truth

8 Min Read

Apple’s ecosystem offers many advantages and for this reason, it is difficult to give up your iPhone. It’s hard to let go in the event that you decide you wish to change to a different handset. Apple has you locked in. And for most iPhone owners, there is absolutely no way out.

What is Apple’s ecosystem?

An ecosystem is defined as a biological community of interacting organisms. In tech language, this refers to a group of devices with software to create one collaborative network. Majority of the companies use this to create a ‘family’ of products but no company have mastered it like Apple with the Apple Ecosystem.

The ecosystem is something that draws consumers in to buy more products to work simultaneously. It all starts with the iPhone. You buy your brand new iPhone, suddenly you have an iPad, a Mac, an Apple TV, an Apple Watch, AirPods a HomePod and before you know, you have all apple products. But why? There could be a range of other products on the market that are far much better and less expensive. Having an Apple product disconnects the user from using many exceptional products from third-party companies, largely because third-party products usually do not work with Apple products.
Once you get into Apple’s ecosystem, it is very difficult to switch allegiance. This is because it’s not just your iPhone that you’ll be saying good bye to. A number of different apps and services that you use daily — some without even thinking about it — make switching to another platform almost impossible.

In this article, I’ll tell you about all the ways Apple makes it difficult to switch from iPhone to Android.

No matter how much greener the grass might get on the other side, I’m 100 percent sure I will never leave the iPhone/Mac ecosystem. I have everything I need inside iOS/macOS such that switching to other platforms such as Android or windows appears like a very bad idea.
Like me, there are millions and millions of other people locked into the Apple’s ecosystem, and it seems like the company is really interested in keeping us locked inside their iPhone for as long as possible.
I am all in on Apple’s ecosystem. And to be honest, I don’t think it is even possible for me to consider switching to a different platform, let alone, recommend one. Obviously, the two companies have very different priorities. Google’s priorities are not aligned with my needs. And Apple’s are. For me, it is as simple as that.

Every time I become curious enough to glance over the fence to see just how green the grass is, Apple performs a magic to make its own grass greener than ever. I’ve gotten so fond of Apple’s software and services, and indeed to many third-party iOS apps, that ditching my iPhone for an android phone is no longer an option.

Apple’s ecosystem is the main reason why I use the company’s products

For me one of the biggest reasons I use Apple’s products is the company’s ecosystem. Over the years I’ve found that it makes my life easier by making it possible for me to access my data across a range of devices such as iPhone, iPad or Mac
and I can easily begin a task on one device, and then switch to another one without missing a beat thanks to Continuity. I don’t have to worry about syncing my data across devices, things mostly just work with iCloud.
For example, I’m writing this post in Ulysses, my favorite writing app. It’s available on iOS, iPadOS and MacOS. Therefore, I can start writing on my iPad, and then easily switch to my Mac (or vice versa).

Whatever writing I’ve done on one device simply appears on my other devices in Ulysses. This makes it easy for me to switch to whichever device I want to use to finish my article, and it lets me start writing even if I’m miles away from my Mac.
Now, let’s look at all the ways iPhone users gets locked into Apple’s ecosystem.

How Apple’s ecosystem locks in users

Here are the reasons why I, and likely many of you, are locked into the iPhone ecosystem for the foreseeable future.

#1. iMessage

Let’s first look at the most obvious reason: iMessage. It is nice, and it is only available on Apple products. We occasionally see rumors that indicates
iMessage could make its way to Android in the future, However, Apple has always dismissed such assumptions.

There are several amazing third-party messaging solutions, such as WhatsApp, which you can use on Android instead. And there are Complex workarounds forgetting iMessage on Windows PC and Android. But are simply not as great as iMessage. They don’t work with other apps like iMessage does, plus they don’t offer as many features. Majority of them aren’t as secure, either.

What’s more, in case you are already part of group chats in iMessage, you might as well say good bye to them when you switch to Android. Switching breaks those groups for you. And unless you can convince all your friends to move the conversation elsewhere, you’re going to be left in the dust.

#2. iCloud

iCloudis another service that you will lose when you switch from iPhone to Android. It’s possible to move all your information to Google Drive, or a different cloud storage service. It’s also possible to access iCloud files through a browser on an Android phone. But it’s just not very convenient.

The process is not streamlined, and it becomes very hard when you want to sync files between your phone and your Mac. You cannot keep backing up your photos and videos to iCloud Photos, either.

You can still access your iCloud mail, and sync contacts and calendars, through Google’s apps (or others). However, for the most part, once you move from iOS to Android, you will have to start from scratch. And you’ll be compelled to live without cool services such asFind My iPhone andFamily Sharing.

#3. Keychain

Keychain is currently part of iCloud, however I think it deserves an independent mention since it is a huge feature — and a huge loss for switchers.

You cannot access your iCloud Keychain on third-party platforms, meaning all the usernames and passwords you’ve stored in it over time are lost.
You’ll have to begin remembering them. You may use password managers such as 1Password
on Android. But if you were not saving passwords in such applications on iOS, then you will have nothing to sync to your new Android device.

#4. Apple Watch

Personally,Apple Watch is the most significant thing on this listing. There is no way to use an Apple Watch with an Android device. This means, not only are you giving up your iPhone if you switch, but you’ll have to give up Apple Watch, as well.

Okay, I might be able to live without iMessage, iCloud, Keychain and stuff like that. I might even be able to admit that all my App Store purchases were a waste of cash. But living without an Apple Watch is impossible for me.

It is undoubtedly the very best smartwatch on the market, and it does what it was designed to do fabulously. There’s no way I am letting go of that.

#5. Activity, Health and Workout

You should not be overly surprised to learn that without Apple Watch and iPhone, you lose the Activity, Workout and Health apps, along with all the fitness data they wrangle. Google provides its own substitute to the Activity app named Google Fit, and many others have theirs, too — but again, you will need to begin from scratch.

That is to say all those runs, swims and workouts — and all the medals you earned along the way — evaporate. And unlike iCloud Drive, Keychain or iMessage, which you can access from an iPad or Mac, Activity and Health are only available on iPhone.

#6. HomePod

Just like Apple Watch, HomePod cannot work with Android device for the largest part. There are some apps which allows you to stream music throughAirPlay, which means it’s possible to send songs from an Android device to your speaker. However, your options are very limited.

You will not have the ability to stream music from services such as Spotify or even the Apple Music app for Android. It’s not possible to set up a HomePod with an Android device,
either, so you’re stuck with a costly cylindrical brick in case you do not have another iOS device at home.

#7. AirPods

I understand AirPods work with Android and other third-party devices, however, they do not work anywhere near as well as they do with iPhone, iPad and Mac. Setup is not as easy, and you will discover that connectivity usually isn’t as reliable.

You also lose out on a whole lot offeatures that make AirPods unique, such as Siri, automatic switching between Apple devices, and automatic ear detection. You’ll no longer be able to customize AirPods’ double-tap feature.
And you can bid farewell to the option to listen to one AirPod at a time. Furthermore, if you don’t take both pods out of the case, they will not join to an Android phone.

Oh, it’s not possible to check AirPods’ battery level on Android, either.

If you do not already have a pair ofAirPods, , you are better off picking a less expensive set of wireless earbuds if you are likely to be using them largely with
an Android cellphone. And if you have AirPods already, simply include them to the list of stuffs that are not as good with no iPhone.

#8. App Store

Developers are working hard to make Android as significant as iOS. However, there are still a huge number of nice iOS apps that are not available on Google’s platform. As you probably know, I use many of them — and you most likely do, too. I’m talking about apps such as Things, Ulysses, Tweetbot, Deliveries, Copied, Overcast, Focos, Halide, Agenda, Pixelmator etc. I rely on virtually all these apps daily, and I love them.

I know I could discover replacements to most of these on Android, but I do not wish to. I paid for these apps. And they work good. They are Well designed and they fit perfectly into my workflows. I really don’t require anything else.

#9. Shortcuts

Speaking of workflows, I have been obsessed with
Apple’s Shortcuts app.
I use a lot of different shortcuts for a variety of tasks daily on iOS. And I am always on the lookout for more which can make my life easier and save me some time.

I honestly do not know how I would live without Shortcuts today — this feature is now vital to me. And that is still another reason why I can’t switch from an iPhone to Android. Just like most of Apple’s apps, Shortcuts isn’t accessible on third-party platforms.

#10. iTunes and Books

There are various methods to sync your iTunes music to an Android phone. You can upload the whole iTunes library into Google Play Music, then stream it all to your Android phone. Other apps will allow you to sync your playlists, as well.

You will lose out on other things, however. It’s very hard to transfer your iTunes movies and TV shows to an Android device. Furthermore, Syncing your podcasts and audiobooks is out of question.

Just like your App Store purchases, most of the stuff you purchased via iTunes and Books gets lost when you switch from iPhone to Android.

#11. Continuity and Handoff

You will loseContinuity andHandoff if you ditch iOS for Android, as well. This means that you will not have the ability to answer a phone call on any of your Apple devices. You cannot start an app on your Mac that
you were using on iPhone and continue where you left off. You will also lose the ability to unlock your Mac using your Apple Watch.

You will also say good bye toAirDrop, which is a remarkably easy and useful means to send photos, videos and other files between your Apple devices.

Granted, these may not be crucial features for many iPhone users, and you may be able to replace a number of these with things like tab syncing in Google Chrome. However, most cannot be substituted, and they’re wonderful to have.

What locks you into iPhone ecosystem?

Obviously I left out some Apple apps and services off this listing. I did not include anything that can easily be substituted, like CarPlay and the Podcasts app. I centered on the things I find especially tricky to forego. Things that therefore make it near impossible to leave the iPhone ecosystem.

Anyone who’s already in Apple’s ecosystem, and those who have successfully broken free, can attest that it’s actually kind of hard to leave it. Are you locked in Apple’s ecosystem? What makes ditching the iPhone impossible for you? If you think I have left out something important on this article, I’d love to know in the comments section below.
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GeeksModo Staff is a team of iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch experts led by Moses Johnson. We're passionate about all things Apple!
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