Results of A Month of Android

A month ago, I decided to switch from my iOS devices to Android devices for a month and see how it went. I turned off my iPhone and iPad and turned on a Nexus 5 and Nexus 7.

I enjoyed the Nexus / Android a lot.

But I couldn’t decide if I liked it better than the iOS experience. It was different in some ways and the same in others.

So yesterday after my digital sabbath was over I turned off my Nexus devices and turned on my iOS devices. I figured the only way I’d be able to really decided which I liked better was to switch back and decide how I felt after a few days.

The meta of the experience is that they are both great devices. Every app I used regularly on my iPhone existed for the Nexus. I found a few new things on the Nexus that I wasn’t using on my iPhone. And I started using my Nexus differently in a few ways, although I expect that behavior will carry back to my iPhone.

So – the experiment was completely and totally inconclusive for me.

  • T .S Vineet Devaiah

    Thanks for not starting a fanboy war 🙂

  • I recently switched from iPhone & iPad to nexus 5 & 7 as well.

    I agree they have their strengths and weaknesses. What’s striking to me, though, is that the android devices are half the price! Now that carriers are starting to offer rate plans without the distortion of device subsidies, it should become more clear to people that the true cost of the iOS path is much higher.

    The biggest feature I can’t live without from the android world is the ease with which any app can hand content or links off to any other app. iOS has this in a limited way, but with android its wide open and much more efficient as a result.

  • Thomas Cocirta

    i switched iphone for nexus 4 one year ago and will never go back to iphone. I will also try to throw away ipad. Tablets are not necessary when you have a thin, light, long battery life, W8 touchscreen laptop and a good smartphone.

  • @FakeBradFeld

    You must own a lot of Apple stock, that’s the only real explanation, so just say it and be transparent.

  • Mike Landis

    the size is a big deal for me. going back, iphone was too small after getting used to nexus 5 for me. If the next phone is 5 inches like rumored to be, then i might go back to the iphone.

    • I like the smaller phone. I keep it in my front pocket and the Nexus 5 is just a little too big.

  • I haven’t switched cold turkey but I’ve been playing with a Moto X and Nexus 7 and while they are really impressive, I feel like the experience and quality is less than that of the iOS devices. Setting up the Android devices takes longer, especially the second device. There aren’t as many popular third-party apps, and the quality of the ones they have is lower. I guess it’s just a subjection opinion, but I think that iOS has a better UI that’s more consistent and easy to use.

    I’m glad that there is an alternative to iOS and I’m going to keep playing with Android and hope that it gets better. Right now, I want to keep my iPhone though!

  • I did the same exercise last year. I much preferred my iPad as a tablet and returned the Nexus 7, but stuck with Android on my phone for about 9 months. As soon as the iPhone 5s came out, I happily paid to break my contract and go back. While there were a few nice features in Android, overall I preferred the apps in Apple’s ecosystem and many of the advantages of Android started to disappear with iOS 7 for me.

  • David Parker

    I think one conclusion you came to was the fact that at least Android isn’t as bad as a lot of people like to believe it is. Historically, Android had a lot of problems- most of which I think were addressed over time and particularly with now with the Nexus 5, so it’s good to see they’ve made a lot of progress.

  • Remember, you “wear” your phone. For most people, the issue of what phone/device to use is more dependent on what community they want to signal their association with. Beats head phones are a great example of this.

    • Beats is a GREAT example. I’ve long described the mobile phone as an “organ” and with all the wearable tech, it’s becoming more and more of one every day.

  • One thing that you uncovered is you can, pretty much, switch back and forth at will. That was almost unheard of in the comptuer world just 5-7 years ago. Linux wasn’t up to par on the desktop. Also windows and mac people were on two different planets!

    • Although now that I’m a Mac user I get utterly confused everytime I’m in front of a Windows 8 machine.

  • What you describe was similar to my exact experience with switching to Android three years ago. Even then – it was a coin flip for me. I think the relative similarity in quality of the two biggest mobile OSs / device experiences is great. After 10 years of compulsively shopping around mobile devices and switching once every 1.5 years max (Treo >> Blackberry >> iPhone >> Android phone >> iPhone 4s) I now feel like I can skip generations on mobile and the impact is negligible. Breakage and deterioration of battery is now what nudges me towards upgrades.

    • Yeah – I feel like the innovation vector here has changed from straight up to something slower / less torrid.

  • I did this last month too since I wanted to know “what was I missing” on Android, given all the hubbub. And indeed, the first week or so, it was delight and I do like the bigger screen. BUT, I ended up back on the iPhone. Maybe it has something to do with “what you are born with”, meaning if you start with iPhone, it is more your inclination. If you start with Android device, you are biased this way.

    Agree with your assessment – and what I finally concluded with was that I preferred the “less is more” feeling on iPhone. Not that iPhone is less, but the UX seems to feel less/simpler/smoother to me. But alas… maybe it was just that I was “born” with iPhone… Both are killer engineering phenomenons.

    • TyDanco

      I switched at the end of the year as well, going to the Nexus 5. I’m sticking with it, but preferred my messaging with Apple, as well as the Contacts section for finding phone calls.

      However, the big thing for me is the ease of going full Google, from Chromecasting to Google Now. The icing on the cake–being able to access Bitcoin apps, which as far as I can see are all banned on Apple.

    • The “born” dynamic makes sense. After one day with iOS, I felt “back home” – really comfortable. Some of the Android awkwardness was gone, but I can certainly see how it could just be iOS awkwardness to an Android user.

    • T.J. Cook

      I experienced this same awkwardness when switching from Windows to Mac about 5 years ago. I missed all my keyboard shortcuts, all those little undocumented novelties. But I found my new home.

      Part of me thinks a true test would be more like 6 months because of how much we build into our “home” experience without knowing it.

      • I think you are right on the six months.

  • kermit64113

    Brad, I like the inconclusive conclusion. Did you have a take on Siri? Or Maps/ Navigation? On music?

    On the topic of navigation, has anyone else noticed that Google Maps really took a step up over the past few months? I was in DC and Google Maps routed me around traffic issues (unfortunately into another traffic jam but although slower probably prevented me from missing my flt) and also reported accidents to me that came through Waze users. I am waiting for a Google Maps version for high risk insurance drivers that takes me through less accident prone areas of Dallas. – Jim Patterson

    • Maps / Nav was mixed. I had some weird UX issues, but I occasionally have them on iOS also. The problem is likely me – I can’t read maps at all and don’t know North from South. So anything to do with a map or directions is a nightmare for me.

      I liked the Google voice recognition at first but then found myself rarely using it. Ultimately it was a similar experience for me to Siri.

  • Interesting conclusion! As if you were more Android positive in the first half, like Android was 1-0, then the second half iPhone tied to the game to 1-1.

    • After one day of being back on iOS, I feel like I’m “back home.” So – another point for iOS.

  • What about voice recognition? Notice any difference?

    • Google was better. But not good enough where I started to rely on it.

  • T.J. Cook

    The keyboard experience is what drives me back to iOS more often than not. The subtle lag of the Android keyboard, as well as that easy-to-mistouch navbar aligned on the bottom are enough to make me think twice about creating any content on my Nexus 7. I reach for my iPhone before the Nexus even though the latter has more real estate on which to type.

  • Howard Kaplin

    Great stuff Brad! When I saw your original post, I decided to go along w/you. Pulled out my unused Note 2 (the size has never bothered me). My test lasted 8 days! Lol! To boot, I made the attempt at doing it again with Windows Phone with some of their newer apps. Result…6 days! Lol!!!

    My short version assumption…the extent of what I do from my phone is not so complex. With that, what Apple and iOS does very well is keep things very clean and simple. BAM! Job done!

    I do like both Android and Windows Phone for different reasons, and truthfully feel Windows. Phone is a much closer alternative for me than Android. However…

    In the end, I went back to iOS mainly due to the “cleanness” and ease of use.

    Thanks for inspiring me to take the test! 🙂

  • I did the same experiment last December. In fact this was my 3rd iOS-sabbatical; first with the Google G1 in 2008, then with the original Nexus One, and now with the Nexus 5.

    I noticed an interesting pattern over the three experiments. The first time it was a horrible experience. I tried to stick with my 30 days self-imposed deadline, but couldn’t even get to the second week. Lack of responsiveness, no apps, rough experience.

    The Nexus One was already better. I finally made to the 30 days, but towards the end I was dying to get back to iOS. Sub-par experience, apps missing or not as polished as iOS counterparts, buggy calendar, reboots.

    The experience with the Nexus 5 was the first time I made to the 30 days without much pain. At the end I again decided to go back, but the experiment was inconclusive for me as well. I enjoyed the bigger screen, but missed the then just launched Touch ID. Google Now integration is great, but lacks a decent podcast app. And while Android quick settings panel is good, iOS still has a better brightness control.

    Bottom line: for the first time, my experience was also inconclusive.