How to switch from the iPhone to Android

You don't have to give up the whole Apple ecosystem to embrace a Galaxy S III or other Android smartphone

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AirPlay streaming, iMessage chat, FaceTime videocalling, and AirPrint: You lose these (well, almost)
Apple has been pushing the use of zero-configuration network services aggressively in both iOS and OS X. In the OS X context, AirDrop allows for drag-and-drop file sharing among newer Macs.

But AirPlay and AirPrint are the two major services that people use based on Apple's Bonjour zero-configuration networking. With AirPlay, you can mirror your screen or stream audio to a stereo or TV connected to a $99 Apple TV device. With AirPrint, you can print over Wi-Fi to any AirPrint-enabled printer.

There's a huge seduction in what these services offer: being able to simply share music and videos from the device you happen to have in your hand. But you won't get so seduced in the Android platform, where each device maker deploys its own streaming functionality -- or chooses not to. When available, streaming is typically restricted to the vendor's own media devices.

As a result, you should forget about streaming from an Android device -- unless you have the DoubleTwist app and its $5 AirSync add-on, that is. After you enable AirPlay in its settings, you can easily stream music and videos via an Apple TV, a feature most ex-iPhone users will be very happy to see.

Printing is a moot point since Android has no native print service, and Google's CloudPrint is designed for its Chrome OS devices, not Android. Plus, in most cases, it makes you leave your PC or Mac on to act as the waystation. The workarounds available in the Google Play market force contortions such as opening documents in the apps before printing, which restricts you to specific file types at best. Some of Motorola Mobility's Android devices have a usable printing (and video streaming) capability built in, but not others.

Bonjour networking isn't the only Apple technology closed off to Android. If you bring Android into your Apple mix, you won't be able to use the FaceTime videocalling app -- it works only on OS X and iOS devices, not even PCs. And you won't be able to use the iMessage chat service that lets you avoid carrier SMS fees -- it too is limited to OS X and iOS devices, though iMessage users will work with Android's SMS services, as it does with any device's SMS.

If you want cross-platform videocalling and free chat services, you'll need to use third-party services such as Microsoft's Skype or Google's GoogleTalk that work across multiple platforms.

Still, when all is said and done, you can get an Android smartphone to join in much of the Apple ecosystem, if you're willing to spend $20 or so in helper apps and purchase the Android equivalents to your paid iOS apps. That's not such a high price to pay to have your Apple ecosystems and Android device, too.

This story, "How to switch from the iPhone to Android," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in mobile technology at For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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