John Gruber wrote a very good piece on switching and lock-in to phone systems in response to an article by Joshua Brustein in Businessweek.


Phone manufacturers make it hard to switch on purpose: They want you locked in forever. That’s the idea behind the Apple Watch and Apple Pay, which don’t work for Android. (Ditto for Samsung’s Gear S watch and Gear VR headset, which are made to work with the company’s other devices.)

Sounds like a sweeping statement by someone who doesn’t understand how those devices work.


This is just completely and utterly wrong. It’s shallow thinking. Lock-in is certainly something Apple (and Google, and Samsung, and everyone else) thinks about. But lock-in has nothing to do with why Apple Watch will only work with iPhone, or why Android Wear devices only work with Android phones.

Apple Watch can only work with iPhone because it does things that require the two be developed together. The hardware and software on both the Watch and iPhone all work together. Apple could make a watch that supports both iPhone and Android, but that watch wouldn’t work anything like Apple Watch, because it would be severely limited by the common features shared by iPhone and Android. And the same is true of Android Wear — it doesn’t work with iPhone because there’s no way Google can provide software that runs on an iPhone to do what Android Wear devices need their paired phone to do.

Likewise, you are not locked into your Apple or Android device. You can make the switch. You just need to know the steps needed. We are increasingly storing our content in the cloud and if you are on a third-party cloud service, you can switch without even moving your content.

Gruber on switching:

I wouldn’t say it’s easy to switch from Android to iOS or vice versa, but looking at the history of personal computing, I think it’s easier to switch platforms today than ever before — in either direction. The move to cloud-based storage and syncing makes a lot of things less sticky. Gmail is Gmail. Dropbox is Dropbox. You can even access your iCloud email from Android, because it’s just IMAP. Add to that the fact that the overwhelming majority of mobile apps are free or extremely cheap.

Even if you are on iCloud, you can export your contacts to vCard and import them to Gmail. There are ways to do it. You just need to know how to. Or if you don’t, you can search the internet for a solution before you write an article about how you think you are locked in.