After a Month on iOS; Part 2

to share to other apps, as well as integrate into key Apple apps through extensions. This allows apps such as Camera+ to have their editing tools built into the photos app which is a huge change in direction. Although at this point in time, I’ve mainly seen options to share to Pocket for example but not WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger but this may come with time. Its also interesting that Apple have allowed third party keyboards which I am accustom to on Android and I’ve found SwiftKey to be incredibly useful. However to do anything interesting like predict your typing you need to enable a switch ‘allows full access’,  which is incredibly offputting. Android also does this when you initially enable a third party keyboard but the permissions are listed in the Play Store so you know whether an app has network access for instance. I’ve heard from multiple iOS users how they don’t feel comfortable with allowing this even if the developer is transparent about what its used for. Installing a keyboard also takes up a square in your home screen which I find annoying.  I’m hoping that iOS continues to improve the third party integration as it helps make the OS a bit more connected.

Personally, I miss being able to do things like click a link and it will open the Twitter app or tapping a Youtube link that opens the Youtube app. iOS adds an extra step to getting to the place you want it to go.

Sharing on iOS
Sharing on iOS

When Apple implements a feature that’s been around a while, they generally put a lot of thought into the design and how a regular user would see it. Take tethering for example, on Android, turning on tethering for Wi-Fi is a switch and you have to select Bluetooth or usb tethering explicitly. You would also have to enable a Wi-Fi password otherwise the tethering is open to anyone. On a iPhone, there is only one switch and it explains you can plug in your phone or connect via bluetooth and it even adds a wifi password by default. This is a really nice and thoughtful implementation of tethering and I think Android could learn a lot from the language used and the idea of guiding users for lesser used features. I could see someone discovering and learning how to use tethering intuitively on iOS and this seems possible with a lot of features in iOS. It even has a Tips app with iOS 8 and this seems perfect for someone who’s just got a smartphone.

Also another thing I found was that using iOS made me quite excited for the new update for Android as iOS bears some similarities to the new features of L (the upcoming update to Android). And thats fine as they both get influenced by each other and you wouldn’t have Android without the iPhone and similarly you wouldn’t have notifications or a bigger iPhone without Android. In any case the features I quite liked were the lock screen notifications which were incredibly handy for knowing what was going on at a glance as well as having pop up notifications in full screen apps. This is being improved upon in L in some respects as theres varying degrees of detail that can be shown in a lock screen notification depending on whether you’re in a trusted location or have a trusted device. I’m sure that iOS had some influence so its interesting to see the root of it and how Android and iOS borrow from each other.

The animations of iOS also reinforced the importance of well thought out animations, as well as the importance of not drawing them out. I often feel like Android is very stark in its animations and the way it resizes windows. Animations are often limited to exiting and entering applications and a few small places in the system UI on Android. With iOS, animations are laden throughout the OS and it really makes it a delight to use in places. For instance, when you’re sending a message in iMessage, you can select an image and that enlarges it and adds a checkbox so you can send more and see it more clearly.  Even transitions within apps have some flourishes that help bring some context. The messaging app also has a progress bar thats symmetrical and makes a sound once its sent. There are some cases where drawing the home screen seems a bit excessive but its nice that it has this to make transitions smoother and provide some context to where the content is coming from. Again a whole new design language focused on animations is introduced in L and I’d be interested to see the differences in the implementation of animations in L.

An example of Animations in L courtesy of the Google Design Docs

So at this point if you are still with me, you may be wondering, why are you switching back to Android? Well as much as I enjoyed my time with iOS I ended up missing features of Android, more than I’d thought in places. Paul Thurrott says that if you go back to something and miss certain features, its a worthy upgrade. I realise that analogy was more related to upgrades, but my point is there are features that I can’t live without on Android, and it feels like a constantly evolving system, whereas iOS seems to have a very slow and steady pace of change that makes it feel like its trying to catch up most of the time. Its carefully designed but I like to see companies be ambitious, but its just not Apples way of doing things. What’s worrying is that Apple seem to be catching up instead of leading in some places, but they are still ahead in the camera department. Though it’s not like they need to make huge leaps, its very clear from using it that if you’re in the Apple ecosystem, you will be quite happy with the device and unless you’re someone like me who likes to tinker and tweak, its a great platform. iOS has done so many things right and its thoughtfully made throughout. I applaud Apple for that but when I see the new features in L where they’re evolving the design language for a second time and overhauling numerous parts of the OS, it seems like the better OS for me. Also Google Now is just a killer feature that I just cannot live without as I’ve mentioned. I think I leave this with a greater appreciation for Apple but I can’t say I can use iOS as my main OS.

 

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