Neil Macy

Living (Comfortably) In Apple’s Walled Garden

I've used an iPhone as my personal phone since 2009, but I've used Android alongside that, off and on, for most of time. I bought my first Android phone in 2010 (an HTC Hero that I flashed Android 2.3 Gingerbread onto because it was limited to Android 2.2 Froyo). I wrote my first Android code around the same time, just a year after I first opened Xcode. And I spent 4 years as a full-time Android developer, before I worked on iOS professionally.

But I've never fully made the switch to Android on my main phone. Periodically, I set up an Android phone for that purpose, and always last just a day or two of using it full time before I go back to my iPhone.

This isn’t a criticism of Android. It’s just my own reflections of what I like about the two platforms, and why I prefer iOS.

There are a few things keeping me on iOS. There are some apps that either aren't available on Android, or just aren't as good. There are some hardware reasons. And honestly, there's some data lock-in too.

I feel like I can't switch to Android because there are some things I can't bring with me. But I'm also perfectly content with that.


  • Day One: my diary, and it's only on Apple platforms. I have a decade of history that I can't recover if I move to Android. That on its own is enough to ensure I will always want an iOS device around.
  • Ivory: a brilliant Mastodon app, beautiful and powerful. I've used so many in the last year or so, on Android and iOS, and none work for me like this does.
  • Awesome Habits: a habit tracking app, which I use for little things like reminding me to write in my diary and practice French.
  • Working Copy: a git client, surely Android actually has better support than iOS for this?
  • Textastic: surely Android has a good text editor with some basic syntax highlighting?
  • Dark Noise: an app for playing white noise sounds to help me concentrate when I work.
  • Noir: automatic dark mode on the web, even when sites don't support it.
  • Reeder: a fantastic RSS reader.
  • Mela: a recipe app. It's beautiful, and the recipe import is really clever.
  • Carrot Weather: beautiful and clever weather app, which has great widget and Apple Watch support, and is incredibly customisable, so I can see exactly what I care about and ignore the rest.
  • GoodLinks: this is just a dumping ground for links I want to save, so there must be something useful like this on Android.

There's also a strong indie app scene on iOS that I've just not found on Android. There are all sorts of great iOS apps like Working Copy, Crouton, FoodNoms, Awesome Habits, Dark Noise, Darkroom, Halide, Carrot Weather, which are made by small or one-person teams on iOS, and I can't find the same standard of apps on the Play Store. Please, prove me wrong, and give me all your indie Android app recommendations!

Locked the Garden Gate

Beyond just the apps and their capabilities, another reason I stick with iOS is the ecosystem around it.

  • iCloud sync: another issue with many of the apps I listed above is that they use iCloud or Apple Health for their cloud sync, which obviously doesn't translate to Android. But their sync works well (unlike some cross-platform sync, in apps like Obsidian for example).
  • Fitness tracking with Apple Health: I have a long history of running data, well over a decade now, and I don't want to (or even think I can) migrate all of my data to Google.
  • Apple Watch: this is a huge reason. I've used other watches - Android Wear devices (I got the first models that were handed out at Google I/O 2014, and my Android-using wife has had others in the years since), Garmin running watches too. But I love the Apple Watch, whereas I barely liked the others. The hardware, the software, the way it integrates with my phone, the wrist straps I have for it. Honestly, if I can get an Apple Watch to work nicely with an Android phone, then that's a huge part of the garden wall knocked down.

Published on 1 May 2024