in A Day in the Year

Some Thoughts on Using the iPhone

I’ve been using the iPhone 6S for about six months now. I made the switch from a Google Nexus 5 which was, in my opinion, the best Android phone to have come out in its time. With Google better defining and standardizing their material design philosophy it’s a great time to switch over to Android. Over the last few months I’ve grown to like the iPhone but I find something still amiss.

I’m going to try and jot down a few thoughts on where, having switched from Android to iPhone, I found myself frustrated by the Apple experience.

Home Screen / App Menu

The first and foremost is the Home Screen. I’ve long favored the separation of the home screen from the app menu in Android. This way, in Android, you can add a bunch of favorite apps to the home screen if you want but also have the option of keeping it entirely app-free. Apple doesn’t allow an empty home screen and all my apps are present there whether I want them or not. Sometimes this feels like too much noise as soon as you unlock the phone. If I want to keep just my favorites on the main screen, I have to move all the other apps to the second screen (to the right). This is the way I have it right now but if you don’t organize well eventually you’ll end up having three home screens.

Folders

Because Android has a separate App Screen there isn’t a pressing need to create folders on the home screen. I don’t like folders at all but one can still do it in Android. The apps on my iPhone’s second screen are in folders only because those are junk apps Apple pre-loaded on to the phone and some I use as rarely as once a month. Also because with Apple if you want to create any kind of semblance in your life and maintain your apps only on two screens, you’ll inevitably have to create folders. The issue arises when you’re switching from one app in a folder to another app in a different folder, which if you’re not used to using the home button every time, gets really really awkward. Assuming you start inside the folder, the other app is still three clicks away – one to go back to the home screen, one to open the second folder, one to click on the app. (Four if your app is on the second screen (swipe) inside the folder.)

The use case for this on Android is simpler. Let’s say you start in a folder. One click to home screen, one click to open the menu, scroll to the app, and one click to get in. There is also the hard/soft back button and all apps are in the same hierarchy once you’re in the menu. This was not the case in Lollipop, I think, where the menu went from left to right and you had to swipe each time for a new page. Naturally, people complained and it was reverted.

UI Flow

I deeply miss the back button. Nothing will ever convince me that placing a soft button all the way to the top-left of the screen is a better idea than providing a hard/soft back button on the bottom left. The swipe gesture from the left edge of the screen is awkward as hell when you’re too far into the rabbithole and have to go back six pages.

Notifications

I’ve had some apps (especially the default messaging app) on the iPhone show a notification on the lock screen but once you unlock the phone (not swiping on the app) the notifications disappear and don’t show up in the panel. They only show up as the numbers over the icon at that point. Not sure why only some apps do this.

In iOS, if a notification shows up in the panel but I check the notification by directly going to the app and not tapping on the notification itself the ideal workflow should involve the notification in the panel also disappearing. However, the iPhone continues showing the notification in the panel for something that I’ve already checked in the app.

In Android if you bypass the notification panel and directly open the app containing the notification the notification in the panel also disappears.

My work email account (Exchange) does not ever show notifications either on the lock screen or notifications panel. There is only the notification sound and the vibration and the icon count. No actual notification information. If by chance I get the notification when my phone is unlocked then it shows up as a banner notification for a few seconds but never when it’s locked.

Battery

The battery has been great on the iPhone. Granted I’ve only had it for about six months so it’s fairly new but it’s been beating my Android by a few hours at least. However, on the flipside, it’s also turned off on me at 15 % – 17 % multiple times when I’ve refused to turn on Low Power Mode. When it did turn off, it acted as if it was completely drained and wouldn’t turn on at all.

CalDav / Corporate Integration

This is one of the big reasons why I decided to switch to the iPhone for a while. The corporate sync is seamless in most cases. My work email syncs (despite the notifications), my calendar syncs and allows me to accept/decline meeting invites, and I can watch WebEx presentations from my phone as well (though I don’t usually use this). The calendar sync itself is a big plus for me as I can’t live without a calendar (I’d forget everything). Android dropped CalDav support for some reason and so I’ve never been able to get my work calendar on to Android.

Exterior

The metal body of the iPhone is vastly superior to the plastic of the Nexus phones. This is something that has definitely impressed me. The exterior design of the iPhone is amazing, and you can tell the quality apart. In fact, if I switch back to Android finding a phone with a metal body will be pretty high on the list.

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