When you only own Apple devices, the Apple ecosystem couldn’t be more perfect. You can easily sync all your data across your laptop, phone and tablet, seamlessly transitioning from one place to another. If you have a MacBook and any fancy Android phone, it’s more difficult. If you’ve never felt the urge to switch from Android to iOS for that reason, there are ways to make your Android phone and MacBook work better together. While things won’t be perfect, they can be better than you could imagine.
Messages: Web services and apps
As an Android user, you may never be able to use the pre-installed and seamlessly integrated Apple Messages app complete with iMessage. But as long as blue bubble envy isn’t a problem for you or your friends, you can use the Google Messages web app. It’s a polished and pretty app, and it works well as a messaging client for your MacBook. Lots of other apps have built-in applications. Telegram, WhatsApp Desktop and Signal work very well on macOS.
As a bonus for Google Messages, we recommend Flotato. The app turns any website into what feels more like a native application, with its own dock icon and a windowed experience without the URL and tab bar you know from your browser. It’s based on the rendering engine Apple uses in Safari, so it’s lightweight and easy on the battery. Given that Chrome web apps are a bit wonky on macOS (you can’t quit Chrome completely when using them), this solution might feel more natural.
You’ll pay $19 to unlock Flotato’s full potential, but as long as you don’t use it for more than Google Messages and maybe one or two other apps, it’s completely free. There are only limitations on how many windows from different web apps you can have open at a time.
Continuity: Everything synchronized with cloud storage
Moving from device to device can feel like magic in Apple’s ecosystem. Features like Handoff let you open a document you started editing on another device with the push of a button, and iCloud takes care of the rest. But this only applies to those apps that support Apple’s method, and there are other services that have their own type of Handoff or Continuity built in.
If you’re deeply rooted in Google Workspace or Microsoft Office, you might never want to miss these features. You can work on a Google Docs or Microsoft Word document on your phone and then seamlessly have it available on your MacBook, thanks to the cloud. The same goes for basic photo editing in Google Photos. Everything is nicely synced with the Photos web app in your browser. These sync methods work on all Android phones and all computers that support all types of browsers. They can make you feel like you’re not really missing out compared to people who have an iPhone and MacBook.
For document scanning, you can either use Google Drive or Microsoft Office. While macOS lets you insert a photo or document from an iPhone camera using a simple shortcut, it’s not really a game changer if you can use the first two methods on your phone. Apple’s option that lets you insert the photo taken on your iPhone into an existing document opened on your Mac is pretty neat, it’s true, but you can achieve the same with Google Drive, Photos or Microsoft OneDrive with a few extra clicks.
While it’s also possible to move files back and forth between Macs and Android phones using a USB-C cable, the best ways to sync files are on Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. Any cloud service other than iCloud can serve you well when you want an easy way to sync files across Android and macOS.
AirDrop, tab sync and phone calls: Chrome
iPhone and Mac work together when you want to sync open tabs and send files back and forth between the two, but the benefits are only available when you use Safari on both. And here Android and Chrome can be an equally good pair.
Chrome lets you sync your browsing history, logins, open tabs, and more across Android and macOS. While it won’t let you call phone numbers from your Mac, Chrome offers an option to send numbers from websites to your phone, which you can then use to make calls. Chrome also lets you send links to your phone via the right-click menu, and vice versa. While this is not a system-wide, fully integrated solution, it is good enough for many things. And for the rest, you can drop files in your Google Drive storage.
Clipboard sharing with Clipt
If you want seamless clipboard syncing that Apple offers between iPhone, iPad and macOS, you won’t find an equally elegant solution for Android and Mac. Android 10 and above no longer allow background apps to see what you have on the clipboard, with keyboards being the only exception. It’s great if you have a Windows computer that offers clipboard synchronization through SwiftKey, but on Mac we haven’t found a similarly comfortable solution.
However, OneLab’s Clipt can offer a solution that is good enough. Clipt supports clipboard sync from Chrome to Android, but to get stuff from your phone to show up in the MacBook clipboard, you’ll need to press an extra button in a permanent notification or a quick settings tile in the notification screen. It’s not as seamless as it could be, but it’s something.
When it comes to clipboard syncing, staying in the Apple ecosystem has its perks. iPhone and Mac allow perfectly synchronized clipboards at all times, as long as both devices are connected to the internet.
Live your life as a double agent
As someone with an Android phone and a MacBook, there are a few things you’ll miss. You can’t use an Apple Watch or iPhone to unlock your laptop, and you can’t automatically share Wi-Fi networks across Android and macOS. Many things like clipboard sharing are not as seamless as they could be.
But if you have a Chromebook or a Windows PC, install Windows Your Phone to sync your computer with your Android phone.