From Android to Android and iOS

This post was written in July 2017 as I prepared to leave prior employment. My favorite thing about that job was the iPhone 7 Plus I was given as a “desk phone".

I love Android

… and I always have. The phones were larger, the ecosystem was more open, the price barrier to entry wasn’t too high, and I could make my own apps in a programming language I knew forward and backward.

Currently, I rock the LG G5. It’s almost perfect. My issue has been battery life (and device warmth), with the occasional hiccup using the non-factory launcher, and Google Now On Tap behaving buggy on my phone. That’s it. I have a second battery (#removable) that gets me through the day. All the Google-y goodness is synced with my three gmail accounts. I can push a button twice or thrice to do what I want. And software has bugs, so I can empathize with this edge case bug.

But…

I’ve been using an iPhone 7 Plus for the past work week and I have to share my secret.

I genuinely enjoy the phone.

Having 2.5–3 day battery life with my usage is hilariously pleasant. Search being a swipe away, in the notification tray is lovely. The keyboard feels good by default. With iOS 10, I can cut the crap out and only keep the factory apps I need.

Still, there’s a few things about iOS that I don’t like from my last experiment 2 years ago that haven’t changed.

Gestures

I’ll just dive right in. Most of the system gestures don’t feel good to me.

  • Swiping for delete/archive/more actions is unidirectional (usually from the right)

Coming from Android’s “your way” operating system, this is a mild nuisance. There doesn’t seem to be any visual reasoning for this, nor can I grasp any technical. The expedition being: not too long ago, in a galaxy we live in, someone at apple decided that users should be able to swipe for those extra actions. A developer somewhere hardcoded that to be “from the right” (maybe a left handed phone user?) and set the rest of history on its course.

  • 3-D touch is not super useful, and I feel like I’m pressing harder than should be necessary to get those special actions.

I know people can construct pressure-sensitive displays. I also know that this achievable with software (and has been for quite some time in the Android ecosystem), so you have to forgive me for being unimpressed with 3-D Touch.

More often than not, the 3-D touch support in a given app gets in the way of using it to switch between apps.

  • For the uninitiated, you can swipe a 3-D touch from off screen to switch apps. You even get the same view as double clicking the home key.

Apple ecosystem

Apps

Certain apps are just skins/crammings of the macOS app, some for better, some for worse (good: Notes, bad: Podcasts).

  • Somehow, even on the biggest phone I’ve ever held, the keyboard feels small
  • Notifications aren’t really great. And they’re kind of a mess.

Then there’s the little things like…

Deletion

Everything is a list on mobile. Clearing up those lists is both helpful and vital to the experience

  • Android way: long press for delete options
  • iOS way: press the edit key, select a bunch of items, press delete. Feels like unnecessary indirection of controls

This might be the “Emacs over Vim” in me, but I like having my controls available to me. Having to switch modes doesn’t seem like the natural, human thing to do, but an imposing of how computers like to work on our monkey brains.


I have no tribal loyalty to one company or product over another.

Some Android phones are comically bad. Other are a joy to use, their life. Said different, experiences are unique, even though the Android OS is the same.

IOS is all the same, all the time. Your device defines feel experience.

You can configure folders, and your keyboard.

There are shenanigans you can perform to customize your icons.


They both were. They are both clean, in their own ways.

Buy a phone that fits in your hand comfortably. Like where the power button and volume switches are negotiated with your thumb and forefinger.

Then do something a little more important

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