Brand loyalty is one of the main factors behind our decision to choose a particular mobile device, but it doesn't have to be the entire equation. Educated consumers know that certain devices simply fit their budget and usage better than others, which means you can't always let a logo dictate what kind of phone or tablet you buy.
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For these reasons, a lot of us have multiple mobile devices with mismatched manufacturers, and in today's market, that means we're splitting time between iOS and Android. The struggle then becomes finding apps that sync between an iPhone and a Samsung tablet, for instance—but as uncommon as that may sound, there are actually quite a few apps that let you seamlessly switch between iOS and Android.
Most messaging apps are internet-based, which means they only need a data connection to sync your conversations between devices. These first three apps play nice on iOS or Android, so it shouldn't take much convincing to get your friends to use them.
If you're looking for an app that lets you message friends and family on both Android and iOS, the first thing you should consider is the app's user base. WhatsApp has more users than almost anybody, and considering that you get all of the bells and whistles that you could ask for in a messaging app while being able to pick up where you left off, it's almost a no-brainer.
Hangouts doesn't have quite as big of a user base as the last two options, but the app comes pre-installed on most Android devices, which make up over 80% of the mobile market. On top of iOS and Android support, Hangouts works in Gmail, on the web, and through a Chrome extension for Windows, Mac, and Linux—so it's one of the most widely-available messaging apps out there.
If you want to access your files on different devices, a cloud storage service is the way to go. These apps will allow you to upload content to their servers, then give you an easy way to download said content to any device where you're signed in with the same account.
Google Drive has been one of the most advanced cloud storage services for years, mainly due to the fact that it includes cloud computing. This means that if you need to make changes to a file, you don't have to download, edit, then re-upload—you can simply make the changes while the file is still on Google's servers, so each of your devices will always have access to the latest version of a file.
Microsoft's has recently invested a lot of time and money into their cloud storage service, starting with a rebrand from SkyDrive to OneDrive. The service now integrates seamlessly with an Office 365 subscription, so if you're a heavy Word or Excel user, any files you create will instantly be available on iOS or Android.
If you'd rather just have your cloud storage service function as an internet-based hard drive, Dropbox offers a nice and simple interface that's incredibly easy to use. You can upload files from Android, iOS, Windows, or Mac, then simply download the same files on any of your devices.
Almost every mobile device these days includes a camera for taking quick shots, which is definitely a nice luxury. But this can become problematic when you end up with pictures scattered across all of your devices, so you'll need a good photo syncing app to keep things organized.
Cross-platform or not, Google Photos is one of the best photo apps out there. The app will automatically back up your photos to the cloud, which means they can be accessed on any device shortly after you take them. Factoring in the unlimited free storage and a powerful search feature that lets you find pictures that feature almost any subject, Google Photos is almost a must-have app.
While Google Photos offers unlimited storage, there are some caveats. So if you'd prefer to store your pictures without compression or resolution caps, you might want to try Amazon Photos. The app has automatic backup features and your photos can also be accessed on Windows or the web, but an Amazon Prime subscription is required.
When a thought randomly crosses your mind, having a place to quickly jot it down is essential—which means you need an app that works on the nearest device regardless of its operating system. The same goes for making to-do lists, since you don't want to be limited to one device when you're checking off tasks and items.
Wunderlist makes to-do lists incredibly simple, and it does it with a beautiful interface. You can instantly access lists and notes on any phone, tablet, or computer, and your progress is synced as well. To top it all off, lists can be shared, so collaborating with family and friends is a seamless experience.
Google Keep is like the Swiss Army Knife of this category of apps. You can use the app to make notes and reminders, create to-do lists, draw, record audio clips, or even save photos—and all of these creations can be shared for collaborating with other users.
If you're looking for a non-Google app with a boatload of features, Evernote is the way to go. Notes and to-do lists are the central functions, but additional features like offline website saving, easy collaboration, and the ability to upload documents as attachments make it a one-stop shop.
Keeping track of your daily schedule is an ongoing task, but a good calendar app can make it far less tedious. A lot of calendar apps store your schedule locally, but these next two apps sync with some of the best online calendar services, which means you can view your agenda on any device.
The Google Calendar app recently got a big update on Android and iOS, and the improvements are more than just aesthetic. A new "Schedule View" is probably the biggest difference maker, as it focuses on your upcoming agenda instead of a traditional calendar layout. The calendar service itself is still one of the most commonly-used, which brings the added bonus of compatibility with many third-party calendar sources.
If you're already using an online calendar service and don't feel like making the switch to Google Calendar, then Sunrise Calendar is your best option. After recently being purchased by Microsoft, the app now syncs with Outlook, iCloud, and even Google Calendar, so most popular services are covered.
It's true that typing on a mobile device isn't quite as easy as using a full-sized desktop keyboard, but sometimes, you just need to get things done on the go. When it comes to creating and editing documents on iOS or Android, these next two apps are your best bets.
Microsoft makes its money by having Windows installed on nearly every school and office computer around the world, so most of us are already familiar with Microsoft Word. The mobile app offers almost every feature you could need, and with OneDrive document sync, you can freely switch between Android and iOS.
When it comes to web based cross-platform document apps, Google Docs is the granddaddy of them all. Your documents are automatically saved to the cloud, so you can switch between devices to edit them on the fly. While it's not quite as ubiquitous as Microsoft Word, Google Docs is capable of saving documents in Microsoft's DOCX format, so the files you create can be used almost anywhere.
Whether you'd prefer to play your own MP3s or you'd rather stream your music from an online radio station, it's important to find a cross-platform service so that you don't waste money on something that only works on one device.
Spotify is the most popular streaming music service, and for good reason. Spotify's premium service removes ads for $9.99 per month and comes with the ability to play any song, but free users can still access thousands of curated playlists. When you combine Spotify's native Android and iOS apps with the web-based player, that means you can access all of this music from any internet connected device.
Google's streaming music service is my personal favorite, since it offers the best of both worlds. You get the curated playlists and online radio stations like Spotify, but you can also upload as many as 50,000 of your own MP3s that will stream to all of your devices. All of this is free in the ad-supported version, but for $9.99/month, ads are removed and you get access to YouTube Red as a bonus.
Apple finally has an Android app, and it's a good one. A limited version is available for free, but for $9.99 per month, you get access to Apple's entire music catalog, as well as curated playlists and a live station called Beats 1. Apple Music is a default app on iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch (iOS 9 or higher), so you'll only have to install it on your Android device to have access to your music everywhere.
There are thousands—if not millions—of online news services, but only a fraction of these may fit your personal preferences. This is why it's important to have an app that can remember your favorite sources regardless of which device you're using.
News Republic caters to your interests by allowing you to choose the types of news you'd like to read, then presenting the latest headlines in a topic-based format. Once you've signed up for an account, these topics will follow you on any device, and the service gets better as you go since News Republic learns more about your preferences as you read.
Flipboard is functionally similar to News Republic, but with one major difference. Instead of using a paginated or scrolling view, Flipboard earns its name with an intuitive vertical flipping motion similar to turning a page in a book. The end result is a visually stunning experience, which is a joy to use on iOS or Android.
If you'd prefer to have your news and current events come through your headphones, you'll need a good podcast app. Since you probably subscribe to quite a few podcasts, the best option is an app that can sync subscriptions across devices.
There's really only one cross-platform podcast app worth bothering with—but on the bright side, it's universally hailed as the best podcast app for both Android and iOS. Pocket Casts sports a clean interface with easy podcast discovery and sync, but the downside is that it's a paid app, which means you'll have to purchase Pocket Casts on both mobile platforms.
Of course you have a browser on both devices to view webpages, but it's easy to forget where you left off. These last two apps can help streamline your browsing experience by combining popular web services and making it all available on any device.
If you've ever come across an interesting article, but didn't have time to read it, then Pocket can be of great help. First, you install the Pocket browser extension for Chrome, Safari, or Firefox, then you simply click the Pocket icon when you come across an interesting website or article. From there, open Pocket on your mobile device, and you'll find all of the websites that you saved for later.
Don't you wish all of your favorite web services would work together as well as these cross-platform apps? With IF, they finally will. The basic premise is if this, then that, and it works with hundreds of services—so you can make "recipes" like if I update my Facebook cover photo, then update my Twitter photo too. Since it mainly relies on internet services, most recipes should work seamlessly across Android and iOS.
Do you know of any awesome cross-platform apps for Android & iOS that aren't listed here? If so, tell us about them in the comment section below, or drop us a line on Android Hacks' Facebook or Twitter, or on Gadget Hacks' Facebook, Google+, or Twitter.
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