Back to iPhone! (My Long Overdue Android and Project Fi Update)

Back in January of last year, I wrote about my switch from iPhone and AT&T to Android and Project Fi. I was bored with iPhone and iOS and excited about the flexibility of Android as well as the innovation in Project Fi.

Welp, I made it about six months into my Android experience before switching back to an iPhone. I guess an update is appropriate, albeit a little late. Since this is a late update, it’s worth mentioning that some of the Android quirks that I complain about here may have been solved by updates that have taken place long after my return to Apple’s warm embrace.

Overall, Android and my Nexus 6P were fine, but the truth is, many of the cool things I liked about Android in the beginning never really made it into my daily life. Meanwhile, I was already knee-deep in the Apple ecosystem, and there are many simple things that iOS handles better.

iOS gets the small, but important things right

Badges — As I mentioned in my initial post, I know that I can kind of get badges via a customized launcher, but it’s not as consistent as Apple’s native experience.

Android doesn’t let you undo and redo typing?! Nope. iOS’s shake to undo is a small thing that’s easy to take for granted…until you don’t have it. It’s shocking that Android doesn’t have a way to quickly undo typing (without, of course, customizing your experience).

Universal search — Another shocking revelation was that Google, a company built on search, does not let me search inside of my apps. For example, if I want to search for a note in Evernote, I can do that on my home screen in iOS:

However, I couldn’t do it from the home screen on my Android:

I should note that Google finally fixed this oversight in August of last year, but by that time, I was already back on my iPhone 5S.

Also in the “but search is what you do!!!” category — I couldn’t search through my messages in Hangout. It was puzzling. I could do it in the Android Messenger app, but that’s not what I used for messages, since Hangout mostly plays well with Hangouts in Gmail on desktop.

Share sheets — There are more options on Android, but opening the share sheets seems to be pretty sluggish at times, and iOS covers all of the necessary options.

Camera — my iPhone 5S arguably had a better camera than my Nexus 6P. If nothing else, the shutter speed was much better on that iPhone. Apparently, the Nexus 6P doesn’t have image stabilization. If you’re using HDR mode (which takes a little longer to process the image,) you’ll need to use a sniper-breathing trick to get stable shots.

Typing Passwords — I was pretty used to briefly seeing the last letter when typing a password in iOS. Android just has two options…show password or don’t. Not as useful.

Message Notifications — Android’s only options for text message notifications are either exposing everything in the preview (name and message) or hiding everything (no name…no nothing). I prefer Apple’s preview option with the sender’s name, but not the message. It’s far more useful.

Also, Apple laid some pretty good traps for deflectors…

ARRGH!

Oh yeah, about those messages. Leaving iMessages was the worst. If you and I were a part of an iMessage group before my Android experiment, I’m sorry, but I didn’t get your message. I wasn’t ignoring you.

I had to tell a few friends to delete their old message groups and recreate them for me to get proper SMS messages from that group. It was pretty annoying, and I’m sure that Apple could fix it if they cared much about iOS deflectors. Alas, they probably don’t (and arguably — shouldn’t), and as a result, iMessages sent to me ended up in some black hole. And based on my research, I’m not the only person that suffered through that problem:

Additionally, I realized that when iOS users shared a contact with me, it also went into a black hole. When they sent me videos shot on an iPhone, they went into a black hole. And when I received similar videos via email, I couldn’t play the .MOV format without downloading VLC or other third-party apps.

Finally, I was missing out on Photo Streams from friends and family, at least on my phone (I still got them on my Macbook Air and iPad). I didn’t think this would be an issue, but ended up with two separate places to go for photos — Google Photos for everything I shot, and Photos on my computer and iPad for everything pre-January ‘16 and in Photo Streams. It was pretty inconvenient.

Oh…and whole time, my parents still thought that I could FaceTime with them 🙃

Android has the cool, but less important stuff…that doesn’t always work well.

Android definitely has more flexibility in app placement. I don’t understand why, after more than 10 years, Apple still makes users cover their home screen pictures with apps.

Android’s Smart Lock is useful, but with fingerprint readers, it doesn’t matter much.

Then there’s Tasker (third-party app, but super popular on Android). I was excited about it….but then I never really used it. I made one profile that automatically turned on Bluetooth whenever I opened Spotify or Pocket Casts. As for other popular profiles that users set up, none seemed that interesting to me.

And finally, voice message transcription was a joke. Since returning to Apple, I have to say that transcription in iOS 10 is much better.

Other Stuff

Widgets on Android…not that amazing after all. Where’s the widget for Uber, Lyft, Medium, etc.? (Again, maybe this has changed since my experiment)

1Password integration was so much better on iOS.

iOS calendar handled multiple Google Calendars better than Google Calendar on Android.

No favoriting of Photos. As others on the interwebs have pointed out, there are simple workarounds, but it is a little annoying.

And finally…“Ok Google…really?”:

But…but….Project Fi! 😭

I loved Project Fi though. It’s a wonderful thing, and I wish that it were available to iPhone users. For those months with Android, I’ve spent an average of $40 per month on my cell phone bill. And yes, that’s unlimited text and talk with data. And yes, my coverage was good here in the Bay Area as well as during a trip to Florida during that time. Additionally, set-up and billing was dead simple.

It wasn’t all palm trees and unicorns though — I had a couple issues with calls to me not going though. And I had one caller tell me that he heard an “all circuits busy” message. But overall, Fi was great.

Conclusion

These days, I’m rocking an iPhone 7 Plus and experimenting with T-Mobile. With two Macbook Airs (one personal, one work), a family full of iPhone users, and tons of friends with them too, I’m in the Apple ecosystem whether I like it or not. So, it’ll be a while before I check in with the green bot again. I really wanted to love Android, but now I know what I’m missing, and I’m happy with iOS.