Switching back to iOS - The aftermath
So, awhile back I wrote about how I was determined to give iOS another try, particularly with the iPhone X. I genuinely, honestly expected to be back to Android at the end of this experiment, but I decided to give it two weeks at least.
A funny thing happened over those two weeks... I didn't feel a compulsive urge to switch back to Android. So here we are, it's been months now since I wrote that first post and began the trial period, and well, I haven't written an update because... I simply don't feel a strong pull in either direction, and am extremely comfortable with my iPhone X.
I thought the best way to summarize my thoughts were basically a list of things I miss from Android, and a list of things I love about iOS. It's worth noting, some of these things are hardware specific in both cases, but more to that point later...
What I miss from my Pixel 2 XL
- It was so Squeeeezable. Seriously, triggering Google assistant this way was fantastic.
- Google Assistant is just so much better than Siri. No contest.
- I loved being able to Double Tap Power to access the camera quickly. It's not a deal breaker, but it was handy.
- For some reason, I feel like apps launched faster on the Pixel 2 XL than the iPhone X - not enough to be frustrating, just enough to be subjectively noticeable.
- Notifications are still more functional on Android, and I will forever miss this.
The list of things I love about my iPhone X is much longer
- Force touch is really quite nice. I find myself using it more and more.
- Funny enough, Qi Charging used to be in the Nexus devices, but now it's absent from the Pixels and quite welcome in the iPhone X.
- I'm a big SmartThings user, and having access to my devices in HomeKit (via homebridge) is absolutely fantasticly better than doing it through the SmartThings app.
- I'm sure others will disagree, but the new Gestures replacing the home bottun are glorious. The iPhone X is the most natural I've ever felt using a smartphone. I also generally love the swipe from the left of the screen to go back to the previous screen. Simply put, the UI feels more human compared to Android.
- The Widgets on Android were abhorable, and I kindly welcome the uniformity and consistency of swiping left to see everything on iOS.
- One thing I never understood on Android was why the Volume was so complicated. iOS gets this right, where volume is simple, and the added physical silent switch is something I forgot I missed so much.
- iOS 11 makes Sharing Screenshots lovely. I do this a lot, and being able to easily markup the screen and then delete the shared photo from my collection afterwards is a great work flow.
Now, there are a few things that didn't fit into the categories above, and those are things that...
Things I thought I would miss but really don't
- Yes, I kinda do miss Google Assistant, but it's still here on iOS, just a bit more of a pain to get to, being in a separate app. The reality is, I mostly used it on Android to turn things on and off in my house, and Siri works just fine for that.
- I know I said I missed Notifications on Android, but that's not completely true. I find myself not caring as much about notifications on iOS now, and that's actually quite freeing, and my world is still turning.
- The Pixel 2 XL's Battery Life is incredible. I had just gotten used to not thinking about a charge ever during the day, so I was worried the iPhone X not living up to that. I can say the battery is not quite as amazing on the iPhone X, but thinking back to my time with it, I've only ever once been worried about running out of juice during a day. I no longer live in fear regardless.
Face ID vs Fingerprint Sensor
You'll notice I left out any mention of Face ID above. I felt it deserved its own section in this post.
I was seriously against the idea of Face ID before using it. I was a staunch defender of the back of the phone fingerprint sensor that Pixels offered, arguing I could unlock my phone by the time my phone was out of my pocket, and I didn't want to wait for Face ID to recognize me when my Pixel could otherwise already be unlocked.
After I shifted my mindset here, I realized Face ID is awesome. For beginners, the very first thing I used to do on my Android device after unlocking it was to check out my Notifications, even though they were on my lock screen. Well, with Face ID, I just had to get used to the idea of checking my notifications on the lock screen. What's even better is my notification content can stay hidden from others and magically be displayed for me when I look at my iPhone X via Face ID recognizing it's me looking.
Face ID is fast and extremely reliable for me. I can't fully explain it, because before I used it, I hated it, but after some time with it, I feel like it's incredibly natural, and going back to a fingerprint sensor would feel like entering a PIN or something extremely archaic.
Watch it, wearables
I occasionally wore a Huawei Wear when I was using my Pixel. It was a very stylish watch, but it never felt that useful. With Android Wear 2.0, it got slower and less usable, still I liked something about having a glorified notification display on my wrist.
I decided to jump all the way into this experiment by picking up an Apple Watch 3rd gen. From my understanding, having zero prior experience with the older Apple Watches was probably a good thing here.
While the watch is still sort of a glorified notification relay device, I feel like the Apple Watch is so much snappier and generally more useful than Android Wear. Sending short replies to messages isn't super painful, being able to use Siri from the watch to "Turn off the lights" is great, and Apple Pay from my wrist is perhaps the most compelling feature.
I realize Android Wear has Google Assistant, and can have Android Pay depending on the device, but on my Huawei Wear which was arguably still one of the better devices on the market, Assistant was painfully slow, and Android Pay absent.
Apple Watch here is hands down better, even if it offers a very comparable feature set.
Why I'm really riding the iOS train...
You may have noticed a trend in this post. Most of the things I've talked about loving or missing or not missing revolve around hardware specific features such as Face ID, battery life, etc.
There are pros and cons to both Android and iOS themselves, however I believe these balance out generally to the point where I don't really care which OS I'm using.
It seems for the time being anyway, the platform to pick is mostly dependent on the availability of compelling hardware. Pixel 2 XL is a great device, but it's not amazing. The iPhone X on the other hand is simply magical. I can't think of much I'd want to change about it besides the typical faster, longer battery life, even better camera (but these things are already all great).
My revelation of this experiment was really that hardware is king. If next year the Pixel 3 comes along and sprinkles magic fairy dust everywhere, I'll have no reservations about switching back to it.