Ever since I switched to Android (for my phone) I’ve kept just half an eye on what goes on in the iPhone world, and when the new iPad turned out to not be an upgrade over the iPad 2 in all aspects of the device, my interest in iOS fell even more. Despite that, I do pay attention to what is announced, like the sixth iPhone, the iPhone 5 (gonna keep pointing out this mathematical error until the day I die).
People are saying that the new iPhone isn’t innovative, as if that’s somehow a negative thing. I treasure the fact that we’re now in a phase of mobile devices where generational differences aren’t night and day, as it means that the life span of a single device is longer. I think the iPhone 5 does a lot of things right, and I agree with adding screen size vertically to still make it easy to use with one hand. The screen resolution is decent, I assume the screen itself isn’t bad, and the size and material choices are added bonuses.
Yet, there is no way I’m switching back to an iPhone at this point, and even my iPad 2 – which I have no option but to keep using due to the apps I use for studying – is seriously getting on my nerves.
The reason was part of the joke video I posted when the iPhone 5 was announced. No matter how much I try to tell myself that Windows Phone and iOS are proper OSes, I can’t shake the feeling that they both make for some ridiculously stupid devices. Every time I use my iPad, it feels like I’ve been handed an awl to do the work of a power drill, even though there are apps on the iPad I can’t get on Android. It didn’t use to be like this. I used to think – and still do, really – that you could get iOS to do some pretty amazing things if you just knew how. That’s still true, and I believe that a proficient iOS user is getting a heck of a lot more out of it than the average Android user is getting out of his/her device. What I failed to realize was what would happen if you took that same proficiency and willingness to find unusual solutions and apply it to Android.
There are a few apps in particular I’m referring to for my own sake. While apps like Mobile ODIN and Titanium Backup are awesome to have in your toolbox, they’re not what keeps me on Android. The apps that keep me on Android are Dolphin, Tasker (and its plugins), Unlock With WiFi, and Dropsync. More than any other apps, those four are the ones I find myself missing when I’m using my iPad.
Dolphin’s place on that list is actually not because of the app itself, but rather because of the plugins. Cmarks puts my bookmarks in Dolphin, and LastPass handles my logins. Without them, using the browser is a borderline pointless experience, where I don’t know where to go or how to log in when I get there.
This site doesn’t lack examples of why Tasker is on my list. More than any other app, this is the one I couldn’t live without. And yet I did, less than a year ago. Then again, my phone was mostly a clock back then, which it isn’t now. Tasker is the true brain of my phone, handling all the things that makes my phone useful. Special settings for home, outside, school, sleep, the movie theatre, and so on. Multiple different todo lists that trigger on things no GPS based todo list system can replicate. Custom quick access settings panels both for standard settings and things like turning off my PC monitors, or checking local webcams to see the weather outside when I’m in an “underground” lecture hall. If I never touch my phone for an entire day, just keep it with me, Tasker will still have done more for me automatically than I could ever do manually with an iPhone.
I actually get annoyed that my phone is displaying email notifications while I’m using my iPad, because I feel like the phone should know that I’m on my iPad and that the iPad will notify me instead. That probably sounds absurd to some, but it’s something that would have taken me 3 minutes to set up if the iPad had been running Android. I have a set of expectations now that most people don’t have, because I’m used to a higher level of awareness among my devices than what most people think is even possible.
Unlock With WiFi turns off my pattern lock at home. Invaluable, as it annoys me to no end having to type a pin on the iPad in a situation where it doesn’t need to be secured. The technology is as simple as creating a bridge between connected WiFi network and security status, and yet, it’s not possible on iOS. This is prime example of what I mean by it being stupid.
Finally, Dropsync. It sits in the background and syncs all sorts of data to my Dropbox, all automatically. Not just photos, or even screenshots, but game saves, text files, backup files, and so on. I can’t even count how many times I’ve taken screenshots on my iPad, locked the screen, put it down, and then wondered why on Earth the images weren’t on my computer already – because that’s how my Android devices work. Once you’re used to something fixing itself, going back to a system where it’s a manual task just seems so beyond pointless. Imagine if you had to go back to starting your car with a hand crank. That’s about how it feels like using a device without Dropsync.
All of these are third party apps, and I don’t have many good things to say about the official side of Android since 2.3. However these are also apps that can’t work on other OSes, due to limitations placed there by the makers.
I look at the new iPad and the iPhone 5, and I see two nice looking devices with a solid operating system that’s perfect for average consumers, backed up by an app eco-system that I truly wish was available on Android. Two devices I would have drooled over for hours 10 months ago. Now I have a hard time seeing (for my own use that is) the iPhone 5 as any different than a Nokia 3310: Great if you want to do certain things, but too stupid to do what I need these days.
Once upon a time, having email on my phone was enough. Then came Android, and now I’m not happy unless the email notification is automatically situation-based, and gives me the ability to open the email on my computer from my phone.