I switched from Apple iOS to Google Android and hated it
Android tends to beat iOS in reviews of customization, app selection, and cloud integration. After five years with an iPhone, I decided to give Android a try and buy a Google Pixel. A year later, I wish I hadn’t changed.
Every time my brother downloaded a new song or app it would show up on my iPhone. And every time we got an iOS update, I started getting his text messages. We have tried everything, but the problem has not gone away.
At the same time, I had heard praise for the professional-grade Google Pixel camera. Numerous technical evaluators had also praised Android’s superiority over iOS for qualities such as personalization, cloud services, and app selection.
Of course, the iPhone X had been the world’s most popular smartphone in the first quarter of 2018, but popular didn’t necessarily mean better, did it?
So after five years with an iPhone, I decided to give the Google Pixel a try.
If you choose not to customize your Pixel, you’ll notice that its user experience is almost identical to that of the iPhone. Both smartphones sport a grid layout with rounded icons in bright colors. Getting used to the new system didn’t take longer than getting used to the dashboard and brakes of a new car.
Where the Pixel in particular and androids in general excel is in their vast capacity for customization.
Android software is based on an open source platform, which gives developers the power to build apps that can do more. The potential for personalization is fundamentally limitless.
In theory, it’s great. Tired of opening the calculator when you wanted to open the clock? Download a new family of icons. Play around with widgets so they’re always where you want them. Explore hundreds of themes on Google Play. If you’re feeling cheeky, you can even give your Pixel an Apple interface.
In reality, however, the only thing I’ve bothered to change is my wallpaper. Turns out, just because you can download a third-party app to personalize your phone doesn’t mean you want it. Storage is limited and not all third-party apps can be trusted. And to be honest, there are many themes, such as 3D Ice Wolf and Pink paris, look garish and bring back bad MySpace memories.
Privacy and Security
Although I was never afraid of viruses with iOS, using Android reminds me of surfing the web in the early 2000s. I often had to quit apps like a maniac while pop-ups flooded my screen.
Over 80% of hackers target Android users, while less than 4% target iOS users, as reported in Nokia’s Mobile Threat Intelligence report. Compared to iOS, Android’s open source platform would be easier to hack.
Security and privacy go hand in hand, especially considering the amount of sensitive data we make available on your phone, sometimes unintentionally.
If I had fully understood Google’s approach to protecting user privacy, I probably would never have changed.
It struck me earlier this year when an Ars Technica report revealed that Facebook has collected text data and user call history through its Messenger app. While users technically agree to participate, details of what Facebook was allowed to collect were hidden in the fine print. This privacy breach only affected Android users.
Apple distances itself from user information through its “Differential confidentiality“policy. Depending on the policy, the company can add” statistical noise “to any data it collects so that personal information cannot be traced back to the individual user.
Google also uses a form of differential confidentiality, but with a “heavy duty” approach to the data collection that has attracted criticism in opinion pieces like this by Fortune University of Pennsylvania communications professor Joseph Turow.
Although Google complaints this data collection improves the Pixel’s user experience, I found the personalized suggestions and reminders to be more frightening than helpful.
If you upgrade to the Google Pixel, expect to lose some of the standard amenities on most phones.
What I missed the most is the ability to copy and paste from a text message. Google recently fixed this problem, but at the time it was very painful, especially when people were sending addresses. You really get used to being able to just click on an address and have it show up in your maps app.
I also missed being able to set my music on a sleep timer without having to install a new app. Even my Samsung juke had this feature, and it was as wide as my thumb.
In theory, you could find many of these features on the google play shop. But the effort of finding something and checking its quality never seems worth it.
In the end, I wish I hadn’t changed. I am not a coder. I am not a big player. I’m not even inclined to change my font or background. For this reason, the freedom to customize just doesn’t trump the issues I’ve described. While the experience wasn’t bad enough to get me fumbling for my old Juke, I certainly won’t go for a Pixel the next time I’m in the market for a phone.
This story has been updated since its original publication.