I never thought I needed an iPhone, until I did — until all my friends had them and I listened to music all day, every day, everywhere. But that was three years ago, and now I'm thoroughly bored and almost stifled by Apple smartphones. After about a month of owning my iPhone 6, I found myself loathing iOS's lack of freedom, limiting hardware and software, and boring ecosystem. Here's why my next smartphone will run Android.
Android Is More Customizable
One of the biggest reasons I loved iPhones was iOS. It's clean and efficient, and when iOS 7 launched in 2013, it was downright beautiful. Now, while it remains minimalist and lovely, it's not exciting anymore.
After using and reviewing Android phones at Tom's Guide, I find myself drawn to Android Lollipop and the options it gives me, along with brand-specific software features, to customize my smartphone experience.
Currently, my ideal Android phone would be a Moto X or a Nexus 6, which use stock Android to its fullest. I really love the Glance feature of Lollipop, which lets you see a snapshot of your notifications when you wave your hand over the locked phone. The great thing about Glance is that it doesn't unlock your phone or fully wake up the locked screen, which saves time and battery life, while giving you the same information that pressing the Home button on the iPhone would.
Android smartphone manufacturers also like to add their own skins and features on top of Android, and some of them can be quite useful. The Moto X has a great feature called Moto Assist, which learns your habits and can do things like read out texts when it knows you're driving. While the iPhone has a Do Not Disturb feature, Moto Assist takes it one step further by letting you choose the important calls you want to come through while you're sleeping, and sending out autoreply messages when you're occupied in a meeting.
Another Android customization feature I've grown to love is widgets. In my prime Apple fangirl days, I would scoff at those huge sections of the screens obstructed by a hokey calendar, a weather bar or a chunky clock. Now, I want the option to use them because they make my smartphone experience more efficient. On my iPhone, I check the AccuWeather app at least three times a day (30-minute torrential downpours are not uncommon in New York City), but I wouldn't have to do that if I had a weather widget on my home screen.
I would probably tweet more if I had the Twitter widget, too. Currently, by the time I open the Twitter app and scroll through my most recent updates, I've either forgotten what I wanted to tweet about or overthought the verbiage of my 140 characters. There also isn't a Twitter widget for the notification window in iOS, making it nearly impossible to get a full snapshot of your feed's activity.
Android Is Less Controlling
One of the reasons why iOS is clean is because Apple restricts what you can do with it. While the operating system gets many apps first, you can only use the App Store to download programs to your iPhone. Conversely, Android lets you download any app you want from the Google Play Store, Amazon's app store and even directly from your computer using APK files.
Also, I haven't plugged my iPhone 6 into my old MacBook Pro since I first got it — because that's a great way to get a migraine. Since I don't use iTunes much anymore and I don't use Photos at all on my computer, all the default Apple programs that pop up when the iPhone is connected are useless to me.
The one thing I will have to do eventually is get my photos off my iPhone, which will end up being a longer process than necessary. When Android phones are connected to a PC, the phones appear simply as an external device, similar to a flash drive, which makes it much easier to transfer files. While iPhones do this when connected to PCs, they do not when connected to Macs. Rather, you're forced to dig through all of Photos' guts just to get to the original files to save them on an external hard drive.
In terms of sharing, Android is also more convenient. You can share everything from photos to Web pages to map directions in any app you have installed including Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. On the iPhone, you can only share to specific channels that a particular app supports. Also, I appreciate how Android lets you share to Google Drive, and specific parts of social networks, like sharing content via a direct message on Twitter rather than just tweeting it out.
I've Become a Google Girl
I still love Apple notebooks, and I may purchase a new one in the future. However, most of my online life is run by Google. At work I use Google Docs and Spreadsheets in conjunction with Evernote to get my writing done. I also don't work on a Mac in the office — I have a company-issued Windows computer.
The main screen on my iPhone is dominated by Google apps — Hangouts, Maps, Chrome and Play Music all in one row. I also have Gmail, which houses my personal email.
Mail is the only native Apple productivity app I use on a regular basis, but only because I want to keep my work messages as far away from my personal business as possible.
Aside from the Camera, Photos, Clock, Settings, Phone and Messages apps, the rest of the native iOS apps are in their own folder on the second page of my iPhone, which never gets opened. If you work primarily on Apple devices, the iPhone becomes much more useful, since it syncs seamlessly to your OS X device. But for me, Google services run everything.
Apple Is Boring
Apple hasn't truly innovated in hardware design in years, mostly just refining it along the way. ... I can't help but think that my iPhone 6 still has the same feel as the iPhone 4. While Apple's designs are far from offensive — in fact, it's gorgeous — they're just not my style anymore.
With so many choices of Android handsets, my style changes the more I research them. The first Android phone I fell in love with was the Moto X, for its elegant yet understated design. It was no surprise to me, then, that my jaw dropped when I saw the Nexus 6, which is essentially a supersized version of the Moto X with a gorgeous 2560 x 1440-pixel, quad-HD display, sophisticated aluminum design and that signature Android back button. Large handsets grew on me even more when my boyfriend traded in his iPhone 5 for a Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which has a perfect 5.7-inch display for watching YouTube videos.
Also, Android Lollipop is more intriguing than iOS, thanks in part to its Material design. The operating system manages to be minimalist like iOS, but with a distinct personality. I love how the icons and images have been flattened, but still retain enough dimension to pop off the screen. The shapes are rounded and friendly, and the entire OS appears modern, but not so trendy that it will go out of style too fast.
I also appreciate the integration of Google Now into Android. Whereas Siri feels separate from the rest of iOS, Google Now is the type of digital assistant I like. It's not just a voice assistant like Siri — which I never use because I don't like talking to inanimate objects. Rather, I see it as my personal version of the Google search engine. Its voice assistant is faster, giving me answers to my questions without any cuteness.
I find myself using Google Now more and more, especially in the newest version of Chrome OS, mostly for the information cards that know enough about me to provide important information throughout my day. For example, it will sometimes tell me when there's a concert nearby that I might want to go to, or when a local event is happening.
Ultimately, Android's excitement comes down to the fact that it's tied to Google — the amount of information at your fingertips is truly extraordinary. Yes, you can get the same info on the iPhone by going into the Google Search app or even the Chrome app, but Android's fluidity and intelligent nature can't be matched when you need to look something up on the fly.
iPhones have served me well until this point in my life. In my early smartphone days, I didn't know what I wanted — but I opted for the iPhone because all my friends had the iPhone. That was then. Now I know what I want, and I don't care about looking cool to anyone. A smartphone is primarily a functional device, not a fashionable one. Android phones provide a good balance of thoughtful design, personalization, efficient extra features and smart information integration, making them the phones that work the best for me.
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