It's still not a F&*$ing iPhone.
So here it is, the post about why I am switching from an Android to an iPhone. First let me clarify something: I am a fan of Apple products, but I love Google more. I have been using Android phones for the past four years and during this time I took every opportunity to point out flaws in the iPhone and highlighted how awesome my Android was. I have used Android phones from HTC, Motorola and Samsung - and it is after buying the latest Samsung S4 that I am finally throwing in the towel:
- Where Android still wins.
- Voice Recognition
- Open Source
- It's not just the phone, it's the ecosystem.
- Nike Fuel
- Google Apps
- Yeah, it's the phone too.
1. Where Android still wins
Even on my way out, I want to give Android it's propers:
We have all heard how the initial launch of Apple Maps was a dismal showing, but I think this is more a story of how awesome Google Maps is. Doing mapping and GPS is really, really hard and Google has it nailed, with better search, better turn-by-turn and a better underlying database. I'd sum it up this way: an Android phone is the best GPS on the planet.
Score: +1 Android
b. Voice Recognition
We've all seen the commercials for Siri, but the reality is the voice recognition on the iPhone is really bad. By comparison the voice recognition on Android hasn't been promoted at all, but it's vastly superior.
Score: +1 Android
c. Open Source
I'm a huge proponent of open source software, so this is a big one for me. It helps us avoid monopolies, which is good for consumers. So I'm going to score this one double.
Score: +2 Android
So far, Android is looking great! ...but we all know this doesn't have a happy ending.
Totals: Android: 4 iPhone: 0
2. It's not just the phone, it's the ecosystem.
My phone doesn't live in a vacuum, rather it fits into the overall fabric of my life. Keeping this in mind I feel like I am an Android user constantly swimming upstream in an iPhone world. Let's get specific:
I drive a Subaru (specifically a 2012 Impreza), and the factory installed bluetooth was built to work with an iPhone. Technically, I can pair it with my Android phone, but every time I restart the engine I have to go through a 6-step manually process of reconnecting my phone that, even with practice takes about 30 seconds. The worst part about this is that my car includes a safety feature that kills the whole process if I am moving. This mean every time I stop (get gas, park, etc.), I have to sit around fiddling with my dials before I can get under way. If I forget to do it before I am moving, I'm stuck without Bluetooth until I hit a long red light or I feel like holding up traffic. I have confirmed that this doesn't happen at all and things work beautifully with an iPhone.
Another, thing that irks me with the integration is that my Subaru is incapable of reading my phone's music when connected via USB. It will read music off a USB stick - even my wife's iPhone - but not an Android phone.
Score: +2 iPhone
I am a heavy Mac user at home and at work. I have a Macbook as my primary computer and I have a few stereos and an Apple TV that boast Airplay - which allows streaming music/video from your Mac computer OR iPhone. It would be very convenient and satisfying to be able to stream from my Android phone to my Airplay devices, and the good news is that there are now several Android apps designed to do just that. The trouble is that none of them work unless I have rooted my device. WTF?!
Score: +1 iPhone
c. Nike Fuel
Recently I purchased a Nike Fuel band, a little wearable device designed to motivate people into exercising by counting their steps (aka Nike Fuel Points). It's been a pretty good reminder to stay active, which is great and the Nike Fuel Band, unlike some other similar wearable devices allows a Bluetooth connection so you can constantly upload your point status. The trouble is, it only works with an iOS device. That's right. No Android App, and it can't even do it with a computer without being plugged in, so I've been using an iPod Touch I happen to have at my desk.
Score: +1 iPhone
This is a minor one, but I've been a long time (since 2001) iTunes user. I actually hate the "New" iTunes, but it's still my go-to desktop player because there's nothing better out there. And because it's the go-to for a lot of people, a number of providers like Amazon make purchasing online and syncing with iTunes super easy. Then there is the iTunes Store which syncs your purchases across multiple devices including the Apple TV and any iPads (pretty slick).
Google now has Google Play, which allows purchases similar to iTunes, but it doesn't remember my purchases or app selections across multiple devices. This means I'm stuck downloading all my apps every time I move to a new phone, unless I want to rely on Verizon, Motorolla, Samsung, etc. device sync. No thanks!
Playback may get more fun with Google Chromecast, but it still has a way to go.
Score: + 1 iPhone
e. Google Apps
There are two parts to this: i. the Google client apps (GMail, Calendar, Contacts) and ii. as a company subscriber to Google Apps (the pro version of Gmail), the device+company experience.
- In my personal opinion, GMail on the iPhone is actually better than GMail on the Google phone. I've never been a big fan of skeuomorphism, so Apple's calendar and contact list have always bugged me - so I'll say Android works on these fronts. No matter what though, both devices are totally functional: I can get my events and contacts into the phone easily, so it's pretty much a wash.
The integration with Google Apps with different devices is really the death knell for me. Here's why: my latest phone (the Samsung s4) had it's camera disabled when I hooked it up with my Google account. Yes, that's right. The administrator of my domain (metaltoad.com) has set things so that I cannot use my camera on my phone. This person sounds like a total a--hole, right? The trouble is I am the administrator and I have no idea how to turn this setting off. Not only that, but when an employee at my company goes to hook their Android phone up they see a screen like this:
WTF?! "Erase all the phone's data without warning"?! Again, I am the administrator for this domain and I do not want these permissions. For my Android employees this is an epic fail. By comparison, there is no dialog that pops up on an iPhone.
Score: GMail, Calendar, Contacts: +0 iPhone
Score: Google Apps: +10 iPhone
Uh-oh! Things aren't looking so good for Android:
Totals: Android: 4, iPhone: 15
3. Yeah, it's the phone too.
I wished things stopped there, but we haven't even started talking about the devices themselves.
Despite a number of specs and raw numbers that show Android taking the lead in raw CPU power, etc., iPhone's still offer the best integrated device on the market. Here's a simple, visual comparison between the iPhone 4S, Samsung S3 and the Samsung S4. Look at the differences between the animations that you see across each device.
This performance gap is something mobile developers know all too well, and it's even a bigger divide in the tablet space.
Score: +1 iPhone
I'm a bit of design snob*, and keeping that in mind I have been completely underwhelmed with the graphics that come with the S4 (TouchWiz). It's ugly. I love raw Jellybean, which is no surprise to me given the involvement by Daniel Shiplacoff on the UX side. That said, the only manufacturer I've seen create a beautiful interface is HTC - and of course Google itself. In short, great design is being done in the Android world, but you never know what you are going to get with a particular manufacturer.
* I'm actually a lot of a design snob.
Totals: Android: 4, iPhone: 17
So there you have it. This is the day that Android loses one of their most fervent devotees. I still have love for you Android, but it's time I face the facts that there isn't another phone on the market that can match the iPhone...yet.
Welcome to the dark side Joaquin. Happy to have you onboard!
Wed, 08/14/2013 - 01:00
Thanks for the welcome. I'm more than a little sad to be throwing in the towel.
Tue, 08/13/2013 - 06:49
I was thinking I might ditch my iPhone for an Android, but you've completely talked me out of it. Thanks!
Wed, 08/14/2013 - 01:02
Dan, I really wish I could recommend an Android phone. I love open source, but it is opening yourself up to a whole lot of "really? No Android support?" :-(
Tue, 08/13/2013 - 07:58
I hear what you are saying, and fundamentally, you should obviously use whatever you like, and are most productive with. That said, you should be aware that you have other options, and most of things listed are solved by easily installed (often free & open-source) software, configuration, or it's not a problem with android as a whole, but maybe just your phone.
a. try something like this: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.myklos.btautoconnect&…
b. this is due to the new way the drive is utilized by the host (MTP) that allow Android's FS to be used while it's using it. It's kind of like a mini-virtual-networked drive. You can revert to the old style, which acts like a USB hard drive (like iphone) if that's what you want, but the newer method is cooler (if supported by host) because both can read/write the filesystem at the same time (unlike iphone.) Here is a way to make it work like it used to be: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84O8KlPxEyU
You can also root it, and run this in a term/adb:
setprop persist.sys.usb.config mass_storage
a. I think a lot of this has to do with carriers pre-loading crap on androids (because androids can actually run lots of things in the background, including ad/bloat/spyware, if installed) and generally bogging them down. Sprint is really awful for this, and doesn't cripple their iphones in the same way. I have a rooted HTC One, with hardly anything running in the background (phone service, and basic data sync.) and it's pretty rad on performance & battery life. This brings up another point: rooting an android is not grey legal territory. HTC provides tools to do it, and it's really really easy & actually useful (as opposed to iphone) and there are lots of solid, open-source pre-made solutions tuned for different usage scenarios. Try searching for "cleanrom" for your carrier & phone. This will give you a pretty basic close-to-stock system, with hardware performance/battery tweaks & all the carrier crap removed. Rooting your phone also means that you have access to 0-day security fixes, which don't always get patched with non-root androids/ios.
b. Again, I think maybe it's just my current phone, but it's pretty sweet in terms of UI design, and hardware. It's got slim and fast Sense UI, and looks better than an iphone to me. I feel like I don't really have to fiddle with my phone, I just do things very quickly, and it works really well. This is obviously highly subjective, but I definitely find it to be stylish, sleek, and intuitive. Because it's android, I can make it act kind of like any other OS though, if I really wanted to, through many contributed launchers, lock-screens, home screens, etc, many of which are also open-source. I am pretty happy with sense & stock as a whole, though, and just disable Blink, because it seems a bit too much like a crappy Windows phone.
Tue, 08/13/2013 - 09:01
sorry didn't respond to more in #2:
b. this is one app that supports it, but there are a few: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=eu.airaudio&hl=en
c. this is Nike's fault, not Android, but Android devs are so smart & nice: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.alx5962.fuel&hl=en
d. I have always hated the way iTunes manages my digital rights, but to each their own: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=mahmed.net.synctuneswirel…
e. iphones have the same sort of security policy enforcement but don't warn you. In this case, it's the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) admin policy on the mail server you have at webmail.village.rantoul.il.us (in screenshot.) In my opinion, it's a good thing it's bugging you about this terrible policy, rather than silently enforcing it without your choice. Login as admin on your exchange server, and disable those things, if you don't want them. If you are not aware of what it is, it could be a very serious security issue or misconfiguration of your mail server.
The reason for this is that Microsoft requires, in order to get licensed access to Exchange, that you support a subset of EAS admin policies, if they are in use. For a long time, Android just refused.
Here is a free (and open-source) patched version of stock email client that bypasses EAS admin functions: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1749921
This is a fancier client ($10!) that also lets you bypass EAS admin: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.qs.enhancedemail&hl=en
Here is more info:
Also, only a little related: Apple wants concert venues & cops to be able to disable your camera (this will not work on my phone):
and also has a patent on a device for doing some pretty nasty stuff, again without a confirmation dialog:
Wed, 08/14/2013 - 00:58
David those are awesome pointers and I think they would have been a huge help if I knew about them earlier on. That said I feel like it's only a matter of time before I would come across yet another hurdle. I'm worn down enough though I'm just ready for it to "be easy". I still love Android but I need to take a break. Regarding the design, I totally agree: HTC Sense is beautiful.
Wed, 08/14/2013 - 01:09
Definitely. I think everyone should just use what they like. If you pay so much for a device, it should work well for you without to much of a fight, regardless of it's licensing or openness.
For me, I feel like it's a constant fight against Apple's arbitrary (seeming to me) and often disagreeable opinions on how I should use my device, how things work, etc, but I understand that others feel the opposite. In early Android days, I totally had iphone-envy, but now I can't imagine trading in my HTC One for anything.
Wed, 08/14/2013 - 22:02
Funny enough, I thought about switching since I want the razzle dazzle of customizing your phone the way you want. This article along with a few friends whom complained it lagged in comparison to the IOS, I will wait to see what Apple announces before I make a decision. Right now I think I will stick to IPhone as my upgrades to the different sets have been no problem. Thanks for the great write up!
Wed, 08/14/2013 - 23:03
I honestly wish I came to another conclusion, Casey. I really want Android/Open Source to win this one.
Mon, 12/02/2013 - 17:54
In the Honda, the bluetooth automatically pairs with the iPhone each time, once it is initially set-up. It does however, cycle through a set-up prompt with each start. Maybe, if you ignore these prompts and waited, it might eventually pair automatically on the Subaru too. I also made the switch from Android and don't look back. I wish Sprint had better reception though.
Mon, 02/10/2014 - 09:27
Great write up Joaquin
I switched my Android with Windows some time back as I am a sole Windows OS user. To be very true I feels pretty secure on Windows device as I use to do lot of transactions from my phone.
You should also have included the point of security in your post, iPhone wins over Android there too.
Mon, 05/12/2014 - 13:39
of course its not an iphone, it was NEVER designed ot be an iphone, thats the entie point doooh
Mon, 05/12/2014 - 17:05
Let me be a little more direct: there is no Android phone that works as well as the iPhone.
Sat, 07/05/2014 - 17:21
Thanks for this article. I think the Apple ecosystem is great and I can find most accessories I need for my phone. All the same, seriously considering switching from my iPhone 4S to the new Nexus this fall. iOS is ok, but I'm getting bored with it.
Tue, 08/13/2013 - 03:32