Android can regrow hair, get you in shape and save you 15% on your car insurance. Not really.
Here at Android Central everyone has something to say. We have different opinions about politics, business and anything else with a side to pick. But one thing we all have in common is that we use Android instead of iOS. We might have an iPhone for one reason or another, but when you call us an Android phone will ring.
The important thing here isn’t Andrew and Jerry having late night conversations about a flat tax. It’s that a group of people who don’t have a lot in common use Android, and why they use it.
Let’s find out by going around the table.
The first smartphone I owned was an iPhone 3G — I made that jump after having used an iPod Touch for a little while before, and back then it felt like taking a huge leap into the future. The only real Android competition at the time was the T-Mobile G1, which nearly tempted me away. But looking at it as a regular consumer, the clunky hardware had nothing on the iPhone.
When upgrade time rolled around, my 3G was dog slow. The iOS 4 update had made it practically useless, even after factory resetting, uninstalling apps and so on. Plus, I was just becoming bored with iOS, even the shiny new version which (!) actually let you set your own wallpaper!
The iPhone 4 was, and still is, a beautiful phone. But that year I made the switch to an HTC Desire instead — I rationalized it through the fact that I’d save some money compared to the exorbitant amount I was paying O2 every month. (The carrier still had iPhone exclusivity back then.) But really it was more about the Desire looking good, and being different and highly customizable — especially compared to the relatively bland state of i(Phone)OS back then.
Android has become my job since then, but even if it wasn’t, many of those same reasons for switching apply today. I’m typing this on an iPad, which I use regularly. But I still find iOS on a phone to be bland and limiting compared to modern Android.
I can understand why people choose to stick with their iPhone, particularly if they’ve used one for years, but having spent so much time on Android and fully understanding its benefits it makes it so much harder to switch. Simply put, it’s all about the freedom with Android.
I can tweak and change things all I want, and I don’t have to stick to tight restrictions. Now, this started out in the early days as being able to root and ROM my phone or mess around with weird hacks, but the customization of the OS is still useful today. Being able to move icons to whatever grid I want, choose widgets of all kinds, set default apps and share from one app to another with very little constraint. I use my phone how I need to use it.
The second big part of this is having a choice of hardware. Apple makes beautiful stuff, but it isn’t always for me (or plenty of other people). I can pick between several great high-end phones, or if I’m on a budget — or recommending for someone on one — there are dozens of different choices. Different screen sizes, form factors, specs, features and yes software customizations. People mostly gravitate to just a handful of really popular Android phones each year, but having a choice is always preferred for me.
I’m a pretty simple person. Once I find something that I like, I tend to stick with it. My first smartphone was an Android, and I understand how everything works, and where everything I need to access is trying to find. While I’m sure that iOS works fine for plenty of people, I just don’t like it.
I don’t have some crazy reason, but I enjoy being able to customize my phone from time to time, and iOS doesn’t really give me that option. I don’t like the way that things are set up in iOS, and for me, it really is that simple 99% of the time. I don’t want to have to relearn how to use my phone and after many years of Android, I’m just not really interested in relearning how everything works.
Uhm… have you seen my home screen? Do you think iOS can do that when they have no icon packs, no real choice in home screen arrangements, and no widgets (on the home screen)? I’d be positively bored! Actually, that’s not why I went Android over iOS.
Home screen theming wasn’t really on my radar for the first year or two of my Android life. After years of exasperated experience with iTunes, I was loathe to pick up an iPhone, but what really drove my purchase of a Samsung Captivate Glide back on January 30th, 2012 were two things. The first was its physical keyboard, as I’ve always been fond of writing out random musings on my phones (I was on a Samsung Jack before I jumped to Android), and wasn’t keen on touchscreen keyboards at the time.
The second was the ease and cross-platform availability of Google’s content services. Whereas my iTunes library was trapped in my iPod and up to 5 computers with that cumbersome app installed, my Google Play Music library was available on any computer in the world with a current browser and my Google login. Whereas my writings on my Samsung Jack were forever trapped in that phone, Google Drive made all my phone music instantly and easily accessible on all my other devices.
I came for the convenience, stayed for all the customization craziness and cool cutting-edge features I can play with.
Truth be told I used to be quite the Apple fanboy when I was in university. I had my MacBook Pro with an iPhone 4S to match and felt quite trendy with the whole combo. I had a number of friends who owned phones running on Android and continually sung its praises for being open and customizable compared to iOS. I should have listened, but I was admittedly blinded by Apple’s outstanding marketing.
Things changed when I bought my first Android tablet while on vacation. While I initially bought it just to watch Netflix in my hotel room, I was surprised to find how much more I could do on Android. So that was my Android “eureka” moment, that finally opened my eyes to the wide range of Android products and devices, and I’ve never looked back.
Now working for Android Central, I get to look at all sorts of amazing Android phones and accessories and it’s as if I’ve fully converted from the Cult of Apple (though my MacBook Pro still reigns supreme).
Android kind of chose me. I worked for a site that covered all the ecosystems, including Windows Phone, and the sheer volume of Android releases every year had me spending 90% of the year with my main SIM card in an Android phone.
Now that I run an Android site, I’ve come to understand the platform’s nuances, for better or worse. There’s no escaping the fact that Android does a lot of things very well — like notifications and customization — and a few things (updates) quite poorly. And while many apps still find their way to the platform late, or don’t at all, in recent years the app quality delta between it and iOS has largely faded away.
But I still have a choice in what phone gets my SIM card, and when it’s in an Android phone — right now, that’s the HTC U11 — I love the little things, like the superior typing experience using Gboard, or the direct integration with password managers like 1Password or LastPass, or the way you can, on most phones, double-press the power button to enter the camera. I love the intuitive way Moto Display shows notifications — hell, I love the way Android does notifications in general — or the absolute mastery of hardware from Samsung. I love the way LG has taken a chance on the wide-angle camera, and how Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo are desperately trying to make great Android devices accessible to everyone in China. I love that, despite having a presence on iOS, Google’s services feel so native on Android.
I don’t get hung up too much on Android vs. iOS, because they’re increasingly convergent, but Android’s sheer scale, and its expansive choice among handsets, keeps me curious, keeps me busy, and keeps me guessing.
Like a lot (yes, a lot!) of people, I wanted a phone that ran Linux. Technically that’s what I got with Android but not even close to the way I wanted it and it’s a step backwards in some areas from other mobile software like MeeGo. I miss the N9 now.
I stayed around for a different, and just as important reason: transparency. I had an iPhone. I bought it the night it came out and gave AT&T everything in my pocket plus a kidney and went for it. I liked the idea of a more media-centric device that made calls instead of a phone. To me, the G1 had an extra edge though because I could build the system from source code, or modify a thing, or most importantly, see how a thing is done and how it’s been changed. I was hooked and have been here since.
Knowing that Android works or a bug was fixed is great. For me, knowing just what the bug was and how it was fixed is even better. Some people enjoy the theater or boating for recreation. I like to read code comments.
Something made you choose Android time and time again. What was it?
Take a minute and let everyone know your Android story in the comments.