(image courtesy ThinkG33k)
As regular readers of Gear Diary may know, I used an original Droid for almost two years. In fact, up until a few months ago, I was totally convinced my next phone would be an Android device. But Android and I had a falling out, and I picked up an iPhone 4s on Friday. Why? And is the learning curve tough? Read on for my thoughts!
First, there’s the “why”. A few things dragged me away from my little robot friends. One, Android is becoming increasingly fractured. It seems as though the only way to guarantee timely updates and continued support is to pick up a Nexus device. Otherwise it’s a crapshoot if your carrier, manufacturer, proprietary Android skin (Motoblur, Sense, Touchwiz), and Google can all line up with a full moon and high tide to bless an official Android update for your device. My original Droid was literally being held together with scotch tape, and I couldn’t sit around and wait for a Nexus Prime!
The second major reason is more practical. I firmly believe that if I’m buying a phone on a 2-year contract, I want to buy a phone with the horsepower to be “future proofed”. By that, I mean I want a phone that is reasonably likely to still be current in 18 months and hopefully running a recent version of my chosen OS. Despite my griping above about the slow rate of Android updates, it’s likely that the Droid Bionic, for example, will still see updates for a while. On the other hand, with something like the HTC Incredible 2, I have to wonder how much love a mid-range Android device will really receive. So in order to reasonably future-proof on an Android phone, I’d need to go high-end…which means getting a huge phone. I take my phone everywhere, running, to work, walking the dog, hiking, etc. The Bionic is a nice phone, but the OG Droid barely fits in my suit pockets at work; it bounced around like crazy if I ran with it in a SPIbelt, and it definitely tends to slide out of my jeans sometimes. I really don’t want to go huge with my phone, and Verizon’s lineup wasn’t leaving me much choice.
Finally, my OG Droid just really aged poorly. Starting this summer, it became more and more unstable, to the point where I nearly threw it out the window more than once while Sarah and I were on our epic road trip week. The homescreen had awful redraws; basically, I’d hit the home button, and be greeted with a lovely view of my phone’s wallpaper, and that’s it. If I hit the app drawer, it was empty. At times it would take upwards of 2-3 minutes for my apps to reappear and the widgets to return. Frustrating doesn’t begin to describe it! Cutting down on apps, clearing caches, formatting SD cards, nothing seemed to permanently fix the issue. At the same time, we switched cable companies and received a free iPod Touch as part of the new package. I had forgotten that iOS just works, with so much less effort than my aging Droid, and so I drifted back to the Apple fold (back in the day I stood in line for the original iPhone!).
iOS has changed a great deal, and after years of not using it I had a slight learning curve. Eventually I’ll stop groping by the home button for a back key! I also keep forgetting that iOS is very “What you see is what you get”, and a few times have tried long pressing and poking around for non-existent contextual menus. On the upside, I love, love, love the notification center. It’s everything I liked about the Android notification shade, but better! I don’t miss the icons stacking up in the top bar, since they combined into a number and arrow once email, twitter, Gtalk, etc all hit. What I really like is that iOS gives me a preview of 5 emails, instead of just a line telling me I have X number of unread emails. I also really like that I can clear individual alerts instead of all the alerts at once. Push notifications and those silly boxes popping up everywhere drove me nuts on the original iPhone, so everything stacking up neatly is a huge win for me. I also love the widgets, especially the weather feed. I admit, I’m lazy sometimes, and when I wake up to run I like being able to check my nightly notifications AND determine whether it’s a shorts or pants day. Necessary? Nope. Convenient? Yep. And yes, I know Android had similar options, but given my homescreen issues I had a hard time keeping usable widgets for very long.
I’m still scratching the surface of the app world, but it seems like some apps are far more developed in iOS over Android. A perfect example is CNBC Real-Time. On Android it’s barely more developed than a website, but on iOS it has notifications for breaking news as well as access to blogs, articles, and videos. And it’s been discussed ad nauseam here and elsewhere, but Siri and voice to text on the iPhone blow Android’s offerings way out of the water. There’s just no comparison. Finally, it’s a stupid, little usability feature, but I forgot how much easier the iOS phone app is. In Android, going from viewing a contact to dialing can be a multi-tap process. Yes, I could have set favorites on the homescreen, but that wouldn’t have helped since half the time my homescreen was unusable. Even going into the call log and clicking a number brought me to more stats on that call; I needed a SECOND tap to actually dial the number. In iOS it’s one tap, and I love it. (Bear in mind this was all on stock Android, and I don’t know if BlurSenseWiz does it differently.)
There are a few things I miss from Android. I really miss a notification LED. My Droid trained me to look for the flashing green light, and I feel a little lost without it. And as I said above, I keep hitting the non-existent back button. The hardest part, by far, has been giving up the tight Google integration. Yes, it’s easy to set up Google Sync, but I had to do some searching to find out how to bring over my shared calendars. Luckily I found some excellent step-by-steps here. I also had a hard time giving up Google Talk. Sarah and I use GTalk far more often than we use texting, and I needed a rock-solid GTalk client. After giving Trillian a try, I settled for now on Beejive GT. It only does GTalk, and (so far) it’s been excellent. Look for a full review shortly!
Overall, I’m very, very pleased with my switch. Siri, voice recognition and iOS 5 have all made it a very smooth transition, the form factor is the perfect size, and I have no regrets. Android is a great platform, but it just hasn’t grown with me. When I first bought my Droid it was new, exciting, and top of the line, but over time Android and I just weren’t clicking. It was time to move onwards and upwards!
Did you switch from Android to iOS? Or do you have a foot in both worlds? Share your experiences below!