A possible Apple Fanboy
While I don’t think of myself as an Apple Fanboy, I can’t deny that at a minimum, I come very close.
I’ve lined up at Apple stores for a few launches of new products, starting with the iPhone 3G. Since 2008 I purchased at least 10 iPhone/iPod Touches, multiple MacBook’s, an iMac, and a few iPad’s here and there. I’ve worn an Apple watch for over a year now. A lot of those were for StickWars development, and I tended to quickly sell the extra/older models. Still though, I had my arms full of Apple products over the past decade.
It was all justified, perhaps?
Back in 2008 when I was shopping for a new higher-end laptop, the newfangled Unibody MacBook was an easy choice as the price fell right around an equally configured Dell, and the Apple had a better build quality. I had never used Mac OS before, but I’d heard good things and figured it would be fine. Turns out it was better than fine. I enjoyed the OS far more than any windows machine I’d ever used, and the MacBook Pro I ended up upgrading to would last me over 5 years of development use.
Switching to the iPhone 3G was an easy choice, and was easily the top choice of phone for a number of years. I later upgraded to an iPhone 4, and when Apple finally made a larger screen sized on the iPhone 6 Plus I picked that baby up and used it for a number of years.
Apple’s stalled innovation
The iPhone 6 Plus came out in Fall 2014, and since then there have been no major changes to software or hardware. The notification system has stayed the same, the configuration menus have been shaken up a bit but generally unchanged, and even as the processing capability grew, the ability to multitask apps has stayed the same.
That is not to say they haven’t done anything. They kicked out 32-bit apps, added fun effects to iMessage, and tried to provide some of the features every Android phone already had by adding breadcrumbs to speed app switching. All of these were free enhancements, but nothing that really changed the interface of the phone, instead stacking more features around the existing UI.
iOS 11, the killer blow
After 3 years I was still quite happy with my iPhone 6 Plus, given the fact that the later phones didn’t really add anything new besides a newer processor, camera, and screen. This was all true until Apple released the hell that is iOS 11 upon the world.
As a UI developer, I take notice of certain things and can qualify them in a specific way, more so than saying “my phone seems slow”. Before iOS 11, my phone was perfectly acceptable, not super fast but rarely lagging enough for me to notice. After iOS 11, almost every single UI related event (keyboard typing, touch, menu navigation) had an additional 300-2000ms worth of latency. And if 2 seconds of latency for a keypress seems insane, yes I thought so to. This post sums up the issue rather well– basically, every single use of the phone is about half a second slower than it was on iOS 10.
I also had battery drain issues– it went from 36 hours of normal usage to 8 hours, but I fixed this by resetting all settings and spending the time re-setting up my iPhone. Yay the hours spent on this.
I wasn’t the only one to notice this, and many others with older devices reporting iOS 11 making their phones nearly unusable.
I understand that an update can get pushed with some problems, so I gave it time, and then some more. After 2 months I realized that no iOS 11 update will ever come out to fix the UI latency issues introduced, and while it will never be publicly admitted by Apple, they likely designed this update as a method of forced retirement of older devices.
But what about the iPhone X?
I wanted to like the first OLED phone that Apple made, the first to try to improve the actual hardware design in over 3 years. But then I saw the release and was astounded. This is 100% a matter of personal taste, but to take a spectacular OLED screen and cut a notch out of it for the purposes of marketing should be a crime. With phones becoming more bezel-free these days, Apple played the game that people who could afford to spend a grand on a phone would want the people standing around them to know they spent a grand on their phone, and a distinctive cut-out from the screen is a great way to do that. But that’s not the reason I want to buy a nice phone, no thanks.
A time for change
I remember researching Android phones years ago and hearing about so many of the basic things which just “don’t work”. Years later, the bulk of those have been smoothed out and Android is a much more solid system than it used to be. With Samsung, Google, and other manufacturers offering great phones at a discount to the iPhone, there are a number of good choices to pick from.
While the display and overall feel of the Samsung Note 8 blew me away, I decided on the Google Pixel 2 XL. The deciding factor was the common theme among reviewers who said something like “the phone is stunning, but the Samsung branded software you can’t uninstall kinda sucks”. No thanks. I remember having a giant folder of iOS apps that I couldn’t remove from my iPhone until a later update, and I didn’t want to go back to that. After all, with the bezel-less phones looking more and more alike these days (unless you cut out a portion of the display for an ugly ass notch), the thing which makes or breaks the phone is the software. And Google does software very well.
I’ve been rocking the Pixel 2 XL for about a week now, and it’s an overwhelmingly better experience. There is not a single software or hardware feature where I find myself missing the way it used to work on my iPhone, and I’ve already gotten so used to some of the better features on Android that I know I won’t be going back to iOS for a long time. The mind blowing improvements come with the combination of the better notification system and the Smart Lock system which keeps your phone unlocked when at your home and/or car. Now I can actually handle 90% of the notifications from the lock screen itself, without having to fingerprint, load an app, and navigate around in order to clear the notification. If you are a heavy Gmail user, you will absolutely love how the notifications work. If you are one of those people who are still happy using Outlook, you may not really notice a big difference.
So as I said at the start, goodbye iOS, hello Android. I’m here to stay, and will recommend to any who ask that they do the same.