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Switching from iOS to Android, Part 1

Three years ago, Amy wrote a piece comparing Android and iOS for those considering a new smartphone. Since then, we’ve written much about Android and much about iOS on the blog. I’ve long been an iOS user, as evidenced by my posts on Things, Attendance, Mailbox, and other iOS apps.

Nevertheless, when the time came to upgrade my phone last week, I decided to pick up an Android phone. My reasons for doing so were several:

  1. I’m already hooked into All Things Google. I was syncing Gmail and Google Calendar to my mail and calendar apps on my iPhone. I was using Google Drive for collaborative online writing. I replaced my Apple Maps application with Google Maps. And etcetera and so on and so forth. Given that I was running everything Google already, it made sense to begin using a platform that more throughly integrated those services into my mobile device.
  2. I wasn’t actually using that many paid apps on a regular basis. One of the arguments against switching often resolves to sunk costs: “I’ve invested so much in iOS apps that I don’t want to repurchase.” In my case, I realized that 90% of the apps I use on a regular basis were free apps. There are a few iOS apps I will miss—Things and Mailbox (which is supposed to be coming out for Android soon) in particular—but the majority of my core apps could either be replicated or easily reproduced on Android at no cost.
  3. I read over and over again about Google Now’s superiority over Siri. I’m not sure how important this will actually be to my mobile experience. I didn’t have a Siri-capable iPhone before, and I don’t know how often I’ll want to talk with my phone. But its does seem like Google is pulling ahead of Apple in this new area of voice-driven interface, and as a geek I was at least curious to test out what they’ve accomplished. I will say that in the past week my wife—who couldn’t bring herself to switch—and I have pitted Siri and Google Now against each other several times, and Google Now has proven far superior at providing useful results and suggestions.
  4. I’m a geek and was lured by the customizability of Android. The great benefit of iOS is that it just works, and works pretty well. But Android has become a very attractive and stable platform in its own right, but adds to that the ability to customize nearly every aspect of the experience, down to swapping software keyboards and other core elements of the interface. It always frustrated me that I could use alternative apps on iOS, but could not reassign the default apps for many functions away from Apple’s apps. Android allows me to customize away—perhaps to a fault, as I’ve spent significant time just tinkering with the interface over the past few days.

I’m ready to report on whether the switch was worth it or not, or whether that’s even a worthwhile question. I’m still retraining my brain and fingers to find the right buttons in Android—which isn’t helped by my constant tinkering with where to put things. It will be several weeks before I feel comfortable in this new platform. So instead of declaring anything now, I will plan to write a series of “switching” posts over the coming months, focusing on the practical issues that accompany making such a technical life change (and let’s face it, our mobile devices are for many of us central to our lives).

How about you? Have you made a major platform switch lately? Tell us about your experiences, both good and bad, in the comments.

[Creative Commons licensed photo by Flickr user Tsahi Levent-Levi.]

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