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Thoughts on Android

Apple have stagnated with iOS on iPhone. I am getting bored with it, and with the announcement of iOS6 not bringing any more flexibility to the operating system that the improved hardware of the past few devices have brought would easily cope with, I am seriously thinking about making the jump to Android, or perhaps Windows Phone 8 (when it releases). I'll list my reasons why I have refused to go to Android till now and why that has changed below.

Reasons why I didn't like Android prior to a few months back:

  • User interface, consistency, fluidity, aesthetic appeal and general design. It wasn't particularly good previously, it always had potential to be nice, it just lacked the polish of iOS.
  • Third party applications. The quality, the priority for the platform from developers over iOS (iOS was the priority and it shown). Also, there seems to be a lack of design culture that pushes any consistent and coherent experience of what an Android application is.
  • Updates. Wasn't a huge issue, but it removes one of the big advantages of Android - hardware variety. Because of the updates issue, I will only buy the Nexus line of phones. It is a massive issue for the platform, but for me, I'm happy with going with a Nexus device to ensure that update support.
  • Lack of curation and quality control in the marketplace. It ruins it for other developers and has caused a lot of issues when it comes to security, privacy and malware seeping into people's phones.
Why my thoughts on Android have changed:
  • UI experience all changed with Android 4.0, Ice cream sandwich. It looks fantastic, it is fluid, has that extra polish that makes just using the phone enjoyable and serves as a standard for third party applications.
  • Third party developers are seeing Android as platform they need to be on. It has eclipsed iOS in marketshare by quite a bit, and even though it is still a fair bit behind in app download numbers, and massively behind in revenue generated for app developers, the potential is still there and developers clearly want to try. However, my experience with Android at the moment indicates that the app quality on large numbers, in both support and actual construction of applications just doesn't seem to be anywhere near as good as iOS at this moment. This is still my biggest problem with Android. But, its improved position has brought me round a little more.
  • Performance. iOS has had the UI render at a smooth 60FPS from day one, and they have ensured it stayed like that, it improves the experience of using the device enormously. Google announced 'Project butter' in which Google aims to do much the same. It is a performance problem that many claimed wasn't there in comparison to iOS, but it was, and was especially noticeable when you came from iOS. Hopefully this solves that problem, and from the initialimpressions around the web, it seems to be the case.
That, plus all the other great updates in Jelly Bean that are just the type of thing I can see Apple refusing to implement. There is just a much great interoperability between applications and the OS that we see very little hint of on iOS and in some cases, it becomes very frustrating. Android is looking slick, smooth, coherent and it has a clear design language that they're pushing not only in Android but across all their products, and I am a fan of it.

But.. something is making me hesitate. The masses of applications and the investment into Apple's brilliant ecosystem, I wouldn't only be moving into an inferior ecosystem, I would be leaving all my already purchased applications, some of which are some of my favourite pieces of software I have ever used, stuff like TweetBot, Alien Blue and Instacast.

I know, there are alternatives, but I have an Android phone sat here in front of me running ICS (flashed custom ROM), it isn't a particularly powerful phone by todays standards, but it runs it fairly well and have been able to explore the ecosystem and it just does not compare. It is immensely frustrating. I don't know what to do. iOS has served me well, and it is still nice to use, but there are niggles that are completely solved over on Android that pull me towards that way.