As some of you may know, I made the plunge and switched from Android to the iPhone a few weeks ago and I’ve been using the iPhone 4 as my primary device over the course of that time. While I definitely played with iOS on my iPod touch and iPad extensively, I was always an Android-in-the-pocket kind of guy. The experience has been pretty good but I sure do miss a lot of things about Android.
To be fair, I’m using the iOS 5 beta 3, so I’m not going to complain about some crashes or bugs that I’ve experienced as an accurate representation of the overall user experience. I’ve found it to be mainly stable but know that the battery life will improve and (hopefully) some of the crashes won’t occur as often.
There’s a reason why there are over 200 million iOS devices out there and why grown-ass people will camp out overnight for these products: there is an elegance and grace to the iPhone that isn’t currently matched by Android products. I don’t even agree with some of the design and UI choices but I completely get why it is the toast of the tech town and such a mainstream success.
The iPhone 4’s hardware is gorgeous and super premium. I’ve known that since last year but taking it in and out of your pocket everyday really brings that point home. The 3.5-inch screen looks puny compared to Android phones like the Infuse 4G but the OS has been properly designed for this screen and it works perfectly to maximize space.
The camera is quite good on the iPhone 4 and having a great camera makes you want to take more pictures. Sure, the latest generation of Android devices like the myTouch 4G Slide can outdo the Apple phone but it’s still above most other devices we see on the market.
I’m conflicted about things like the transition animations and how the iPhone handles crashes in apps. On one hand, I understand how having those neat, little animations between screens and apps creates an emotional connection with the user and the device but I also see that as wasted RAM. I’d rather it switch faster and go directly to the next action than have some cutesy animation that slows the process.
Additionally, when an app crashes on the iPhone (and this does happen, fanboys), you’re just kicked into the home screen and can quickly re-launch it. Android hits you with a cumbersome crash report screen that could wind up making it a better product overall but it definitely kills the flow of what you’re doing. If you crash on iPhone, it’s a pain but you quickly dive back into it. If you crash on Android, it’s a freaking ordeal.
The main reason I switched to the iPhone is the better app ecosystem and I haven’t been disappointed, really. The breadth and selection in the App Store continues to outpace Android Market and I’m not sure if we’ll see that change soon. I have become an Instagram whore and as we saw from CNN this morning, the iOS platform will continue to be the primary platform for app innovation for the future.
The “fringe” features also rock, as I don’t carry my standalone iPod touch now. I never felt comfortable using my Android phones as my primary music player because of concerns about battery life and FaceTime works, is simple and is something that my grandparents even understand.
I know I’m starting to sound like those annoying iPhone ads, so I’ll start laying into what I don’t like about this shift. I use Google services to get through my day and the iPhone doesn’t play that well with these things. I use Gmail for work and play and the Mail client on the iPhone is frustrating, slow and childish. Is this really what the other side has been forced to deal with?
Google Voice works okay but nowhere near the deep integration with Android, Maps on iPhone is generations behind Google Maps on Android (although I found the exact GPS positioning is amazingly accurate) and I struggle with getting my Google Calendar on the go. It makes a lot of sense for Google’s operating system to be better with its services on the go but I truly wasn’t prepared for such a downgrade on the iPhone.
My statements about the apps stand but it’s not a clear cut advantage. The ability for Android apps to get deep into system functionality is amazing and I hate having to open the Instagram or Facebook app just to share a photo on that service. It can be done a better way.
Apple also gives app makers better tools for creating great-looking apps but if you play with enough, you start to notice templates and patterns that can be a little boring. I know there’s something to be said for consistency of design and user experiences but the freedom Android gives good app developers can lead to cool things. For example, I like the look and feel of the Spotify app on Android much more than on the iPhone.
Switching over to the iPhone has proven to me what I believed beforehand: Android and iOS are both really good smartphone platforms that appeal to different users. It’s not a zero sum game, despite how it may be portrayed. Let me know what you think in the comments, friends.