Inspired by Lifehacker’s guide to switching from the iPhone to Android, I’m going to list off the 10 things I miss most about Android after switching to the iPhone.
1) Access to every part of the phone.
I miss opening up my phone to swap out the battery after one has died. I miss the microSD card slot that allowed me to expand the flash memory. I miss having access to the root file system of the phone. All this adds up to me missing the control I had over every aspect of my phone. The iPhone feels more like a rental from Apple and AT&T. I never really feel that this phone is mine. I can’t swap out the battery. I will be refused warranty service if I Jailbreak. I can’t access the files I have on my iPhone and manipulate what I want, when I want it. Do I actually own this phone?
2) Google Navigation
While still in beta, Google’s navigation blows every other GPS device/software out of the water. I have a Garmin that became neglected as soon as Google Navigation was released on Android. Live traffic, ability to avoid highways and toll roads, integration with other Google services like Latitude and Buzz made it Android’s killer app. Best of all? It’s FREE for life. Garmin, Navigon, and TomTom all have a very good reason to worry. I am using MotionX GPS right now and it leaves a lot to be desired. The interface is crap, routing is less accurate than Google and seems less updated. TomTom’s app is a hit in the App Store but I refuse to pay $50 for an application and another $99 for a car kit. That’s highway robbery.
One of the best and most innovative features about Android is how it handles notifications. Apple’s implementation is annoying and shows a downright lack of innovation. Four revisions of the OS later and Apple still has no answer to the problem of notifications on the iPhone. The problem stems from the fact that when I receive a notification on my iPhone, it commands my whole attention. I have to respond to it, whether to close it or to launch the app, taking me away from what I am doing at the moment. Once you ignore a notification, it’s gone forever. There’s no way to remember what the notification was for. Android handsets have a small LED that blinks when you have ignored notifications, which is a godsend. When I get a notification with the iPhone and ignore it, the phone goes to sleep and just sits there. If you didn’t feel the vibration or see the screen light up for a few brief seconds, you’re hooped. You won’t know you have a notification until you wake the screen. This has ruined my work-flow.
4) Custom ROMS
I miss the hacking community of Android. I miss staying up, waiting for the dev to release the latest and greatest iteration of their ROM. What I missed most was the innovation. The stock software of Android is good enough but these devs take it to the next level and customize just about everything. Their ingenuity is how I managed to put Android 2.1 (Éclair) on my dated T-Mobile G1. Not only did I manage to get Éclair on my G1 but it also ran like butter. Though XDA developers is a scary place for newbies, there are also many nice people on there willing to help. I miss that community.
Google’s integration with its services is probably one of the best parts about Android. All your contacts, calendars, photo albums, etc are synced automatically. Don’t get me wrong, there are ways to get the iPhone to sync over the air with Google as well but the steps to do so are infinitely complicated and don’t always work well. I am still trying to wrap my head around syncing Google Contacts with my Mac and iPhone over the air. Best of all, this service is free. Apple has an elegant way to sync all of your contacts, calendars, bookmarks, etc over the air too with MobileMe but it costs $99 a year. Some argue that the price is reasonable for what you get but how is it reasonable when Google can do it for free? There are many great features about MobileMe like iDisk and having your own email address but I don’t need any of that. I wish Apple would just let me pay for contact syncing for a nominal fee. Paying for a sub-par product while Google does it better for free really stings.
6) Who knew that one of the things I would miss most about Android was one specific application? That application is Locale. What Locale does is change how your phone reacts to different situations. For example, I set my phone to turn itself on vibrate when I was on campus during a specific period of time. I never had to worry about turning off my ringer for class or work. The GPS would detect that I was on campus and would turn my ringer off. You could also change how the screen slept, which background you wanted while at home or at school, or when to turn on or off your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Even though it was $9.99, it was well worth it. Hopefully the dev will port it to the iPhone but I doubt it.
This goes along with my complaint about the iPhone’s notification system. Widgets are useful for telling you information quickly without having to launch an application. Seeing tasks, events, and weather information just sitting on my home screen was great. Now getting all this information take ten times longer on the iPhone. One of my favorite applications from Cydia, the black market app store on Jailbroken iPhones is “Lock Calendar” because it let me view events from my calendar on my lock screen, putting that real estate to use. Now my lock screen is just empty. This is inefficient.
I am a control freak. I need to tweak everything to my liking because I function differently from everyone else. Unfortunately, Steve Jobs, Apple and AT&T want me to use the iPhone as they want me to. I can’t tether without an additional $20 a month, which doesn’t include any additional bandwidth on top of my 2GB cap. I can’t access the file system. I can’t replace the battery. I have no control over this device. It frustrates me every day.
9) My principles
I miss my principles. I have always been an advocate of open source software and letting users do whatever they want to hardware that they own. Sadly, Apple’s closed ecosystem is the exact opposite of this. I hate how Steve Jobs feels the need to censor everything, even art if it has the slightest bit of nudity. Let me decide what I want on my phone. I’m a grown ass man. If I want porn, I will launch Safari. Will you then block that? Apple’s culture of hypocrisy haunts me.
Every day I face the fact that I have sold out.
I rely on Google Voice. I have gotten all my friends and family to use my Google Voice number just to simplify everything. I love the email transcriptions of voicemail especially if I can’t reach for my phone to listen to the message at the moment. I love the fact that I can send unlimited SMSes for free. I love the fact that I can blacklist people. I like how I can change greetings for different people. I like how I can set my phone to filter all calls if I want to get work done.
Unfortunately, Apple seems to think that Google Voice does the same thing as its native dialer and has thus excluded it from the App Store.
Google Voice augments the iPhone’s native dialer. It is nowhere similiar in any way other than the fact that it allows you to communicate. Perhaps this stems from the fact that AT&T doesn’t want people signing up for service without a SMS plan. Well guess what? That’s exactly what I’m doing and will continue to do. For now, I am subjected to the subpar Google Voice web app. To Google’s credit, it’s an amazing HTML5 site and does the job but it lacks integration with the OS. Android’s Google Voice application is nothing short of amazing. I miss it like someone misses his or her childhood dog.
These are just some of the things I miss about Android. I can ramble a book worth of things I miss about Android but I will not subject the world to that. Though it may seem that I’m really down on the iPhone, the reality is that I switched for a reason. Look out for a following post about why I switched to the iPhone.