Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Blasphemy! I dumped my iPhone

Apparently I have just done something that has horribly offended some people, or rather it offended their perception of me. It was something many people deemed sacred. I switched from an Apple iPhone 5 to a Google (LG) Nexus 4. Gasp!!

The reaction to my Facebook announcement was funny to me for two reasons. One, I didn't know so many people cared or followed what kind of phone I used. I also didn't realize that I have come across to others as a blind Apple Fanboy. Yes, I have owned just about every kind of Apple product (except for the first generation of any device -- that's always a mistake). I have about five Apple devices within earshot of me right now as the matter of fact. However, I have also owned my share of Windows computers and have even been known to go to a computer market, buy a heap of the requisite motherboards, fans, RAM and hard drives to make my own PC from scratch. Yes, I'm geeky, but I know why.

In recent years people may know me as the guy who, along with Mike Pelletier, was able to instigate and direct the shift from Lenovo to Mac at the largest international school in the world. That was a feat that most thought could not be done. I have also highly recommended MacBooks to just about everyone I know. I even got my grandma to switch -- and she was very comfortable defragging her Windows machine. So I guess I realize why people might have that Fanboy impression of me. The news is, however, that I'm an informed Fanboy. When  information or my needs change, then my allegiances are likely to change as well. That has happened with my choice in smartphone.

Let me start this by saying that I am a power user of my phone. I use it constantly and for just about everything -- except making heaps of phone calls. If you are not an intensive user of the full functions of your mobile phone then my reasons won't be as relevant to you. Phone calls, Whatsapping, shooting food porn and a few games can be easily done on the iPhone. It's very easy, convenient and a stable option. It is also very powerful and ticks a lot of boxes for many, many users. It suited my needs for about 5 years. Now, however, it doesn't.

I did a lot of research and read posts of high end tech users and reviewers who had switched. Their logic made sense to me so I decided to give it a go. Here are some of my reasons.

Bigger screen size with similar resolution
4.7" on the Nexus versus 4.0" for the iPhone. This wasn't my first reason for switching, but after having used the bigger screen it makes a huge difference. It is just as crisp, but I find the Nexus brighter. The additional real estate makes me scoff at the puny size of my iPhone. I think the Nexus is the sweet spot for screen sizes. If it's too much bigger then it basically becomes a small tablet or iPad Mini. Those serve a purpose as well, but not the purposes I have for my smartphone that will always be with me.

Integration of applications
Android phones allow you to easily work between applications and develop seamless workflows. I read a lot of blogs that I subscribe to in Google Reader Feedly. I also use Diigo to organize and save my bookmarks and Evernote for additional information. When reading a blog I can tap the Share button and then choose from all of my applications that can help me out. I can send a link to Diigo, the page to Evernote, share on Google+, LinkedIn or even Remember the Milk. In iOS I might be able to do this with some sort of workaround, such as the Open in/Upload/Sync/Download/Open In features of Dropbox or it may not be possible at all.

I think this is a fatal flaw in iOS. Apps are different than computer applications. Apps are more limited in their functionality by design. This, therefore, necessitates that we use more than one application to accomplish a task. If the apps do not easily talk to each other we are immediately limited in what we can do. Apple has made this a challenge, but Google has put sharing at the core of its operating system.

The iPhone is sexy. No doubt about it - but they all look the same. Sure you can change the wallpaper, but you can't rearrange the furniture into anything except rows. And some furniture you can't get rid of at all, ever, no matter how hard you try. Just try to delete the Apple Mail app and see how that goes.

Choice of Apps
By design the Apple branded apps are the defaults and these cannot be changed at the system level. Some apps are now allowing you the option to open a hyperlink in something other than Safari, but that's a choice implemented by the app developers and not part of the system itself. As a Gmail user I don't like the Mail app and would rather use the official Gmail app from Google so I can Archive, Star and apply multiple Labels. There are workarounds for doing this on an iPhone, but it's not designed to work that way.

Ease of access to information
From a locked iPhone screen, how many clicks, swipes and flicks does it take you to find out what is on your to do list - or to see when your next appointment is? I'm loving that you can add Android gadgets right to the lock screen. Many apps have a gadget version that can even be put on the app screens. You can mix gadgets and apps on the same page. Genius and convenient.

I like to learn new things
I am a learner and love to explore new things. Being in the ed tech world I think it's embarrassing that I had no knowledge of Android. Of course I can't know everything and I probably won't learn how to program in Android, but I love the challenge of experiencing different things. Android has made some vast improvements and now is quickly closing the gap that iOS had due to its head start.

I like when people are passionate. But passion without understanding can be bad. Why are you passionate about something? That's what is important.

Do I think everyone should switch? NO!! Am I an Apple hater or anti-iPhone? NO!! However, I do think you should understand what it is you like about your phone. To do this you have to know a bit about what other phones can do. Don't be a blind follower. Know why your phone suits YOU.

So that's why I switched. Sorry to disappoint many of you, but it's not blasphemous to switch. I hope you now understand where I'm coming from. As I continue using the Nexus 4 I'm sure I'll come across things I don't like, but I'm really loving what it can do so far.

PS. I'm writing this blog post on a Chromebook. That must mean I REALLY don't like MacBooks as well as iPhones now!


  1. I truly chuckled at this comment... we so often ask our students to chose the best tool or a range of different tools for a task, yet when when we go against the norm we are accused of sacrilegious acts.
    I will stick to my iPhone and as a protest to Windows constant change of operating system will upgrade my next laptop to an Apple, but I respect your choice and you almost convinced me.

    1. I do think iPhones are still good for many people and in many cases. I've just outgrown mine. Apple had such an early advantage and got out of the gates with a big lead on the other smartphone operating systems. From what I've read Android has made huge gains in their OS. I haven't really seen many major advances in iOS over the past few iterations. Hopefully they come out w/ something good or I reckon there will be even more defectors now that a viable alternative is out there. I'm keeping my MacBook & Mini...I don't foresee a big change in that soon...but you never know!

  2. Good post Jay. Much like you, I also switched from an iPhone to a Nexus a while ago. I initially did it for two reasons... One was to try something new, something that I didn't know much about and that I felt I should know more about. The only way to be truly informed about technology is to try everything and actually have an idea about what makes one device or brand or technology different to others. Blind acceptance of one at the expense of others does not make one an informed user. Good on you for realizing that, and having the attitude of a learner.

    My initial plan was to buy a Galaxy Nexus on eBay, try it out for a few months and then sell it and buy an iPhone 5 when they were released. But once I started using the Nexus, getting used to that big screen and SwiftKey and the freedom of Android, there was no going back. There are still lots of things I like about the iPhone, and some things I do miss, but on the whole, I'm very happy with the Nexus and Android.

    The second reason is probably childish, but it was very much a "screw you Apple!" in response to a number of things I felt they were doing to limit competition and restrict the ability of others to innovate. The patent war with Samsung was disgraceful and really encouraged me to look elsewhere.

    As a power user of Google's tools, Android makes far more sense to me. I'm looking forward to seeing the next few iterations of Android... I have a feeling we will see some amazing innovation in this space in the next few years, and I plan to use whatever makes the most sense to me at the time.

    1. Thanks, Chris. So far it's just been Facetime that I think I might miss in terms of what the Nexus can't do. That said, I rarely use it and my laptop can handle it when needed. I have found the Apple/Google rift annoying to say the least. I guess I do understand their approaches now that they are both making operating systems, software as well as branded hardware. It will be fun to see what the next big move is.

  3. I got my Nexus 7 instead of an iPad Mini because I wanted to experience Android OS. It's long past the time where educators should set up camp firmly in one world. You can still like both people, don't worry!

  4. Nothing changed much between the Iphone 4s and the new Iphone 5. This is Apple’s biggest mistake, thinking that their customers will remain loyal to them forever. But the case is, their competitors are delivering more and innovating more with their products than Apple is. Apple used to be the innovator and the game changer with their invention of Ipod, and the rest was history. As I've noticed, they're releasing new products but with little difference from its predecessor, while their competitors are releasing phones and phablets that are way cheaper and with better capabilities than the Iphone. I don't blame you for the change of heart as many others did. I've been eying Samsung Galaxy Note 2, but with the rumors of Samsung Galaxy Note 3 being released by the end of this year, I'll probably wait for that one. :) Joanna Daniels