Using an iPhone with a Chromebook definitely seems a bit out of place. Obviously, Android makes a little more sense given their deep connection with the Google ecosystem. However, many loyal iPhone users turn to the simplicity and affordability of the Chromebook for work or school work. It takes some effort, but you can use the iPhone with your Chromebook and be happy with it.
The key is to take Google Life from Chrome OS and sync it with your iPhone. In some instances this may be easier because Google offers most of its major apps on iOS. Elsewhere, things can get a little more complicated, like receiving and sending text messages through your Chromebook. Regardless, there are some things you can do to reduce those pain points and enjoy both your iPhone and Chromebook.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most important tips and tricks for using the iPhone with your Chromebook.
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In order for Chromebook to truly function as your main machine, you really need to use Google Drive as your main cloud storage solution. This doesn’t mean you can’t use iCloud to back up your iOS devices, but for documents, photos, and other essential work data, you’ll want to save them to Google Drive.
Thankfully, Google Drive has easy access to the iOS app that you can download to your iPhone. Most apps allow you to easily save things to Google Drive without the hassle.
Of course, if you already use something like Dropbox or Box, these are also viable options as they are available on both iOS and Chrome OS. If you don’t like Google Drive, I’d suggest Dropbox as the next best alternative as it can easily integrate into your Chromebook file system and be set as the default safe location. Can
If you want a smooth production experience between your iPhone and Chromebook, you’ll want to install all the Google Workspace apps on your iPhone. Use Google Docs to compose documents, Google Sheets to spreadsheets, and more.
The good news is that all of these apps are seamlessly synced to your Google Drive. This is also helpful if you use an iPad (which is still the best true tablet), as you can work seamlessly across all your devices.
Of course, there are some iOS productivity apps that aren’t available on your Chromebook and vice versa. A good example of this is the writing app Ulysses, which I personally use on iOS for a brief outline of my articles before migrating to WordPress.
In these instances you may need to save these files directly to Google Drive or save to your iPhone and then transfer to Google Drive. This is a bit of a hassle, of course, but you can still use your favorite iOS exclusive productivity apps with the Chromebook.
Harmony of notes and bookmarks.
Both iOS and Android have their own default note apps. Apple’s app is simply called Notes, while Google’s app is called Cape Notes. Since Apple’s Notes app isn’t available outside of the Apple ecosystem, you might want to consider using Cape Notes. You can download Google’s Cape Notes from the App Store on your iPhone and easily sync notes between your iPhone and Chromebook.
As for bookmarks, you can now set Chrome as your default browser in iOS. This wasn’t really possible a few years ago, making it difficult to sync browser history, bookmarks, and other important information between the iPhone and Chromebook.
To set Chrome as the default browser on iOS, just go to Settings from within the Chrome app (see screenshots above). Of course, if you use something like Evernote to save links, you can add it to your workflow as Evernote is also a cross-platform solution.
The hardest thing to handle when using the iPhone and Chromebook together is messaging. With an Android device, you can instantly retrieve all your text messages from your phone to your Chromebook. Unfortunately, this isn’t really possible with the iPhone, and you can’t even use Google Web Messaging because you need to install the Google Messages app – which isn’t available on iOS.
My solution for integrating messaging on my iPhone is to use Google Chat for most of my messaging needs. I know this is not an ideal solution as some users still prefer text messaging, but Google Chat is available on iOS and you can instantly access any chat messages on both your Chromebook and iPhone. Get notifications that come with your work.
There are also awareness messaging apps from other platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger (although I don’t recommend it), and SnapChat that work in the iOS and Chrome OS / Android ecosystems. At the end of the day, this isn’t the biggest deal if you can’t reply to every message on your Chromebook, but if you use these popular apps you should be able to receive some of them.
Both Apple and Google have incredibly popular photo apps. As a loyal Android and Chrome user, I would argue that Google’s solution is better, which is really good because it is also available on iOS. Apple doesn’t make its Photos app available on Android, so you need to go here with Google Solutions to sync your photos to your Chromebook.
This is by far the easiest solution, but of course there’s the problem of paying for the original quality backup and storage from Google if you take a lot of pictures. It is also possible to manually transfer photos, which I will dive into in a future article, but this is much more complicated than using Google Photos. Keep in mind that most Chromebooks don’t have much storage on board, so you won’t be able to store each of your photos locally.
Other tips and tricks.
There are definitely other pain points that I have not discussed above. Probably the biggest problem for many iPhone users is the lack of AirDrop or AirPlay on the Chromebook. In fact, when you use the iPhone and Chromebook together, there is no great alternative to AirDrop. Google has made things a lot better with the creation of a close share on the Android / Chromebook side, but unfortunately it doesn’t work with the iPhone and Chromebook.
The best solution to this problem is to use the cloud services mentioned above to move things between your devices.
On the other hand, replacing AirPlay with your Chromebook is a good solution. You can grab Chromecast and cast videos from your iPhone to TV, speaker, etc. It can be integrated into various output devices.
Overall, you can enjoy using the Chromebook and the iPhone together. There are some minor issues you’ll need to address, especially with AirDrop and messaging integration issues. If you can handle these little things, you should have no problem syncing your work, photos and notes between the two devices.
If you want to get into the Chrome OS ecosystem, check out our picks for the best Chromebooks available on the best purchase.