Brief Reactions To AVC Review Of iOS

Earlier this week, Fred wrote an interesting post on his reactions to a new iPhone, with the caveat that he’s been on Android for years and not a fan of Apple’s closed system. Here’s a link to the original post, and I’ve copied it below in italics and added some of my own color to it, as I found it to be a fair critique of a few iOS nits I have as well. My hope is someone at Apple on iOS plays devil’s advocate on some of these decisions to keep the OS options for users strong.


I got my new iPhone6 from T-Mobile on Thursday. I spent Thursday evening setting it up and putting all the Android apps I regularly use on it. I’ve been using it as my primary phone since Thursday night and after three full days on it, I have some early observations.

1) The TouchID service is pretty great. I secure my phone with a password and although its a little thing to simply be able to hold your thumb down instead, little things sometimes are the biggest things and TouchID is like that. I really like it.

The future potential effects of TouchID are underreported. It makes navigation, access, and confirmation much easier for users and developers. If you’re interested, I wrote some thoughts on the power of TouchID last year, see here.

2) I miss the three buttons at the bottom of an Android phone. I’m never sure how to get back to a previous screen on iOS. I’ve come to realize that by tapping at the top of the screen, I can often get back to the previous screen. But it is super nice to have a back button that works identically on every app and I miss that.

I’m too biased to iOS, but I like being stuck in an app silo. It’s not perfect, but I prefer to go home and then to a new app than a clunky deep-linked transition to another app.

3) I don’t like having two maps services on the phone. Some apps default to Apple Maps and I prefer Google Maps. Maybe its possible to change the defaults so that all the apps go to Google Maps but I’m not sure how to do that.

This is true. Apple should allow users to default set their preferred Maps in the OS itself and carry across all applications. Some apps like Sunrise let the user deep link right from its app to Google Maps, but this is more of a power user move and Apple (for obvious reasons) likely doesn’t want to do any favors here, though I think they should.

4) I don’t understand why Google doesn’t make GCal for iPhone. I really dislike the native mail and calendar programs for iOS and wish I could use the native google apps for both mail and calendar. This is probably the number one reason I will most likely go back to Android. Mail and Calendar and Maps are three huge things for me and I’m not comfortable with the Apple versions of those products.

Another mystery, I also don’t understand why Google hasn’t built a Calendar app for iOS. Maybe it’s to keep users like Fred on Android, as the integrated Google services experience on Android (Mail to maps to calendar etc.) cannot be found on iOS. Strategy tax at play.

5) Notifications on iOS works a lot like Android now. But I miss getting the notifications across the top of my home screen. Having to swipe down to see them is one step more than I’d like to have to do. I realize you get a notifications count on the app icon, but if that app is not on the home screen, I don’t see it.

So, turns out one can get notifications at the top of screens on iOS, but it drops down over the content (as opposed to over the status bar in Android), and Apple makes notification management UI nearly impossible for the average person to manage.

6) I like the “today” tab in the notifications service. Its a lot like what Google has done with Google Now. I think Google should copy Apple and put Google Now into the notifications service.

As I am writing this it occurs to me that I am trying to use iOS like I use Android. I’ve set up my iPhone home screen to be as identical to my Android home screen as I can. I’m trying to make iOS work the way I am used to working. I realize it would be better to fully embrace iOS and go with the flow. But I’m not sure I can do that. I am a creature of habit even though my move to iOS was all about getting out of my comfort zone.

It is interesting to me that the two dominant operating systems are becoming more similar as Apple copies the best parts of Android (notifications being a prime example) and Google copies the best parts of iOS. It was not that hard to move from Android to iOS (other than downloading all of those apps and configuring them). When I go back to Android in three to six months, I don’t think that change will be particularly hard either.

Will be interesting to see if Fred goes back to Android in 2015. He may find new apps he loves and then can’t get them on Android.

We have a duopoly in mobile operating systems and that seems how the mobile market will operate, at least in the near future. Both Apple and Google are spending huge sums of money to stay competitive with each other. Both make fantastic mobile operating systems that work really well. As I’ve said before, mobile has matured. Maybe if I’m looking to get outside of my comfort zone, I need to be looking somewhere else for a new and different experience.

This final paragraph presents the great conundrum in consumer investing today — all of our attention is glued to these devices, which in sum make up the largest technology market we’ve ever seen. Yet, despite that, distribution is constrained (note use of the word “mature”), so people are looking elsewhere for breakout potential.