Recently I borrowed a Moto X from a co-worker to get a better understanding of this whole Android thing. Over the years as an Apple employee, I’d, with some regularity, have customers try to have me explain to them why I felt that Android was terrible and they should be using iOS only. Or they’d tell me why iOS was terrible and everyone should be using Android. I never did that for two reasons: I’d never actually used an Android device beyond a few minutes of use on a borrowed device and I’d just flat out tell people, “Use whatever you want. There is enough room in the world for everybody,”
Conversely, during that same time I saw a lot of people engage in what I had presumed to be hyperbole about both operating systems.
This was my first time being able to get a feel for things. And for those of you who understand that the Moto X is a ~3 year old example of Android and therefore may not be the best representative, my phone, at this time, was an iPhone 5. And my conclusions?
They’re both pretty similar.
There are some fundamental differences between the two’s software. The hardware seemed to be about the same as far as performance goes. I hated the Android keyboard and all of the recommended keyboard replacements. I loved the way that it handles notifications. The screen displaying a minimalist clock and icons for notifications as soon as the phone was disturbed from rest was great. The phone being able to figure out that it had updates to do seemed clunky.
I discovered in the phone’s settings that I could pair a Bluetooth mouse. During my time on the front lines for Apple, on occasion, I’d hear a customer bemoan that you can’t use a mouse with an iPad (and once I heard with a iPhone) and I couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to use a device developed from the ground up for touch for use with a mouse, except for maybe accessibility reasons. So, I paired a mouse to this little Moto X and still couldn’t figure out why anyone would want that. But it was a neat trick, and I’m sure it’s helping someone else out.
The phone linked up to my email account just as easily as my iPhone 5 did. However, it doesn’t natively support WebDAV, which I found to be a strange omission for an operating system that touts being “open” and based on standards. So, my calendars and contacts didn’t make their way to the phone.
Most applications that I regularly use on my iPhone, I could find counterparts or substitutions on the Google Play Store. The idea of being “trapped” in one of the operating system’s ecosystems doesn’t seem to be true. The calendars and contacts I could have got to a Google account and been fine, or exported them as vCards and then into somewhere on the phone. The apps were easy to find or find replacements. Even 1Password has an Android application. Would it require work for me to move everything over wholesale? Sure, but nothing that I couldn’t do in an afternoon.
The short of this is: at the end of the day I am very comfortable with iOS and all things being equal, I’d stick with it. But if I only had Android to use? That’d be fine. Although I feel that with Apple, putting their legal fees where their mouth is, I trust more on security than their competitors. If I had a Android device as my primary device, I’d want one that I could run CyanogenMod or some other version of Android that is security and privacy focused.