Saturday, October 13, 2012

I miss 5 things about Android

It wasn’t until this spring that I made the switch from iPhone to Android. Before then, I had put my iPhone aside for days at a time while I tested a new Android device, but I always went back to my iPhone. Frankly, I never really gave Android a chance.

Two weeks ago, I made the switch back — to the faster, bigger iPhone 5 — because I assumed that, as a long-time iPhone user, I would enjoy it far more now that it, too, had LTE speeds. And there’s much to like about my new phone but, much to my surprise, I really miss Android. In fact, after a few weeks with my new iPhone 5, I realize that I like Android better.

1. Widgets

It wasn’t until I didn’t have weather on my home screen that realized how often I check it. Should I take an umbrella? Is the high 70 or higher (the cut off for pants versus shorts in our house)? I also had my family calendar and favorite music app loaded there. Yes, I could just tap an icon on my home screen, but I love the immediate gratification of widgets.

2. Notification Center

It's certainly handy to check text messages, incoming important mail, tweets and other notifications from a pull-down within virtually any app. But iPhone stops there. With my Android phone, I also had direct access to frequently used settings, like turning on and off GPS and Bluetooth to save the battery life, as well as the settings app. With iPhone, I need to browse to and open settings where everything is buried a couple of layers deep.

3. Automatic App Updates

Every day, at least one of the more than 100 apps I have loaded on my iPhone needs updating manually. With Android it happens automatically, unless the app privileges change. You simply get a notification.

4. Micro USB Charging

I was never a fan of the old Apple connector, but I was disappointed when Apple chose to go with Lightning over micro USB, the connector Android and many other devices use. Yes, Lightning has technical benefits over micro USB, like the ability to output video through a Lightning-to-HDMI cable (when that becomes available), but I was never without a charging cable with micro USB.

5. Maps

I used Google Maps on my Android phone all the time — for local search, traffic, turn-by-turn spoken navigation and transit directions. So, like many others, I was really disappointed by the poor quality of Apple Maps. Apple has apologized to users and has even created a new section in the App Store pointing people to better map applications. I just put a link to the Google Maps mobile site on my home screen. Still, I’d love to see Google Maps back as an option.

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