My First Love:
Some would call me a late bloomer; I didn’t really find love until I was about 28 years old. I remember walking into that crowded Verizon Wireless wandering aimlessly while denying the sales associates any opportunity to talk to me about what they thought would be a great match for me. You see, up until this point I took the view of “Let’s date long term, but I don’t want to see you too often, and I’ll interact with you when I need to get something done”. But I had begun to notice how much happier other guys were with their companions and well; I began to feel a bit slighted. So there I was, scanning the room when suddenly my eyes fell upon that beautiful form, all glass with a bright display and that shiny Apple logo with curves that would make any other smartphone owner jealous. Yes it was love at first sight. I immediately locked myself into a 2 year commitment and we left the store together, ready to begin our journey as happy smartphone owner and loyal iPhone 4 to face the big wide world ahead.
Sounds like a great love story eh?
What I loved:
I instantly fell in love with the design, I loved the smoothness and flow of iOS and the premium feel of the phone. The device spoke directly to my iMAC, Macbook Pro and my Apple TV. At that time in my life the iPhone was the best “Companion Device” for me. My phone is my connection to my base station at home, my lifeline when I am out and about, it’s my “Everything” device. At that time in my life my job allowed me to carry my phone with me everywhere and I had no need of anything outside of the closed Apple ecosystem, it just worked well. My travel was limited and I spent most of my time puttering around my town and not too much time traveling elsewhere, suffice it to say I was locked into a very basic routine. The apps were wonderful and the library was vast, syncing was very efficient (Though I hated having to wire to iTunes) and honestly the smartphone was very simple and easy for me to navigate considering this was my first venture into the smartphone world.
Change of Heart:
2 years and an upgrade later, my daily grind began to change. I started traveling more for work and I began to really see the limitations of living in the Apple ecosystem. When I stayed in hotels and used the business center I had no access to iWork and though I had my iPad it was just too painful to do Word processing on a tablet. Particularly when the only copy of that document was in my iWork and when I tried to transfer it to Word the formatting would just get hosed up. When my job stopped allowing us to use cell phones in the office space, I had to rely on my Windows based computer and other services like Spotify or Pandora for my music needs because I couldn’t listen to my music on my work computer, that didn’t have iTunes. I loved my phone, but while others were enjoying the benefits of 4G I was still stuck on 3G, and anytime I needed to share something with a social network or outside of the Apple approved direct shares things got difficult. I was really beginning to feel that I needed something more, something that was more universally accessible, a device that I could do what my iPhone could do but on a wider scale. At this point I had already transitioned away from Apple services because they could not be accessed from any other system that was not running iTunes or had the iWork Suite installed. Every system I used for work had Word and the Microsoft suite and I had been using Good Reader on my iPad as my savior when it came to conducting business.
During a conference a colleague of mine was taking notes on his HTC EVO. I was amazed at how big the device was and how nice the screen was compared to my own. After the conference we spoke for a while and I asked him about his phone, he proudly showed off its features and I followed along for a bit noticing some of the screen jank as he navigated, but was very impressed by what the device could do. Notifications were done very well, he was able to swipe them away individually (Something I could not do on iOS) and with the support of widgets he was able to quickly toggle his settings (something that would require me to navigate through various menus to do on iOS). I was very impressed and began to wonder what OS he was using. When he said “Android” I was floored. I had been following Android every now and again just to see what the OS was doing and what improvements had been made. But in my eyes it simply was not mature enough to be a viable contender to iOS. I felt this way because Android was notorious for being laggy and the experience was proven to be disjointed and inconsistent. Android had function but lacked polish and as an iOS user I loved polish. Fast-forward a few months later, good friend of mine showed me his Samsung Galaxy Nexus running Ice Cream Sandwich, I was instantly impressed with how much smoother the OS had become since my last demo on the HTC EVO. I really loved the design of the Nexus everything from the screen size and form factor just clicked with me. I also noticed that ICS had gained that “Polish” I had been looking for out of contender. It was this moment that really made me want to switch.
As I wrestled with feelings of guilt (YES, I SAID GUILT) that I was even considering leaving Apple for this Android thing I decided to speak to my wife about the jump. My wife was an Apple loyalist like I was; as a matter of fact I converted her to Apple. So when I approached her with the idea of switching to Android she looked at me like I had three heads “Switch to a waaaa?” she said. I told her “I think I want to jump ship to the Android phones, the screens are bigger, there is more variety, and the OS is not as janky or immature as it once was. Plus I really love those widgets and the ability to customize the phone to suit my needs”. Of course like all great women she wasn’t buying it, so there I was in an all Apple household contemplating what would be considered a mutiny in most countries. After many months of research I finally decided to take the plunge with my first Android phone the Samsung Galaxy S3.
A New Love:
After purchasing my Galaxy S3 I spent a month learning Android. The device itself was wonderful, the screen was crystal clear, the battery life was awesome and I loved having an expandable memory card slot so hardware-wise life was good. Then Google went and announced Google Now, a predictive piece of software that would be released in its Jelly Bean update. I instantly fell in love with the concept of this service and I remember saying to my wife “You see this? This is what I’ve been waiting for. Siri has nothing on this”. Of course my wife shrugged unimpressed but I noticed her requests to hold my GS3 increasing exponentially over about the course of a month. When I first bought the phone home I thought she was literally going to punch me in the throat for being a traitor, my kids scowled at me from behind their iPads and iPods and I basically an outcast in my own home. But I could see that the leader of the opposition (my wife) was secretly harboring feelings of committing treason herself. I had always lived in multiple ecosystems; Google handled my Mail, Maps and Search. Pandora and Spotify handled my music; iTunes handled my movies with Vudu and Amazon as a back-up. I began to see the benefit of services like Google Drive, Google+, Google Voice and Google Play with my transition to the Android ecosystem. The transition to Android was quite easy. I moved my music files from iTunes to Google Play Music via the Google Music Manager. The movies I purchased through iTunes unfortunately were unable to make the journey due to DRM protection. I can still access my iTunes content through my MAC and Apple TV so I don’t feel completely cut off from my old purchases when I need to access them. But the real benefit of Google services is that as long as I have an internet connection I can access my music, movies, docs, and wallet, basically everything through the cloud. I am no longer required to have a program or certain type of computer to access everything I need. This is the power of Google Services, and with its integration into Android I quickly made up my mind that I wasn’t going back to iOS for the foreseeable future.
I think this is the perfect spot to close on. Why did I switch, let’s set aside the story and just get down to brass tacks. I switched because I got tired of having one option (one phone cannot be everything to everyone). When Apple unveiled the iPhone 5 (not just my heart) but my wife’s sank as we saw the same device again and again. My wife switched to Android shortly after the iPhone 5 announcement because she realized like I did that having multiple options was better than having one. I switched because I needed a companion device, with a service like Google Now (Which anybody who has read my past work knows I love) that tells me relevant information that I need to know, when I need to know it. I need multiple flagships phones like the HTC One, The Galaxy S4, The Nexus Line and the Moto X, which are all awesome but great in their own distinctive way. Do you want a premium feel? Go with the HTC One. Do you want a great camera with expandable memory and removable battery? Go with the Samsung S4. Do you want a true companion, a phone that knows what you want and adapts to you? Try a Moto X. Do you want the latest and Greatest from Google, Do you want Android as Google intended? Try the Nexus line. You can’t go wrong either way.
To sum it all up into one word, I switched because I enjoy “Choice”. I enjoy that I can have an icon free screen in the morning so I can just enjoy my wallpaper. Or I can change it to something more dynamic with icons that match my wallpaper in the afternoon. I enjoy that I can automate my phone via wonderful applications that can operate almost natively, to fill the gaps that maybe the OEM’s didn’t think about. I enjoy widgets that allow me to see my agenda for the day without swiping down or up from somewhere, or following my news via RSS Feeds without the need of a dedicated app. I enjoy universal sharing, when I find something I like my phone asks me which of the 15 services that I have on my phone would I like to share that content with? I enjoy the little things like setting a default app because not everyone loves Google Maps as their default maps app or maybe I have more than one Reddit application on my phone but I have one I want as the default. I could go one and one but I think that’s enough for now. Apple has built something great in iOS, it defined a market. Android has taken what Apple made mainstream and taken the smartphone OS to heights we couldn’t dream of years ago. Through competition innovation is born, and at the end of the day it doesn’t matter if you’re an iOS user or an Android user, neither would be as good as they are without the other; and at the end of the day we the consumer benefit.