The most frustrating Android limitation is still app incompatibility

When you purchase an iPhone or iPhone, you know what you're getting. For all of the brand’s issues, it's a simple brand that simply works. For at least a few years, every app that releases on the iOS store is expected to run on your new device. Android, on the other hand, doesn't have that benefit.

I've been an Android user for most of my life. I've used Motorola, Huawei, OnePlus, Essential Phone, Xiaomi, Unihertz phones and more. In university, I even rocked a Chinese phone called the CUBOT Dinosaur – it was not great. I adore Android in its uniqueness, its customisability, the fact that I can always find a custom ROM to change things up. However, I can't always just install the apps I want.

Why are apps incompatible on my Android device?

There's a lot of Android devices, too many to count. From flagships to entry-level devices, there’s always going to be too many individual phones for developers to optimise apps for. Just today, for example, I went to download the new release of Magic the Gathering: Arena on a high-end Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+, a fantastic piece of kit. Unfortunately, the app is not compatible with this device.

Of course, for most Android apps there’s a way to circumvent this issue. Just because the Google Play Store believes an app won't play nice with your device doesn't make that the case. You can always download the APK and OBB files and do whatever the hell you like, to mixed results. Even when it works, one update to a live service game will require you to scout out the newest version all over again. The convenience of iOS will always be its strong suit.

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Yes, this app works on Android, even on Samsung Dex. However, it's not officially supported and any update requires a hunt for the latest version.

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Is iOS really better?

To be that guy and play devil's advocate, iOS does feature app incompatibility on a massive scale. Apple does gate keep the software experience. Any time you install an emulator on your iPhone or iPad through third party means, a single update of your OS can potentially lock you out. At this point, you know that, it's part of the iOS experience and it likely won't change anytime soon.

On the other hand, Android's freedom does make the irritating fact of seemingly random app incompatibility seem like a good compromise. Sure, your phone might not be able to download Genshin Impact despite knowing full well that your hardware can support it, but it can most likely run anything else.  On Android, you can play GameCube, on Apple you can't, at least without some lengthy steps first.

I know that, soon enough, the apps I want to use will likely become available on the device I want to use them on without the hassle of third party means. It’s just a shame that Android’s amazing open experience leads to frustrations that the rival platform doesn't share.

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