After much deliberation and soul-searching, I decided to switch to Android after being an iPhone user since 2008. The iOS 11 update rendered my poor iPhone 6 Plus virtually unusable, and it made me resentful towards Apple. The flowing display of the Note 8 and the intrigue of the S-Pen stylus were enough for me to take the leap and convert, something I had resisted for three straight phone purchases.
After finding out I made the switch, a lot of people have been asking me to share my experiences of switching to Android after being an iOS user for so long. I’ve only been using the Note 8 for less than a week, but here are my observations so far:
Things I miss about iOS:
iMessage – Text messages in general are just better in iOS. Read receipts and the lack of character limits were great to have and something I’ve grown accustomed to.
Notifications – When you get a text, email or other message a tiny one line strip appears for about one second in Android. It’s gone so fast, it’s almost impossible to take action on it. Even when you open the notification list replying to a text or message is painful and requires multiple clicks on a super tiny drop down arrow. iOS has designed this interaction really well. It just requires a simple swipe. The Android notification list in general is not well designed from a UX perspective. Its cluttered and difficult to scan quickly for the information you are looking for.
Maybe you can do this on Android but I can’t find a way to set different sounds and vibration patterns for specific notifications. With iOS, my phone would be in my pocket and I would know if I got a text, slack message, or email without taking it out.
Lock screen – iOS lock screen is better and you can access the camera a little faster.
Emojis– These Android Emojis that came with the Note 8 are AWFUL. I can’t stand them. I never even realized these weren’t standardized. I use Slack daily and they have the same emojis as iOS. Seems like a small thing but I feel my communication doesn’t quite capture the right feeling without the perfect emoji.
Unlocking the phone – Unless you use the fingerprint scanner (which is not positioned well on the Note 8), it requires pressing a button, swiping the screen, then either looking at the iris scanner (which is hit or miss) or inputting your “unlock pattern.” Too many steps. iOS is just simpler. It seems minor but this is something you are doing all day over and over again. (I will say this about Android: You can set up locations you know to be safe, like your house, where the phone will not lock. That’s really nice.)
Visual consistency – Apple has done a great job of keeping things consistent within the interface including third party developer icons. Things feels polished and refined in iOS.
Things I love about Android / Note:
Google Assistant – Crushes Siri. It’s not even close. But now you can get it on iPhone, although I don’t know if it’s a one-to-one comparison.
Multi App Display – Super sick. You can have 2 apps opened at once and have them split the screen. You can have your bank app open at the same time as your calculator, etc. I used to pull this off on the iPhone by jumping back and forth which was inefficient and annoying. The feature is well implemented too, switching which app is open in each window is easy, as is dismissing one altogether.
The S-Pen – I love it. The way you can draw and take notes is amazing. Adobe Sketchbook is a great app for leveraging this peripheral. Sketching with the pencil feels surprisingly lifelike. It’s very impressive. Taking notes in written form but having them stored in the cloud is a game changer as I’ve always preferred the handwritten medium yet succumbed to typing everything merely for persistence and cloud accessibility. The stylus is small and thus might prove easy to misplace. However the Note remembers the time and date the S-Pen was last removed so you can backtrack where you were when last using it.
Display – The Note’s flowing display is amazing and it makes using the device more pleasurable.
Unlocking the phone – The ability to set locations where the phone stays unlocked, like your house. Very convenient.
Keyboard – The swipe style typing that’s possible is a real time saver. It’s very satisfying to see the long word you were after magically appear after sweeping across the keys with minimal accuracy. Also the long press access to punctuation and special characters is a godsend for and iOS convert.
Location based reminders – This is amazing and something I’ve thought made too much sense not to have. Reminding me to get dog food when I’m near a PetSmart is incredible. Siri tried but was awful at figuring out where the locations I was telling her were. But now that iOS has Google Assistant, you can probably do this on iPhone too.
Things the jury is out on:
Widgets – At first I thought these would be so cool and I was always frustrated that iOS didn’t allow them. After playing around with them and trying to get my widget screens just right, I’m not convinced. The info they provide is ok but opening the app is just as easy and provides the full experience. Also I wish Android had some design standard for these widgets. They all look different and have different sizes and shapes and by the time the widget screen is compiled it looks like some type of pieced together frankenstein screen which drives me crazy.
Bottom line: Early impressions
iOS is a bit more polished and attention is spent on a lot of the micro-interactions you engage in daily. There’s less friction when using the device. Android has some really nice usability additions that are helpful in the context of your daily routines outside of the phone. It alerted me to a major traffic accident I was approaching even though I was not in any active navigation route. Calendar reminders include traffic information and they let you know when you should leave to arrive on time. Google assistant is awesome, but now you can get that on iOS.
I’m still learning and experimenting with the device so we’ll see how it goes over the next few weeks. I’m certain many of my misgivings are due to being a novice on the platform. I’ll have a follow up after a month of using the Note. Stay tuned!