Thursday, March 8, 2012

Switching from iOS to Android

Recently I've made the switch from an iPhone 4 to the Samsung Galaxy S2, and I wanted to provide some information on my experience as well as list out some of what I would consider to be the pros and cons of said transition.

Firstly, I've been the proud owner of every iPhone model since the 3G launched in August of 2008, and it was a very difficult decision to switch, but here are a few of my main reasons:

- slow performance (granted, I didn't have the '4S')
- small screen
- I felt stifled by the closed architecture of iOS
- I wanted a change (yes, this is me wanting to be different)

When people ask me what I think the main difference is between iOS and Android, I tend to fall back on this handy travel metaphor:

iOS is like going to an all-inclusive resort where your food, your drinks and your fun are all carefully hand-picked and presented to you within the four walls of the branded experience. There's a certain consistency of service and reliability, yet with this consistency comes a stark lack of personalization and tailored experiences. In contrast, Android OS is more like the 'choose your own adventure' approach where you book your own transportation, find your own lodging and take part in activities that may not exist anywhere else in the world. By its very nature, Android OS caters to people who actively engage with their devices and their features; folks who like to make their device their own instead of having the exact same experience as every other user.

In reality though, the dichotomy is much more complex than that. There are a whole slough of differences between iOS and Android that really boil down to how you use your mobile devices. No post or article will ever be able to tell you which to choose, so instead, I've listed a number of things I love about the switch, and also a couple of things I miss from iOS.

Things I love about the Galaxy S2 running Android
- The screen is big and gorgeous
- The phone is a lot lighter and slimmer
- I can customize the look and feel of the home screens
- I have direct access to files stored on the device
- I can share any file from my device in a multitude of ways
- Having everything linked to my Google account for seamless syncing (especially because I already use Google for so many things)
- the phone is blisteringly fast
- developers have far more access to the device's API (they can make the phone do more with what it's got, e.g. remote downloading/launching of apps)
- it's basically a fully functioning computer in my pocket

Things I miss from iOS
much better battery life
- settings for the device and apps are centrally located
- using my friends' speakers and accessories due to the ubiquity of the 30-pin connector
- (currently) there are more apps for iOS
- apps are vetted by Apple and thus, are pretty much guaranteed to do what they say
- iPhone is designed to work seamlessly with other Apple products (which I have a lot of)
- Apple's flare for effective design (quality of engineering, seamless meld of form/function)

 One final thing to consider is the development cycle for each company. Google has a habit of rolling out brand new technology and features as soon as they're available to the consumer market. Apple however seems to have a corporate strategy of only releasing a new device or technology once it's been fully researched and tested, and once the kinks have been worked out entirely. A good example of this is 4G LTE technology. Android device OEMs started launching phones with this capability as soon as the first networks were in place. This is great for early adopters, for whom having the newest gear and tech is the top priority, but they soon realized that you can't just bump up the data speeds without doing something drastic to the battery life.
Apple on the other hand has waited until yesterday (March 7th 2012)--a good year or more after 4G LTE networks were in place--to launch a 4G LTE device; the third generation iPad. Apple also doubled the battery power compared to the 3G model, allowing the new iPad to boast the same battery life as it's second generation predecessor.

So are you an early adopter? or a bandwagon jumper? Haha, just kidding. But there's a lot of truth said in jest. Consider your usage habits and what features are important to you, but remember that different devices are being produced that all have very similar features and hardware, so the extra products and services companies create to support the devices will become increasingly important when making a decision about your next phone.

Happy nerding.