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frankspin

Moving from Android to iOS is not as bad as you think

As a previous Android user I often saw a lot of Android users exclaim about how coming to Android was such a liberating experience from the grasp of Apple's walled garden. For the last few years I believed this, but over time I started to open up to what Apple and iOS have to offer. After moving to the iPhone 5s this past September I can comfortably say making the move is not nearly as bad as it's made out to be, and to be honest it's been nice to not have the freedom that Android provides.

Widgets

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.

Customization

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.

Notifications

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.

That grid

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.

Uniformity

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.

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83 replies
Dignan17

Here's the thing about keyboards: every time I use an iPhone keyboard, I'm shocked at how accurate it is. That speaks to the build quality and overall product control Apple has over the iPhone, and this is the best example of how much of an asset that is.

However (you knew that was coming), having so many options on Android is huge. I don't even use a replacement keyboard anymore, because I find I don't need to be at all accurate with the "Swype" feature of the built in keyboard. I love the iPhone's accuracy (which is critical for such a small screen - sorry, couldn't help myself), but I basically don't need it.
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Cynic13

Is this tongue-in-cheek? You pick minor nits with a long (if incomplete) list of Android advantages - without pointing out any particular benefits of the iPhone other than "uniformity."

You could also have mentioned that the gorgeous FHD screens on many Android phones present too much information at one time and don't fit comfortably into small pockets. Native support of SIP calling in the Android dialer is very confusing and not as reliable as using wireless carrier voice, even if it might save you a lot of money on international calls. Getting an unlocked phone (like the Moto G or Nexus 5) and monthly service for under $50 isn't important. Who needs Swype when the Apple keyboard includes all the characters, with autocorrection? Those LED status indicators are useless when the phone is in your pocket. Paying by NFC is really overrated, too, since you'll always have a credit card in your wallet. Yes, the iPhone really is better in every way. Right.
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frankspin

Perhaps you missed the point where I point that I was speaking based on my wants and needs in a phone, not a general one is better than the other.
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Cynic13

You explained your switch by pooh-poohing Android advantages. The only advantage of the iPhone that you mention is uniformity. I can see that the iPhone's "jewelry" attribute makes it a good choice for you in spite of its simple interface, small form factor, and other limitations - but that's not the story you told. People pay a premium price for Rolexes even though functionally they are inferior to Casios. There's nothing wrong with wearing a Rolex or carrying an iPhone. But you justify a Rolex by saying that you like it, not by arguing that that precise timekeeping, alarms, time zone support, etc are not important.
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raptorck

"In spite of." Such loaded language. You're pooh-poohing the iPhone interface for trading off flexibility for ease of use. You're attacking the size, when I haven't seen a single iPhone-sized Android phone with "flagship" capabilities. This is a limitation of the overall Android architecture: You need more RAM and faster CPUs to deal with Android's overhead, drawing more power, requiring a bigger battery and larger silicon footprint. iOS' simplicity is part of the overall design goal: Making a usable smartphone interface in a compact, handheld device.

You're reading a lot into one person's dismissal of features which he found unnecessary for him, which ended with a point that Android's actually perfectly good for those features. There was a recent point that iOS is a lot like a sportscar, and I think that really sums it up: It's stripped down. Android is heavier, by comparison. It's got features that not everyone needs, and it can do quite a bit as a result that iOS can't.

The core argument here, as I read it, is that if you don't need all of these features, you don't need Android. It's a minimalist perspective, not an anti-Android perspective. If you read Frank's points and disagree, then yeah, moving to iOS is an utterly terrible experience. Personally, I disagree with that idea, but I generally lean towards systems with fewer, more polished features, than anything with more "power" and a lack of design focus/purity.

That lack of purity's not even Android's fault, mind. What could you possibly expect from an ecosystem with one OS vendor, multiple hardware vendors, and silicon designs sourced from whichever bidder has the closest match? I frankly look forward to Motorola forcing a little more control over their handsets through Verizon, and an annual release cycle of Motorola designs geared towards hitting a "pure" Android target with an eye towards long-term product evolution. Switching manufacturers along the Nexus line certainly isn't providing that answer, though it was a good start.
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frankspin

Thank you for this response. To clarify a bit on the sports car metaphor, it was more about refinement and polish than bloat.

I also go on to say in another back-and-forth with another poster that the Moto X looks, and feels, like quite the nice Android phone.
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frankspin

I didn't pooh pooh around anything. I clearly stated that the features of Android that are touted the most by Android enthusiasts just don't apply to me.

And for the record I would never by a Rolex unless it was a Submariner. I much prefer a Sinn or Omega, thank you very much.
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dgsdgdf

It's funny. The only reason I stuck with my iPhone for as long as I did was for the UX. I preferred Android's way of handling everything else (notifications, sharing, default apps), but it just wasn't pleasant to use. But then my Nexus S was updated to 4.0, and then to 4.1, and Android's UX got better, much better. Now, with my Nexus 4 running 4.4, the UX gap between iOS and Android has narrowed so much, that I really have no need to even turn on the iPhone these days. I get all the advantages, with only minor annoyances.
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frankspin

If I was to make the move back to Android I would most certainly look to a Nexus 5 or Moto X.
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kemla

I bought an iPhone after my budget Android with 4.0 became unbearable to use, it ruined the Android experience for me, although I am sure that on a phone with even a bit more robust specs I would've enjoyed it more. I never used the widgets and I didn't care about customising the phone beyond changing the wallpaper, so the versatility of Android was never of importance to me.
I don't regret my 5c at all. I probably would have been equally happy with an HTC One or Nexus 5, both of which I considered before the final choice. iOS 7 is awesome and it looks a lot better than Android (in my opinion). And although it doesn't work as seamlessly with mac as I had expected (no Airdrop between osx and ios, whaat?! why did they add it to mac in the first place lol) it's still working a lot better than my ZTE.
I think one advantage of iOS over Android is also that the user experience over devices is consistent – mostly because of the limited number of devices that run iOS. Samsung has so many models that if you can't afford the flagship, you wouldn't know which one to get.
I believe KitKat was designed to also accommodate phones with more modest hardware, which is great.
I hate the ios vs. android debate. To each his own. Yes, there are some areas in which one performs better than the other, but not everyone bases their choices on design, or price or performance. I think instead of being angry at someone for their choice one should feel happy about their own and remember that every major manufacturer is equally rotten; yes even apple.
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frankspin

"I hate the ios vs. android debate. To each his own. Yes, there are some areas in which one performs better than the other, but not everyone bases their choices on design, or price or performance."

This was something I was hoping to avoid and I think most have picked up on this. Thanks for being someone who just wants awesome devices and doesn't focus on how to get there.
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magicaces

I moved the opposite way and for many of the reasons stated in this article but obviously the other way around. To be honest it shows both OS's features can be shown in different light depending on personal preference and so as has already been stated one isn't better than the other they provide different experiences for different people.

I just wanted to mention that I switched from iPhone3G to a HTC Desire HD a few years back and now I have a Nexus4, Android has come on leaps and bounds both in usability and hardware but the most impressive feature for me is Google Play/Music being able to buy/download/stream from any device and upload every song from my iTunes library has been superb but also still have the choice to have things offline & available on any device, Apple always seemed restrictive in the DRM department and used to force you to use iTunes. I.e. I can always use AmazonMP3 to get a better price.

Now I haven't used a Apple device in a long time and it does seems they are adding more choice making alternative media & sharing apps available but choice is why I moved to Android, there is now an amazing range of Android devices from the bottom end to top end you aren't restricted with price or spec there's so many to choose from. On the flip side I do like the hardware Apple has to offer especially the new iPad Air (iPhone 5 is good but don't really like the thin screen) but I still feel they aren't value for money and when you have invested so much into Android i.e. Nexus4/Nexus10 devices, music downloads, app purchases and integrating that with Windows and other cloud services it seems to me anyway, that moving across to iOS would be very difficult indeed.
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undfeatable

iTunes has stopped the DRM's for quite awhile you know? It's actually been quite a few years!
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jeffkoe

"Moving from iOS to Android is not as hard as you think" but let me add, "if you're a geek." Tell your tech indifferent friends and family that "Moving from iOS to..." and watch their reaction.
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frankspin

I actually know a few people who have made the change and did so without any major complications or issues.
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JeffDenver

No 3rd party app integration on iOS...that alone is reason enough to stay with Android. Being forced to use Apple's apps and services as my default whether I like it or not would get old fast.
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frankspin

Perhaps, but the default apps are not that bad. And when I was still using my S3 the only default applications I was replacing were launcher, SMS, and the browser. Sharing to Twitter or Facebook on iOS doesn't require an additional app since their baked into the OS.

Where this does get slightly annoying is dealing with things like the camera or browser, but as I said in another response it's not as if these two default apps are terrible.
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jsanagustin

But can you share to apps to aren't 'baked into the OS'?
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frankspin

Yes and no. Certain apps will build in service sharing to make the process more easy. For example in Tweetbot you can share tweets to different service they have built into the app. the same with Pocket. Other companies like 1Password are making it possible for apps to open all web links in 1Password's built-in browser. There is also a Launch Center Pro which takes advantage of different apps and services API/HTTP calls to allow you to do some pretty custom stuff.

Is this less convenient than how Android does it, perhaps. For how I use my phone and move data around this works fine.
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JeffDenver

"The default apps arent that bad". Except when they are. Remember Apple Maps? Android has a real easy way around that.

The fact that you can replace the launcher at all is an example of why Android is better. You can do these things on stock Android, without rooting/jailbreaking, without having to hide it from Google. You can use whatever apps you want as your default and Android will still work fine and Google will not throw roadblocks in your way or try to punish you for it.

Sharing anything doesn't require an extra app in Android. The Share menu lets you share content from anything you have installed. It's baked into the OS, and any app can be added to it. You do not need to wait for OS updates to add stuff to it.

iOS is basically an app jukebox. It is the Jitterbug of smartphones. And while that sounds insulting, I don't mean it to be. For a lot of people too many choices are confusing and for them iOS is a great solution. But if you are already comfortable with Android's Choices, going to iOS is going to be unpleasant IMO.
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frankspin

1. Apple maps is not that bad anymore and is perfectly suitable. I've used it for navigation a few different times now and it's done just fine.

2. I never once said iOS is better and that Android is terrible, in fact I go on to say that Android is a fine OS.

3. I don't share between a lot of apps and the ones I do need to share between all work with each other. In fact, I hated that the intents menu in Android included every damn app. Why would I want to share a picture to my calendar or vice versa?

4. I can use whatever apps I want on iOS too, there are no "roadblocks". It's just a different way of doing things.

This post is not intended to bet an us vs them post at all, just to discuss how the switch is not hard. Too many times people get caught up in so many nuances of something they feel locked into a particular platform. I could have made this post about Android to Windows Phone and I'm sure the comments would be completely different.
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doritwins

Hey Frank , im an android fan , and you know what i think is that you just need a Nokia , look android is an opensource system ,that means that you can do everything with it , you have Widgets and if you dont wanna use that just ignore them.About Customization , if you need too,you'll have it there ,again if you dont need that dont use it,and all thoose other things
I just wanted to ask you something , what do you have in iOS that is not in android , or or just live that , tell me what do you have in iOS ? , messages, even my dads phone does have messages
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rmanulkin

I switched from Android to an Iphone 5, and returned the Iphone within 15 hours and went back to android.
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danpoleary

While I kind of agree with you in some areas, What I find the most useful on Android, that I can't do on iOS, is create and deploy my own apps to the phone, both my own, and those of my family and friends. I will never accept a closed wall environment.
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Baroman

Well... i understand why a person would feel the need to change a OS/device due to making their life for easier in the tech department.. if you use Apple products at work and home... then get a Iphone, it really makes sense really, IOS is known for its "ease" of use... not saying Android is not easy to use! it is greatly! .... I've been debating a Windows phone due to my heavy windows use, i enjoy Windows 8.1.. i never touch the "Metro" but still... makes sense for me to grab a windows phone.. but I'll most likely stick Android and get a Nexus 5! ..... i sounder is Windows app store will allow me to use my Google Play for music? hmmm but i'd like to try a new mobile OS tbf...
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undfeatable

Great little discussion, especially between you and Dignan17 (Matt). I may be a loyal IOS user, but its simply because it suits my needs. If I wanted to spend the time customizing everything and making my phone mine, I think Android would suit me better. I consider myself more than the average user, but the dumb downed IOS interface is really great to have and extremely easy to use. Being able to hand someone my phone and them being able to use it as much as myself is something I enjoy, I don't feel like having to explain the workings of my phone is worth the trouble. The walled garden approach is something I enjoy, its security all around to me.

I will say IOS 7 is troubling for me. I love the interface, but it does the one thing I always prided my devices for not doing, crashing. My apps, even apple ones like safari, crash constantly on my 5s and iPad. Its not an app crash, but a IOS crash as it restarts a lot. Anyway, IOS 7.

Now I want to comment on the reverse of your article. I think the opposite (IOS to android) does not hold true. I have invested over $200 in apps, $500 in music, and $100 in movies on IOS. I can't see just leaving them behind. I also think the whole iCloud thing is amazing. When I buy a song, I get home and enjoy having it ready on my iPad. Its a convience thing. I just don't think Android has that prepared on a silver platter like Apple does simply because of the walled garden approach.

I look forward to both yours and Matt's response to this. I love my iProducts now, but don't think devices such as the Moto X (love it) and others have made me think 2x!
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frankspin

"I will say IOS 7 is troubling for me. I love the interface, but it does the one thing I always prided my devices for not doing, crashing."

This is something myself and someone else on the team have discussed. We both noticing it happening a lot on devices with the A7 processor and believe it to be an issue with memory limitations. I've seen it on a few other blog posts as well from people in the industry. Perhaps this will get squared away as more apps move to 64-bit and Apple reigns in memory management.
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Whyyyytttttt

So all I just read we're your points stated about stuff that's actually better on Android with you saying they're not. Not one positive for Apple though. Going from my S3 to an iPhone 5, a more "current" phone than the S3, was the biggest mistake I have ever made in my life. Unfortunately the phone is expensive so I'm still stuck with it for a while. Apple's limited customization and operation on its phones just don't even compare to Droids.
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frankspin

The specific areas I highlighted were points that most Android users will speak to as being what makes Android better, and how iOS is inferior. I was merely trying to point out those specific points are a little over blown and can be overcome if you want a different OS.
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Chinese

I totally agree with your point of view,thanks for your sharing
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DevGhotra

IF APPLE CAN FULLFIL YOUR NEEDS THN YOU DONT HAVE NEEDS ACTUALLY !!
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frankspin

This makes no sense.
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DevGhotra

SWITCH TO HTC SENSE
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