Those cool iOS 7 features? Android does that, too

Some of the most talked-about features in iOS 7 are also available on Android, with the help of a few apps.

You could say iOS 7 is revolutionary -- in the world of Apple. For several iterations now, Android users have had access to some of iOS 7's most heralded features, leaving some avid fanboys going pfffftttttt.

But maybe you've taken Android's offerings for granted. Maybe you overlooked these now-glorified features. Maybe it took the release of iOS 7 to appreciate just how plentiful your Android phone really is.

So, it's time take a little inventory. At the risk of igniting a flame war, let's look at iOS 7's best features, on Android.

1. Control Center

One of iOS 7's biggest achievements, Control Center, finally lets iPhone owners do things like toggle Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, adjust brightness, and control music playback. There are also shortcuts to the flashlight, clock, calculator, and camera. All it takes is a swipe up from the bottom edge of any screen.

Yep, got it: Android users can access their own "control center" with a swipe down from the top of any screen, with access to the aforementioned settings shortcuts, and brightness control. When music's playing, playback controls appear as a static notification.

As for the app shortcuts, 1Tap QuickBar will do the trick. With it, you can place any app icons in your notification shade, plus other shortcuts, like a new text to a favorite contact or even a direct dial. Check out this quick tutorial to get started.

2. AirDrop

Available on the iPhone 5 and later, this tool lets users share things like photos and videos as long as they're close by.

Checkmate: Introduced in Android 4.0, Android Beam utilizes NFC and Bluetooth to accomplish the same task. Maps, photos, Web links, and contacts can all be transferred by holding two NFC-enabled phones back to back. Sometimes, the connection is finicky, but in my brief experiences, it's done the job.

Samsung offers its own take on Android Beam called S Beam (video). The data transfer technology works similarly, but instead uses NFC to pair the two devices initially, then transitions to a Wi-Fi Direct connection to complete the transfer. Translation: faster and more reliable.

If neither of these built-in solutions are getting you excited, an app like Bump offers a more user-friendly solution. The only caveat, of course, is that the other needs to have the app installed, too.

3. Camera features

iOS 7 gave the camera a revamp, tweaking the interface and adding preprocess features like cropping and filters. Burst mode was also granted to the iPhone 5 and later, while iPhone 5S users got slo-mo.

Android's options: This tit for tat is a little messier, because the Android interface -- especially the camera app -- varies so much from brand to brand. Add the endless variation in hardware and things get really complicated.

So, let's focus on iOS 7's hallmark features: burst mode and slo-mo. Some phones, like the HTC One and the Galaxy S4 already have these features, but let's assume your phone has none.

With over 1,000,000 installations, Fast Burst Camera Lite is an Android favorite, letting you take 30 photos per second on newer devices, and 5-10 photos per second on low-end devices. For slo-mo video, you won't find a reliable app that records in slo-mo, but some apps like AndroVid Video Trimmer, let you convert videos to slow motion after they're shot.

4. Fully featured multitasking

iPhone users could always double-tap the home button to switch apps, but with iOS 7 comes true multitasking, including an app preview and the ability to force-close an app with a swipe.

Can do: Fully featured multitasking was always an outstanding Android feature, letting users switch to or force-close apps by long-pressing the home button. Better yet, some Android versions let users get to system controls using the same gesture.

5. Notification Center

Widgets are nowhere to be seen, but iOS 7 makes a marked effort to give users more access to at-a-glance information with improvements to the Notification Center. Now, the pull-down menu features three tabs: Today, All [Notifications], and Missed [events]. It's customizable, easy on the eyes, and conveniently accessed no matter what you're doing.

Got it: Android's notification shade covers some of these things, but it really is helpful to have all time-sensitive information in one interface. Enter Google Now. Depending on your Android phone, Google Now can often be accessed with a long-press shortcut. Once prompted, you'll see reminders, scheduled events, traffic information, sports scores, and lots (lots) more. It's highly customizable and far more robust that Notification Center's offerings.

If you're not already using Google Now, give it a go. Read this primer to get started .

6. Audio calls over FaceTime

In a less-touted update, audio-only FaceTime calls were added, letting users call friends and family over 4G or Wi-Fi, without draining wireless minutes. It's a money-saver, especially for those international calls. The only caveat is that the recipient will have to have an iOS device, too.

There's an app for that: Though some carriers like T-Mobile offer Wi-Fi calling at no additional charge, subscribers to other carriers will have to get creative. Luckily there's a library of apps to choose from.

Skype, one of the most popular and established VoIP apps is a first choice for many thanks to its ubiquity -- you can often count on friends and family having it (or at least being willing to download it.) Beyond Skype, Tango is an Android favorite, lets you make calls, text, and even video chat for free. Like Skype, the recipient will have to have Tango downloaded (because -- get it? -- it takes two!)

7. Safari gets smarter

The iPhone's stock browser got an impressive overhaul, adding a unified search bar, tab management with previews, private browsing, and even a Do Not Track privacy option. In a less-advertised update, Safari also lets you see which of your Twitter friends shared the page you're currently viewing.

Chrome does it: Well, almost. Safari's Twitter integration is pretty darn cool, and not yet available on Android, but Chrome covers just about everything else. So, ditch your Android's stock browser, and let Chrome take over, giving you tab management with page previews, Incognito tabs, a combined search and address bar, and that Do Not Track option.

Beyond that, Chrome also lets you view desktop versions of pages, manage bandwidth, and even sync tabs with your desktop.

 

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