Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Android Oreo Review: An iOS User’s Review

Matt Birchler:

Android has grown up considerably over the last decade. It’s no longer a complete disaster of a user experience, and some elements have actually surpassed what Apple is doing with iOS. Notifications are much better than they are on iOS and Google Assistant is more accurate and more helpful than Siri. That said, there are a million little (and not so little) things that truly make Android a sub-par experience for me. Your mileage may vary, but the abysmal third party software available for the platform, poor inter-app communication, and countless stability issues make Android a place I only want to visit for a month or two per year, not something I can see myself using full time.

Matt Birchler:

As a general rule, there tends to be an app that does everything on Android, but typically only one good one. Podcasts are a good example of this. I use Pocket Casts for my podcast needs, as does just about every other serious podcast listener on Android because there simply aren’t any good alternatives. On m iPhone, I’m constantly switching between Pocket Casts, Overcast, Castro, and even Apple’s Podcasts app as they each are special in their own ways. The same is true of some other categories as well, and it’s just frustrating to have to go with one app because that’s “the good one” and not have a library of alternatives nipping at the current leader’s heels.

And then there are some app categories where there simply aren’t any really good options. One answer I get to these are “just use the Google app” which is note great, and the other answer is that I don’t really need a fancy app to do XYZ, and I should be happy with the barebones options available to me. Neither of these answers are particularly appealing.

Matt Birchler:

In day to day use, Android on the Pixel 2 does not feel much slower than the iPhone 8. Apps launch quickly on the Pixel, sometimes even faster than they do on the iPhone. Part of this is due to the shorter animations on Android, but other times it is just that the Pixel is just as fast or faster than the iPhone. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to say this before, but apps actually tend to launch a tiny bit quicker on Android than they do on iOS.

Once you get into apps, the experience changes a bit. While iOS takes milliseconds longer on average to load apps, once you’re in apps everything seems to go in iOS’s favor. First is general performance things like scrolling, which holds steady at what appears to be 60fps much more often than Android. Scrolling through lists or websites is where this is more noticeable, as Android has a slightly harsher feeling to moving around pages. It’s not bad by any means, and may be a preference thing, but i just feel more like I’m directly manipulating content on iOS than I do on Android.

JR Raphael:

It seems like a funny thing to say, but when you look back at Android’s history, you realize how many once-transformative-sounding features ended up fizzling and being forgotten soon after their grand debuts. Some remain buried in the software while others quietly vanished after a period of inertia, but they all share the fact that they’re nowhere near the center-stage-worthy elements they once appeared to be.

So grab some popcorn and get ready for a nostalgia-filled journey — one bound to be filled with more than a few “oh, right, what ever happened to that?!” reactions.

Update (2017-12-07): Thom Holwerda:

A week with iPhone X, from a former Android user:

- holy shit this thing feels nice and expensive
- holy shit this thing is fast
- holy shit these gestures and animations and interactions are fluid
- holy shit this screen is goddamn good
- True Tone is bae

Flip side:

- inter-app communication like deep linking is still shit
- SpringBoard is literally less advanced and less useful than the PalmOS launcher
- apps are not nearly as pretty as Material apps on Android
- why can I still not set my own default apps

Update (2017-12-08): Matt Birchler:

One of the things you’ll notice every time you use AirPods on Android is that they don’t turn themselves on the same way as they do on iOS/macOS. When using AirPods with an iPhone, AirPods will turn “on” and iOS will start routing your audio to them when you put them in your ear. Android does not get the ear detection magic that iOS does. Instead, your AirPods will turn on and connect to your phone the moment you take both of them out of the case. Losing ear detection also means that your audio will not pause when you take an AirPod out of your ear, you will need to put them in the case for them to disconnect.

Update (2017-12-13): Matt Birchler:

Honestly, if I could run all of my iOS apps on the Android operating system I think I’d feel a lot better about Android. It’s a lack of consistent quality software on the platform that really drives me away. The vast difference in quality software from non-Google companies is just depressing for someone coming from the iOS world. Websites like MacStories exist almost completely to talk about third party apps on iOS, and there is enough new and exciting software coming out on a regular basis that they can make a business of it. You simply don’t have that on the Android side, as Android-centric sites instead focus mostly on hardware, sales, and what updates Google themselves are making. In the past 2 months with the Pixel 2, the only “exciting” app releases have been AR Stickers for the Pixel 2 camera app and a new file management app made by Google.

Update (2018-01-22): See also: The iPhone is Dead.

Update (2018-02-20): Scott:

I feel like switching from iOS to Android right now is equally impactful to when I switched from Windows to Mac in 2004.

I remember the sense of amazement at how much better OS X was despite a lifetime of Windows use. I feel that again using Android. It’s just so far ahead.

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