An Android User’s Take on the iPhone

I started using Android with the original Motorola Droid back in 2009, and I’ve been a hardcore Android user ever since. Four months ago, I got an iPhone 8 and have been using it alongside my main Android phone. This is an Android user’s take on using the iPhone.

While this isn’t my first experience with iOS, it is my first time using an iPhone in any real capacity. Prior to this, I had an iPad Mini for a couple of years (that I really liked), and an iPhone 5S that was only used for testing—it never even had a SIM card in it.

But for the last four months, I’ve carried the iPhone 8 and whatever Android phone I was using at the time (mostly the Pixel 2 XL) and used them side by side. If fact, the iPhone has been my most consistently carried phone over the last four months—I’ve changed Android phones a handful of times since then for different reasons. As such, I’ve collected some thoughts on the iPhone 8, and iOS as a whole.

What iOS Gets “Right”

Saying “right” is, of course, subjective. Especially since it heavily depends on what you’re used to. But having used both platforms (Android and iOS) fairly heavily now, there are some things that iOS inherently just gets right where Android continues to struggle.

The Keyboard

If someone asked me what my favorite feature of iOS is, it would easily be the keyboard. To this day, Google still hasn’t been able to replicate what Apple has done with the iOS keyboard. The typing experience on iPhone is second to none.

The keyboard layout, on the other hand, could use a bit of work—the comma really should be a part of the main keyboard interface. Having to tap to a secondary screen to get to the comma is just annoying.

But otherwise, I really love this keyboard. In fact, I found myself reaching for the iPhone over my Android phone when having lengthy conversations on mobile over chat. I was able to bang out my thoughts with far fewer errors than I could ever do on Android. And the auto-correct is generally very good on iOS, too, which helps a lot.

Touch ID

I’m firmly rooted in the “fingerprint readers belong on the back of phones” camp, but I will say this: Touch ID on the iPhone is great. The location is a little dodgy at first, but after getting used to it, it’s not too bad. I still prefer fingerprint readers on the back of the phone, but Touch ID works so well I don’t mind the location.

Too bad they’re going to ditch it for Face ID in future version of the iPhone, heh.

Apple Pay

I’m a big fan of contactless payments, and Apple nailed it with Apple Pay. My favorite thing about it is the Touch ID requirement—even though that’s more of a faux safety feature than anything else. I like that it feels more secure, even though it’s really not (compared to Google Pay on Android, that is). Direct access to Apple Pay from the lock screen is a nice touch, too.

3D Touch

I feel like 3D Touch is one of the most truly innovative things Apple has done in recent years, and something that Android still hasn’t been able to match. The additional functionality available by simply pressing harder on the screen is brilliant. Easily one of my favorite features on iOS.

Where iOS Seems to Fall Short

If there are things that iOS does well, there are also things where it could use some work. If you’ve never used anything aside from iOS, then these things may not bother you. But when you have some experience with both platforms, there are certain things in iOS that are kind of annoying.

Notifications

Look, Android’s notification system is the best—that’s just how it is. While the iOS notification system has seemingly gotten better over the last few years, it’s still behind Android.

The Notification Center isn’t awful by any means, but that’s also not my issue with notifications on iOS. It’s the fact that there are like half a dozen notification options and badges are exceptionally annoying. I wouldn’t mind this at all if there was a way to just disable all badges with one toggle, but who wants to turn them all off individually? Not this guy.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the badge were cleared with the notification in the Center, but c’mon—leaving the badges all the time? That’s just dumb.

Siri

Coming from Android, I rely on the Google Assistant for…a lot of things. Questions, voice controls, smarthome control, and a lot more. Trying to use Siri to do most of those things is laughable at best and infuriating at worst—Siri is almost useless.

And while Google Assistant is available on iOS, it’s just not the same. There’s no hotword detection, which is how I invoke the Assistant 95 percent of the time, so it ends up being slower and more hassle. I would absolutely hate using an iPhone as my only phone for this reason alone—Siri is just awful.

CarPlay

Compared to Android Auto, Carplay is pretty…not good. A lot of this has to do with how useless Siri is, but also Apple Maps. And the music aspect. And almost everything else. If CarPlay is all you have access to, then yeah—it’s good (better than nothing, anyway).

But when compared directly to Android Auto, there’s no contest. Auto is worlds apart. The navigation is better, the voice controls are nicer, and the way it handles notifications is superior. It’s just an all around better system.

The Sharing System

In Android, I can share something from nearly any source to any app with two or three taps. That same thing takes more taps than I care to count on iOS—and that’s if it’s even possible at all. Sharing on iOS needs a lot of work.

It feels like the entire system needs a modern revamp, but instead of rebuilding it to make more sense, Apple just starting trying to stack features into it that don’t make a lot of sense—it’s a very Microsoft way of doing things, and not something I generally expect from Apple.

All That Said, I Really Learned One Thing in the End

I had a few epiphanies while using both Android and iOS, but one stands out above the rest:

It’s all about the apps.

This is the core of any mobile experience at this point, and that’s where the majority of your usage is going to be. And when it comes down to it, switching between platforms is almost seamless, because the app experiences are generally at parity.

If I grab my phone to look at Twitter, I can do it from either Android or iOS and have a very similar experience. Same goes for Facebook, Instagram, and pretty much any of the other apps I use on a daily basis. They’re all on both platforms, and they all feel very, very similar to each other.

What makes Android and iOS different at this point are the refinements in each. 3D Touch on iOS is one great example of a refinement that improves the experience in a truly meaningful way. The same can be said about certain things on Android—like the Pixel 2’s always-on display. This is an incredibly valuable feature to me that iOS simply lacks.

In the end, I’m happy to have the opportunity to carry and use both phones every day. I’ve always been (and will continue to be) a die-hard Android fan, but using the iPhone 8 has really opened my eyes to why people like this platform so much. I have a new respect and appreciation for what Apple does in the mobile scene, and for that, I’m thankful.

Cameron Summerson is a die-hard Android fan, Chicago Bulls fanatic, metalhead, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at HTG, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, spinning legs on the bike, chugging away on the 6-string, or being disappointed in the Bulls.