Why I’m Looking forward to Android

iOS-to-Android

The Back Story

Way back in Froyo days, I took the leap from my iPhone 3G to Android as my daily device with a Samsung Galaxy S. I was co-authoring a book Professional Android Development with Mono and C#/.NET

Android was new, it was exciting, it was different. It was also slower, higher maintenance, and had me flashing roms weekly. Not necessarily a problem for a supergeek like me, but still tiresome and prone to moments of Oh sorry, that’s a bug in my phone’s rom or my battery’s dead because of all the services i have running.

Needless to say, it wasn’t very long before I was back on the iPhone train. I was content with the iPhone 4, and then the iPhone 4S, and now the iPhone 5. They’re all great devices, they just work… as long as you want to use them how Apple intends.

The primary reasn I’m switching back to Android, is my Galaxy S just doesn’t cut it for development anymore. My wonderful wife will inherit my iPhone 5 (like she does all my devices), and I’ll have a Nexus 4 to test on soon.

Why I’m looking forward to Android

I have a Nexus 7. It’s quite nice. I like it better than the iPad, with the exception of a lack of apps in some areas (games). Android 4.2, I feel, finally starts to get things right. Sure there’s still issues, but by and large it’s a good operating system. The eco-system is also quite mature now. Most, if not all the apps I use daily on iOS (which seems to be less nowadays) all exist in a reasonably good form on Android (save for maybe a really good Twitter client, but that’s something I’m currently working to fix!).

I’m getting excited for Android. See, the iPhone was great, but there are a lot of compromises I’ve had to make to be a happy iOS user. When I think about the things that bug me with iOS, Android largely has them right:

  1. Gmail: Ok, Google JUST released a better Gmail app for iOS again. They actually did this just after I ordered my Nexus 4. It’s much better, however it’s still not as awesome as Gmail on Android.
  2. Default Apps: Chrome, Gmail, Google Maps, all great apps and services. But on iOS, I can’t choose to have links open in Chrome, I can’t choose Gmail as my default mail client, nor can I have Google Maps default for navigation. I love that on Android I can finally do these things.
  3. LockScreen Patterns: I have a confession: I’ve not got any passcode set on my iPhone. I hate typing in passwords every time I want to unlock my screen. One thing I loved on Android was the pattern unlock. It felt much quicker, more intuitive, just easier. I’m happy to get back some security with little pain!
  4. Lockscreen Widgets: This is a pet peave of mine on iOS. At least notifications show up now, but I want to be able to see a bit more information so I can glance at the lockscreen and decide if I should open my phone or not. This is welcomed in android!
  5. Notification Bar: Google invented the notification bar. It’s way better than iOS’s. I love how it shows a small icon in the status bar at the top of the screen, alluding to there being more notifications. I also like how rich notifications can be in Android, and that I can swipe individual ones away, or clear the whole lot of them. It’s just a much better implementation.
  6. Google Now: Siri is great, but Google Now seems more well thought out. Since I already use gmail, I’m looking forward to getting cards with shipping status of things I’ve ordered, or boarding passes, automatically, without me telling it. This is a great system that surely requires some tweaking yet, but the idea that Google can give me the information I want when I need it, without me asking for it is awesome!
  7. Google Maps: Just like Gmail, google JUST released a maps app for the iPhone. It’s actually really, really good! I am however, still looking forward to being able to cache some areas offline, and having Google Maps used as the default navigation app on my OS.
  8. No Lightning: I still have only one lightning cable, partially because they’re hard to find, and partially because I HATE spending $20 on a usb cable. I do love that the cable is reversable, but it’s not compelling enough for me not to be excited about having an endless supply of charging cables again 🙂

What I’ll Miss

iphone-sad

Let’s be honest. There’s some things iOS just does right. I’ll no doubt miss several things about my iPhone, but I think we’re finally at the stage the things I miss on Android are greater than those I miss on iPhone:

  1. Apps! Yeah, the Android ecosystem is WAY better than back in Froyo days, but iPhone still wins when it comes to games, and just sheer quantity of quality apps. I’ll miss this, though not as much as I would have years ago.
  2. Fit & Finish: iPhone is a very polished OS. There’s no denying this. Android has made strides to improve the butteryness of the interface, but iPhone is still king for that polished feeling.
  3. Siri: One thing I already know google now can’t do is create reminders for a future day. I’m sure this will get added at some point, but it’s one thing I use a lot with Siri right now, and I’m going to miss it!
  4. Airplay: This is actually the big thing I’m going to miss. I have two Apple TV’s, and while I don’t use it a lot, Airplay screen mirroring is incredibly useful when I do want it. Android just doesn’t do this, and there’s no silver bullet in sight. I guess I’ll have to pull out the iPad when I want to do this! At least I can still control my iTunes remotely on Android and have it play to my AppleTV!

What’s Next?

It’s hard to say whether I’ll love Android, or find some of the same things annoying that caused me to switch back to iPhone. I’m sure there will be some remorse at times, but I think overall, I’ll really enjoy being back on Android for all the right reasons. Plus, now I can finally stop having people ask me why I use an iPhone once they find out I helped write a book on Android programming! Stay tuned, I’ll be posting again after using my Nexus 4 for awhile to see how it’s going!