Last week at work we were issued new Nexus 5s to replace our ageing iPhone 4s. So after 4 days of using and tinkering?
Caveat: I realise 4 days isn’t much time and I may change my mind as I use the phone more, but given this is for work and I have a phone for personal use, I’m not willing to spend more time tinkering.
Android has some definite pluses:
- Apart from the larger screen, I like the flashing notifications alert on the Nexus 5.
- Google voice seems more reliable and smooth, probably because it doesn’t rely on the internet.
- Obviously it’s great if you’re a Google services fan so for my job, which is Google-centric, this is a better phone.
- It is more flexible.
- I can shop from within apps at non-Apple stores (e.g. Audible, Kindle, etc.)
But there is a dark side.
Some of these aren’t negatives – I am either undecided or they just don’t work for me.
- Android is more customisable but with that comes complexity. I’ve downloaded a couple of different keyboards and launchers, and the experience is frustrating. There’s a learning curve with each one you try.
- The launchers are someone else’s vision and can be more limiting. The ones I’ve tried don’t really work for me and I simply don’t have the time and inclination to research what will bring only a marginal improvement to my life.
- So I’m not really convinced about the value of Android’s flexibility. I know this is a none issue if you’re a tinkerer (maybe even a plus), but I prefer the no-brainer simplicity of iOS. Everything is a compromise and this is the compromise I prefer.
- I don’t like the way lock screen widgets work. On iOS only new notifications are visible on the lock screen. On Android a list of recent emails (header only, but nevertheless unnecessary) and my whole calendar is visible and I have to swipe multiple screens to access them. If there’s a way to change that I haven’t been able to find it and with iOS I don’t need to.
- I find the phone app generally more cumbersome (my work phone is actually a phone).
- Hangouts just seems messy to me.
- While I’m getting used to it, I don’t like the placement of the single sleep/wake button on the Nexus 5 (I know this is hardware specific, but I don’t get a choice of phones).
Some things haven’t had time to cook yet or I’m just undecided:
- iOS Notification Centre combines Google Now and Android’s notification centre. I haven’t used Android enough for Now to learn my behaviour and while I understand it’s more predictive and useful than Today, based on the kind of apps I do and don’t use I’m not yet convinced that it will really benefit me over Today. So maybe it’s a tie between iOS and Android on this one.
- Widgets offer much but deliver less, simply because they take up so much space. Once you have to swipe to another screen to see more widgets you may as well have just launched from an app’s icon. That said, I wish Apple would come up with a widget system. Widgets *are* useful and I think Apple would do it better.
- I prefer Apple’s home button for waking the device, but I do see the benefit of only having one hardware button on the Nexus 5 (it’s the placement I don’t like). This comes down to differences between the platforms and is 6 of one, half a dozen of the other, I think.
- The smaller iPhone handset is easier to use. While I prefer the larger screen over the small hardware, form factor is a plus side for iOS. I still feel a middle size would be a good compromise.
Where I feel iOS is definitely better:
- I feel Apple’s Control and Notification Centres are better implemented. (Again I know that this can probably be changed in Android, but I’m not spending any more time trying to figure it out. After four days it shouldn’t be this difficult to implement if it’s meant to work that way).
- I prefer the lock screen.
- It think the UI is more consistent.
- I prefer the way Apple does app badges. Maybe I can do that in Android but I haven’t figure it out. Not such an issue if you use widgets, but as I’ve already said, you can’t use them for everything. Apple seems more ‘at a glance’ in this case.
- Generally, I prefer the Apple aesthetic and general approach. Android just seems messier.
So which is better? Neither, I think. I prefer iPhone and I would definitely recommend it to someone who prefers simple it-works-out-of-the-box. If you want to spend the time learning and like to tinker I think Android would be the clear winner, as long as you have a premium phone. For work, Android suits us better because we’re deep into Google, but for my personal phone I’ll be sticking with iPhone for now.