If you’ve heard me on the GonnaGeek.com Podcast you likely know that I’m an avid Android user. With all the passion I have about Android what you may not realize is that I’ve only been using an Android phone for about a year.
There are several reasons why I prefer Android over iOS and in my experience I’ve found that sticking native Android is quite an enjoyable experience, solving many of the quirks that many iPhone users fear about making the switch. I fully admit that when I left iOS for Android I expected have a signicantly less stable experience than I had with my iPhone but I quickly discovered this was not the case with my Nexus 5. This leads me to believe that a lot of the irritants that plague the Android are because of manufacturers modifying the OS (Nexus 5 runs stock Android). How stable has my experience been? Well let’s put it this way – when my wife needed to select a new phone she was very tempted to make the leap to Android herself.
It’s important to note that many of the features that I use regularly and prefer of Android are geared toward the tech-crowd; however, there was still many I used daily which I think appeal to non-techy alike. For example, if your primary email is Gmail already, there is so much easy integration to Google such as auto-backup of photos, contacts and other data. Another big feature that I love is that there are also a variety of apps that allow users to send SMS messages from their desktop – not just Mac users (as recently introduced in iOS). Of course one of the biggest things that appealed to my wife was the increase in the amount of related accessories becoming cheaper than their i-equivalent (ie. Chromecast is only $35, LG G Watch is $149). There is one feature that is perhaps a bit more niche that really had Mrs. Jondrew interested in the phone, and that was the ability to display photos on our TV (through the Chromecast) directly from Google Drive. Customizability was another thing that caught her attention and although the latest version of iOS has been the most customizable experience to date, it still doesn’t compare to that of Android.
So, what ended up being my recommendation to her and what did she decide on her own? In both cases it was the iPhone 6. It was a really close race on both accounts, but ultimately there were a few things that stopped her from making the jump (and those same things would in turn stop me from recommending Android to someone who uses their phone in the same manner as my wife).
The first feature lacking from Android is one that while it may not be a frequent used featured, when you want to use its really nice to have – SIRI. ‘OK Google’ is about as close as it gets to SIRI for Android (at least stock) and while I feel it actually does better than SIRI in many cases, there are a couple “personal assistant” features that make the SIRI experience a little better for the average user. For example, when I go to text someone hands free ‘OK Google’ does not read back my message to me, which makes voice-texting next to impossible to do without taking a risk every time you send a message. The second half of this is that SIRI has the ability to read back your messages, which is something that is lacking from the Android equivalent.
The next feature follows closely with the first and it’s quirkiness in the Bluetooth hands free functionality. My Dad has a Samsung Note 2 and he has the same issues that I have on my Nexus 5 – the Bluetooth handsfree has jumped between different interfaces at what seems like random times. For example, the majority of my experience when using hands free dialing is a rudimentary system which asks to select contact phones numbers by actually saying “Select 1” to select home, “Select 2” to select mobile, etc. However, from time to time the handsfree has popped in to full “OK Google” mode which is quite an enjoyable experience – when that rarely happens. A quick search on the internet finds that we aren’t the only two with this quirk.
The third feature that Android was missing was an important one, which I’m should be up Google’s alley considering they own YouTube, lack of easy video sharing. There is quite a comparable iMessage equivalent in Android (which I actually prefer) – Google Hangouts. With KitKat the experience even bridges the Hangouts conversations in the same window as SMS conversations, just like iMessage does. However, a big feature it lacks is sending video through Hangouts. Having a newborn and a 2 year old, you can imagine how often my wife sends her contacts short videos and this was a deal breaker for her. We looked at alternative messengers and came across another problem, Android doesn’t have built in trimming and auto compression like iOS has. What does this mean? Well lets say you find a messaging app that many of your contacts use (in her case it was Viber), if that software developer hasn’t incorporated their own use a separate app. There is one messenger that we found that does handle video very similar to iOS which is WhatsApp, but then came the problem that many of her contacts don’t use that messenger. It’s important to note that the iOS equivalents of those messengers lacking built in trim/compress support (ie. Viber) appear to have the capability in iOS which leads me to believe that is actually a feature courtesy of Apple.
Ultimately the videos issue was the biggest thing that prevented the switch to Android but it’s important to note that I think my wife may have gone another way if it hadn’t been for that. In any case this is something that I’m truly surprised Google hasn’t dealt with yet – whether they simply add Hangouts video sending support, or better yet add a video trimming/compressing feature right into Android. Of course, each individual user always has to evaluate their use case, and in mine I don’t see myself switching back to iOS anytime soon (even if I do have to use third party app to compress my videos). Personally, there is so much techy-appeal in Android that iOS just can’t offer which is why I’m willing to deal with the quirks mentioned above. Of course, iOS is not perfect either but I won’t get into those details as this is an article about whether or not my wife had a reason to switch to Android.