Can Android run iTunes or FaceTime? (And more top Google queries answered)

When you're searching for answers, Google's autosuggest feature lets you know what other people are looking for when conducting similar queries. In this week's installment of our Google Autosuggests series, we provide some answers to the most popular queries about Google's hugely popular mobile operating system.

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Google's autosuggest feature lets you know, sometimes with spooky accuracy, what other people are looking for when conducting queries similar to yours. So, with Google's help, we provide answers to a few of the most popular searches about Android.

Can you use iTunes and FaceTime on Android?

I combined these two Android-related questions, which are both at the top of Google's auto-suggested list, based on their common denominator: People want to know if some of Apple's flagship apps and services for iPhone have counterparts on Android.

Let's start with iTunes. There's no program by that name for Android, but you can install the Apple Music app, which provides access to the Apple Music subscription service as well as any tunes you've matched or uploaded to your iCloud music library.

As for FaceTime, sorry, the answer is an emphatic no. FaceTime uses proprietary protocols that work only on and between Apple-branded devices.

Is Android free?

As far as owners of an Android-powered phone or tablet are concerned, yes, the operating system is free. You don't need to pay anything for the code installed on your device or for updates.

For device manufacturers, there's likewise no payment due to Google. Using Google services requires preinstalling a collection of Google apps, but even that's not mandatory if the company chooses to use the Android Open Source Project code instead.

But there is one unexpected cost. Most major device manufacturers have signed license agreements with Microsoft that give them the right to use a collection of patents Microsoft owns that it says are infringed by Android. The exact terms of the agreements are confidential, but we know that Samsung paid Microsoft $1 billion for a single year's patent royalties.

Does Android have Siri?

Siri is yet another signature Apple feature that doesn't work on non-Apple devices. Google's alternative is Google Assistant. There's no guarantee that your phone will summon that Assistant on demand, though. The feature is still in its early stages.

Google Assistant requires the Marshmallow or Nougat Android version with Google Play Services, on phones with at greater than 1.5GB of memory and 720p or higher screen resolution. It's also available at this time only in English and German.

Your phone maker might have its own intelligent assistant. Samsung's Bixby, for example, is new on the Galaxy S8 series devices. But it's also just in its infancy.

Can Android be upgraded?

One of Android's great strengths is that you can upgrade any device to a new Android version, provided that the hardware supports that version. The catch? You have to be willing to wade deep into the weeds, flashing ROMs and rooting devices and probably voiding your device's warranty.

If you aren't willing to hack your phone, you're at the mercy of the device manufacturer and the carrier, who decide whether they want to invest the time and effort to deliver updates to older phones. On a phone that's more than 18 months old, you're unlikely to be offered an upgrade.

Can Android phones get viruses?

No operating system is immune from malware. Google's history with apps from the Google Play Store is pretty solid in terms of preventing malware from sneaking in, although there have been a few isolated slip-ups.

You're much more likely to get into trouble if you install Android apps from unofficial sources. Doing so requires changing the default system settings on an Android device, and you probably shouldn't do that unless you fully understand the consequences and you're certain the package you're installing is from a trusted source.

Is Android better than Apple's iOS?

Reasonable people can differ on the answer to this question. They can also get into shouting matches and fistfights, in our experience. So we'll let you argue the pros or cons of that proposition without our help, thanks very much.

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