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.
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.
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.
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.