Monday, 18 November 2013

Why I don't regret switching to Android

There are plenty of blog posts out there about the benefits of switching from iOS to Android but I'd like to add my perspective to the mix.

The background to all of this: I used an iPhone between March 2009 and September 2013. I had a 3G and then a 4S. Pretty much everyone else in my family is an Apple person.

But during the summer I got pretty fed up with how locked in the device was and started browsing through the Android community posts on Google+. I learnt about new and upcoming devices, about ROMs and rooting, about JellyBean and Kit Kat, and about stock versus skinned. 4 months ago these phrases would have induced a very puzzled look on my face. I'm now familiar with these phrases, although by no means an expert. But they still provoke confused expressions from my friends and family who are wedded to their iPhones. 

I've since come to realise that there's a lot more to the switch than just getting away from the lockdown that Apple subject iPhone users to. It's about using a system that betters my day to day life. It's about a system that helps me get things done efficiently  and effortlessly. It's about a system that let's me configure my expensive ($1000 expensive) device how I want. Most of all, it's about a system that may have started behind Apple's but is now leaps and bounds ahead.





So here are my top 5 reasons why the switch to Android for a long term iPhone user is really more than just about being fed up with Apple; it's about enhancing your life. These aren't in any particular order, just 5 of the main reasons.


NFC

Despite the growing prevalence of NFC devices such as credit cards, most of my iPhone using friends and family have never heard of it. Cue much applause when I tap my phone against my Sony NFC enabled speaker and my music starts playing on the speaker within 10 seconds of taking my phone out of my pocket. The response I usually get is "why not just use good old Bluetooth to pair the speaker to your phone?". Well yes I could, but I'd rather tap my phone against any number of devices and connect using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, or just enable some other type of action. Tap on, tap off. Simple. This isn't just about showing off in front of others though; there are real world uses of this technology. In London, there are plans afoot for using NFC to enable payment on the underground tube train network. Small payments at shops and cafes can already be made using this tech. Your phone/device can be your personal gateway to a host of places: use NFC on your device as your "ID" badge and get through the barriers in your office building, for example.


Customisation 

The best you can do to make your iPhone stand out is change the wallpaper and the phone case. That's it. After NFC, the second commonest question I get asked is "what's a widget?". The idea that you can do more than just stack a load of app icons on your screen is alien to iPhone users. I love being able to choose how I want my apps and folders to look, where and how big the widgets are, and being able to access apps straight from the lock screen. Shaving off a few seconds here and there all adds up to a lot of time saved. If you mention Nova to an iPhone user, there is a high probability that this is what they are think of.


Device choice

So what shall we buy? iPhone 5S or 5C? On other words, premium or chavvy? I'd much rather be able to choose between several be maybe hundreds, of devices. I'll decide how premium or chavvy I want my phone to be. What choice do I have if I want a premium Android device right now? LG G2, HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4, Moto X (although admittedly only in the USA), Nexus 5, and the best of all: Sony Xperia Z1. If I want a cheaper device? Any of tens of other Samsung, HTC, Motorola, or Huawei devices.


App data sharing

This is a lot more than the fact that each Android device prompts you to sign in to Google the first time it is fired up. Yes that's a great feature, and means that all my email and contacts are ready for me, as well as whichever other Google services I want to use such as G+. But this is also about how deeply in Android sharing is ingrained. If I am reading a webpage, or looking at a photo, or writing a note, the sharing button gives me a list as long as my arm of sharing options. Have you ever seen that in iOS? Away goes endless copy and paste and in comes direct sharing to any app from any other app. Links open intelligently. If a link is meant to be to a G+ page, I'll be offered to option to look at it in my G+ app, not just yet another web browser tab. If I want to share a webpage or a photo on Twitter, not only will I be offered the option of the Android Twitter app, but also any other Twitter app I have installed.


Not being a sheep
This one will get me flamed by Apple fanboys I'm sure. The fact is, it is no longer the cool thing to have an iPhone. It's quite the reverse infact; they're as common as Pat Butcher's earrings (apologies to non-UK readers for this analogy!). Indeed, with the new colours, they look like Pat Butcher's earrings. 


So there you have it: 5 compelling reasons to switch if you have even an inkling of a doubt whether you should stick with your iPhone. Are you still having doubts? I bet they are over music like I did: how am I going to keep my precious iTunes library that I've built up over years and years? Easy: there are a stack of apps that will allow you to sync your iTunes library with your device, as well as allowing you to add to it by buying off Google's Play store. You can keep all your music as well as your podcasts.


I made this switch and don't regret it one second. It'll take a lot for me to buy an iOS device again any time soon. Google are doing amazing things with Android and all their other services, this is a great time to be a technology geek!