Unthinkable: How Apple lured me back…

It’s no secret that I’m a technology enthusiast; a gadget geek, through-and-through. For the past few years, I’ve been a huge proponent of Android, and–while not exactly bashing Apple–I haven’t been the biggest fan of iOS for quite some time. But the wind started blowing in the opposite direction recently, first with the introduction of iOS 8 (arguably the biggest update to iOS ever), and then with the introduction of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. With these two products, Apple has addressed my biggest lingering issues, and drawn me back into the fold. I am now an iPhone 6 owner.

Phone History

For the past decade, I’ve upgraded my phone on average once per year. I’ve had smartphones and PDAs since the very beginning of their existence. However, it took some time before I bought my first iPhone. The original iPhone was released on June 29th, 2007, but it took until June 19th, 2009–two years later–before I bought an iPhone, with the release of the iPhone 3GS. But it was actually iOS itself that finally had enough of the features I was looking for at the time that prompted me to upgrade.

Since then, I’ve had:

[checklist]
  • iPhone 3GS (iOS)
  • Motorola Droid X (Android)
  • iPhone 4 (iOS)
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus (Android)
  • Samsung Galaxy S III (Android)
  • Motorola Moto X (Android)
  • HTC One (M8) (Android)
[/checklist]

There was a bit of flip-flopping until Android really matured, and began providing functionality Apple users could only dream of. Even now, Android still has a lot of capabilities that iOS lacks, purely based on its open nature. However, the things that matter most (to me, anyway) are finally available with the launch of iOS 8, and the iPhone 6.

How I Use Android

Though Android offers a multitude of home-screen options, I don’t use a whole lot; I limit my phone to 3 home-screens, and use them like so:

Primary Homescreen

Primary Homescreen

Weather Widget

  • One of the few widgets I use, the weather widget includes the time and date, along with location-based current weather.
  • Tapping the hour on the clock launches my alarm app, and tapping the weather icon launches the weather app.

Speed Dial Folders

  • I use these for my one-touch dialing of frequent numbers.

Dock folders

  • I have several apps that I use for communication, as well as news, etc. I keep these app shortcuts in the dock folders.

App shortcuts

  • My most frequently-used apps have their icons on the home-screen.
Left Homescreen

Left Homescreen

TelsaLED widget

  • Turns on my camera flash to act as a flashlight

My Verizon Widget

  • To show how much data I have remaining

Toggle Google Voice widget

  • I rarely use this, so it’s not really that necessary.

Other app shortcuts

  • Some other apps that I use frequently, but not as much as those on my primary home-screen.
Right Homescreen

Right Homescreen

ToDoist Widget

  • My task list. Mostly I use this for adding new tasks.

OneNote Widget

  • Mostly used for adding new items to OneNote.

Many of the uses I have for my home-screens will not be available in iOS. However, none of them are deal-breakers, and with the improvements in iOS 8, it’s only a matter of time before developers find ways to provide similar functionality with iOS’ new tools.

Addressing my Issues

With the release of iOS 8 and the iPhone 6, Apple has addressed most of my outstanding issues, and lured me back to the iPhone. Below are some of the improvements they’ve made that have brought me back:

 

Actionable notifications

  • This is actually better than Android now, as I can delete or archive email directly from the on-screen notifications, or even the lock screen itself.
  • I can also reply to text messages without ever leaving the screen I’m looking at.

Email swipe actions

  • Though Android had this feature, Apple’s email app introduces new swipe actions that let you do more with your email, quicker.

iMessage gets faster

  • Now I can respond with audio or video much faster with iOS 8. Granted, many of these features are rip-offs from other messaging services, the fact they’re baked right in make these features much easier to use–and potentially more useful.

Favorite and Frequent Contacts

  • With a quick double-tap of the home button, I can access my favorite and recent contacts to call or message them. This handily replaces my one-touch dials from the Android home-screen.

3rd-party Keyboard support

  • At last, iOS users can install a 3rd-party keyboard. I can’t begin to describe how difference a new keyboard can make. Of course, Apple has improved the default keyboard in iOS 8, but the idea of being able to Swype on an iPhone makes a world of difference. This is something users of Android have been able to do for years.

Family Sharing

  • Not a feature I expect to use all that much, but the idea that Jenny and I can now share app purchases, and much more is a nice addition. This is something Google needs to get going on Android yesterday.

Continuity

  • Not specific to just iOS 8, but also to the upcoming release of OS X dubbed Yosemite, this feature allows you to answer calls to your phone on an iPad, or a Mac computer, and use them as the phone. The call is still routed through your iPhone, but the convenience is quite remarkable. It also allows for seamless hand-off of emails, web browsing, maps, and even document editing.
  • I’ve actually tested this with my iPad, and was able to start an email on my iPad, finish writing it on the PC, and send via the iPad without missing a beat. This is going to be an awesome feature, and something that I couldn’t do with Android (yet, anyway).

Larger screen

  • This was something that Apple needed to do long ago, and finally came to the realization about. The larger screen on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will sell a LOT of iPhones (and in fact, already has.)
  • For me, the 4.7″ screen seems to be the “just right” size, as it’s not too big or too small. The larger screen should also help improve typing with the on-screen keyboard.

All-metal back

  • I was never a huge fan of the glass back of the iPhone 4/4S, or the glass panels on the 5/5S, but the iPhone 6 finally introduces an all-metal back for the first time. The original iPhone actually had a mostly-metal back, with the exception of a large black plastic section where the antenna resided. The iPhone 6 finally brings the design element I always wanted to the iPhone.

Curved-edge design

  • Similarly to the original iPhone, and the iPad Mini (and now the iPad Air) the iPhone 6 finally has curved-edges, which provide a seamless look to the device. Ditching the flat and squared-off edges of the iPhone 4, 4S, 5, and 5S, the iPhone 6 finally looks the way I’ve always wanted the iPhone to look.

Apple Pay

  • One of the most intriguing new features of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is Apple Pay. I’ve attempted to utilize mobile payments from Android devices, but never had much success, mostly due to compatibility, and configuration issues. Hopefully Apple Pay will allow this feature to become more useful in the real-world. Time will tell with this one, I’m sure.

Ultimately, I may find myself switching back to Android in another year, or I may be back with Apple for some time. Those that know me are aware that I’m rather fickle when it comes to technology, but that’s mostly because it changes to quickly. My opinions can change from one day to the next, depending on my experiences. One thing is always certain though: I’ll certainly have an opinion, one way or the other.