iOS vs Android – The big switcheroo

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The Digital Life pie is essential for stickiness.

  • Following 2½ years as an iPhone user, I decided to try and make the switch to Android and was amazed by how easy it was.
  • I have switched from iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy s8
  • I believe that the ease of transition came down to three factors:
    • One: Android is much better now than it was in 2014.
    • Two: I am not a user of any of Apple’s Digital Life services.
    • Three: Most apps are now free to download with either in app purchase, advertising or a subscription.
    • Furthermore, most apps now store user data in the cloud meaning that switching is simply a matter of downloading the app and signing in.
  • My thoughts after living with Android for one month are as follows:
    • Get out of jail. Android is a breath of fresh air in that I can install anything that I want with no problems.
    • The Google Play store does not offer some apps in my region but this was easily fixed by downloading Aptoide which has virus-screened versions of almost everything.
    • Furthermore, on Android anything is possible and a developer has already worked out how to re-map the Bixby hard key to Google Assistant.
    • However, this freedom comes at a price in that many things simply do not work as well or as reliably as they do on iOS.
    • I suspect that this is mostly a result of the endemic software fragmentation that exists across Android devices which remains as bad now as it has ever been.
    • I still have to be my own systems integrator.
    • For example, the weather widget that ships as default on the home screen of the Galaxy does not work properly when it comes to updating the weather information in other cities that the user has added.
    • The biometric security unlocking does not work properly all the time and apps crash and quit with greater regularity compared to iPhone.
    • Voice and radio performance: The iPhone still sets the gold standard in terms of the quality of voice calls and radio performance in areas where the signal is not optimal.
    • Fortunately, because I am not a big voice user, this is not a huge issue.
    • Furthermore, even though the s8 offers much better control of Bluetooth devices when more than one is connected at the same time, the iPhone offers better stability and reliability.
  • The main observation that I have made is that moving my Digital Life from iOS to Android was far easier than I thought it would be.
  • A major reason for this is that outside of photos and videos which are a cinch to move thanks to Google Photos, I am not a user of Apple’s Digital Life services.
  • I have never used Facetime or iMessage and as a result I was not locked into the network that Apple has created around those services.
  • This throws into sharp relief the key weakness of the iOS ecosystem which is the same now as it has always been.
  • Apple’s position in Digital Life services is weaker than many of its peers meaning that the key selling point remains the quality of its user experience and its ability to distribute the apps and services of third parties in a fun and easy to use way.
  • If Android close this usability and security gap to iOS, I think that users will be less inclined to pay a substantial premium for iPhone compared to something similar running Android.
  • This is why Apple has been working hard on things like Apple Pay, HealthKit and HomeKit but I think it needs to do much more before these can be considered really defensive.
  • Given, Google’s very slow progress in taking control of its ecosystem on Android, I think that this still gives Apple a good 3-5 years before its handset margins will come under pressure.
  • Apple’s developer conference kicks off today where I hope to see announcements aimed at keeping Apple’s differentiation over Android.
  • Furthermore, the iPhone 8 promises to be a worthy challenger to the excellent Galaxy s8.
  • I have liked Apple on valuation grounds for a considerable time but following the recent increase in its valuation, it no longer offers the same value that it did.
  • Hence, I still prefer Microsoft, Tencent and Baidu.

14 thoughts on “iOS vs Android – The big switcheroo

  1. I can understand not having used icloud photo library or apple music / itunes cloud library, but not having used Messages or Facetime? Criminal.

    Messages is very well done, so well done that Samsung purchased NewNet in order to build a messaging platform that would compete. We haven’t seen the results of this work yet.

    ApplePay remains the gold standard for tap to pay – nowhere near as many financial institutions are on board with Android Pay as they are with ApplePay.

    Google Fit remains a shadow in terms of the number of device partners that work with HealthKit.

    What’s really interesting is that you state a few times how easy it was to switch, but highlight all the difficulties and reasons iPhone is better:

    Taking them in order:

    * many things simply do not work as well or as reliably as they do on iOS.
    * I still have to be my own systems integrator.
    * The provided Weather widget does not update user-added cities
    * The biometric security unlocking does not work properly all the time
    * apps crash and quit with greater regularity
    * Voice performance is not as good in areas with low signal
    * iPhone offers better stability and reliability.

    Why on Earth would someone desire an Android phone with a list like that is a study in masochism.

    Moving your digital life was easy, only because you had intentionally never experienced Apple’s digital life offerings. You haven’t tried them, so of course it was easy to switch systems. That’s not much of a news flash, and not especially interesting. What would have been interesting is, had you tried them all, and used them all, and _then_ moved to Android – those observations would have been worth hearing.

    “If Android close this usability and security gap to iOS” – If chickens learn to soar with eagles… It hasn’t happened yet, and every year is the year we hear either, “This is the year Android closes the gap” or “Next year, Android is going to really close that gap” – neither are there yet. Material design was a good effort, but it hasn’t got us there, and actually makes some things worse – Google Inbox, for example. We may as well say “Next year is the year of Linux on the Desktop.” (Also something that will never happen – chromebook-style computing will happen first – always-connected laptops, apps in the cloud, thin OS to run them.)

    There are plenty of things Apple have done that haven’t made much of a difference. Stickers in Messages. The Message App Store. The Touchbar. But there are just as many things that you’ve highlighted that show why they’re in the position they are – everything about the Android experience you laid out is a poor user experience.

    It occurs to me that the best Android-like experience you can have is to buy an iPhone, delete all of the Apple-provided apps (excepting phone and messages) and load all of the Google apps on iPhone. You’d get a stable, secure iPhone, secure tap-to-pay, with all that you like about Google Photos, Google Keep, etc. There are just a few downsides:

    * inability to assign Google Assistant as a primary assistant instead of Siri
    * lack of trust in Google to not discontinue services randomly without warning
    * uncertainty about Google’s messaging strategy – is it Messages for Android, Allo, Duo, Hangouts, or something else that we should be using? They’d said it should be Allo and that Hangouts would be for corporate use, but then they introduced Messages.

    • I have used them in the past but I gave up because none of my contacts use them with any degree of regularity.

      In order to have an objectove and independent view one must try everything which means switching back and forth between Android and iOS. I did not switch to Android because I thought that it was better but because I needed a new phone a month ago.

      I decided to try Android because:
      1) It was time to re test it.
      2) I had smashed my iPhone for the third time and needed something with stronger glass i.e. Gorilla glass 5.
      3) no iPhone 8 available.
      4) I HATE not having a 3mm jack. I use it all the time.

      and to be fair to Samsung, the s8 is an excellent device and they have done a pretty good job with the software, excpet for Bixby which is pants.

  2. Carrying on that with that line of thinking – the best MS phone could be an iPhone or an SGS8 with all of MS’ apps loaded – and on the Galaxy, using the hardware button to trigger Cortana instead of Google Assistant or Bixby. MS could release an Android launcher that makes the long-press on home trigger Cortana…

    • indeed it is. Best MS phone is now the one that rund Office the best. This is why Windows PCs are still alive mostly.

  3. Agree with Victor – the iMessage experience is very compelling, and difficult to leave if switching to Android. So, what app did you use for messaging?

  4. I’m amazed that RFM could publish this article without a word about security and privacy. As a technology analyst, does Richard Windsor really want to use an insecure phone and a service provider that reads all of his stuff and sells his information to advertisers?

    The article just isn’t credible as an independent analysis.

    • Let me guess,, Colin uses an iPhone, Mac, Apple Watch etc etc etc etc…

      Security is an issue on Android which I have written about many times and hope that readers can look it up rather than having to repeat it ad nauseam. I do not do any financial transactions on iPhone or Android.

      Privacy less. so. Almost everyone uses Google services so you are tracked whether you are in iPhone or Android.

      • What I use is immaterial.

        There are very substantial differences between iOS and Android security. Using credit/debit cards via Apple Pay improves security over all other methods. You don’t have to believe me – https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT203027

        There are many people who don’t use Google services because of privacy issues. The fact that many more do doesn’t make Google services acceptable for privacy.

        • I dont think it is. I have never seen less objectivity than there is to be found of die hard Apple fans. That includes the press.

          Apple Pay still has a much higher fraud rate than normal credit cards.

          I agree with you that Android is far less secure and I have written about this many times. check my blog for the posts titles swiss cheese.
          However, to be objective everything has to be given a fair shot which I am not convinced you have in the formation of your opinions.

          • “ApplePay still has a much higher fraud rate than normal credit cards.”

            Interestingly, ApplePay is more secure than EMV. The problem is that the card issuers aren’t consistently verifying the cardholder’s ID when the card is added to ApplePay, which allows criminals to use an already-compromised card to commit fraudulent charges. The other interesting bit is that ecommerce card fraud is up due to the EMV switchover in the US.

            The “higher than normal cards” is not accurate – it’s “higher than the average credit card fraud rate at some banks — not all.” – that is, it’s only higher than normal at banks with poor security practices.

            Banks are liable for the fraud costs. Yet ApplePay is the most widely adopted payment method of all of the recent offerings. Banks wouldn’t line up for something that would expose them to an across-the-board level of fraud. It’s just a few banks experiencing that, because they don’t have good verification practices in place.

  5. The problem is in the banks’ vulnerability to ID fraud in issuing new cards for use by any means. A correctly issued card is secure in Apple Pay for the consumer, although that doesn’t protect vendors from other cards issued by fraud. That’s factual and recognising it isn’t zealotry.

    • Liability is with the banks. The vendors are protected from fraud as long as they’re taking a secured payment method (EMV, ApplePay, and so on.) I’m not sure why you say the vendors aren’t protected.

      • That’s lack of knowledge on my part. My point was that RFM’s characterisation of Apple Pay as insecure is plain wrong.

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