Moving from Android to iOS is not as bad as you think
Widgets are something any Android fan likes to talk up and can sometimes be something a lot of iOS users want. I can safely say that widgets just aren't that exciting. The main issue for why I never got into widgets was they all rely on background polling, if you disable this they wont update as quickly. Since polling can have an impact on battery life, naturally you don't want something like a Twitter widget updating every five minutes. So if you're changing the polling timeframe, it kind of defeats the purpose of the widget. If Android figured out a way to make the widgets update on focus there could be more value in them, but overall they didn't offer much for me.
This is one I hear a lot from Android circles and again it's pretty overrated. Sure, being able to completely customize how your phone looks with UCCW, icons, and wallpapers is cool but often they're not very practical for efficiency. I once followed instructions to build a home screen that resembled the Feedly interface and while it looked cool, the way the screens moved became annoying to watch. Simply, the time invested to really make your Android phone standout wasn't worth the potential dislike for the functionality it would offer.
I wont try and sugarcoat this, Apple still hasn't figured out notifications on mobile devices. Android offers a lot more power from the shade and it's faster to dismiss them. However, I'd rather give up that power to get the ease of tuning that iOS offers. With Android you have to go into every single app, discover the menu and fix the notification settings. With iOS you can conveniently disable whatever notification you want from within the main Settings panel of iOS. This makes it incredibly easy to quickly turn off notifications and customize them a bit more.
Android users, it's time to stop going on about about how iOS is just a grid of icons. It's a tired and boring reason as to why Android is a better platform, and using it as a basis for innovating is just cheap. The reality is that when you open the Android app drawer it's a grid of icons and your home screen is a grid, it's just the nature of the beast. While Apple is "still just a grid of icons" it actually is refreshing because it keeps you from downloading endless amounts of useless apps.
Perhaps the single biggest thing that has been nice about coming to iOS from Android is a uniform feel throughout the phone. While iOS apps are currently in a transition from iOS 6 design styles to iOS 7, the apps still feel similar enough that you don't feel too disjointed. The single biggest frustration with Android from 2.3 - 4.x, and even still now, a lot of Androids function differently based on if the menu button comes into play or not. It can be confusing in some situations and other it's not. However I still think the biggest grip I have with Android from a uniformity aspect are their app icons. Yes, every iOS icon is a square but it honestly looks a lot better than how Android icons are all miss-matched and laid out.
Android is not a bad product
I am by no means trying to discredit everything Android has built-to and become, it's really grown a lot and it obviously was doing something right when I picked it a few years ago. However, over time, I have just come to recognize that perhaps iOS's ease-of-use was something of a benefit. At the end of the day what matters to me is having an extension of my desk, and right now iOS is delivering that better for my needs. Maybe in another six months or a year I'll despise iOS and want to go back to Android, or even Windows Phone, but right now I just don't see it.
But in the end, I think these kinds of comparative checklists are unnecessary. It comes down to which platform works better for you, which you touch upon very briefly at the end.
Off the top of my head, here's a few additional observations that you missed:
- The share menu: Android doesn't limit me to a few partner services.
- Tyranny of the default: I don't care if you prefer Apple Maps or Google Maps, but I want you to be able to choose which one comes up when you want maps. I still have no idea why the EU is still going after MS for browser default dialog boxes when Apple handles their mobile OS this way.
- Screen sizes: sorry, the iPhone is simply too small for me. This is completely subjective, but I'm not limited to one choice with the Android platform.
I agree that the share menu thing is rough but I've adapted, and most apps I use with it don't cause a headache. There was also recent development of a group of iOS developers who had built a more robust share menu, I wish I still had the GitHub repo.
Default, yes. It's a major pain no matter how you look at it. I loathe Apple mail but am adapting, but 100% agree this kind of stinks. Though I will say I have less desire to move away from default apps and such.
I think screen sizes will always be preference. The S3 was pushing me width wise, the One was HUGE to me, but the 5s feels sport on. Maybe .3-.5 more but it's close.
I'd also be lying if I said I hadn't thought about grabbing a Nexus 7 just to have for reading, and that the Moto X would be my go-to option if I went back to Android. I think Motorola really nailed the X.
I do hope they update the share option on iOS, because I find the Android implementation extremely powerful. My favorite use is something very simple: an app called "Email to Self." For the most part, I use this app as an icon on my home screen which, when pressed, opens up a new email with the to: field already filled out with my own email address, and the cursor in the body of the email. I use this to send notes to myself all the time. But in the share menu, it turns anything that can be shared into something I can send to myself as a reminder for later, like a web page or RSS item or whatever. This is just a small example of the kind of stuff the share menu enables. I do think, however, that that feature needs a lot of work. The main thing being that I hate not being able to remove items from the share menu! There are applications in there that I will never use, so it's frustrating that I can't disable them. Still, I'd rather have too much here than not enough.
Like I said, screen size will always be subjective. The 5s feels spot on for you, but it feels too small for me when I use my wife's phone. I like having the screen real estate. But again, this is completely subjective and I'm actually irritated that the options have become more limited on Android over the past couple years. The Note has pushed everything to the larger screen sizes, and while I think there's a huge market for large screens, the manufacturers have barely noticed that they left the smaller screen markets behind. Fortunately HTC and Samsung are making some smaller versions of their flagship phones.
The default thing is actually the entire reason that I know for a fact that I could not be an iOS user. It's literally the entire thing that started me out on Android in the first place way back in 2008 and kept me with the platform to this day. All things being equal, I'd have a hard time deciding between the platforms and momentum would probably be the only thing to keep me on Android. But because of the default issue, I can never become an iOS user. The reason is simple: GMail. I absolutely adore GMail like no other service I use. I love conversation view, I love stars, I love labels, I love pretty much everything about it (except for the new automatic inboxes feature which I've turned off). My entire life (both personal and business) is in GMail, and I'm 100% happy with it. There's not a chance in hell that I would switch to using Apple Mail, mostly because I don't see what would be so compelling to make me go through the immense trouble of switching. It's not that I think Apple Mail is bad, I just don't see why I'd switch over when I'm so happy where I am and I can do all the things I want to do.
All of this is to observe that I know I'd be extremely frustrated if I couldn't make GMail the default email application on my phone. I wouldn't want to use the built in mail client because it doesn't handle my conversations, stars, labels, etc.
I don't know, maybe I'm wrong and this is all in my head :)
It seems like all the flamewars between both Android and iOS users ignore one simple idea: the other person might be happy with what they have. I always say that if your device does what you need it to do, and you're happy with how it does it, that's all that matters. This is a key thing for all the fanboys to remember when having these debates (or flamewars :) ).
The comment about being happy is perfect. I was just unhappy with what Android was offering and delivering, so I felt ready to make a change up to see. I was not intending this to be "GO OUT AND CHANGE NOW".
The end user is the one who is right, not the vendor. Things like the share menu and 3rd party app integration and widgets are things even iUsers have been asking for for a very long time. Apple has failed to keep up with feature demand, and tries to make up for it with polish.
And that has worked for a long time. the problem is, now Android is also looking quite polished and getting better with each version.
I don't want iOS to "conform" to us, I want them to keep doing what they're doing. One thing I don't like about Android, and Google, is they attempt to do too much with their products and this can lead to a bad product.
I also don't think Apple is failing to keep up with feature demand, I think they're delivering features that the more average user cares about.
Apples sinking markets are is evidence they are failing to keep up with feature demand. As the general population becomes more tech savvy, they become more demanding. It's simplicity might have been appealing in the beginning, but now feels rather constricting.
Yeah, we can adjust to new ways of doing things. If I am forced to buy a crappier car I'll adjust. It doesn't mean I'd rather have the crappier car given a choice.
Choice is certainly one of the biggest pros to Android devices; CHOICE. Yes, Apple (let's be honest here, someone else was already using ios to refer to an operating system before the iPhone) devices are designed well, and work well for many people.
I, for one, would rather have a choice in form factor, features, and apps, so that I can more easily use a device how I want to and not necessarily how a designer envisioned me to.
Now I may be wrong about this, but if I remember correctly from what a former Apple user told me... If one installs a 3rd party browser, one could use it. However, say one taps a link in an email. The device then opens that link in the stock browser without giving the user the CHOICE of which browser to use.
Question... if one doesn't like the keyboard that Apple provides, could one install another? Such as Swiftkey? or Minuum? I believe the answer is no. Okay, you might say, "So what? It's just a keyboard; no big deal." Well that is your opinion/choice. Mine is to use a 3rd party keyboard. To me, the ability to make that choice is a big deal, because how else does one enter data into an app?
One can certainly argue that there are aspects of each system that infringes on the freedom of the user, no one is as blatant and in-your-face about it as Apple is. I'd say 2nd place Verizon.
Example: "Hey man I'm running late. Be there in 10 min" That phrase took me all of 19 taps to type out.
Can Safari sync with its desktop/laptop counterpart? IE, I have access to the same exact bookmarks across my desktop, tablet, and phone. Or, say I have a few tabs open on my phone. After a few clicks, I can have those same exact pages opened up on my desktop/tablet without even having to touch my phone.
I was using Switfkey since I had my Eris and was running 1.5, so yes I have been using it long enough. Typing on a touchscreen phone is not an issue for me so it taking 19 taps or 49 taps doesn't bother me.
"Can Safari sync with its desktop/laptop counterpart?"
Yes, this is a feature that is advertised right on Apple's website as a feature of iCloud. Yes, I can access any bookmark or URL by simply opening Safari on my laptop or iPad. Even if Safari didn't offer this I could achieve the same thing through Chrome for iOS.
I fully support people wanting to explore, but I feel like doing it because your bored is silly. Look at things like the entirety of the Mac OS history and Windows 95 through Windows 7 -- the UX paradigms have been exactly the same for decades! (That's not to say they're perfect, of course.)
"Interestingly, I've heard a number of friends who've been married since day one say they want to switch spouses when their contract is up because "she/he feels boring." To me, that's kind of a crazy reason to switch spouses, especially with the sunk cost of the app(liance)s you've already purchased.
I fully support people wanting to explore, but I feel like doing it because your bored is silly. Look at things like the entirety of marriage and civil unions -- the social paradigms have been exactly the same for decades! (That's not to say they're perfect, of course.)"
What gets harder for jumping platforms is if you have invested a lot of money in apps, gets tough to justify re-buying all your favorite apps.
Customizing homescreens/icons got old, I came to enjoy the simplicity in iOS of your homescreen is your app drawer; no more moving apps to the homescreen, they're all there, just swipe through. Notifications aren't as good on iOS but they're better than they used to be. @sirdurable makes a good point on iTunes, I do hate opening it up to sync music, hoping the new Google Music app for iOS alleviates this.
A comment from my Father tells me that the changes iOS has done between versions isn't overly enjoyed.
To each their own! Use what you enjoy and enjoy what you use. :)
However if you want a local backup iTunes is required, but backups can also be done on iCloud so it's a matter of preference.
Plus, I HATE the screen size and ratio on the iPhone. Typing on that thing makes me want to go postal.
I personally don't see the point in ramping the iPhone up to even 720p, people wouldn't be able to resolve the extra pixels, so you're just pushing the CPU, GPU, and battery harder for no good reason.
Now, a larger device, like a 5" phone or the Galaxy Note series? By all means. More screen SHOULD mean more pixels. A 4.5" iPhone? 720p, no question. A 6.75" iPhone Note? 1080p, again, no question. Extrapolate this up, and yes, you get the Retina iPad mini at its current resolution, which makes things truly fun: The iPad Air should accordingly ramp up to an obscene 2560x1920, if not for the fact that you're using it from further away.
I don't see a point in spec battling beyond the user's ability to leverage it. I DO think that the notification light and a universal back button are good ideas, and while the back button use on iPhone seems okay to me, it does NOT work well on the iPad. Android's solution fits more use cases in a better way.
Rapid back-and-forth on Android also sounds handy, but I'll admit to not having a terribly strong use case for it at present. I just don't hop back and forth between only two apps very often.
I've already learned that some apps may CLAIM to provide notifications, but they... don't. If this thing can make noise and turn on a light when I get a reminder, then EVERY app should be able to leverage that. It's bits like that which keep me deeply in iOS land as I think about it: Yes, it's a limited, walled garden, but as weak as the notifications may seem, they're consistently available to almost all apps.
Basically, I can't really fault Google for bad developers, but I feel as though they're responsible for not providing guidance or tools to lead their developers down the right path.
I can't tell if it's what you were going for or not, but for the sake of clarity: every app is capable of that, but the developers are the ones who have to take advantage.
It's difficult to discuss this issue when you don't provide any examples, but the biggest offenders of poor notifications on Android seem to be (in my experience) the developers who only offer straight ports of iOS titles. All too frequently I'll notice that they don't take advantage of rich notifications (where you can pull down on a notification in the shade to reveal more information - like with GMail notifications). This is bad because it means you might get a notification that doesn't have anything useful in it, and you have to click on the notification to see what it's telling you, thus negating most of the purpose of the notification.
"Basically, I can't really fault Google for bad developers, but I feel as though they're responsible for not providing guidance or tools to lead their developers down the right path."
Are you speaking from specific experience? Do you know that they don't provide this guidance? Google provides all the tools that developers need, including style and UI behavior guidelines. It truly is up to the developers to write their apps properly.
The nice part about that is that all of the device functions are exposed to every app very consistently. I've now dealt with a few apps on the Android side, Google Play included, that don't. Admittedly, I don't need a notification light to tell me that updates are available, but it makes for an odd precendent: whose example do I follow to provide fine-grained notification control?
I'd also mention that I have a very odd view for how I trust developers to do things "properly." It's odd that iOS forces devs to do their own memory management, but give them rigid notification and multitasking controls, while Android more or less throws the kitchen sink of capabilities without any structure behind it, but gives you a freaking garbage collector on a mobile device? Crazy town.
I like tyranny. Android vs. iOS isn't the problem, accordingly, it's all about iTunes App Store vs. Google Play. I can EASILY build a crappy .ipa, get a developer ID, and shove it on my own iPhone. It could do a half-assed job of conforming to anything brought in since iOS 4, and it'd still run, but no one would want to use it.
The Android ecosystem, accordingly, is akin to an condominium: Everyone (app) gets their home space, which they can modify to their heart's content. If those apps want to share data, they can do so by going directly to the desired apartment.
The iOS ecosystem is a boarding school dormitory: You get a space, and it must meet certain standards of cleanliness, orderliness, and overall behavior. Sneaking data via non-standard channels is akin to breaking curfew: Don't do it. It's uniform, it's limited, but everything is sparkling clean, shirts are starched, shoes are shined, etc.
It doesn't mean that iOS apps are better, mind you. That only happens because development priorities favor the platform which seems to be more profitable. It just means that iOS apps are more consistently awesome because Apple has forced a high bar for "average" on their side, while Google Play basically just opens the floodgates.
I know full well that I'm painting a picture of fascists vs. hippies here, and I'm comfortable with that. My phone can be a little digital dictatorship, because at the end of the day, it's a phone. I WANT my trains to run on time. When I want a digital LEGO set that I can pull apart, twist around, and generally fiddle with, sure, Android's great, but I've learned that there are certain things that I simply don't care to tinker with, and at this point in my life, the tiny chunk of silicon in my pocket is simply too mission-critical with respect to my digital data addiction for me to necessarily care about the things that I can, but won't, do.
I sometimes wonder if Android is giving too much to developers to the point they just don't know where to begin or conceptualize using it.
I think Google Play relies on crowd sourced reviewing of the app, if an update or an app is bad or has a major bug the recent reviews will reflect that. Due to this setup for a new app first starting out in the Play store those first reviews can be tough.
As a user try to read several review, since every user has a different expectation, one user's one start app is another user's 5 star app, and the most rare review to be given is 3 stars. ;)
raptorck: I'm not sure exactly what you're arguing in that last post. The one thing I'll say is that I think you misread what I was calling "tyranny." I was referring to the "tyranny of the default," which has become a common phrase in the tech sector to describe the advantage a platform gives to its own default apps, mostly when those defaults can't be changed.
The rest of your argument is mostly subjective, IMO. I think the stylistic offenses on Android are not as bad as they once were back in the days of Gingerbread. Most devs seem to be pretty good at updating to the Holo UI.
Heck, devs on both platforms frequently screw up UI. I don't blame Apple or Google for this.
The entire point here isn't that I'm right, because I'm not. No one is. It's just me providing a window into the psychology of an iOS full-timer, and the perceptions brought about from dabbling in Android.
By the way, what you call "tyranny of the default," we used to call "Embrace, extend, and extinguish" back in the day. Funny how back then, Apple was the underdog and Microsoft was the bad guy...
The 2 biggest gripes I have with iOS are:
- Keyboard - the iOS keyboard is ok, but hands down Swiftkey on Android is my favorite.
- Apps bundled in the iOS firmware. - This may sound like a minor thing but the downside of bundling the apps in the firmware is every-time there's a bug fix or new feature to be added in the iOS Browser, Facetime, Apple Maps, etc. a Firmware update is required which requires a full reboot of the device. Where Google has taken the strategy of making their Android apps available in their store, so that any time there's a bug fix update or new feature added it's just an App update. I've been hoping for some time that Apple separates non essential apps from the OS firmware, and just makes them available as updates via the App Store. ie. Browser, Maps, Mail client, Facetime, etc. But it hasn't happened.
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