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ryan

August 2nd 2012 3:23 pm

The Android Challenge: update three (week 2+)


Finally, the conclusion of the Android Challenge! Previous updates here:The app situation
Android has, as we've all heard, a great deal of apps. Some day soon it may even have more apps than iOS, and for now my basic needs have been more than adequately covered. In fact, most of the services I frequently use (Rdio, Instagram, RunKeeper, Uber, Path, etc.) are represented with not so shabby ports of their iOS counterparts.

It didn't take long for me to learn that, not unlike iOS, app discovery is a real problem for Android. Browsing the Google Play store provided the first hint: just about every hand-curated app collection on the Play home screen featured an normous amount of overlap, highlight the same tired, sundry apps and games over and over. And almost all of those apps were either ports from iOS, or utilities to tweak Android itself¹. (For the purposes of this discussion, I'm not really going to lump tools that tweak Android itself in with apps. See footnote discussion.)

This strong first impression of app homogeneity made me even more curious. What am I missing? The good stuff has to be here somewhere. Fortunately, there's still at least one tried and true way to discover the hidden gems: ask some Android users what their favorite apps are.

So I asked the people most into Android that I know, and without fail every single one had approximately the same reply: check out Swiftkey and Swype, Instagram is good, and make sure you've got Chrome. When I pressed, asking for some of the more interesting, under the radar apps they'd discovered, I got nothing. (Or nothing really worth sharing here, anyway.)

That's when I knew: Mountain View, we have a problem.

It didn't take me long after that to come to the somewhat disconcerting conclusion that Android has very few really good, standout apps apps of any kind, and even fewer still really interesting, unique apps that can't be found anywhere else. Pretty much all of Android's best non-first party apps were released and perfected on iOS first, and then ported.

To be clear, Android's best custom keyboards are pretty interesting; and yes, Instagram is a great port and does Android software proud; Chrome is, without a doubt, the best mobile browser around. But as an iOS user, this is kind of crazy. Most iPhone users I know don't bat an eye when asked to produce page after page of cool iOS-only apps -- it's kind of an embarrassment of riches.

Earlier this week I posted Dark Sky to gdgt's Must-have apps list (gdgt.com­/best­/apps­/weather/). To my surprise, I got a lot of feedback from Android users along the lines of: "Man, I wish we had something like that." Of course I think it's a standout app, but iOS users have dozens, maybe hundreds of apps of this caliber -- large and small, well known and obscure.

With the largest smartphone install base in the world, with as many developers as it has, how is it even possible that no one's innovating consumer software and services on Android?

I'm not going to try to answer that -- at least not today. There are many reasons why this is the case, and they've been widely debated for the last few years. But we can certainly all agree that app discovery is a huge challenge for every platform with more than a handful of developers -- and if there's innovation happening on Android, I simply haven't been able to find it.

From what I can tell, 2012 doesn't look any different from years past: the interesting mobile software still seems to happen almost entirely on the iOS first. Then, later, if there's some traction, maybe Android users will be treated to a port.

If you're an Android user (or thinking of becoming one), maybe this isn't a big deal for you. Maybe having reams of fresh apps isn't of much consequence. (And let's not overstate the case on iOS apps, either, because for as many good ones as there are out there, few are what I'd call game or life-changing.)

The bottom line is this. In terms of the bigger, more popular apps and services, there weren't many I couldn't find an Android version of. You can rest easy, Android more or less has all the basics covered. Just not much else.

Sweating the details
All that said, Android itself still has an enormous amount going for it. Ice Cream Sandwich raised the bar for Google's attentiveness to UI, and Jelly Bean raised it again.

I found it clever how holding the home button from anywhere in the system enabled you to swipe up to get to Google Now. I really like how the Google Play shortcut is always present in the main app menu (because if you can't tell, I like hanging out in app stores). I like how the system settings shortcut is always present in the notification tray. These feel like thoughtful details that make using the phone a little more pleasant without adding much clutter. And there are plenty of these details to go around in Android nowadays. (Apple, by comparison, seems to prefer the utterly brutal reduction of clutter, even at the expense of usefulness.)

I'd forgotten how, when you hold an icon to reposition it, Android projects a little outline of its shape in the background. There are no outlines built into the icon files, the system has to trace the shape -- it's small touch that I'm sure was probably a fair bit of trouble to get right. But someone did it, and people notice these little things. It's this kind of stuff that gives me hope for Android's longer-term future, even if it's far from perfect today.

I really like Android's app switcher -- definitely more so than Apple's tray. We navigate our mobile devices visually, and the more rich and obvious the visual cues, the easier it is to use. It's hard to dispute that a scaled down window preview is a better reminder of an app -- and, more importantly, the state in which you left it -- than a thin row of icons.

Of course, some stuff remains less unrefined. Text field behavior (especially when switching to horizontal orientation), for example, is occasionally baffling. But I don't think Android nits need more picking, the macro point here is that Jelly Bean finally feels worthy of Android's enormous user base. I just wish it didn't take Google 1-2 years to get its releases out to the majority of its users (and usually through upgrade attrition, not through updates of existing products).

Consistency
I think my biggest long term Android issue came from the top down: Google hasn't done enough to demand consistency in basic usability from the Android ecosystem. I've talked about this before with regard to the back button, but I feel it's worth addressing in a broader sense.

Newer Android apps tend to work well and look nice, but they all seem to do common things differently, and with unnecessarily differentiated basic UI conventions. Apps that haven't been updated in a while still have the look and feel of early Android, which is really jarring. And don't get me started on the crazy things Android does to phone apps running on a tablet.

The interface guidelines Google introduced with Ice Cream Sandwich (developer.android.com­/design­/index.html) have helped set the tone and do a pretty good job at demonstrating how to solve some of the basic UI problems inherent in a platform with hundreds of permutations in resolution and screen size. But there's still zero consequence for doing things entirely your own way, and experiences are still scattershot even among the Google's own first party apps.

Jelly Bean proves Android no longer needs to scramble to catch up on mobile interface conventions. Former webOS design lead Matias Duarte has helped the platform find a direction and style, and it's actually pretty good, even if Android doesn't always lead by example.

Now what Android desperately needs is to demand much, much more of its ecosystem. Right now. I suspect this won't happen, though, at least not any time soon.

Settling in
When I started using Android full time for this experiment, I'd hoped it wouldn't take long to catch myself up. I hadn't really gone deep on Android since Honeycomb, and as I've mentioned in the past, I've never used it full time, exclusively.

But knowing a smartphone device well enough to let the muscle memory kick in? That's what I was aiming for. That took about a week.

Figuring out all the must-have apps? That was maybe eight, ten days tops.

Then, a few weeks in, it kind of hit me: I'd gotten settled in. I hadn't really thought about my iPhone in well over a week. I'd adapted. I was totally comfortable, and I'd made Android my own.

Not surprisingly, that felt like a pretty strong signal to end the experiment. It was time to make a decision: should I stay or should I go?

The return
I found it more than a little surprising that I wasn't really pining to go back to iOS by this point. But I didn't have any strong feelings about staying on Android, either, so I decided to try going back. I was glad to be reunited with some of my favorite iOS apps (like Sparrow and TweetBot), but after weeks away, carrying an iPhone felt foreign, just as carrying a Galaxy Nexus had.

I suppose in the end, staying or going just didn't feel like a very big deal. Using the iPhone didn't feel like some huge homecoming. It was just moving from one comfortable environment to another.

I didn't really think a ton about it. Perhaps because for all their particularities, once you get to know them both well, iOS and Android just aren't so different. At least not in the ways that seem to matter the most.

If I had to pick only one reason for switching back to iOS, I'd say it's probably the apps. But there isn't just one reason for picking iOS or Android over the other, certainly not for me.

__________________________________________________
¹ On utilities: why they're great, but they're not Apps (with a capital A). Swiftkey and Swype and other platform utilities are definitely apps in the strict sense of the word -- you know, installable software written for a specific platform. I really like Switfkey, and without question Android's architecture affords the most robust ecosystem of system utilities in the mobile space.

In the same vein, I use and love myriad system utilities on the Mac (like Moom, TextExpander, etc.). I can't live without them. There's absolutely nothing wrong with software whose sole purpose is to improve your user experience. But I don't think a platform's ecosystem can or should be defined by this kind of software, and that's what I've seen happen with Android.

System utilities rarely (if ever) fundamentally change the way we use our devices. They certainly don't change the way we experience the world. Utilities address deficiencies. iOS has plenty of deficiencies, too, and as any jailbreaker will tell you, there exists an an enormous number of system utilities to make up for them.

But it's a mistake and a trap to judge the robustness of a platform's ecosystem by its ability to run (and quantiy of) software whose sole purpose is to make using other apps, or the system, a little better. I'd strongly encourage Android users to look beyond these kinds of tools, however great they may be, when judging an app ecosystem, be it Android's, iOS's, or any other.

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61 replies
Dignan17

"But it's a mistake and a trap to judge the robustness of a platform's ecosystem by its ability to run (and quantiy of) software whose sole purpose is to make using other apps, or the system, a little better."

I could not disagree more. I find it disingenuous to compare two platforms for strengths and weaknesses, and then completely dismiss a really great part of one platform because you don't think it's a big deal. This is the only part of your conclusion that I just don't understand.

You're trying to compare apples to apples, and you're forcing Android into a battle of app representation, then throwing out a whole category of apps because you personally don't regard them as highly. I find this hypocritical after commenting about how Apple has forfeited usability for design. In Android, you can get that usability back because a small portion of the users liked it.

I don't see these utilities as "addressing deficiencies," I see them as choice. Google clearly didn't have the time or developers to write their own selection of four fundamentally different keyboard approaches and include them in their OS by default, so they work on making the default one as good as they can, and if you happen to prefer entering text the way that Swype does it, you can do that. It's baffling to me that you would completely throw that out, and treat it as a footnote to your story. Like it or not, this is part of the ecosystem of Android, and it's an important one that the users should rightfully enjoy.

I apologize, I had one more issue with your conclusion. You first complain that Android doesn't have any stand-out apps to separate them from the other platforms, and you say that iOS has plenty of these. While you do comment/ask why developers aren't innovating on Android, I get the overall sense that you don't consider app parity to be a good thing, and would like to see more exclusives. I consider it to be a fantastic thing, and it frustrates me to no end that developers seem to completely ignore Android. Even Instapaper had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the platform. I don't have a problem with a port of an app as long as they make some minimal effort to use the Android interface language (the menu button, for example).

Lastly, I'll offer one great Android-only app, which is the one I've used more than any other for over three years now: Doggcatcher. I know there are other podcast apps on iOS, but I can't fathom using a podcatcher better than this one. I know others will challenge me on that assertion, but I'll hold my ground based on tweakability alone.

Also, even though you apparently hate utility apps ( ;) ), try Shush!, which is a tiny utility that does a single thing that has wowed several iPhone users I know :)

Anyway, I should stress that I liked your final conclusion that once you get used to either platform, the differences aren't a big deal. I think people tend to find the apps they use most often and just use them, and then the phone's OS becomes less of an issue because you're just inside an app.

I enjoyed your experiment, but don't think we didn't notice that you didn't say which phone you would use as your "daily driver." :)
12 like dislike
ryan

I don't think my position is disingenuous, and I don't dismiss that category of software. I've devoted plenty of air time to utilities like Swiftkey (and mentioned it numerous times in this post). When we launch Must-have Android apps, utilities will be a huge part of that.

There's no question Android is more customizable. But options for customization have become Android users' chief argument for the uniqueness of its software ecosystem, and I think that's a huge misstep.

Groundbreaking new apps and services are never built for Android first, and that would make me steaming mad if I were a long-time Android user. You guys shouldn't be content with great utilities. You should be out there demanding Google not only be the best platform for customization, but the best platform for standalone mobile software and service.

I'd encourage you to look at that as my larger point, whatever your feelings are on utilities and customization.
Regarding the daily driver: I thought I was pretty clear! I switched back to the iPhone. For now, anyway.
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Vance

But, Ryan, there is a flaw in your argument. The best and brightest app developers are rarely going to develop for one platform only, they will all develop for both going forward. And, given that many of them have been developing for iOS longer, and that is their comfort zone, they will do their iOS version first. So, it is a non-starter for any of us to scream for Android-only apps, or even Android-first. Why would we need them to be Android exclusive? Again, outside of gaming (not a concern of mine), I can't think of a single important app that is still exclusive to iOS, and that is what is ultimately important for me, as a user.

It took a while, but as far as I am concerned, the "app gap" is closed.
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Vance

Oh, another point that has not been brought up enough is that there is one major flaw in every single iOS app: the lack of widgets. This fact alone makes nearly every Android version a better than its iOS counterpart right out of the starting block. Music apps, Evernote, task apps, news readers, these apps without the widgets are significantly less valuable. And then utilitarian stuff like SMS, calendars, contacts, bookmarks, power toggles, clocks, weather, etc. These widgets are essential once you get used to them.
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wicket

I think I might be in the minority, but I hate widgets personally. Even if iOS had widgets similar to Android I don't think I'd use them.
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ryan

I got very, very little use out of them during my time with Android. I found most (but not all) to be poorly designed and executed.
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Vance

Ah, see, you didn't take advantage of one of Android's most important features, no wonder you went back! :0)

Seriously, though, once I got used to using widgets, they became essential. The idea of having to open a music app to pause, skip, etc, is just unthinkable. Having to open my task app to see my list, rather than just slide over to my scrollable and check-off-able checklist on one of my home pages would make it unusable for me. Etc.
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ssstraub

iOS users haven't had to open the music app to control playback for a long time now. Playback controls are always a double-click away on the home screen, the task tray, and of course the controls on the cable of the earbuds.
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Vance

Yes, you have to double tap to open the controls, then tap what you want to do. With a music widget (whether it be Rdio, Google Play, BeyondPod, etc), I can simply tap on the relevant control right on my home screen (in addition to the headset controls as well, if I am wearing one). I use multiple audio apps daily, so having a widget to control each one that easily is essential. Here is something I don't know since i haven't tried it in a while: will the double-tap bring up the controls for whatever audio app you happen to be using at the time?
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drkokandy

I agree with you about the utility of widgets, but here's an example less comparable on the iOS: I rarely open my social media apps anymore. I see all recent updates on G+, Facebook, & Twitter from my widgets. I think I see many more posts from people than I ever saw when I had to go into an app on the iPad (or worse, I was using my iPad long before there was a Facebook app - had to make the effort to navigate to the site). Sure, on iOS, it'll notify you when someone mentions you, writes on your wall, DMs you, or whatever, but if you want to browse the feed, you need to open an app. On Android, my widgets have me always tuned in to what's going on.
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usercf49d9f498d

I would agree -- all but one or two are distractions that take up more space and respond slower than a mere icon. And, with a few exceptions, they're ugly.
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Dignan17

"You guys shouldn't be content with great utilities. You should be out there demanding Google not only be the best platform for customization, but the best platform for standalone mobile software and service."

Who says we aren't? I've been an Android user since December 2008 with my beloved G1, and I've been pissed since day 1 by the lack of attention from developers. I was only made angrier when Android became the larger platform by numbers.

I think my problem is that you seem to be saying "stop touting the customization of Android and start demanding better original apps." My response is: why can't we do both? And what makes you think we aren't? It's not our fault that developers aren't starting with Android or at least developing in parallel. I know that sounds like the excuse of the non-voter, but in this case I don't even have a way to cast my vote.

How do I make my voice heard? I've already been a staunch supporter of my favorite platform for three and a half years. I've politely requested developers of big time apps to port to Android. I'm not a developer and have zero design sense, so I'm not going to make my own apps. All I can do is hope that developers come to their senses, stop being intolerant towards other platforms, and realize that there are both users and money out there to claim.

Maybe you can provide some insight into this issue. After all, which platform was the first one supported by GDGT in your brand new Apps section?
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Dignan17

ps- sorry, it wasn't that clear that you switched back to the iPhone permanently. It sounded to me like that was an experiment, and was at best inconclusive...
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lwbt

Good find on Shush!!. Need to install right away!
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Dignan17

It's pretty great, and a silly little app you never knew you needed! I use it every time I'm in a meeting or go to a movie, because I always forget to turn my ringer back on. My only wish is that they included a color scheme that matched Jelly Bean/ICS better. There's a blue one, but it's a different blue...
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drkokandy

Just installed it myself. Can't believe what I was missing.
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Vance

Yes, I will challenge you on Doggcather! :0) It is definitely a great app, but I prefer BeyondPod. The point, though, is that both apps are miles ahead of anything on iOS. (need to go add that onto my list below, entirely forgot it).
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lwbt

I use Pocket Casts. Best one I've found. And yes, better than what I had on iOS as well.
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Dignan17

These days I admit it's difficult to argue one over the other, but Doggcatcher will always have my heart. It was the very first podcatcher on the platform*, it iterated at lightning speed, and the developer is by far the best developer ever. He listens to his users, but not too much (if you know what I mean), and has really put an amazing amount of effort into his app.

The thing that pushes me over the edge on Doggcatcher is the customization. I can alter how every feed behaves completely independently. I can set how many episodes to download, when they're removed, etc. I can also change so many things about how the app works, like whether to download new episodes on WiFi or cellular, or when charging.

I can make the app pause when the headphone jack is unplugged, a bluetooth device is disconnected, or both. While that's nothing special, what is special is that I can make the app start playing again when either or both are reconnected. This is essential to me because I'm in and out of the car all day.

But in the end you're correct. We have this great choice of podcast players, and we can actually use them like they aren't the lepers of the operating system.

((*I could be wrong about this, but it came out at the point where I was still checking for new apps twice every day and saw every single new app that came out for Android!))
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Vance

Good points and a fair review. Here are a couple of thoughts from someone who has both OS's (Nexus and iPad):

1. There is not a single app available only on iOS that I actually desire on Android, regardless of the "embarrassment of riches". But there are Android apps that I can't live without. Swiftkey, BeyondPod, Chrome, Gentle Alarm, Chrome to Phone, Desksms, Google Navigation, Google Translate, Google Voice (for voice messages), and the Android versions of Gmail, Google+ and Evernote. The point is that, while Apple may have a plethora of high-end apps, all the ones that I actually want to use are also on Android. And, very often the versions on Android are better. And they are not all just ports. Evernote, for example, wrote their Android version from scratch and it is a lot better that iOS.

2. As for "going back", I find the iPad almost unusable after using Android extensively. Now, iOS feels constricting, almost claustrophopic for some reason. I keep trying to do things I just can't do as easily. My son calls iOS a "Fisher Price" operating system compared to Android. I may not go that far, but as I have said before, I do find iOS like an older aunt whereas ICS/JB is like a hot girlfriend!

Edit to add: after reading through these replies I find that folks here are extremely civil and well-spoken compared to just about any other blog/forum, etc.
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ryan

Re. the civility of gdgt: that's not a coincidence! I love our users. And I think they continue using gdgt for the same reasons you mentioned. Like begets like, and high brow dialogue compels the best kind of participation.
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drkokandy

I have the same experience "going back" to my iPad & iPod Touch after over 7 months with my Galaxy Nexus. My iPad has turned into little more than a portable video player and email reader (for my less critical email addresses) and I have one sad little folder of about 8 apps on my iPod Touch that I actually use (of 217 apps on the device). Yes, iOS has a lot of apps. Far too many for me to actually find time to use when I have to choose to use them.
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ssstraub

Google Translate is on iOS. For everything else you listed there is an iOS equivalent except for Swiftkey.

Now what does Android have that's the equivalent of the following:
Numbers, Pages, Keynote, GarageBand, iMovie, iPhoto

And I chose not to list and of the amazing iOS games where it really seems lopsided vs Android.

It's almost as if you are comparing only free apps on both platforms which seems like a strange comparison to make.
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drkokandy

I own an iPad & iPod Touch and I've never used any of those six apps.

For document editing on Android, I use a combination of Quickoffice (which I also use on the iPod & iPad), Drive, and Documents to Go. They work well for the few times I need to do document editing in an emergency. Numbers, Pages, and Keynote would not suit my needs as well since my office runs on Google Apps for Education and Microsoft services.

As for Garage Band, Android does have a nice complement of musical instrument substitute apps, tuners, and music tutors.

As for iMovie or iPhoto, I just don't understand how those are important on a phone. [Remember, the challenge was about changing his phone, not tablet.] Beyond just a wow factor, how often are those apps actually necessary? Or even used? I can edit video or photos on my nice big dual monitors when I get home.
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Vance

Well, Android has a number of awesome apps that I find MUCH better than the "office suite" apps on iOS. Quick Office, for example, which was one of my favorites, was just purchased by Google and is fully compatible with MS Office documents, spreadsheets, etc. Garageband also has many equivalents (although I never use these types of apps), Pocketband, for example. iMovie and iPhoto, of course, have equivalents built right into the newer stock Android OS or skins, and there third party apps galore which do everything you can ask for, with a larger screen and more powerful processors to handle them.

So, really, any advantage iOS has in apps is now limited to gaming.

Edit: just saw drkokandy's post which addresses this as well.
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ssstraub

Have you ever used the iWork apps on iOS?

Strongly disagree that GarageBand has any equivalents. There are synth apps like Pocketband, apps that specialize in a single instrument, or apps that focus on recording but nothing I've seen that compares to what GarageBand does in one app. How is a synth/loop app like Pocketband in any way comparable to Garageband that focuses on playing actual instruments?

You must be joking to compare iMovie and iPhoto to what's built in to Android. That's like saying Notepad is the equivalent of Word. I mean, c'mon.
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Vance

Yes, of course, I have an iPad and an iPod Touch and so have used all those apps (other than Garageband). I really dislike iWorks ,and find QuickOffice much better for coordinating with my Office documents at work. The new ICS/Jelly Bean built-ins apps for photo and movie editing are perfectly serviceable, and there are third party apps which, from what I hear (again, I make very little use of these apps on either iOS or Android), do just as good of a job. Have you used any of these Android apps to compare them?

You asked if there was equivalent apps, meaning "which do the same thing" and the answer is yes, there are. We could argue the relative merits of the functionality of these competing apps all day (such as the great superiority of the Android versions of Gmail, G+, Evernote, task apps, keyboards, podcasting apps, browsers, etc, etc) but the point is that both platforms have either the same or equivalent apps, and can get the same things done. The quality of the relative experience depends on the app, with at least as many "superior" experiences for everyday apps existing on Android as on iOS.

Again, I have both platforms and I can honestly say that, since Flipboard came to Android, I have NEVER, not even once, said to myself "wow, I wish this iOS app was on Android". But, I have, on MANY occasions when on my iOS devices, said to myself "wow, this UI is pathetic" and found myself frustrated that it could not do things as easily as ICS/JB.
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timjanderson

Good summary. Having switched to iOS myself for the past 6 months having been on android for the previous 2 years, I came to the same conclusion. There is no "best" OS. Each one does some things better than others, but you'll get comfortable in either after using them for a while.
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atmasphere

I've enjoyed reading these updates. I use both platforms and carry both for work, but agree with your assessment and have to also agree that particularly with Jelly Bean, Android really has come a very long way. I turned push off on the iphone and find myself leaning quite heavily on the Nexus 7 and Galaxy Nexus ... My iPad 3 has been quietly resting at home.
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uberrob

This was an interesting read for a lot of different reasons - I've seen this experiment tried before, but you did a nice job metering it out over a few weeks. Kudos.

With regards to the app issue, tho, I'm not convinced you received the best advice. I have, like you, both android and iOS devices, and I find that there are applications on the android device that really don't have a counterpart on iOS... (some of them extremely geeky, like apps that allow you to shell or VNC into another computer, for instance) others of them quite practical and excellent, such as PlayOn (which seems to have never been allowed on iOS) and Google Wallet, of course. (The comments about "Dark Sky" were particularly bafflingly, since Android has the excellent "The Night Sky" application https:­/­/play.google.com­/store­/apps­/details­?id­=com.... which is also on iOS)

Furthermore, the best apps on androids are ports of the concept only, not just the look-n-feel. Making use of one of Android's key differentiators, widgets, is one way that applications distinguish themselves. Evernote on my iPad and Evernote on my Nexus are two very, very different experiences - and the experience is better on Android for me because of the inclusion of a front screen widget. (When members of my team update a note or document, its reflected to me immediately.)

The comments about utilities also seems a little off base - I do consider the ability to tailor an environment to your liking to be the hallmark of a good platform. Being able to replace the keyboard or even the entire launcher is a remarkable tool that can't be overlooked. iOS devices lock you into the designers way of thinking about the world - which is fine, if you don't want to think about that stuff, but the little things go a long long way to making someone feel comfortable in their mobile home.

As far as discovery goes, yes, it's a problem for both android and iOS. Both are getting better, but far from complete. (BTW, accessing play.google.com from your laptop is little easier to find what you are looking for, plus you can send to your phone directly from the website.)

At any rate, a good run on Android, and I like the comments about being ambivalent about staying or going... I'm on the other side of the fence, of course. I find iOS to feel restrictive while I am using it, and the layout of the celltop and the apps themselves to be a little too "cartoonish" for my tastes...
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ryan

Go check out Dark Sky, it is an innovative new weather app, and has nothing to do with The Night Sky or other Astronomy apps.
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lwbt

The idea is innovative, but tell me how many times you will pick up the app and actual use it. I for one don't have a need for that app, no matter how innovative.
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ryan

Multiple times per day.
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ssstraub

Me too. Didn't think it would be as useful as it has been.
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Vance

That is because San Francisco actually HAS weather. :0)
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usercf49d9f498d

Awesome app. Addictive.
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jayholler

Dark Sky is a weather forecasting app: darkskyapp.com/
The Night Sky looks like an app about constellations?
Totally different.
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lwbt

While iOS has many nice and beautiful apps (most of which I've downloaded), none of them have kept me using it for long. Look at the app Clear for example. When it came out, it was touted as being a clean and elegant To-Do app using just gestures. Well, I've used it, and I've tried to like it, and stopped using it after a week. This goes the same for many iOS apps I've used. Beautiful and elegant, but I lose interest quickly.

I won't list the obvious apps that are either ports (just as good as iOS) or are close enough (like Twitter) where I don't care for any missing functionality, but here are some apps and phone features that I use everyday that you can't do the same in iOS (at least without Jailbreaking it).

- Dropbox (sync Photos automatically to the Camera Uploads folder in the background)

- Navigation (best TTS I've ever heard, same as the Google Now voice)

- Gmail (I find that it has some issues with displaying the full email on the screen, but I like it more than Sparrow. Sparrow had one thing missing, push notifications, and so I stopped using it after a week on iOS)
- Chrome (true Chrome)
- Tasks (Integrates with Google Tasks - better than any Task manager I've used on iOS IMO, and get updated automatically without opening the app, and I can see the tasks as a widget
- Pocket Casts (better than any Podcast app on iOS IMO, does proper background downloading of podcasts automatically every day)
- Notification bar (turn on/off hardware settings without going through the menu)
- Calendar Widget (see my day without opening the app)

I am in the same boat as you (switching from iOS to Android), and there is one difference between you and me. I choose to give up iOS and integrate Android in my everyday use rather than looking for all the faults and comparing it to iOS all the time, I looked for ways to make it better. I don't have an iPhone to go back to, and don't want to.

Oh, and the S3's 4.8" screen is far better to look at than a 3.5" screen.
2 like dislike
lwbt

One thing I'd like to add. On iOS, I hate that you need to open iTunes to do anything.

I love the Play Store for a couple reasons. I can open it within my browser to Install apps to any device I want, and I can also manage and Remove apps from any device I want.

I know that iOS has the ability to auto-download apps, but you can't control which apps you want to install or not.
3 like dislike
Vance

Yes, iTunes is such a horrendous program that its mere existence could keep me from ever wanting to use iOS again.
4 like dislike
bb4u

Then don't use iTunes. It is no longer required as of iOS 5. I never hookup any of my iDevices to my computer any longer.
0 like dislike
pouncep

The lack of a local filesystem kills me under iOS. Also, the need to upgrade OSX to satisfy an iTunes version download so that an iPad2 can be used? That did it for me. (This was a while back) The wife uses an iPad, business major; I use an Asus Transformer, CS major.
1 like dislike
bb4u

See my reply to Vance above. You don't need to open iTunes to do anything as of iOS 5.
0 like dislike
lwbt

And? It doesn't solve my problem. It's not about downloading an app, it's about managing multiple devices efficiently and managing the apps without opening the device.
1 like dislike
ssstraub

I see what you're saying now. Selectively installing/uninstalling apps across multiple devices is *quite* a stretch vs saying "you need iTunes to do anything." the reality is you don't need iTunes to do anything the platform supports.
0 like dislike
lwbt

I see, my first sentence was over the top on that one. =)
1 like dislike
ssstraub

Sounds like you're used to managing a lot of machines, possibly at work. ;)
0 like dislike
lwbt

Nope, just too many devices at home. =)
0 like dislike
ssstraub

Ha well I can identify with that too!
0 like dislike
ssstraub

Use iTunes to do anything? Not since iOS 5. I basically don't connect any iOS devices to iTunes since then. Even music is in the cloud these days.
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