Over the last year, I’ve made the switch from Android 10 to iOS 15, just to see what all the hype was about. And while I found the iPhone to be generally usable, there were some really major things that made me finally want to make the switch back to Android full time.
What I’ll be glad to get back in Android
At the end of the day, it wasn’t one thing, but many things, ranging from major to minor. And practically all of them are iOS-specific and not device-version specific.
I do not use major cloud services to manage my content, and I use content I own to enjoy without a subscription. Many things I needed were either tucked behind an app paywall (which the same app on Android doesn’t have), or the odd way files work on iOS. I often couldn’t see the content I wanted on my device natively. Managing music, files, photos, and wallpapers was impossible, and wildly inconsistent from app-to-app sharing shortcuts. I instead had to rely on my Mac to send data to my iPhone every time I wanted to update music or files.
Additionally, I use a legacy smartwatch, and since there is no more application on the iOS App Store, I’m completely out of luck unless I want to do some sort of arcane magic on my device or reload the app every two weeks.
Not being able to load legacy apps I need to support tech I love is not great. On Android, I can choose to run almost any app I want. If I want to install a dubious app that’s not on the app store, a privacy-centric FOSS app, or an older version of what I need, I can.
In addition, I’m a bit more privacy-minded and was baffled that I can’t set an app like Signal as my default texting experience. On Android, you can set any texting app you want as your default.
At least on iOS I can still pick my browser. Either Safari or the Firefox-skinned Safari. Or the Google-skinned Safari, or…
Apple is touted as a privacy savior in the mobile space. But it’s not true. At least with Android, I can block that traffic back to Google using a non-root sideloaded app such as Netguard or RethinkDNS, whereas with Apple, I’m out of luck.
That paired with not being able to install and use apps anonymously is a real issue. Oh yeah, plus Apple’s iBeacon issues… good luck never using your location or Bluetooth to prevent being followed around public spaces. Again, while it’s been hit or miss, at least there have been ways to block these beacons on Android.
Actual buttons (including back)
The amount of gestures needed to navigate an iPhone today borders on a Harry Potter level of magic & wand swishes. Getting right to the edge of a piece of glass & swiping to go back is great… when it works. It oftentimes conflicts with scrolling menus and options.
iOS really needs an actual back button at minimum, and not just this little back thing in the top left of the screen. That touch target size is way too small.
Having a minimal device is important to me. I really like to mono-task, and don’t want a million apps, icons, notifications, etc. cluttering things up. iOS essentially gives me no choice here. Instead, I must have a widget page with no widgets, my actual pages I want, and an “every single app I usually don’t want to see sorted in an order not relevant to me” page that I may have to swipe endlessly towards.
Additionally, the amount of time and where to press and hold apps to drop them into folders seems to vary, while at the same time also not allowing me to drop held apps into folders without them sliding around all over the place. Which also happens to blow up my layout I’ve already customized on the rest of the page. Android’s ability to support things like Nova Launcher is a God-send for a minimalist like myself.
Managing settings for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and so on is so incredibly frustrating. iOS almost always connects to the wrong Bluetooth device I want and loses out to Android & MacOS connections. Having to ‘long press’ on a quick settings icon for Wi-Fi or Bluetooth may either take me to my settings or just deactivate that item altogether.
Also, this whole “disable until tomorrow” business. If I want it off, I mean off. It’s a nice feature, but I don’t want it as my default.
And finally, why are all the settings for the app I’m actively using in a completely different part of the OS? I’m in the app I want to modify. I just want that one setting changed, and keep using the app. Now I need to leave my app, find the Settings app, and scroll or search to find its entry there.
What I’ll miss about iOS
One nice thing about iOS however is how well it generally ties into my MacOS. Having a mostly seamless way to keep my podcasts or messages in sync is pleasant. I mean, I don’t listen to podcasts on my computer, but it’s still enjoyable.
More elegance in UI
I’ll miss this one the most. Apple’s design quality of iOS’s glassy visual style is far more grown-up feeling than Android. Android devices still feel a bit like a kid’s toy, although it’s made leaps and bounds in the visuals department over the years.
Additionally, all iOS’s stock apps are largely consistent, easy to read, and very simple to use. They really have nailed what a plain vanilla app should look & work like.
Better quality & more up-to-date apps
I consistently find that the iOS version of any app is better maintained, has better icon quality, more features, and just feel more polished overall when compared to its Android version. You really can tell that people know that the iOS App Store is a cash cow compared to the Google Play marketplace.
And I can’t forget accessibility. iOS’s Voiceover tooling is much better than its Android counterpart, Talkback. And while I don’t personally need it, props have to be given to the Voiceover crew for putting out this game-changing assistive tech that just keeps getting better and better.
Each OS really has spots it shines in, but for me, Android’s vastly outweigh iOS for my daily use.
Disagree? Am I missing something? Would love to hear from you.