After Five Years, I’m Leaving Google Android for Apple iOS

Over the course of the past few weeks, regular readers will have noticed an uptick in the amount of coverage I’ve been doing on Apple iOS, MacOS and other Apple related topics.  There is a reason for it and there is no gentle way to say it:  I’ve moved away from Google’s Android as my daily driver and switched over to iOS.  There are a lot of reasons why I’ve made this change, some of which won’t make sense for some readers while others will take offense.  That’s fine.  Equally, there will be some of you who will not read past this first paragraph and won’t visit the site again.  That’s fine too.

I’ve always contended that you need to use the technology – mobile, laptop, operating system, etc – that works best for you.  Every one of these platforms have compromises that you have to make.  The question you have to ask yourself is if you can live with a particular compromise over another?  It is a personal question and this post is not aimed at convincing anyone to move away from Android to iOS or vise-versa.  It is to simply lay out my logic of why I moved along.

A New Job Where Everything is Microsoft and Apple

Earlier this month I started a new job and, as a sidebar, I love it.  But it posed a unique technology challenge for me.  I came from a company where we were mostly Google G Suite and I rarely used any Microsoft apps.  It made my Chromebook world on the desktop blissful and my Android experience on my mobile mostly delightful.  I say mostly because there were a few bumps in the road which I’ll outline later.

Enter the new company where we are 100% Microsoft on the backend.  And I mean everything.  Even my two factor authentication app is Microsoft’s.  It was a big mind shift for me as I had not used beyond a cursory level, Office for the better part of 5 years.  What was interesting to me on the front end however was the mix of Windows laptops and MacBooks.  I asked a friend I had made in our IT department (two rules of a new job:  Get to know your upper level VP that you report to assistant and get to know someone in IT.  You will need both at some point) and I asked what our Windows-to-Mac mix was in the field.  The answer was a stunning 70% MacOS.  So I’ve returned to MacOS (a MacBook Pro) on the desktop and Office 365 apps all over the place.

Now from a mobile perspective, the percentages are even higher.  In my time at two of my company’s offices here in the US, I’ve seen one Android device.  One.  That was absolutely stunning to me, especially given my company is not based in Silicon Valley.  But I quickly figured out why.

As Much as Microsoft Likes to Tout it, Their Apps Aren’t Really That Great on Android

So let me clarify a bit on that statement.  There are some apps that Microsoft gets brilliantly well on Android.  I’m a huge fan of Microsoft Launcher.  It works amazingly well and is overall, pretty stable.  But the Office apps… not so much.  I have found that they have to fundamental challenges on Android:  Stability and feature parity.

Despite regular updates to all of the Microsoft apps on Android, I almost continually dealt with crashes on my Pixel XL.  This was particularly true of Outlook but not exclusively so.  I found that the apps were sluggish at times, even when I tried them on other phones and did a factor reset of my Pixel.  My greatest pain point was with trying to move things around on my calendar in Outlook.  It was a constant battle frankly.

The other big problem I found was feature parity.  Microsoft, rightfully so to a degree, has focused much of their efforts around iOS and often come out with new features on that platform first before Android.  Those features, more often than not, bring what was a desktop feature to the mobile device.  That’s not to say they don’t eventually get to Android too.  Usually they but a bit later.

Contrast this with my experience these past few weeks running the Microsoft apps on iOS.  They have performed flawlessly, even on what would be considered an underpowered iPhone SE.  I’ve yet to have any of the Microsoft apps become sluggish or non-responsive on iOS and this was something I somewhat expected given their performance on my iPad which I had previously owned.

Moving away from Microsoft apps, in general, I find that iOS is a more pleasant app experience too.  The apps are laid out from a UI perspective nicely and uniformity across apps is something Apple strictly enforces.  That may seem like a little thing but when you are rapidly switching between apps, it makes for a better user experience.

Android Oreo has always felt clunky to me.

Here is where the Android faithful are going to get pissy.  While in general I have liked Android Oreo, it at times feels clunky.  Things are out of place or don’t function the way you would expect.  I end up spending a lot of time looking for a setting buried in some sub-menu that makes me kinda crazy.  To me, Oreo feels like what it Android has become:  A work in progress.  While there is absolutely no question that Android on the whole has made dramatic improvements in the past few years.  It feels far more baked than it did back in the KitKat days when I first switched over to Android.

Equally, there is no discussion around customization of your experience.  Android does it, iOS doesn’t.  It’s pretty simple in that regard.  That is one element of Android that I already miss but the other elements that I’ve started to outline are helping to overcome that lack of customization.

No, my issues with Android Oreo have to come down to the intuitiveness of the user experience.  On the Home screen you are pretty safe but start diving into the settings or trying to manage widgets and you are going to quickly get bogged down.  I also find just random goofiness with Android.  Bluetooth will just stop working.  For no reason.  I’ve experienced this on multiple devices as well as with WiFi.  I just don’t feel that it is fully complete as a product.

Let’s Talk About Upgrades

Aye…  Okay, so again, some are going to moan about hearing this again but I do seriously think it is an issue for Android going forward.  The upgrade strategy of Android is a train wreck.  Actually, it is a shit show.  The fact that the latest and greatest version of Android is on less than 5% of devices hitting the Google Play Store speaks volumes.  I have been hyper critical, as have others, of the lack of control Google has over manufactures when it comes to upgrades.  Yes they are trying to fix it with Project Treble but we are at least another year away from that really taking full effect.  That means we are still at the mercy of when a manufactures decides on when (or if) an upgrade is coming.

I appreciate that comparing the multiple manufactures of Android to the one of iOS is a bit of a, pardon the pun, apples and oranges comparison so I’m not going there.  Where I will go is the fact that Apple got it right with the carriers and basically ruled them out of the mix when it came to updating iPhones.  Google could have done the exact same thing and here in the United States at least, that would have covered 90% of all Android phones out there as they are bought through carriers.

Oh, and for comparison, 76% of all iOS devices are running iOS 11.x.

But there is yet another facet to upgrades where Android has it wrong and iOS has it right.  The longest any device on the Android side will get updates is three years and that’s Google’s own Pixel devices.  Most other manufactures are doing upgrades for two years and then phasing support out.  Enter Apple.  iOS 11 runs on the iPhone 5S, a phone introduced on September 30, 2013, nearly 5 years ago.  Yes there are some features that don’t work on that old of a phone and yes, it runs sluggishly at times…. but it is there.  That is nothing short of impressive in my book to even offer it.

So What Does This Mean for

Well really, not much.  I’m still going to cover Android and Chrome OS but I’m going to cover iOS and MacOS a bit more.  Ideally I’d like to find the balance between the two.  That will be out of balance at times given what events are going on with Google and what events are going on with Apple, but on the whole, that’s the objective.

You have to decide what is best for you

While I’ve told you my thoughts and logic behind moving to iOS, I don’t expect anyone to follow suit.  I don’t expect anyone to understand it either.  You have to find the right tool that works for you and if that is Android, great.  If that is iOS, great.  There is no right or wrong answer here despite the most ardent of supporters for either platform.

What I will say is stay open minded.  Try different phones out.  Try different platforms out.  You will compromise on something.  The question is if you can live with the compromise.

As for me, for now, it is iOS.  I’m still sorting out my world and still in the process of getting comfortable with it again but it is doing what I want and need both personally and professionally.




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