How to break free from the Apple ecosystem

The iPhone, Mac, and Apple Watch make for a great team, as they work with each other to streamline common tasks and make them easier to do.

However, there are several reasons you might want to explore other options, like Android phones and Windows computers.

Whatever your reason might be, leaving the Apple ecosystem can be a tough thing to do, and you might not find some of the useful features from the Apple ecosystem anywhere else.

To make the transition easier, though, here are a few tips to start with:

1. First, you'll need new, non-Apple devices.

The computer.


If you use software that isn't your web browser, your best bet is going to be a Windows 10 laptop. There are several Windows 10 laptops out there you might like at different price ranges. Here are five Windows 10 laptops that outprice the new MacBooks Pros, as well as out-speccing them.

Those laptops I suggest in the link above are pretty powerful, but while they're also pricey, they're still less expensive than the new MacBook Pros. There are a bunch of great Windows 10 laptops in the $US700 range that aren't as powerful; those could fit your needs, too.

If 99% of the things you do on your Mac are based in a web browser, you could consider Chromebooks. They run Chrome OS, which is essentially the Chrome web browser, and they can cost a lot less than a Windows 10 laptop.

The phone.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

There are a bunch of great Android phones, but if I had to pick one, it would be Google's own Pixel or Pixel XL.

It's the purest expression of what Google thinks a smartphone should be, and you'll get the latest Android and security updates directly from Google as they're released, not several months later like the majority of Android smartphones.

The smartwatch.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

If you have an Apple Watch, the bad news is that it's not compatible with anything else apart from Apple products.

If you must have a smartwatch, go for Samsung's Gear S3 Classic or Frontier. They work with most recent Android smartphones, and they're very good as far as smartwatches go. And if you get a Samsung smartphone, you can use Samsung Pay with the Gear S3, too, which works in pretty much any store that has a credit card reader.

Unfortunately, however, you won't find the useful Auto Unlock feature from the Apple ecosystem, which unlocks your Mac computer when you're wearing your Apple Watch.

2. Now, you'll need a new account to transfer contacts, photos, videos, and calendars from the iPhone you're trying to escape from.

To move away from the Apple ecosystem means you'll need to adopt a new ecosystem: In this case, it's almost certainly going to be Google. Even if you're using a Microsoft device, you'll still probably going to want to use many of Google's useful services on that Microsoft Windows machine.

If you don't already have a Google account, get one. It's the best way to transfer your contacts, photos, videos, and calendars, in my opinion.

Download Google Drive on your iPhone to sync your contacts, photos, videos, and calendars.

Google/Business Insider

All your data in your iPhone can be easily transferred over to a new Android phone. Follow these three simple instructions on how.

Basically, it's download Google Drive, sign in or sign up, and backup in the app. Then, on your new Android phone, just sign in with your Google account during setup or in Android's settings.

Don't worry about your photos taking up all the space, Google Photos offers unlimited and free storage for photos taken with cameras using 16 megapixels or less, and videos filmed in 1080p.

If your photos and videos exceed those specs, Google Photos will automatically reduce their resolution. Don't worry, they will still look great.

3. Now, transfer stuff from your Mac to your new computer.

You can use a good ol' fashioned hard drive.


Just plug the hard drive in to your old Mac, transfer your files and folders, and unload them into your new machine. This only works for Windows PCs, though; for Chromebook owners, your best bet will be to use Google Drive (more on that in a bit).

If you have a Microsoft Office 365 subscription, you get a ton of free OneDrive cloud storage to transfer your files and folders from your Mac to your Windows machine.

YouTube/Microsoft Store

You get a free terabyte (1,000 GB) of storage in Microsoft's OneDrive if you subscribe to Office 365 for things like Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. That should be plenty of storage for all your files and folders on your Mac.

To transfer everything, go to OneDrive and log in with your Office 365 login details. Then, start clicking and dragging your files and folders into OneDrive on your Mac's web browser.

If you're switching to a Chromebook, or you want to move stuff to your new Windows PC without Office 365, use Google Drive, which has 15GB of free storage.

Tech Insider/Flickr/Horia Varlan

On your Mac's web browser, go to Google Drive and sign in with your Google account.

Then, you can click and drag files and folders from your Mac to Google Drive in your web browser.

You can buy more storage if you need more than the free included 15 GB. It's not very expensive at $US2 per month for 100 GB.

4. Switch from Apple's Messages to a universal messaging service, like Google Hangouts.

Antonio Villas-Boas

Having Messages on the Mac to send and receive texts you're also getting on your phone is a pretty tough feature to leave behind if you're ditching the Apple ecosystem, especially since you could get standard SMS messages on your Mac -- not just iMessages between Apple devices -- after OS X Yosemite was released.

Unfortunately, Windows 10 doesn't have an equivalent native app that will work with Android phones to send and receive text messages. There are some third-party apps, like mySMS, which received decent reviews, but they're not ideal or as good as Messages on Macs.

To send quick messages to your contacts from both your computer and your phone, the best solution is to use a messenger app that's cross-platform (available on both computers and phones, just like iMessages) rather than using text messages at all. It helps to use a service where many of your contacts are likely to have accounts, like Facebook or Google.

Google Hangouts is a great messenger app that also has video and voice chat. It's not quite the same thing as getting your actual phone calls on your Mac based on your actual phone number, but it's a pretty good alternative. You can use Hangouts from your Gmail account online, the Android app, or from the Hangouts web app.

Facebook's Messenger also works across all your devices, and it features video and voice-calling, too.

Antonio Villas-Boas

Use Android Pay instead of Apple Pay.


Most new Android devices support Android Pay, which is pretty much the same thing as Apple Pay. Android Pay is often accepted in the same places as Apple Pay due to the fact that both use NFC technology to make mobile payments.

If you get a Samsung smartphone that comes with Samsung Pay, it's even better than Apple Pay and Android Pay, as it's accepted pretty much any store that has a credit card reader.

The technology used for Samsung Pay, called MST (magnetic secure transmission), mimics a credit card's magnetic stripe, so there's no need for stores to upgrade credit card readers that support NFC for mobile payments.

Unlike Apple Pay, however, which you can use on from your Mac, you can only use Android Pay with your smartphone.

WARNING: There is one thing you can't do, which is transfer Mac apps and documents that use that software.

Unfortunately, you won't be able to transfer over your Mac apps and software like you can your files and folders. You'll have to download and install the software you want onto your new Windows machine. In some cases, you might have to buy them again to download the Windows version.

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