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Tip 1: Android-style keyboards will be available soon
Ever mulled making the move from Android to iOS? Here's a series of tips to help you decide whether to switch to move to Apple's OS, or stick with Google's.
With the arrival of iOS 8 just around the corner, Android handset owners will soon have fewer reasons to resist hopping over (or back, as the case may be) to the iPhone.
Android owners take for granted the freedom to switch keyboards, add widgets, and install new or even multiple launchers to customise their device. For the most part, Apple has made the decisions on these elements for users, limiting iOS to a few wallpapers and built-in features like the iOS keyboard, which hasn't been revamped since the first iPhone.
The launch of iOS 8 itself will bring two major changes that should make iPhone owners less likely to move to Android, and give Android users one fewer reason to resist a jump to Apple.
First, the keyboard is getting a makeover with new predictive text functionality, which should allow users to write whole sentences with just a few taps, according to Apple. The keyboard will suggest the the next complete word in the sentence being typed, a change from the current method where it just offers to complete the current word itself. Its predictive engine is customised for context too, adopting a more casual tone in Messages and a more formal tone in Mail.
The bigger change in iOS 8 is that Apple has made the keyboard an app rather than a fixture, meaning Android afficinados can choose to swap out Apple's own keyboard for any number of third-party keyboards.
Android users, most likely with larger screen devices than the iPhone 5S, will already be familiar with swipe keyboard apps that can be faster and more accurate than fumbling around a screen to hit iOS' soft keys. Third party keyboards desiged for two-handed typing could also help improve typing on what's expected to be the larger screen iPhone 6. A few that should be coming soon to the App Store include Swype, SwiftKey, and Flesky.
Image: Liam Tung/Google
Tip 2: Widgets are on the way
Widgets can be great for bringing live information to the surface from weather, social, stock and news apps, allowing you to catch key bits of information without having to open an app.
Previously, the only way around the lack of widgets in iOS was to jailbreak the device or buy fake widgets, which use the 'badge app' icon to provide live updated information.
These workarounds won't be necessary when iOS 8 arrives, offering developers the ability to add widgets to their apps.
Android to iOS switchers will find a completely different way of handling widgets and one that still doesn't quite offer the flexibility to plaster the homescreen with large widgets. Instead, widgets will live within the iOS 8 Notification Center, Apple's alert hub for messages in iOS and OS X.
Specifically, widgets will become part of the dropdown in the Notification Center's Today menu, where basic at-a-glance information is drawn from an app that has a Today extension.
So, users will be able to add widgets in the Today view for those apps and can edit them in the Today view to add, reorder and remove widgets.
Whether Apple's way of containing widgets in the Notification Center is popular with Android users remains to be seen, but it does finally address a capability that Android users have come to expect from a modern smartphone.
Image: Liam Tung