You Love iPhone. Your Partner Loves Android. How to Make It Work.
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You Love iPhone. Your Partner Loves Android. How to Make It Work.

The pros and cons of Apple and Google’s mobile operating systems—and how people can find neutral apps that work with both.

By Nicole Nguyen
Tue, Aug 30, 2022 9:51amGrey Clock 4 min

I’m on iOS. My husband, Will, is on Android. He says he’ll never switch.

When we met, Will had a Samsung Galaxy S3. He has stuck with Android phones since, except for a brief stint with the iPhone 6S Plus. When he ditched that phone, many of his texts got lost because they were still trying to get to him via iMessage. That quick taste of Apple’s lock-in only deepened his resolve. (Apple has since addressed the problem.)

There are several reasons for my iPhone preference. The main one is that I can’t seem to give up my iMessage group chats.

Generally, people aren’t prone to switching from Android to iOS or vice versa. But we’re in the throes of Smartphone Season, the time of year when Samsung, Apple and Google unveil their latest models, so maybe it’s worth the consideration. Also, there are ways to coexist harmoniously in an iOS-Android household, which I’ll discuss below.

The Never-iPhoners

I wanted to explore this iOS-Android divide, so I asked Will and other Android loyalists: What do you love about your platform?

I took Will’s Pixel 6a and started a voice recording. As we talked, the app transcribed our conversation in real time with near perfect precision. It’s one of the Android artificial intelligence features that I’m most jealous of. The second is Hold for Me, a tool that does just that when you’re waiting for a customer-service representative.

Will said he likes the swipe-style keyboard, which Android had long before iPhones did, and access to the file system, which allows him to sync data between his computer and phone over Wi-Fi. “Those are things that I’ve enjoyed for a long time,” Will, who works as an engineer at a medical software company, said. “It’s hard to break habits.”

Will isn’t bothered by those green-bubble text messages his Android phone triggers on iPhones. For one, he doesn’t see it—it all shows up the same on the Pixel. His family is mostly based in Europe, and they use Signal and other apps that look the same across platforms.

Google has tried to shame Apple into adopting the next-generation texting standard, called Rich Communication Services, to make all texts more like iMessage. For Apple, implementing it could take away a reason for people to stick with iPhones.

William Edmiston, a Samsung Galaxy S9 user, chose Android because of Google’s innovation and Apple’s tight control and closed system. “I too am a ‘never iPhone’ person,” said the Raleigh, N.C., resident, who works at an orthodontics technology company. “Android felt a bit more leading-edge, embraced by true tech enthusiasts.”

Mr. Edmiston also liked being able to treat the phone like a PC, and install different operating systems and apps. He admitted he’s now entrenched in Google’s own apps.

Both Android and Apple offer helpful guides for those who want to make the jump to the rival platform. But swapping systems is more than just transferring contacts and photos. It’s learning an entirely new language of gestures and menus, which can be frustrating.

“I frankly don’t think one operating system is better than the other, but I do think that changing operating systems is a massive pain in the butt,” my husband said.

iOS vs. Android

In the U.S., 55% of Americans use an iOS device. There are more Android users globally, where Google’s platform has 71% market share, according to analytics firm Statcounter.

Apple develops iOS exclusively for iPhones and iPads (with the iPadOS variation). Google develops Android but provides it freely as open-source software. That means Android can be used by any hardware maker. The most popular include Samsung, Xiaomi and OnePlus. Google makes its own Pixel-branded phones, and even Microsoft has dabbled in Android.

And while the two are constantly copying each other’s features, they differ in key ways:

• Hardware: iOS devices are only made by Apple, and you can choose from three or four new phones each year.

There are far more Android phones and designs to choose from, from the cheapest to the most extreme. On the low end, you can get a budget model for under $240. (At $719, the iPhone SE is Apple’s budget offering.) On the high end, Samsung sells Android phones with flexible screens that can flip and fold.

• Ecosystem: Apple designs both its hardware and software, a position the company touts as a benefit, as its devices “just work” together. AirPods that automatically connect to your Mac. A lost Apple Watch you can ping from your iPad.

Android devices aren’t integrated as seamlessly, though Google is doing more now. Last year, the company launched features so Android users could locate their phones or send texts from Chromebooks. A feature similar to Universal Clipboard—Apple’s cross-device copy-and-paste functionality—is coming to Android phones and tablets.

Samsung has its own gadget universe. Samsung Galaxy phones can beam videos to Samsung smart TVs, while Galaxy Watches can remotely control the camera shutter of Galaxy phones, for example.

• Updates: iPhones and iPads get a big feature-rich software update every fall, available to all eligible models. Apple supports phones for about five years.

Because the Android universe is fragmented, each phone maker has a different system-update timeline and policy. Typically, Google’s Pixel phones are first, as with Android 13, which launched earlier this month. Newer Pixel phones get five years of support, while older models get three. Samsung devices get three to four years of system updates, plus an additional year of security patches.

• Customisation: Historically, iPhones have been less customizable than Android devices. But the upcoming iOS 16 update allows users to style the lockscreen fonts and add little interactive widgets, something Android users have long been able to do.

Android is a better platform for techie tinkers. For example, you can set a third-party messaging app as the default. You can also sideload apps on Android—downloading them from outside of the Google Play store—though you do so at your own risk.

Google has increased efforts to keep bad apps out of its Play store. Still, the platform is more open, like a traditional PC, so users who aren’t careful can make their devices susceptible to malware and data leaks.

So Happy Together

Yes, iOS and Android feel different, and there will always be things one can do better than the other. But if you pick the right apps, they can dwell together happily.

Google is actually great at this: Will and I rely on Google Maps for location sharing, Google Photos for photo storage and Google Assistant to control smart-home products. These Google services all have iPhone apps, though the experience is more integrated on Android.

Any.do is a task list that works with Siri and Google Assistant, and has great widgets for both platforms. We also like the app Notion for things such as trip planning and household stuff.

For home entertainment, we’ve found Roku streaming devices, many of which support both Google Cast and Apple’s AirPlay, work well. So do Sonos speakers, which can be configured with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, and work with AirPlay.

Will and I won’t be on the same platforms anytime soon, but we make it work. At least until I need a great voice transcription and steal his phone. Again.



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Retro Kitchens Are Everywhere—and the Ultimate Rejection of the Sterile Luxury Trend

Playful 1950s style spotlights details like coloured cabinets, checkerboard and mosaic tile patterns, vintage lighting, and SMEG appliances

By TRACY KALER
Mon, Apr 22, 2024 6 min

The 1950s spawned society’s view of kitchens as the heart of the home, a hub for gathering, cooking, eating and socializing. Thus, it makes perfect sense that the same decade could inspire today’s luxury kitchens.

“The deliberate playfulness and genius of the era’s designers have enabled the mid-century style to remain a classic design and one that still sparks joy,” said James Yarosh, an interior designer and gallerist in New Jersey.

That playful style spotlights details like coloured cabinets, checkerboard and mosaic tile patterns, vintage lighting, and SMEG appliances—all of which are a conspicuous rejection of the sterile, monochrome kitchens that have defined luxury home design for years. One of the hottest brands to incorporate into retro-style kitchens, SMEG is turning up more these days. But the question is: How do you infuse a colourful refrigerator and other elements from this nostalgic era without creating a kitschy room?

“The key to a modern, fresh look in your kitchen is to reference, not imitate, signature looks of the 1950s,” said New York-based designer Andrew Suvalsky, who often laces retro style throughout the rooms he designs. He said using the period as inspiration will steer you away from imagining a garish space.

“When it comes to incorporating that retro-esque look, it’s a fine dance between looking beautiful and looking kitschy,” added Lisa Gilmore, a designer in Tampa, Florida. Gilmore suggested balancing contemporary pieces with vintage touches. That balance forges a functional yet attractive design that’s easy to live with while evoking a homey atmosphere––and ultimately, a room everyone wants to be in.

Colour Reigns Supreme

Suvalsky said one way to avoid a kitschy appearance is to mingle woods and colours, such as lacquered base cabinets and walnut wall cabinets, as he did in his Montclair, New Jersey, kitchen.

“Mixing colours into your kitchen is most effective when it’s done by colour-blocking––using a single colour across large areas of a space––in this case, zones of cabinetry,” he explained. He tends to lean toward “Easter egg colours,” such as baby chick yellow and pale tangerine. These soft pastels can suggest a starting point for the design while lending that retro vibe. But other hues can spark a vintage feel as well.

A mid-century-inspired kitchen by Blythe Interiors.
Natalia Robert

“Shades of green and blue are a timeless base foundation that work for a 1950s vintage look,” said designer Jennifer Verruto of Blythe Interiors in San Diego. But wood isn’t off the table for her, either. “To embrace the character of a mid-century home, we like a Kodiak stain to enhance the gorgeous walnut grain,” she said. “This mid-tone wood is perfect for contrasting other lighter finishes in the kitchen for a Mid-Century Modern feel.”

Since colour is subjective, a kitchen lined with white cabinetry can assume a retro aesthetic through accoutrements and other materials, emanating that ’50s vibe.

“The fun of retro designs is that you can embrace colour and create something that feels individual to the house and its homeowner, reflecting their tastes and personality,” Yaosh said. He recommended wallpaper as an option to transform a kitchen but suggested marrying the pattern with the bones of the house. “Wallpaper can create a mid-century or retro look with colours and hand-blocked craftsmanship,” he said. “Mauny wallpapers at Zuber are a particular favourite of mine.”

Suvalsky suggested Scalamandre wallpapers, for their 1950s patterns, and grass cloth, a textile that was often used during that decade. He also likes House of Hackney, a brand that “does a great job reinventing vintage prints in luscious colours,” he noted. “Many of their colourways invert the typical relationship between light and dark, with botanical prints in dark jewel tones set over light, more playful colours.”

Materials Matter

Beyond wall covering, flooring, countertops and backsplashes can all contribute to the 1950s theme. Manufactured laminate countertops, specifically Formica, were all the rage during the decade. But today’s high-end kitchens call for more luxurious materials and finishes.

“That’s a situation where going the quartz route is appropriate,” Gilmore said. “There are quartzes that are a through-body colour and simple if someone is doing colorued cabinetry. A simplified white without veining will go a long way.” She also recommended Pompei quartz Sunny Pearl, which has a speckled appearance.

A kitchen designed by James Yarosh that incorporates pops of yellow.
Patricia Burke

But for those who welcome vibrant colour schemes, countertops can make a bold statement in a vintage kitchen. Gilmore said solid surface materials from the era were often a colour, and quartz can replicate the look.

“Some brands have coloured quartz, like red,” she said. But keeping countertops neutral allows you to get creative with the backsplash. “I‘d pull in a terrazzo backsplash or a bold colour like a subway tile in a beautiful shade of green or blush,” Gilmore said. “Make the backsplash a piece of art.”

Suvalsky also leans toward bright and daring––such as checkerboards––for the backsplash. But depending on the kitchen’s design, he’ll go quieter with a double white herringbone [tile] pattern. “Either version works, but it must complement other choices, bold or simple, in the design,” he explained.

Neutral countertops with a bold backsplash, designed by Lisa Gilmore.
Native House Photography

Likewise, his flooring choice almost always draws attention. “My tendency is more toward very bold, such as a heavily veined marble or a pattern with highly contrasting tones,” he noted. Yarosh suggested slate and terrazzo as flooring, as these materials can make an excellent backdrop for layering.

Forge a Statement With Vintage Appliances 

As consequential as a kitchen’s foundation is, so are the appliances and accoutrements. While stainless steel complements contemporary kitchens, homeowners can push the design envelope with companies like SMEG when making appliance selections for a retro-style kitchen. Although Suvalsky has yet to specify a SMEG fridge, he is looking forward to the project when he can.

“I think they work best when the selected colour is referenced in other parts of the kitchen, which helps to integrate these otherwise ‘look at me’ pieces into the broader design,” he noted. “They are like sculptures unto themselves.”

“For our mid-century-inspired projects, we’ve opted for Big Chill and the GE Cafe Series to bring a vintage look,” Verruto added. Similar to SMEG, Big Chill and GE offer a vintage vibe in a wide selection of colours and finishes, alongside 21st-century performance.

Can’t commit to a full-size appliance? Sometimes, a splash is enough. Gilmore tends to dust her retro kitchens with a coloured kettle or toaster since her clients are likelier to add a tinge with a countertop appliance or two. “Mint green accessories make it pop, and if in five years they are over it, it’s not a commitment,” she said. “It’s a great way to infuse fun and colour without taking a major risk.”

Deck out the Breakfast Nook

Kitchen dining areas present the opportunity to introduce retro lighting, furniture, and accessories to complete the look. Flea markets and antique markets are excellent places to hunt for accompaniments.

“Dome pendants and Sputnik chandeliers are iconic styles that will infuse vintage charm into your kitchen while also easily complementing a variety of other styles,” Verruto said.

A retro breakfast nook desinged by Andrew Suvalsky.
DLux Editions

Suspend a vintage light fixture over the classic Saarinen table, and you can’t go wrong.

“Saarinen Tulip Tables are almost always guaranteed to deliver a home run in nearly any interior, especially a 1950s-themed kitchen,” Suvalsky said. “The simplicity of its form, especially in white, makes it nearly impossible to clash with.”

To really channel the vibe of this era, Verruto suggested local vintage stores and brands such as Drexel Heritage and Lexington. Dressing the windows counts, too. “Cafe curtains in a chintz pattern will make for a fabulous finishing touch,” she said.

Meanwhile, Yarosh delights in selecting tabletop items, including novelty stemware and other trappings ubiquitous in the 1950s. “Mid-century kitchens also need to have pedestal cake plates and maybe a cloche to keep a cake,” he mused. “I love the opportunity to curate these details down to the correct fork and serving pieces.”

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