Using an Android Phone in Apple’s Ecosystem

What happens if I replace one piece of Apple’s puzzle with a Pixel?

Joshua Beck


Recently, I had to send my iPhone 12 mini back due to a faulty camera; while I’m waiting for a replacement to arrive (or rather, deciding whether or not to even order a replacement), I’ve been using Google’s Pixel 4a 5G.

Now, Apple is well-known for their ecosystem, how excellently their products work in unison. On their own, Apple devices are fantastic, but when you start pairing them together, you get something akin to magic.

And for a good part of 2020, I was contently living entirely in that ecosystem; I had the iPhone, the iPad, the MacBook, the AirPods, the Apple Watch, etc. and so forth. So you can imagine the disruption I experienced when suddenly I had to swap out what is arguably the hub of Apple’s ecosystem- the iPhone- for a lowly Android device.

It was going to be horrible. I was going to go from having all of my devices communicating with each other to having a phone that ignored all of my other gadgets. How was I going to cope?

Pretty well, it turned out. Despite all of Apple’s insistence that their devices work better together, throwing an Android phone into the mix didn’t really cause much of a disruption.

Sure, I couldn’t use my Apple Watch anymore (I could, but only as a watch and fitness tracker- albeit one that wasn’t sending my health data anywhere- and it could still unlock my MacBook). And sure, I couldn’t use Apple’s Photos app to access all of my shots from my phone and I couldn’t use iMessages to respond to messages on my other devices. But I quickly found work arounds for all of that.

For photos, it was easy; I’ve always used Google Photos to back up my pictures, even when I was using an iPhone (Google’s free storage beats paying for iCloud space… I’m bummed that’s ending in June). And though there isn’t a native Google Photos app on the MacBook, there is one on the iPad, and you can access Google Photos in the web browser.

Likewise, Android’s Messages for Web can be accessed in browser, too. And while it may seem, at first, to be a pain to have to sign into a website to read and respond to text messages instead of using the iMessages…