Why I Switched to Android from the iPhone

February 5, 2009

Android Eats the iPhone for breakfastSeveral people have asked why I switched from the iPhone to a G1 running Android. My reasons are both practical and philosophical.

The practical ones:

  • I'm a heavy Gmail user, and Android offers up-to-the-second push Gmail, and a Gmail interface that far surpasses Mail on the iPhone. Reading, searching, labeling, and otherwise processing my email is the most important thing I need to do on my smartphone besides make calls, and it's simply easier in Android.
  • Android lets me manage my contacts in one place: Gmail, and syncs them automatically to my phone. No more local address book!
  • Android is better than the iPhone software in a few ways: it's way more customizable, it offers copy and paste, the pull-down "window shade" is a better notification mechanism, and in general it gives you that feeling that you're in control of every setting.
  • Android doesn't run Safari, but it will likely run Chrome someday.
  • I love the trackball on the G1 for scrolling and clicking. From an economy-of-motion standpoint, it's a way more efficient way to interact with the device than swiping and tapping the screen. The snap-out keyboard is sweet, too.


The philosophical reasons:

  • Android is open source.
  • Because it's open source, many of my favorite open source apps work with it and not the iPhone yet, like KeePass, for example. (See KeePassDroid.)
  • Android's apps are written in Java, and as a Java developer, this delights me.
  • Android doesn't tie me to iTunes, which is a fine piece of software, but is just a little too bossy and proprietary-like for my taste.

Obviously, your mileage may vary. But there is a misconception that the iPhone is a superior smartphone, and that's not necessarily true. What's true: The iPhone software has been out longer than Android, so it may be more fully-baked (though apps and Safari crash on my iPhone regularly, more so in the 2.0 "upgrade"). The iPhone has a much larger market share. There are probably more apps for the iPhone than for Android, but the Android Market is well-stocked, and I have had little trouble finding the stuff I need. The only iPhone thing I truly miss is its built-in visual voicemail, but I've installed PF Voicemail+ on Android to get that same functionality. Not being a heavy voicemail user, this isn't that big of a deal to me (though it may be for you). Update: I also miss the excellent Evernote iPhone app, and have my fingers crossed in hope an Evernote equivalent will happen soon (or at least a mobile Evernote site that works well in a mobile browser).

Most likely I'll remain in the minority as a G1 owner, but you know what? In a sea of iPhone-toters, I'll enjoy actually "thinking different."

Great article Gina. I’m a Nokia Smartphone user and it’s nice to see someone standing up to the iPhone hype. There are several equal, if not superior smartphones out there (my Nokia N95 8GB being one of them in my opinion) and some of them deserve some more coverage!

James

Facebook User [+1]
Feb 9 09 at 9:55 am

I’d be curious to know how the G1 compares to the iPhone (and BlackBerry) in terms of security.

(also, this is a test of your commenting via Facebook account)

Seth Cutter
Feb 9 09 at 10:21 am

Great article and congratulations on the new site!

One of the things I miss most about my old HTC is the feel of an actual keyboard with buttons. I’ve gotten pretty proficient with the iPhone’s virtual keyboard, but it still doesn’t hold a candle to an actual keyboard.

Your article really has me considering other options.

Mike Soliman [+1]
Feb 9 09 at 11:05 am

Yeah, I feel the same way. I am a heavy google user myself. Synchronization of all my calendars and the ones that are shared with my gf would be reason enough.
And on top of that I also like to have background activities and notifications. That just doesn’t seem to happen on the iPhone.
I still carry my iPhone for music and videos though.

Btw. as you’re a google addict too. If you’re looking for a Google Reader app for Android, have a look at mine: http://newsrob.com.

Mariano Kamp
Feb 9 09 at 11:52 am

Couldn’t agree more. I’ve been very satisfied with the G1. One other nice thing about the trackball – I can operate the phone in cold weather without taking off my gloves. In Chicago, that’s a nice feature.

The best part, I think, has been copy-paste. Also looking forward to Flash, which will allegedly happen eventually.

whetstone
Feb 9 09 at 3:49 pm

I’m not a fan of virtual keyboards. With just that I side with the Blackberry/G1 crowd.

Sid W
Feb 9 09 at 3:57 pm

Some of these remind me of things I already miss about my BB Curve (switched to the iPhone about a month ago). In the end, if Android remains a niche market I will be happy with my choice, but I would like Android to exceed the iPhone – or at least be able to sync Exchange email and calendars…

PS Excited about the new blog!

jordo37
Feb 9 09 at 4:01 pm

Glad to find you again, Gina.

I love my G1 and it loves Google apps. Perfect!

“Thinking different” makes it all the sweeter.

drmelho [+28]
Feb 9 09 at 5:52 pm

I have an iPod Touch and I absolutely hate the keyboard on it. I could never have a phone without a real keyboard for that reason.

ZLoether [+17]
Feb 9 09 at 7:08 pm

HMMM… you sound like @christianmlau except for the other camp (he is the biggest iPhone proponent ever – sickening like). It would be awesome to see you two go at it. I will try and connect you two on Twitter if I can.

I am getting ready to take the leap from my WM BlackJack II which is essentially “crap”ware. I would really like to go Android but I like AT&T (current service provide).

P.S. Facebook Connect integration is SWEET!

Ron West
Feb 9 09 at 8:03 pm

There is/was an iphone optimized version of Evernote mobile @ http://preview.evernote.com/iphone. But either they use browser detection or it’s been shut-down. From the Android browser, you’re re-directed to a striped wap version.

If it’s still in existence, I wish they’d update their browser detection to include Android. It’d be an easy change and a nice bone to through to G1 users.

freality
Feb 9 09 at 9:06 pm

Im an early adopter of the G1 and am glad to see you are giving it more coverage here. I adopted the G1 and Android for most of the same reasons you did. I looove track balls (except to navigate dhtml dropdown/fly out menus on websites-those are a nightmare on the G1)

Have I mentioned that I really really love that youre getting back to writing more about tech and self improvement? It was the original reason why I loved LH in the beginning. Glad to see youre back on track with what you really love doing.

Lazarus [+4]
Feb 9 09 at 10:34 pm

another nice thing is background operation. In the car, I can listen to shoutcast, download a podcast, and follow my progress on google maps, all at the same time.

Good to have you here, gina.

altrenda
Feb 9 09 at 11:27 pm

Can you comment on how you sync video/music/photos with the G1 and what video player you use on the device?

spanishgringo [+1]
Feb 10 09 at 12:35 am

First, great article.

I agree with a lot of points that you’ve made here and being an iPhone user myself can understand the frustration but also joy that comes from it.

The openness and ability to have complete control over your phone is what really appeals to me, but I also enjoy the ‘look’ of what the iPhone provides. It’s really unsurpassable in terms of visual enjoyment.

I’ve had my eyes on Android, but won’t make the convert until Android is put on a piece of hardware that is worthy. That’s not the G1 in my honest opinion. :)

John Barker
Feb 10 09 at 1:19 am

But now with Google Sync practical points one and two are greatly reduced. I also use the iphone gmail page instead of the mail app.

(albeit I’m on a touch – didn’t like the cost of the iPhone)

It’s the fact you don’t stroke the G1 in the same way…

As part of your assistance to Evernote development, encourage them to also develop a Blackberry app.

rhhfla
Feb 10 09 at 4:09 am

Congrats for the new site, Gina.

The announcement of an Android platform refrained me from buying an iPhone but I’m in France and can’t get hold of a G1 yet :( I really don’t know what they’re waiting for here.

I’ve got one question: has anyone tried Opera Mini on the G1? Can you use a combination of both G1 and Opera browsers to gain in productivity?

Facebook User
Feb 10 09 at 5:32 am

Interesting to hear someone actively switching like this. I’ve got an iPhone 3G and am hanging out for a decent Android phone – the HTC G1 just doesn’t have the sexiness (I’m so shallow).

Regarding the hooks into Google – you (well probably someone still using an iPhone) should sign up for NuevaSync (https://www.nuevasync.com/). It’s a free service that sits between my Google data (Contacts + Calendar – no email) and the iPhone and acts as an Exchange ActiveSync Server.

This means that I get contact + calendar updating over the air. It’s the business.

D.

I love my G1 for many of the same reasons. It handles multitasking with ease. The number of applications available for it amazes me. And so far, they’ve all been free!

I had considered the iPhone, but I’m glad I waited. This is by far the best phone I’ve owned.

I was wondering how not having 3G affects your G1 experience? I get good 3G speeds in Atlanta, and use it a lot. Last.fm streaming for example, works really well. The G1 does a fine job of swapping between 3G/2G and wifi, so I guess if you have wifi readily available where you are, you’re very lucky!

Any kudos to you for supporting Android!

Max Hyatt
Feb 10 09 at 10:00 pm

I was in conflict few months ago about getting an iPhone… I wasn’t comfortable at all because I’ve this need of qwerty physical keyboard… Two days ago I’ve ordered the HTC G1. I’m looking forward to have it in my hands, being a FLOSS sysadmin+developer, I’m very much like you about the philosophical reasons… And, I’m google addict too, so, everything matches!!! Can’t wait to begin tweaking the Android OS!!!

congratulations on the new site- in my “start the day” tab!

i’ve also gone “android” and my three current disappointments are

-the calendar
-lack of “office” type stuff i left behind on my Treo650 OR access to gDocuments
-an android gtd system that matches (or runs) my tiddlywiki

all that said the matching “collar and cuffs” approach of contacts/gmail/agenda is just great.

looking forward to more from you and android!

ffolliet [+4]
Feb 12 09 at 1:28 pm

@ffolliet — Have you tried accessing Gmail, Calendar and Docs via the browser? Much better interface!

drmelho [+28]
Feb 13 09 at 11:58 pm

@drmelho- thanks. will look at that have checked out Docs and only today discovered that sheets are now editable!! woot!

ffolliet [+4]
Feb 14 09 at 6:36 am

My Drood is running very smoothly with the default set of applications, but some apps, are a little hanggy, forcing close and sometimes I need to reboot it.

But, overall the drood phone is a dream! I think I’ll buy G2 aswell and begin to collect this drood phones :P

Cheers from Brasil Gina!

Marcel Mitsuto
Mar 6 09 at 3:17 pm

Check this out for password safe ;)

http://www.openintents.org/en/node/205

Marcin Gil
Mar 18 09 at 11:07 pm

If you look at this video on youtube about evernote:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_ncr1Ee9e8

He demoes it using android software… so look around there.

Or you can try connecting via:
http://m.evernote.com/

Barb Carr
Mar 19 09 at 8:38 am

What applications do you use for gtd on the G1?

Johan Larsson
Apr 6 09 at 7:51 am


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