If you own an iPhone, chances are you genuinely prefer the feature set of iOS to Android, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t appreciate having access to some of Android’s best features. This guide walks through setting up the best of both worlds.
If you don’t want to go all the way and install Android on your iOS device, you still have plenty of ways to bring the best features of Android to iOS. Jailbreaking will really let you go all the way, but it’s definitely not required. Whatever your situation, here are the many ways of making your iOS device look and act more like Android.
Lock Screen Widgets
An Unobtrusive Notifications Bar
iOS does a lot of things very, very well, but if there were one place where it fails pretty miserably it’s how it handles notifications. No matter what kind of notification you get, be it SMS or an alarm clock, iOS gives you the same annoying blue dialogue box that interrupts whatever you’re doing. If you’re sick of notifications getting in your way, MobileNotifier is an excellent solution.
This is a jailbreak hack, so you’re out of luck if you’re sticking with a jailed device. If you need a reason to jailbreak, this is a good one.
MobileNotifier handles notifications similarly to the way Android does — by keeping them in an always-accessible drawer and by notifying you without interruption so you can continue doing what you’re doing. When you receive a text message, for example, a little bar will pop up top to let you know that you’ve received a notification. You can leave it up there for as long as you need and dismiss it (or act on it) whenever you want. To see all of your notifications (or to clear them), you just need to double tap the home button and you’ll see your notifications drawer (as well as multi-tasking mode). If you’d like to set up MobileNotifier (and you should), follow our instructions here.[imgclear]
Getting Google Apps
The official Google Mobile app is an obvious choice because it provides easy access to a pretty wide swath of Google’s features (including Google Goggles). You can also grab Google Latitude and Google Earth for iOS. If you want to start syncing your Google Docs, GoodReader is an excellent option (and absolutely worth the $US5 cost for all it can do). Finally, you may find you actually prefer Google’s mobile web apps over the native options, so be sure to load them up on your iOS device and bookmark them if you do. You can create a bookmark on your homescreen that acts just like an app, so it may really be a better alternative in some cases.[imgclear]
Enabling Google Sync
Apple’s never been particularly good at over-the-air sync, and they seem dedicated to keeping you tethered to iTunes for the rest of eternity. If you don’t like constantly syncing, paying for MobileMe, or just prefer to sync with Google in the first place, you can enable Google Sync on your iOS device to solve both of those problems.
Google Sync for iOS will let you push your contacts, calendars and mail to your iOS device and it’s really easy to set up. It’s almost identical to setting up MobileMe, except it uses the Microsoft Exchange protocol. Google Sync requires iOS 3.0 or higher, but iOS 4.0 or higher will let you add multiple Exchange accounts (so you’ll want to make sure you’ve upgraded if you need multiple Exchange accounts on your device). If you want to get Google Sync set up, Google has some step-by-step instructions to get you started. Once you have it up and running, you’ll have your Google data pushed and syncing over-the-air to your iOS device just like you would with Android.[imgclear]
Enabling the Wi-Fi Hotspot
Sure, if you’re running iOS 4.3 you can pay $US20 per month for a Wi-Fi hotspot on your phone, but if you jailbreak you can pay $US20 just once to get the same functionality. My-Wi is a $US20 application that you can purchase in the Cydia store and makes nearly every tethering option you can imagine a possibility on your device. All you have to do is search for it in the Cydia store, purchase it, and install it. From there you just launch the app, click the Wi-Fi symbol, and turn your hotspot on.[imgclear]
The Finishing Touches
As vain and trivial as it is, one of my favourite parts about the Gingerbread release of Android is the effect you get when you turn off the phone. It looks like an old CRT television turning off, which is significantly more fun than the screen simply cutting to black. It’s strange to see Apple forgo the opportunity to smoothly animate between every state of iOS, but they’ve somehow neglected this one. Fortunately, if you jailbreak, you can install this effect very easily.
To get the effect, simply search Cydia for TV Tube Sleep. You’ll need to first pay $US1 to purchase the tweak, but then you’ll be able to install it. Once installed, Cydia will ask to restart Springboard. Once Springboard has restarted, you should be able to see the effect any time your device’s screen shuts off.
Got any other great ways to make your iOS device look and act more like Android? Let’s hear ‘em in the comments.