11/15/2014 - No Comments!

From iOS to Android

ios-to-android illustration

A Fanboy is Born

In a sea of clunky PC plastic, it was easy to fall in love with iOS upon purchasing my first Mac Mini in 2006. Upon entering my college dorms, my newfound love for iOS quickly grew as a new friend happened to be an Apple employee and was able to unleash the power-user within me. After years of fighting with PC machines, I warmly welcomed the sleek product design, artistic applications and delightful user experience.

I studied art & graphic design in my college years, and found myself increasingly surrounded by iOS machines. Thus, my adoption of the iPhone was a natural progression. It wasn't until I began designing for mobile user experiences that I was really exposed to the Android OS. At this time I realized that I needed a better understanding of Android; as it had a massive market share in the communities for which I was designing for. I decided to give up iOS and adopt Android for a few years in an effort become a better designer. This short experiment led me to the realization that, simply put, Android is Better.

I decided to give up iOS and adopt Android for a few years in an effort become a better designer.

Moving To Android

It wasn't long after making the switch that I realized how powerful Android really was. All of the myths I had heard for years about the platform quickly fell by the wayside or were proved false. My new device became more and more deeply engrained in my daily routines. Initially my favorite things about Android were the following.

The Google Integration is Amazing

After transitioning from Apple, I realized that nearly everything I use in my daily life is a creation of Google. Gmail, Calendars, Drive, Search, Chrome, etc., the list really goes on and on. Up until this switch I'd considered myself an avid Apple user. When in fact, beyond the hardware and device-specific OS, the vast majority of my daily software usage is powered by Google.

Android Users Are Empowered

Customization is something iOS users are sold but is never really delivered. The platform is very restrictive in most senses. Android really opens up the freedom of choice to its users - offering customizations to the very interface itself with launchers. On an Android phone, the launcher is the app responsible for the home screen, the app 'grid', and launching the aforementioned apps. Phones generally come with either the stock Google launcher, or more commonly, a launcher whacked on top by a hardware manufacturer like Samsung. If you don't get on with your phone's default launcher, installing a new one just takes a quick visit to the Google Play Store.

Customization is something iOS users are sold but is never really delivered.

Custom keyboards are also commonplace on Android. I personally use SwiftKey which actually learns your language style and suggests the next words for you. It really speeds up the more basic communications.

Another main features of Android I've come to love is the Play store itself. The primary difference is that it's much less regulated compared to the Apple App store. There are no apps being denied a place on the store simply because of differences with the corporate idealism of the parent company. I was finally able to get apps such as the Tor browser, bitcoin wallets and torrent downloaders without needing to crack my phone, voiding any warranties. You can also download apps to your mobile devices right from your computer. A feature I use surprisingly often when browsing the web & discovering new things.

I also noticed significantly less bloatware on my Android device. Any iOS user will tell you how many times they've tried to organize their app screens only to end up putting dozens of pre-installed apps into an "Other" or "Junk" folder. You're unable to actually remove these from the device. There are some of these apps installed by carriers, but you can still organize your homescreens on Android in such a way to hide them from view.

Android also allows you to set default applications to use when performing certain tasks. This is a nice feature which again empowers the user to really make the experience their own. I have a default browser, photo viewer, downloads folder and more set up to my liking on my device.

Back to iOS, Unfortunately

Unfortunately, only a few months after making the switch I lost my device in Texas while attending the SXSW interactive conference - these things happen. Upon returning home, I powered up my old iPhone 4S and began to notice some drawbacks within the iOS platform for the first time.

This thing is tiny

Coming from the HTC One back to an iPhone 4S felt like traveling back in time. The device felt TINY in my hand; its buttons and keyboard a constant struggle to press correctly. I found myself squinting to read the basic interface characters and zooming most elements whenever possible. I missed my nice, large Android screen.

Where are my apps

When making the initial iOS to Android transfer, I was able to recreate my app loadout with only a few minor inconsistencies. However, when approaching the switch from the other side, I was left with many holes in my app screens. The closed ecosystem of iOS restricts many applications that I had come to love and depend upon with Android.

The Final Switch

In the end I switched carriers and ate a contract-breaking fee with AT&T to get my hands on a new Android device. All in all, switching from iOS to Android was a very interesting experience for me, and I'm glad I was able to explore each platform. I've had the HTC One M8 for a little under a year now and couldn't be happier with it's performance. What OS do you prefer? Thanks for reading.

Published by: Ray in 2014, Android, iOS, Mobile Design, Thoughts