2 Months with an iPhone

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I wrote perhaps my most popular blog post ever just over 2 months ago. I talked about how I bought, used, and subsequently didn’t like the iPhone 6. I would be sticking with Android…or so I thought. Shortly after that post got popular, I was compelled to take another look at iOS.

There were 2 factors in my first trial with the iPhone that stacked the odds against me ever liking the device. I wasn’t using it as my only full time device, and I didn’t use all the features.

The first factor made my user experience with the iPhone more like this: “Ugh. I don’t like this; I’m just going to do it on my Android phone.” That means I never used the iPhone enough to not have a frustrating (read: different from Android) experience. The second factor was the real kicker. I was excluding the features that make using iOS great. I didn’t turn on iMessage. I wasn’t using Passbook or Apple Pay. Handoff was something that was hands-off for me (pun totally intended).

Making the Switch

After 2 months fully immersed iPhone usage, I’m confident that this will be my primary device. At least for the foreseeable future. This means I have a lot of words I need to eat.

I’ve been an Android user and a big voice for the Android Army since the first devices were available. I will still have Android devices too; I need them for testing. But for every day use, I will be making the switch to the iPhone. Here’s why.

Incredible Battery Life

This is by far the best feature. The battery life is better than any Android device I’ve ever used. I’m never worried about charging it during the day. I don’t have to turn services off or downloading some God-forsaken app. I’ve gone 36 hours without charging it and still had plenty of battery life left.

Recently I was in NYC, unplugged the phone at 7:30am and used it all day, until about 2am. I made calls, got walking directions, checked the time, read, played games, and more. At 2am I still had 46% left. On the subway ride, I lost 3% battery compared to the 20% my friend lost on his Moto X.

Really Nice Photos

I never put an emphasis on taking good photos on my phone. I’ve always used it for photos, but it wasn’t always a priority for me. Then I started doing a lot more stuff where I wanted to take photos. I was traveling, hanging out with my lady, exploring. I’m not a good photographer, so I never have my DSLR with me. I rely on my phone.

Whatever iOS does in software to make photos look good is magic. For a point-and-shoot, it’s fantastic. The photos are clear and crisp and usually done on the first try. That’s the kind of use I like to see.

Accessories

It’s nice to have a device where I know I will be able to get great accessories. With the OnePlus One, I would walk into stores and people didn’t even know what I was talking about. They definitely didn’t carry accessories for it. With the iPhone, that’s not a problem.

There are countless cases, stands, add-ons, and more that work well with the iPhone. A few of my favorite are:

With the bumper, it’s nice having a case that barely adds any bulk. The reason I never use one with my Android devices is that exact reason. Most cases take away from the form factor, and that’s frustrating to me.

The iOS Ecosystem

Aside from those 3 big reasons, iOS has a lot of convenient, well working features built-in to it.

While trying to explain what I liked about using the phone to a friend (about 6 weeks in), I worded it like this:

There are a lot of small, indescribable interactions that make using the iPhone great.

It’s not something that I’d be able to verbalize to someone when trying to convince them to switch. They’d have to actually use the device to see what I mean.

I don’t exactly know what it is, but certain interactions just feel right. I can’t put my finger on it (this pun was not intended). It’s not something I could use in an argument with “Year Ago, Android-only Joe.”

Then there are the things I can explain.

iMessage and Handoff

Since I use a Mac, having these features turned on is absolutely fantastic. I can text and call from my phone (or iPad). If I’m using Chrome, Safari, or other apps that support Handoff, I can switch seamlessly to my computer.

And yes, I know. You can get MightyText. You can do the same thing in Chrome on Android. Something about using Hangouts. I know. I use Android. I used it exclusively for 6 years and have thoroughly explored this space. You might even know about MightText because of me. I’m telling you, it’s better on iOS. It’s more integrated. I don’t have to download a 3rd party app. I don’t have to fight or tab or click. As much as it kills me to say this, it just works. It’s so convenient and it works really, really well.

Passbook, Apple Pay, and Touch ID

Passbook, where have you been all my life? When I had a University-issued iPhone 4 and Passbook was brand new, it was terrible. Nothing worked with it. What a difference a couple of years make! It might be my favorite bundled app.

I add gift cards, plane tickets, concert tickets, and more, and Passbook keeps them all in one place for me. If I’m close to the airport, or it’s almost time for the concert to start, Passbook knows. It puts that ticket right on my lock screen; my ticket is accessible with one swipe. I’m gushing, but it’s much deserved. It’s an incredible feature.

And Apple Pay. Man; when it was first announced, I snobbishly said Google was there first with Google Wallet. And I’m right of-course. It’s a sin that it took iOS this long to get NFC support, and a bigger sin that right now, only Apple Pay works with. That said, let me tell you how I have to use Google Wallet:

Open App -> Put in PIN -> Find Card -> Open Card -> Hold Phone to Reader

Here’s how Apple Pay Works:

Hold Phone to reader with thumb on Touch ID

That’s it. I don’t have to open any app. I just have to hold my phone to a reader. This is the way it should be.

And Touch ID. I missjudged that. Now I’m of the opinion that if an app I have to login to doesn’t support Touch ID, the app isn’t worth having. It works well. AND I figured out that I can add more than one finger print to it.

Getting Updates when they come out

No more waiting forever to get OS updates. The day iOS 9 drops, I will have it on my phone. Do you know how long it took me to get Lollipop? I had to buy a new phone. Then I had to nearly brick that phone during an upgrade.

It’s not Perfect

There are still a few things I miss about Android that aren’t on iOS.

Customization

I miss tinkering a bit, but not as much as I though. There’s a lot to be said about customizing your experience beyond. I like that I’m not crushing time by tinkering, but I loved widgets. The Notification bar and extended functionality are nice, but not “customizable widgets” nice.

As a web developer, I can appreciate why Apple did this. As a user, I kind of feel it’s my phone, and I should be able to do what I want with it. However, they spent a ton of time making their design perfect, and they don’t want people mucking it up. It’s a design decision that I understand, at the very least.

Sharing Needs Work

Android is far better at this. Apple’s sharing is coming along, but it’s not nearly as integrated with other apps as Android is. I didn’t realized just how much I used that function until I started using iOS. Sharing can be downright frustrating at times. I’m told that may get better with iOS 9. But right now, sharing a photo from Camera to Instagram or anything to Dropbox takes too long.

The Back Button

Yes, I know I said this last time. But after 2+ months, it’s still something I miss. I can double-tap the home button to bring up a list of apps, but it’s not the same as a dedicated back button. I feel like it makes bouncing around apps a lot easier. Maybe now that iOS supports multitasking, some solution will emerge. Until then, I’m excited for my Halo Back Screen Protector to come.

Clearing Apps

This is a bit of a pain in the butt, especially if I have a lot open. I miss the “Clear All” button that comes on Android devices. A small feature, but a deeply appreciated and time-saving one.

Some Final Thoughts

This has been a strange experience for me. I’ve been such an outspoken proponent of Android. It was more like anti-iPhone. That means making the switch has been one of begrudging acceptance. At first, I didn’t like that I liked it.

But as I use the iPhone more and see how well it actually works, it’s clear that Android is great for some things. But needs to mature in other aspects. And I think Google knows that too. The change in treatment of Android over the last few years has been noticeable. It’s like Google said, “GUYS. We need to fix this mess.”

But still. As I write this post using iA Writer on my iPad, I know I will be able to proof it on my iPhone while I wait at Baggage Claim. Then I will hit publish from my Mac, all without having to push a sync or refresh button. And that’s some powerful stuff.

22 Thoughts

  1. I had the iPhone 6 plus, great one and I liked the fact as not much runs in the background like android does it does note need the 3gb ram my Note 4 has now. The note 4 has problems with slowing down for a while even when not doing stuff that’s to tasking

    Only sold my iPhone to put towards a used car. To much bloat on Samsung phones mines showing it needs 7.3gb just for the OS. Has option to uninstall built in apps but that just removes latest update then disables it wtf.

    Android is more like windows I feel it’s not as custom made for its hardware as Apple makes it iOS. As you get a dual core cpu and 1gb of ram and it’s just as good as many “high end” android phones. That like the note 4 are 2.7ghz quad core with 3gb ram ?, My son has a LG G3 and that gets hot just playing videos etc.

  2. Just to touch on your point about clearing apps.
    You really don’t have to.
    Memory management on iOS is so much better than Android. I have an OPO as well as a Galaxy S6 and yes, you will run into problems if you don’t clear out apps from running. But on the iPhone… just let it go. They aren’t impacting your memory or performance.

  3. No need to “clear” apps in iOS. Just because your recent apps show at the bottom when you double tap the home button doesn’t mean they’re running or taking any resources. Think of it more as a “recently used” area. The most recent may still be running to facilitate faster app switching, but as your iPhone needs more resources, it’ll quit the oldest app and take what it needs.

  4. As BernDog said, you don’t need to clear apps. Just let them open. They don’t waste resources and they will reopen faster.
    As for the “back button”, wait for IOS 9. You can even try it now if you subscribe to the public beta.

  5. If only Apple would build in wireless charging. I absolutely love not plugging my S5 into anything. Just set it on the charging pad.

  6. Re:dedicated back button.

    In iOS 9 (in the beta) there is an option to go back to the previous app (button/text at the top of the screen).

  7. Greetings,

    Thanks for an excellent article. I would like to make a note on one thing you wrote:
    “It’s a sin that it took iOS this long to get NFC support,”

    There is a reason for this. As I write in a post of my own (below), Apple has a certain M.O. for how it deals with technology. In particular, it does not release new technology until it thinks:
    1- the tech itself is mature enough, and
    2- it is ready with the proper software experience. (Yes, there have been some notable snafus with this.)

    So let’s examine the NFC/ApplePay issue. Simply put, inclusion of an NFC system was useless if not supported by software. Software system was not available any earlier.

    The key here is the importance of security for a payment system. This is not an area that allows for any errors at all. Compromised data would be costly for all involved. Additionally, the ApplePay system required the buy-in of card companies that were not going to do so unless convinced of security.

    So – Apple first need to have a secure TouchID. This was not possible until the tech was available – developed and tested. Then Apple needed to test the system. What many people do not realize is that they were doing this in real-world application for a year prior to release of ApplePay.

    When Apple released TouchID with the 5s, it included the ability to buy from iTunes and the App store with TouchID – essentially this was baby ApplePay.

    And this is precisely Apple’s MO – test in a limited capacity before moving to more general application. They did the same with the original iPhone. Features such as cut/paste were not included, precisely because it presented security risks and greatly complicated the real-world debugging. The same with release on ATT only. The limited exposure gave them a more reliable system, and allowed them to refine the product in controlable environment.

    Clearly Apple has the most secure pay system available. The only reason is that they took the time to develop it until they were convinced it was ready.

    Best regards – JMM
    Link: http://seekingalpha.com/article/2600885-how-apple-pay-reveals-apples-m-o

  8. I’m a payments architect and have worked at many well known and global companies. I know Android and iOS quite well.
    As far as payments go there was not sufficient NFV reader support to make it worthwhile. Few vendors had them or wanted to buy them. This was a perfect time for Apple to introduce NFC because vendors are buying new readers for the new chip and pin cards and most also do NFC.
    Google Wallet is a joke. It has cost Google millions. It is not as secure at Apple Pay/Touch ID/iOS and Google decoupled Google Wallet from NFC in a desperate effort to try to get people to use it.
    The demographics of Android users are not very exciting to retailers either. They don’t buy things.

  9. I have had exactly the same experience as the writer. I use a S6
    And have had the iPhone 6 plus from release. I have public beta 3 Ios 9 running on both my iPhone and I pad air and it’s a massive improvement and free to install and totally stable. The back button issue you mentioned I’d addressed in Ios 9 to some extent. All in all iIuse my iPhone as my daily driver with my s6 and nexus 9 filling in the blanks, which by the way get less with each update of IOS

  10. Well my friend, I enjoyed reading your post, and I am writing to tell you: Fear not, for Phil Schiller himself has read it and has tweeted it, and that’s how I found it. Apple has read and heard all what you said, and I hope they take all the iOS improvements or shortcomings you mentioned into consideration in very near future iOS updates.

    I personally have a feeling that iOS 10 is going to change everything all over again.

  11. Clearing apps from multi-tasking is actually more of a battery killer than leaving them running. They’re suspended and held in memory and having the phone re-open them each time uses more battery power for the phone to re-load all of the app again rather than just un-suspending it – that’s what I’ve heard and read a few times when trying to look for ways to extend battery life.

    iOS9 brings more battery saving software features as well as a low power more that really keeps the battery from draining for over 2 days on a single charge 🙂

  12. Where do you find compatible gift cards & (concert) tickets for Passbook??

    Does anyone know which app & which stores have gift cards that’s compatible with Passbook please?

    Thanks

  13. There are priorities that any smartphone user looks at. May be the things that you listed downs as Pros of Apple over Android are really Pros. But the way Apple handles media files (photos videos) why do u alwyas have to sync your device with itunes to play a song man?? Why cant u download a video or song from any website and without even thinkig..play it! Come on! and the inability of an Apple device to Share field using Bluetooth or WiFi direct of NFC is a let down. Why should Apple have it’s own charging cables? Why can’t it go with industry standard micro USB ports? Where is the expandable memory? give me a break..!

  14. Congrats! While you waiting for HALO BACK — you can go back with back-swiping gesture from the left edge of your screen. It works almost everywhere.

  15. rajb2r,

    1) You don’t need a PC with iTunes to manage your media. That was true for iPod (and it was great) and early versions of iOS. There’s dedicated Photos app for Mac and it works even in web browser on iCloud.com You don’t have to do anything, photos sync automatically and even deleting itself from the device if you have not enough space.

    2) You are free to use any music player. You can download files in Safari and send them to your custom music player.

    3) If you use Apples’ Music app, it doesn’t require iTunes to sync your music. You can download it from the iTunes Store or Apple Music right on the device.

    4) You can download video from any website and open it with many third party video players, such as VLC.

    5) You can share files wirelessly using AirDrop — it’s uses Bluetooth 4.0 for handshaking and Wi-Fi for hi-speed transferring.

    6) Apples Lightning cable is light years ahead of Mini USB. It looks better, feels better, it’s better for nature and mostly important – it is reversible, you can plug in from the both sides. It also can transfer audio when you using dock.

    7) There’s not expandable memory. Just get the right size for you. It’s a plus, you don’t have to manage two separate storages — device and card, don’t have to decide where put your data. It also makes device slimmer and stronger.

  16. If you really miss customization you can try jailbreaking. I’m a huge Apple “fanboy” yet I can’t think of an iPhone or iPad I’ve owned I haven’t jailbroken at some point. Also as for the back button you can use a gesture. For example when you’re in safari if you want to go back a page put your finger at the left edge of the screen and rapidly move it towards the right side, and this will take you back. I find this works in most apps like Settings, Music, Safari, etc.

  17. Unless of course you mean going back to the previous app, iOS 9 solves that (very annoyingly) I run the beta and it puts a “back to last app” button right where my carrier should be. It drives me insane, because I like to see my bars. I understand some people want this feature, but I do not. I wish Apple would give us the option to turn it off.

  18. Great post.

    You can swipe to the right in most apps instead of needing to tap the upper left hand button, and that will pop the current view controller. It’s not a back button like Android, but it’s convenient.

    Honestly though, your other gripes can be fixed with a jailbreak. Here’s some examples:

    1. You can download tweaks that add a “clear all apps” button.

    2. You can customize your phone with multiple themes and apply them with Winterboard, as well as a plethora of existing visual tweaks.

    3. You can assign gestures to do virtually anything with Activator? Want to compose and post to Twitter with a swipe on the status bar? Done. Want to disable some services when you reach 20% battery? You got it.

    4. You can lock any app with Touch ID, as well as control center toggles.

    5. Many multitasking replacements (such as having a 3×3 grid of app cards).

    6. Specific tweaks to enhance many apps (Safari, Messages, Music, Youtube, etc….)

    7. Watching videos in PiP mode while doing other tasks with VideoPane.

    8. f.lux! It’s a godsend if you’ve ever used it on your Mac.

    9. You can change control center toggles, as well as customize the entire CC and NC (add/remove sections, remove separator colors, etc…).

    10. Access to the filesystem using any SFTP program or a file browser like iFile.

  19. Good post.

    When I see your first post that you are avoiding iMessage, I think maybe not Mac user, but now I know. The whole Apple eco system works really well.

    In major I use iPhone and I use Android for 2nd phone, major for testing.

    Some Android maker makes good battery life, but not all. Also it’s kind of habit to close all Apps in Android to prevent those Apps is doing silly things to drain the battery.

    I hope 2 system can compete each other so we can see more improvement.

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