Monday, July 16, 2012

5 Android features I really miss, now that I'm primarily an iOS user

I continue to use both Android and iOS devices, but recently I switched my primary device: my smartphone. I went from an Android smartphone to an iPhone 4S on the Verizon network. I still use my iPad and my Android tablet, so I'm staying up-to-date with the latest versions of apps.

The iPhone is really nice, but I find myself continuing to miss these key Android features because I've grown so accustomed to the Android way of doing things on a smartphone:

1. The "back" button on Android. This button is the intuitive way to "go back" when you're navigating on such a small screen. On the iPhone, to "go back," you have to tap on different buttons depending on the application you're using. Hence, it's not as intuitive to go back to your previous screen when you're using the iPhone.

2. The "menu" button on Android. Once again, the iPhone has most of its application settings under one place: Settings. Some apps have a separate "settings" button within the app. Once again - not consistent across the different types of apps. On Android, all the app settings are controlled within the app.

3. Functionality of Google Maps. On my Android, the functionality of Google Maps is rich with useful features ranging from GPS voice-guided navigation to simple "search nearby" features that let you look for something near a specific location. On the iPhone, the Maps app has such limited functionality that I'm actually using the Bing app (for maps) and the MapQuest app for GPS navigation.

4. Tap and hold. On Android, if you tap and hold on the screen, you get a variety of menus that pop up. On the iPhone, the tap and hold has limited functionality. I suppose this is analogous to the fact that Macs don't have a right mouse button.

5. The ability to "share" a photo on multiple social networks. Although the iPhone has one of the best built-in cameras on any smartphone, it's not easy to share these photos on multiple social networks simultaneously. On the Android, you can take a photo and then have access to multiple ways of sharing that photo. On the iPhone, you have to share photos within each social media app (with the exception of Twitter). It's the difference of performing multiple steps (on iOS) vs. a few steps (on Android).

You can change a number of features (like the default browser on the iPhone) by "jailbreaking" your iPhone, but why should I need to do that in order to make some practical functional changes that will improve my productivity? The Apple way is to create a closed system that tightly integrates everything and I think this works for most users, but for power users like Woz, we need to be able to "hack" the system to meet our needs.

I'm still committed to sticking with the iPhone for at least a year. I have access to some nicer apps (although that "app gap" between iOS vs. Android is closing rapidly) and I can deal with the smaller screen size of the iPhone.

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