I love Android. Every time I’ve tried to embrace iOS (3 solid efforts) I’ve always bailed. For whatever reason, the things I want to do on a phone have just always been more efficient and intuitive on an Android. And it just keeps getting better.
I also love my Nexus 5, and I’ve barely had it long enough to be in upgrade mode. But I am. For everything it does so well (especially for the price) my values have shifted a bit, and I’m no longer inclined to overlook the two major caveats of this phone; Camera and battery.
As the years rush by I’m in wonder of the photos section of my Google Plus account. It, like, chronologically documents my life.. automatically. All my photos and videos just show up there. Sometimes they even get the “auto-awesome” treatment.
It just kinda bums me out how mediocre all my photos and videos are. Not to mention all the missed opportunities from slow autofocus, bad low light sensing, etc. I know, I know.. woe is me. But if I can, I’d like to look back on the next 5 years with a bit more fidelity.
I’ve also been stricken with a bit of a bum rap this past year. I have an illness that has kept me stuck at home and in beds/bathrooms/waiting rooms/etc. a lot more than usual. This results in increased phone use, and of course, battery drain. Well… turns out the Nexus 5, despite being a truly outstanding phone, isn’t a champion of endurance.
One more thing… (see what I did there?) Though this wouldn’t be a good enough reason to upgrade on its own, all that phone-using time has made me long for a larger screen.
So explore the newer, big-screened, flagshippy Android phones out there! Right?
Well, I have, and I’m just not completely sold on anything. And when I went to reserve one for Lindsey (my fiance), I got a crazy idea… Maybe I’ll give it another kick at the can!
I’m not necessarily jumping ship here. And I’m quite interested to see Android L and whatever new Nexus/Shamu/Silver device it comes with. I’ve also taken a pretty close look at the upcoming Note 4, the new Moto X, the LG G3, HTC M8, OnePlus One and Sony Xperia… *deep breath*
But if I didn’t reserve an iPhone now I’d be looking at next year to get one at retail, and frankly I’d rather be selling than buying when the holiday season hits.
So what are the key factors that might make an Android lover consider switching?
First, you have to be a bit platform-agnostic. I use a MacBook and Windows PC at home. I just switched to a Mac at work from my Windows setup. I’ve had iPhones, Blackberries, Nexi, Motos, iPads, and Tablets of all OS’s. I just like using whatever works best for me.
As long as you’re not too hung up on what logo your devices has, here are a few things that I think make the new iPhone and OS work a lot better for Android users than before.
Third Party Keyboards
This was always my biggest issue. Virtual keyboards still completely suck, and they are the thing you probably use the most on your phone.
For me, a keyboard that accommodates normal thumb typing and gesture (swype) typing is an absolute must because they suck slightly less. If this hadn’t changed, I wouldn’t have even thought twice about these snazzy new devices.
Jury’s still out. But I’d venture a guess that SwiftKey on iPhone will be a sleeper-game-changer. You read it here.
Apple ate some crow on this one. I’m actually a bit surprised they didn’t even keep the present form factor and add a size or two to say “Steve Jobs was still right, our customers are just also right too.”
But alas. Bigger is better. And the 5.5 screen might just scratch that Note 4 itch I have.
I haven’t overlooked the fact that the Note packs a crazy high res 5.7 screen into roughly the same form factor though. And if Apple doesn’t think I can see the difference between 401 and 515 ppi, then I guess they’ll never make a higher res screen than this and I’ll never have to upgrade!
Realistically the iPhone isn’t the winner on displays. The point is they offer bigger ones. And since I’m sure they’re still plenty pleasant to behold, they’re another reason I’m opening myself up to seeing other OS’s.
Camera & Video
As I mentioned before, this is a major reason I want to settle into a different device, regardless of OS. It’s not crystal clear who the king of cam is (certainly there are phones with an even greater emphasis on camera.. but not without sacrifices), but when Apple claims they changed mobile photography I can hardly argue.
The iPhone camera is consistently outstanding. And with features like time lapse, video stabilization, and 240 fps video done the Apple way, I’m sure these new devices will set another bar for convenient media-making.
Here’s some iPhone footage from the Keynote. Just wow.
Continuity & Handoff
One of my most used Android features is Hangouts. I can take my conversations from phone to full computer/keyboard at my whimsy. I know Hangouts is on iPhone, and they have iMessage, but hangouts being my one source for conversation is really handy. It doesn’t hurt that my office runs on Google Apps and everyone uses hangouts to communicate.
Apple’s Continuity features seem to be addressing a lot of this pretty elegantly, and is even bringing texting to your Mac, regardless of who you’re chatting with and what device they use.
Don’t get too excited. I think the SMS portion of Apple’s new Continuity service is getting delayed.. and I not sure how any of this applies to Canadians like myself… but that would be one killer feature.
Obviously, this feature won’t hold much sand for Windows users, but I look forward to seeing how it can enhance the Mac/iPhone experience.
Opening up & Cross-app Talk
iOS as a platform is opening up a fair amount, including more ability for applications to communicate with each other. Another thing that makes iOS more like Android, and another reason I’m open to it.
Google’s Play Store has really come into it’s own, and the last time I was in Apple’s App Store it was a really slow and cumbersome experience.
Now the performance may have been the two year old iPad’s fault (the iPad 3 retina, one of Apple’s bastard sons), but I still think Google’s really got a great thing going. Timed refunds and installing from your browser come to mind immediately.
Apple’s App store is more mature though, and is still often the first and sometimes only place the get the best apps and games.
If I move to an iPhone, I can still use Google Chrome, Gmail, Hangouts, Maps, Authenticator, Drive, G+, and so on, and so forth. And thank goodness, because Google is better at almost all of those things.
Tim Cook almost seemed like he thought Apple invented WiFi calling when he revealed the feature. It sounded silly.
As with many technologies Apple uses, this isn’t anything new… but they’ll probably do it really well. And that’d be nice, because I get worse reception than Mars at my house.
Last but not least, nothing is built like an Apple. They consistently offer unprecedented visual design and build quality. They also support their devices better than anyone else, even if Apple support has deteriorated a bit with their growth over the years.
I could go on… but just look at it.
If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?
I haven’t used an iPhone for any meaningful amount of time since the 4s, and I have’t gotten a really good chance to experience iOS 7 (a couple weeks on a sluggish iPad 3 retina actually had me pretty disgruntled). A lot will just come down to seeing how it feels, but there are still a few things I’m not sure about.
I’m not a fan of the song and dance most people do to use their phones. Swiping, passwords, gestures… all an extra step to get to what’s doing.
I see the value of the extra security, but I haven’t lost a phone in 15 years – and if I did, I’d remotely wipe it. In my daily life, I relish being able to just press the power button and go.
Bypassing this is a snap on Android. Maybe there’s an app for this on iPhone.. Maybe the fingerprint unlock is just that slick.. We’ll see.
The concept of automatically turning on the screen every time I get a notification absolutely baffles me. I won’t even go into it because it makes me angry.
Android does it really well. Little flashy light lets me know what’s up, power button, pull down top menu, see all notifications.
iPhones can probably achieve this flow more or less now I’m assuming. I’ll just have to play with it.
The older I get, the less I care to visually enhance my interfaces. But when I can hack at something a bit to make it work more efficiently, that’s valuable to me. I’m not holding my breath for all of my little workflow hacks to port over to iOS, but again, we’ll see!
This will likely never change, and while I could wax philosophic all day about tech giant business models the simple fact is that Apple products cost more to make, they cost more to buy, and they don’t always compete on spec/$.
Especially when it comes to the things we interact with 100x a day for work and life, it really just comes down to how it feels – and how it works for you.
Investment in Android
Having been in Android land for several years now, I’ve bought some apps. They’ll be there if I ever come back I guess… like the App Store apps I have waiting for me from the past!
At least from my limited experience, Android’s persistent three button navigation/multitasking setup is the bomb-diggetty and iOS’s device navigation is a bit more spastic. Maybe I just need to get used to it though…
I’m going to putz around with a Space Grey 64 Gig iPhone 6 Plus and see how it goes. If it’s not for me I’ll pass it along and report back either way.
Let me know if you have any thoughts on the matter. Just be gentle..