iOS vs Android – which is better?

I often get the question about Android vs iOS and which is better. The short answer is: “neither” or “both” depending on if you want the pessimistic or the optimistic version.

Here’s the breakdown of it:

I’ve been using iOS since the iPhone 1. Just before the iPhone 5 was released, I decided to give Android an honest attempt. I saw that Apple had lagged behind on a lot of features: I had replaced most of the core apps with third party apps – Chrome instead of Safari, Mailbox instead of Mail, Fantastical instead of Calendar – and don’t get me started on the Podcasts app which I seriously hope the whole team at Apple got fired for. Twice. But even though I could switch the core apps out, that didn’t help much as Apple doesn’t let me set those as default. So links from other apps still opened in Safari, though Chrome was my preferred browser. I still had to configure the Mail app with my Gmail account, even though I mostly used Mailbox or the Gmail app to read and write e-mails.

I went for a Samsung Galaxy S3. At first it was awkward, but I thought I could deal with it. Every time I encountered a glitch an Android fan would be “hey, you should download X, it fixes exactly that”. And so I spent hours on downloading apps and customizing the experience so that it would be less awkward.

Using Android instead of an iPhone  was like having driven a sports car on a smooth highway, and then driving a different sports car on a bumpy country road. I ended up going back to iOS.

This year, I decided to give Android another go as the HTC One got really good reviews. That experience was much better and I realized that I didn’t hate Android. I hate Samsung. The HTC One experience was so good that I left my iPhone 5 until recently. What drove me back wasn’t Android or iOS per se, but the fact that a majority of the quantified self devices that I’m trying out only work with iOS.

Here are the things I’ll miss with Android:

– Apps being able to interact with each other, without having to build in explicit support for every app, in each app. I can use Feedly, and from there share directly to Flipboard and Buffer without having to exit the app. On iOS, the support for sharing to Flipboard has to be coded into Feedly (which it isn’t). This means that a new great app on iOS also requires updates for apps I already use in order for them to be able to interact.

– A clean home screen. My iPhone 5 screen looks as if it’ll explode if you just add another app. It’s cluttered and it’s impossible to get the clean, minimalistic look I have on my HTC One. Which is ironic, considering Apple’s minimalistic designs.

I use the same background on both phones. Which looks cleaner and more minimalistic to you?

– Widgets. I loved not having to open the calendar to see my calendar, I just swiped to the screen left of my home screen. Evernote? Don’t have to open it either, the notes are right there on the third screen. To do? Second screen to the left had a full screen Remember the Milk widget with all my todos.

– Google Now. I know that this is available on iOS too, but the whole point becomes moot when you have to open an app to access it. The Google Now widget is a much better assistant than Siri because it’s proactive. I love how, when I switch on my HTC One in a new country, I immediately get the exchange rate of currency X to my own, or a couple useful phrases translated to the local language.

– Voice recognition. Google’s default voice recognition is so much better than Apple’s – especially for me who has an accent as I’m not a native English speaker. The voice control experience is so much better on Android, as it is better of recognizing context and intent. I don’t have to tell it to “search the web” or “google” – Google Now does that automatically when it needs to.

– HTC One specific (I think): being able to snap photos while filming. Great feature, but on the other hand iOS 7 and iPhone 5S will also have this.

– The notification system. Being able to tweak notifications much better than in iOS was very valuable. My phone shouldn’t run my life, it should assist me and make my life easier. The notification system is key here, and Android’s is simply much better. I can choose to have sounds or have the LED blink in different colors, or have the notifications turn up in the notification center – where they are actionable as opposed to iOS notifications that simply start the app in question.

– The universal back button. This is perhaps the single best feature in Android. Being able to go back to the previous app using that button is gold.

Things I won’t miss with Android:

– Pocket dialing. This is an HTC One specific issue, but this is the first smartphone I’ve ever had that has dialled people, move icons around on my home screen and even deleted apps from the tray while the phone has been in my pocket.

– Another HTC One specific issue is that the remote control on the headphones can’t control volume. Nor can it activate voice control. This effectively renders voice control as useless as iOS does Google Now.

– Charging time and battery life. both the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the HTC One charge a lot slower (with the original chargers) than the iPhone 5 does. You can see a comparison chart between the S3 and the iPhone here

– The constant tweaking. Having to download another launcher, a third party keyboard, a screen brightness manager and a bunch of other apps just to get the phone up to a minimum standard is simply not okay.

– Always being second or third. I felt that if someone said “The iOS app is out now, an Android app is coming soon” one more time, I’d go falling down on them. And then there’s issues like the Basis Monitor, who when releasing an Android app actually released a Samsung app.

– Stupid User Interfaces in apps. Android has got a lot of apps, and it’s got a lot of apps made by people who don’t really understand UX. They make apps for themselves, which is a very different thing. The frustration with some apps made me want to poke my finger through my eye, into my brain and swirl it around. Even apps that should be great (Evernote) aren’t. It’s not logical to have to tap a pen icon on a touch screen to edit a note. In Evernote on the iPhone it’s an intuitive tap in the note that allows you to edit it.

All in all: Android today is great. The problem isn’t Android, but clumsy third party vendors like Samsung that bloat it, or HTC that don’t think things through all the way. Had it not been for me trying out stuff like the Misfit Shine, W/Me, Heartmath HRV monitor and mostly any other Bluetooth enabled device, I’d have kept the HTC One as my main phone. Now the iPhone 5 is my primary phone and the Android is the secondary.

If you’re thinking about which phone to buy, and deciding between Android and iOS, I’d say that as long as you go for one of Google’s own smartphones like the Nexus 4 or Moto X you’ll most likely be just as happy as if you had gone for iOS. iOS constrain you more, but it also works better out of the box. Android allows you more freedom, but also requires you to tweak it more. And you’ll always be second when it comes to the great mainstream apps. But you won’t go wrong with Android.

(Unless it’s a Samsung.)

Link roundup May 28, 2013

  1. Violence & Silence: Jackson Katz, Ph.D at TEDxFiDiWomen 

    This is a very interesting talk that nails my issue with the “men’s rights movement”. They’re busy being bitter about women acting and getting recognition (in the form of attention) for it.Also, when thinking about domestic violence as a men’s problem brought an old Radiolab episode to mind. It’s about “the unchangeable nature of male baboons’ violent behaviors” and how it in fact can be changed. Human men are baboons.

  2. Google Glass has been banned from all of Caesars palace and pretty much every strip club & bar. While apps like Winky lets you take photographs with a wink alone, people are getting increasingly worried about privacy with these high-tech eyes around.

    I’m guessing that this ban applies to Memoto too. The point is: no matter what we think about it, “Public Privacy” is a real oxymoron, and as such it never existed. This just makes us really aware of it.

    ?

  3. I didn’t really know what to do, so I agreed to see a doctor so that everyone would stop having all of their feelings at me.

    This is a very good account of what it’s like to go through a depression. You do want to read it so you’re prepared when it happens to you or someone you love. It has funny pictures too. Just click and read!

     

  4. Ministry of Silly Systems
    The blog post Ministry of Silly Systems shows how government agencies are creating the opposite of a simple, delightful, shareable experience. It&#8217;s almost as if they didn&#8217;t want you to contact them. This is exactly how Migrationsverket works in Sweden, except they&#8217;re not this friendly.<br /><br />
?

    The blog post Ministry of Silly Systems shows how government agencies are creating the opposite of a simple, delightful, shareable experience. It’s almost as if they didn’t want you to contact them. This is exactly how Migrationsverket works in Sweden, except they’re not this friendly.

    ?

  5. Android’s Market Share Is Literally A Joke | Tech.pinions – Perspective, Insight, Analysis

    Two farmers bought a truckload of watermelons, paying five dollars apiece for them. Then they drove to the market and sold all their watermelons for four dollars each. After counting their money at the end of the day, they realized that they’d ended up with less money than they’d started with. “See!” said the one farmer to the other. “I told you we shoulda got a bigger truck.”

    John Kirk gives a lot of facts about why the Android market is just like the two farmers above: Android has a bigger truck, but it’s not a profitable market.

  6. The Next Facebook — Medium

    A story from a recent college graduate highlights this difference best: Facebook’s Graph Search was turned on for her and she was amazed at the people she could find. “Mutual friends in the double-digits and identical musical tastes and they like Lost In Translation?!”

    I never thought of Graph Search as being able to find “niches within niches” – but that’s what it’s for. However, just as the article says: Facebook doesn’t have any good way to connect to these people. The next big network will allow that. But I don’t think it will be a new network that does it, it will be one of the existing.

  7. Google ‘s Best New Unadvertised Feature: Photo Search With Visual Recognition

    I’m blown away by the new photo search in Google where it’s recognizing subjects in my own photos

    This is a killer feature in Google+. Although I love Flickr, this makes me want to move all my photos to G+.

  8. Thread: My one talk with Marissa Mayer

    All I remember of it was there came a point in the conversation when Mayer had had enough. She just got up and left. I think the people remaining in the conference room were a little embarassed. Google didn’t do anything to change the BlogThis! button.

    Marissa Mayer worked at Google back when they acquired Blogger. The promised not to change anything, just like Yahoo! now promise not to change Tumblr. Dave Winer’s moral in this story is insightful, and a reminder to all current Tumblr users.

  9. You only get one chance to be a beginner

    This is the time to do the impossible, because you don’t know enough to know what can’t be done yet.

    Simple, beautiful, brilliant. In a lot of cases it’s better to embrace being a beginner instead of fearing it.

  10. HTC First discontinued by AT&T: First ‘Facebook phone’ a flop | BGR

    Our source at AT&T has confirmed that the HTC First, which is the first smartphone to ship with Facebook Home pre-installed, will soon be discontinued and unsold inventory will be returned to HTC

    Ouch for HTC and Facebook. But I’m happy that customers saw through this. Facebook as a launcher? Bad idea. There might come a time when Facebook is everywhere, but I’m happy it’s not here yet.

  11. Seth’s Blog: The reason they call it a browser

    Call it attention inflation. More time spent looking, less time spent clicking. We’re being conditioned to sit back and assume that action is the exception, not the rule.

    Brilliant as he most of the time is, Seth Godin writes about why we interact less even though we spend more time online. This definitely hooks into the UMOT/ZMOT and being context aware, providing the right information at the right time to the right visitor.

  12. Samsung is hurting Android – Opinion – Trusted Reviews

    Here is a dirty secret: it is in Samsung’s interest to damage Android.

    I never realized that Samsung might be trying to hurt Android, but reading this it seems like the perfect strategy. For Samsung. The problem is that to become Apple, you need products that really work – which Samsung doesn’t. The new features on the Samsung Galaxy 4 are disappointing (read: they only work with Samsung’s own apps).

    ?

  13. Really small apartments
    These photos tell a story that’s very hard to grasp for someone living in Sweden. Stockholm is the city in the world with the most single-person households (per capita) and living in apartments as small as these is most likely unthinkable for every Swede who has a home. See more at These apartments are so small they can only be photographed from the ceiling – Quartz

Link roundup April 22, 2013

  1. Facebook’s Android app can now retrieve data about what apps you use [Update]

    “To offer the Home app launcher and to improve the way it works over time, users give permission for Facebook to retrieve a list of apps installed on your phone,”

    Facebook has a kind of loose relationship with privacy. They are more of the “it’s easier to be forgiven, than to get permission” persuasion, meaning that I’d be careful about giving them access to too much. For me, the limit is at Facebook Home – I would not install it.

  2. Google streetview inside Björn Borg HQ

     

    Google Streetview inside Björn Borg HQ. Now you can get off  the street, and inside the office. With lots of easter eggs in the form of people in underwear.

  3. MC10 Hydration Video (by MC10)

    I argued a while ago with friends whether you can be considered a cyborg because of smartphones and self-tracking gadgets. With this patch, I’d say that we’re definitely there.You apply it on your skin, and it reads your hydration level. And updates your smartphone. Company MC10 also make a self-tracking wrist band that I’m hoping I get a chance to try out.

    Also: kudos to MC10 for making a video with an athlete and choosing a woman. It would be so easy to pick a man, as sports is a male dominated area.

    ?

  4. Bitcoin Explained (by Duncan Elms)No matter if you believe in Bitcoin or not, you should know what it is. Here’s a 3 minute crash course.?
  5. Tech specs – Google Glass Help

    High resolution display is the equivalent of a 25 inch high definition screen from eight feet away.

    The tech specs for Google Glass are out. I like them, the focus isn’t on putting in a lot of new things – instead they aimed at making it as unobtrusive as possible. For example bone conduction for sound so that you don’t need ear pieces. I’m a bit worried about the battery life though, as the projected battery life often is longer in the specs than in actual use. If it turns out to be any less than one day, it’ll be a big setback.

    Or, in the words of the brilliant @claes:

    “One day” battery time.

    Android owners know what this means.

    “Hello Glass, turn off Bluetooth”.
    “Hello Glass, turn off Sync.”
    “Hello Glass, turn off 3G,”
    “Hello Glass, turn off GPS.”

    ?

  6. The 7 most interesting social media stats and what to learn from them

    The science of social timing: When, how often and where should you post?

    This is an interesting collection of statistics and surveys, like “how long should a Facebook update be” or “when should you Tweet”. While this is a good place to start, remember that your tribe isn’t average: applying these numbers on your digital presence is a good start, but you need to monitor and tailor make it for you. This might mean that you end up doing the opposite of the “best practice” described in one of these surveys.

    ?

  7. Report: More People Are Watching Netflix Streaming Content Than Cable Networks – Consumerist

    that translates into the average U.S. subscriber watching 87 minutes of content [on Netflix] per day.

    What this article doesn’t say is that a lot of cable networks also are suppliers of internet. And internet is crucial to get Netflix. Cable networks in the us are conditioning the customers to the fact that bandwidth costs, and that unlimited bandwidth isn’t free or cheap. So cable networks are essentially changing their model so they keep providing the infra structure for content providers to deliver content to viewers.

  8. Bernstein Ponders Lengthening PC Cycle

    Tablets and smartphones aren’t replacing PCs, says Sacconaghi, but they are likely “lengthening the replacement cycle” as they cut into some of the PC’s workload and make their replacement less urgent.

    I’ve never thought about it, but it does make sense that tablets would extend the life of a laptop or PC. Partly because the reason above, but also partly because it’s an investment in technology cheaper than buying a new computer – and yet expensive enough to make you think twice about both buying a tablet and getting a new computer.

    ?

  9. When sci-fi meets human rights

    The Natalia Project, by Civil Rights Defenders, is a bracelet that makes sure that violence against human rights activists doesn’t go unnoticed. They need your help: join the project to get alerts when a human rights activist is kidnapped.

  10. Why I’m Giving Up On Android

    This is my own term, not theirs. Moar is different from more because it’s instinctive. Moar short circuits rational thought; it’s the feeling you get when you eat some bacon, and then want 16 strips of bacon because bacon is delicious even though, if you thought about it, you know it’ll make you ill.

    This is interesting, because this is exactly the opposite of Steve Jobs’ philosophy – instead of asking consumers “what do you want” and delivering that, he created what he knew was useful. For that strategy to work, you have to be a genius at usability and UX. This is exactly what most mobile manufacturers lack today.

  11. “There is now software to create fake accounts,” Mr. De Micheli said in an interview. “It fills in every detail. Some fake accounts look even better than real accounts do.”

    Very interesting about how and why the market for fake Twitter followers works – and the fake accounts are getting really good.

  12. Guests don’t want to learn a new way to turn on the shower, they don’t want to burn themselves, they just want the water to come out, at the right temperature, in the right direction, with the right quantity. The first time.

    ‘Designer hotel’ showers are a great place when you want to look for when form wins over function. And it’s not only the controls, sometimes it’s the shower, likeat First Hotel Grims Grenka in Oslo. Designing something fancy isn’t hard. Designing something fancy and easy to use is. Seth Godin nails it as always.

    (And these rules very much apply to web sites, apps and technical gadgets too)

  13. Earlier this year, our friends at Return Path predicted that mobile was to surpass web and desktop client usage by July, 2012. We found that this event happened as early as February, when mobile overtook webmail client usage.

    This is another thread starting to fringe from Microsoft’s empire. iOS devices are more popular for reading e-mal than Outlook. People are rather quickly getting used to non-Microsoft software. How long before Office plunges? Keep in mind that in 2012, Office stood for for almost 60% of pre-tax profit for Microsoft.