I have been an Android user since Android first launched, however I have never been able to use Android as more than a toy to tinker with until recently. I have also been an iPhone and iPad user since both devices launched. Android devices were always lacking in some area that frustrated me and sent me running back to my iPhone. For years I would carry an iPhone and Android phone with me and often times I would just leave my Android phone at home.
There are a couple of things that Android and the manufactures of Android devices have not been able to compete with until recently. Android devices have been able to catch up to Apple because Apple has not really released any new and innovating features in a while. Apple seems to know what people want and will use. Android device manufactures seem take a different approach which seems more like a hit or miss approach to creating features people will use.
The first Android device to come to the market that I was truly able to switch to and use without needing the safety and familiarity of my iPhone was the HTC One. One of the main issues I had with Android devices was the horrible cameras they came outfitted with. I am a Professional Photographer and even when I am taking smartphone photos, they need to look like they came from someone who knows what they are doing. Every Android camera before the HTC One was less than desirable. Sure it might take a 1/2 decent (only 1/2 decent) photo outdoors on a bright day, but I need something that does a good job all around. The iPhone has always delivered on my expectations.
The customizations that most manufacturers make to Android has also frustrated me. The iPhone has always been simple and for the most part, kept out of your way. I feel like stock Android does this well, but Samsung, HTC, LG and the other manufactures out there add in so much on top of the Android Experience that it makes it hard to use. The powerhouse phones that they create end up running slow because of all of the features. Because of that, I have found favor in the Google Edition Smartphones that are available directly from Google. These Google Edition phones are from manufactures such as HTC and Samsung but only run stock Android, which means you get the nice hardware these manufactures provide and the clean software that Google provides in Android. The only manufacture whose devices I like with their default software installed is Motorola, which is owned by Google anyway.
I would like to outline some of the Android specific features that keep me from switching back to the iPhone:
Sharing: Sharing content to pretty much anywhere is easier on the Android. If I come across a website I want to save, send or post to a social network, I can do this on Android. On the iPhone, you are stuck to Facebook and Twitter in most cases. There are not a lot of options for sharing on iPhone unless you copy what you want to share and then post it directly through that app. On Android, I can share from one app to another. This allows me to share more content and spend less time doing it. When I use my iPhone, I find myself sharing less. I can take a photo in one app, edit it in another, then share it using the social network of my choice all without ever having to save the image multiple times throughout the process.
Photography: At times I feel that the iPhone still has the advantage when it comes to photography. Though I like the camera in the HTC One and don’t mind the camera in the Google Nexus 5 (my current phone), there are more apps for photo editing available on the iPhone. With that said, I am trying to process my images less. If I do anything, I adjust exposure and that is about it. I don’t like to throw filters over my images and make them look dirty. I go for color and clarity.
Multitasking: Android has always been better at multitasking. Even though the iPhone now has an easier way of switching between apps, it is still limited compared to Android. I switch around between apps often and being able to do that quickly is huge for me. I also dislike when I leave an app to do a Google search and then come back to the app to find what I was doing gone. This rarely, if ever, happens on Android.
Google Now: I have never found Siri very useful on the iPhone or iPad. This is mainly due to the fact that I don’t always want to speak my commands. On the iPhone, you have to activate Siri for commands to be heard whereas with Google Now, you simply have to have the screen on. With the Moto X from Motorola, you don’t even have to have the screen on. The phone is always listening for the command “Ok Google Now.” As I mentioned before, I want devices that get out of my way and let me get tasks done quickly.
Charging: I currently use the Google Nexus 5 which allows for wireless charging. I simply plop my phone down on the small charging pad and it begins to charge. It’s amazing and simple. When I need my phone, I pick it up and walk away. No cords to unplug or worry about snagging. I have wireless charging docks on my desk, nightstand and in my truck.
Phone & SMS: There are some need features built into the latest version of Android that make it much easier to search for businesses to call. On the iPhone, you have to do some sort of external search and then launch a call. On the Nexus 5, I can simply start typing a name of a business and it comes up. One tap and I am calling that business. I can also have Google Now launch a call for me, however I have had mixed results with this. I have not done much testing with Siri to see how well it does at launching calls to places that are not in the address book.
With SMS, Apple has iMessages, which is really nice for texting with others who are on Apple devices. I currently use the Hangouts app for Android which is the stock messaging app on the Nexus 5. It does a great job and soon will be a bit better and more open than iMessages. What I truly want, is a SMS service that works regardless of the device and apps you have installed. Google Voice was almost this, but you can’t send photo or video text messages currently on the AT&T network. If this changes, I can use Google Voice with the Hangouts app. Then I can switch between my iPhone and Android devices without having to switch SIM cards or anything. I just choose which phone I want to carry and point my number at that device.
Quicker Technology Advances
I know that Apple has some cool stuff up their sleeves that nobody has even thought of yet, but I get bored quick. Apple has the iPhone but Android has many options. There is just about something for everybody with Android. Apple has enough of a following that they can ride the wave for a while and save leading edge advancements for later releases. It’s all strategy and Apple is definitely good at what they do.
I will most likely at one point switch back to iPhone and iPad because I am confident that Apple will drop some amazing features on us that will once again take other manufactures a few years to catch up to. To be honest, I am not even 100% sure that the new features in the iPhone will be Apple’s next big thing.
As other smart device manufacturers scramble to come up with technology that will trump the iPhone, I will continue to enjoy some of the advancements. Not everything that comes out is needed. I think that over 60% of what Samsung puts into their devices is worthless and companies like LG seem to even be copying some of these useless features. In the end it seems to be all about marketing and what they can make look neat. I don’t need a phone I can waive my hand over to scroll a web page. That sounds idiotic to me.
I truly believe that smartphones are living on borrowed time. Companies like Google are messing around with wearable tech and the future is near. Why do we all have to carry about devices that cause us to focus on something other than humanity? I hate how my phone disconnects me with my environment. I am not convinced that Google Glass is the answer to that, but it is a huge step closer. I have tried Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smart watch and I think it is stupid. If I am going to spend money on yet another device, it needs to make it possible for me to use my smartphone less. Google Glass has done this. I can do a lot of what I would normally do on average with my smartphone with Google Glass. It can’t yet however replace a smartphone.
Going All Data
I think we are getting closer to a day where we will no longer need a minutes plan. Most of my communication with people is through email and text message. For the most part, you can do all of this through a data connection. The carriers already know that they can’t make money charging for text messages or minutes anymore. It’s all about the data charges. You could even get away with using an iPod Touch as your phone so long as you had a consistent data connection. I have a couple of friends that did this. In the near future, I don’t think we will need a cellular phone plan and I can even see phone numbers going away as well. If you could buy a smartphone and only connect a data plan to it, I would. However, this is not yet an option. Tablets can have data only connections, but not smartphones. The carriers will hold onto it as long as they can.
Why Care At All?
I am always posting about the devices I am using and I am sure it makes most people’s heads spin. Why can’t I just stick with one device and be happy? The truth is that I feel that technology should help us do our lives better and I will move in the direction of whatever technology adds to my experiences while at the same time getting out of my way. This is why I like Google Glass. Even though most of the world things it’s ridiculous, wearable technology is coming and will take over quicker than the mobile phone did. Remember when people used to say, “I don’t want people to be able to reach me at all times.” Now it is weird for someone to say that they don’t have some sort of a cell phone.
It’s also the future. Technology has driven the economy for the last decade and will continue to in the future. As we become more connected, more services and technologies will come up to assist in that. I find it empowering and very interesting. Each time I purchase a new piece of technology I see it as an investment in my future because I am on trying my best to stay on the forefront of the way all of this integrates with out lives. Modern technology was and is still a hard transition for our parents and grandparents because they were not raised with it. I don’t want to allow technology to outrun me. Though it is impossible to stay on top of it all, I will do my best.
I know that this post turned into a post about technology more than it did about why I use Android but I think it’s important to talk about. Mobile technology is part of our lives and these are the companies producing products for us to use and integrate with the world around us.
Right now, Android is better integrated with my life and lifestyle, so that is the platform I am using for both Smartphone and Tablet. We will see where Google, Apple and other manufactures take us as they continue to innovate and try to find the next thing.