First of all, let me explain why this was so “bold.”
Apple has ruled my personal technological world for years. My first smartphone was an iPhone 3G back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Around that time I also got my first MacBook, one of those white, plastic beauties. Both devices blew my mind at the time.
I remember endless conversations with a close friend of mine, touting iOS as the future of consumer technology. Simple, easy to use, intuitive, an interface that a monkey could use. Why would you want your phone to be any more complicated than it needs to be? Mobile phones are about speed of information.
Eventually, I moved on to a MacBook Pro, an iPhone 4, and an iPhone 5.
Then, in September 2014, my iPhone 5 kicked the bucket. I mean, that thing was dead. One day riding the train it started losing its electronic mind, the screen started showing bars and the Apple logo became a permanent fixture of my little screen.
I was committed to going big for my next phone, but we were a month away from the iPhone 6 Plus, and I was in an anti-Apple phase. I was sick of the hype around the company. It felt trendy among friends and colleagues in the worst kind of way, like a popular diet program that is all hype with mounds of hurt — disconnected from reality.
If I never went through that phase I might have made a better decision. Instead I got a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 — the year-old model — and skyrocketed into big phone bliss, and a world of hurt.
What a disaster.
At first it wasn’t so bad. I enjoyed the customisation of the Android operating system. You can modify everything on Android from the fonts, to the actual way you launch apps and shortcuts.
Apple has none of that customisation. It’s Jony Ive’s way or the highway.
I reveled in it for about two months. I could make my phone look any way I wanted it to, the screen was big and beautiful, and the 4GB of RAM and processor made tasks zip along.
But eventually I realised what so many have found out: Android is a hot mess.
It doesn’t seem to have native support for anything. My Spotify app doesn’t seamlessly work within Android’s confines, which make quickly stopping and starting music a pain. Most 3rd party headphones also don’t work very well with the operating system. They may play and pause music, but they’re mostly unreliable and lack features.
The phone interface is completely clunky. Calling somebody takes 4 or 5 clicks rather than 1 or 2 on iOS, and pictures never show up and easily sync with Facebook.
Apps are an utter disaster. Nearly every iOS version of an app looks slicker and operates better than its Android counterpart. Good luck finding a good Twitter app because the official one is a pain, and all the other options are second rate compared to the amazing Tweetbot app I swore by on iOS.
Messaging is horrendous. I quickly became disgusted with Samsung’s awful built-in messaging app pretty early on and downloaded an app called “Textra” to manage texts. (As I said, everything can be substituted and modified in Android). This makes the experience better, but it’s still far inferior to iOS messaging.
Notifications are the worst. They barely exist on Android, or at least I feel that way. I’m constantly missing texts, phone calls, news alerts, you name it. Once again, I had to download a third party notification plugin called “Heads Up,” to fix this problem. Now I get Google card-like popups when a notification comes down, and I miss a lot less. This is not, however, ideal. It’s a frustrating solution to a frustrating problem.
Google did make notifications better in its latest version of Android called Lollipop, but my phone hasn’t gotten that update. That’s another problem with Android phones: You often have to wait months to get a new software update, if you get it at all.
Just take a look at all the changes I had to make to my phone in order to get it to work the way I want:
I’ve had to cover up so many of Android’s flaws with third party apps that it barely resembles Android anymore.
I’m reminded of a line from an episode of my favourite show, “Doctor Who,” where the Doctor proclaims to his patchwork robot enemy, “Question: If you take a broom and replace the handle and then later replace the brush — and you do it over and over again — is it still the same broom? Answer: no, of course it isn’t, but you can still sweep the floor … “
A patchwork of technological madness.
When my Verizon “Edge” plan is upgrade-ready in the fall I’ll be jumping at whatever new big screen iPhone is available from Apple at the time, and never looking back.
The future of technology is not in increasingly complex user experiences geared towards customisation, it’s a movement towards seamless integration in our everyday lives. Android (and Google) is getting it very, very wrong.