ramblings from a body of somekind

My experience with Android and iOS

September 02, 2019

  • ios
  • android
  • apple
  • google
  • smartwatch

I want to move away from Android… let me rephrase that. I want to move away from Google. Quite frankly, I’m starting to become a bit pathetically desperate to move away from companies that want to hoard my data. Especially those who treat data like someone with a hoarding problem who doesn’t want to admit they have a problem.

I am fully aware that Google is continuously collecting my data all the time. I’ve moved away from Gmail to Fastmail. I’ve even been using DuckDuckGo as my search engine to combat my most important use of Google - search queries.

But at the same time, I love my Android phone. It’s a bizarre thing to admit I have such strong feelings for a cold lump of metal and glass, but it has been an extraordinary tool in my day to day life:

  • It has kept me in contact with friends
  • It has kept me organised
  • It has kept me entertained
  • It has kept me informed and (somewhat) connected with the world

But at the same time, I like to think I can recognise a toxic relationship, or at least the beginnings of a toxic relationship. Increasingly, I’m looking at alternatives to Android, and sadly, there aren’t many “affordable” alternatives or at least alternatives aimed at the common cheapskate. All of them have perished in the fire of capitalism; Firefox OS, Ubuntu Mobile(?). Hell, even the one independent mobile OS that is still going doesn’t really have much traction.

Dear reader, if we are being truthfully honest, at the time of writing this blog post, the only real competitor to Android in the mobile phone space is the mighty iPhone. This isn’t a secret to me, and it’s not a secret to you… mainly because you read the title of this blogpost and was probably expecting me to get this point already. Well, in that case, I ought to quit rambling and get straight to the point.

Some Information about what I use

My daily Android driver is a OnePlus 3T and a Huawei W1 watch… I apparently enjoyed being monitored 24/7. Well, I had enough as I tried to make the switch to Apple world. I bought myself an iPhone 7 from a while back, and this weekend I purchased the Apple Watch Series 3.

Apple iPhone 7

I don’t hate the iPhone 7. Really. I think this is a pleasant phone (yes, I am happy with the lowly peasant iPhone 7, heaven only knows how my fragile mind will be blown into tiny pieces over iPhone X and beyond!).

The Pros

Heckin’ fast

No matter what I did, I could not slow this beast down. And that’s incredibly impressive from a guy who has used Android since… well since my first Android phone (pre-Gingerbread era!)


On Android, the only keyboard that’s actually worth a damn really is Google Keyboard. I don’t use it, but every other keyboard I’ve tried to use has been a painful disaster in trying to get the words in my head to appear on the screen. With the iPhone, it actually works. And when it doesn’t? I just hit backspace until the cursor butts the end of the word, and that seems to force the word to stop auto-correcting automatically. This keyboard alone is the reason why I’m still keeping the iPhone around, even after my testing usage.


A no-brainer. If you use Apple’s ecosystem, they don’t really have a vested interest in taking all your data and harvesting everything about you. I mean, they already have your money - why bother?

Tiny phone

I kinda forgot what it was like to actually have a phone that fits in my pocket if I’m being honest.

Battery life

Even though my OnePlus 3T is a beast in terms of battery, the kind of horror stories I’ve heard of the iPhone’s battery is, at least when I was using with the SIM card in, pretty unfounded. I managed to get through the day, and by the end of the day I had 20% - not excellent, but from my preconceptions, I thought the battery would die on my journey back home while I was listening to music from Spotify from my iPhone via my car’s Bluetooth system.

The Cons

Small Disk Space

Hardly fair as I intentionally chose the cheapest iPhone for testing at the time, and then decided to try and use it as a daily driver. As a point of reference, my OnePlus 3T’s storage is 128GB. And that was the expensive model at ~£450 at the time. So yeah, this is hardly fair.

Charging times

OK, this one actually irks me. I have a OnePlus 3T phone, which is like 3 years old, and it charges insanely fast. I understand that. I know the iPhone 7 is also 3 years old, and I get the charging would not be that fast due to some magical voodoo that OnePlus has pulled off, but the charging times on the iPhone is just ridiculous if I’m being honest. The thought of leaving my phone on charge for hours really annoys me, especially when I can put my OnePlus 3T on charge for half an hour and get 60% battery life.

Privacy… wait, what?

I meant everything I said earlier when I said Apple don’t intend to suck your data out. The problem is that other bad actors (i.e. Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) do want to monitor me. And I got a notification on my iPhone that Google Maps had been using the GPS in the background for three days and asked if I want that to continue or if I only want it to use the GPS while the app is active. I mean, I get that policing apps is kinda hard, but good grief Apple, if you know an app is trying to track me in the background, then I don’t know - maybe inform me when they are doing it there and then??? And given how Apple has incredibly strict guidelines and App review policies, I’m honestly shocked that things like this get through. It gives me no faith that Apple is that serious about privacy and is only really hollering about privacy for sales reasons. Do better, Apple.

The Apple lock-in

It’s related to the pro point of privacy - to be out of the shackles of the data harvesting groups that is Google, Facebook, etc. you must invest all your chips into Apple. It’s not good enough to use, e.g. an iPhone but then also use Windows. You must use all of Apple’s product, and only then you benefit from all the greatness that is Apple. And quite frankly, I think that is some bullshit.

Apple’s products are generally aimed at the kind of audience who can afford a premium, but apparently what they offer is so good, it can be provided on their platform. It doesn’t take a genius to understand Apple keeps repeating this to lock people into their ecosystem and keep them relying on Apple products. I think that alone is an ethically troubling stance - that people who can’t afford Apple products yet want them don’t deserve privacy. It’s one thing to be someone who could buy an iPhone but rejects it for personal reasons, but to not be able to afford a good chunk of Apple’s ecosystem to benefit from privacy truly? That’s elitism.

Apple’s ecosystem isn’t even that great

Some Apple products are genuinely great (for me, it’s the iPad, and to a lesser effect, the iPhone), but some products are actually crap.

Which nicely segues me onto…

Apple Watch

The Pros

Heath aspects

For a piece of tech that’s supposed to be wrapped around your wrist, it’s pretty impressive it’s got features to monitor your heart rate as well the software monitoring for heart irregularities. Even with my gripes below, I have to admit it does have the foundation for a really healthcare-impactful device like no other before it.

The Cons

Hideous update times

When I used my Android watch, I do remember updating it, but it took like 30 mins and was a relatively simple update. With the Apple Wear, I had to stop using my phone and my watch to let them both update. Well… I didn’t have to, but I wanted to use my new watch, and I was sitting there for about an hour until I could use the damned thing. Not the most positive experience.

Also, tech manufacturers, can we stop with the whole “let’s spend 1 hour patching an update for the device”? Can you either establish an underlying protocol that allows me to use my device at the bare minimum if it needs an update or enables me to use the watch unfettered with it? I know there are security issues, but I really don’t want to wait an hour to use the device I just bought.

Confusing UI

Maybe it’s because I come from Android Wear land, but with Android, the way you operate it is pretty simple:

  • Navigating around the watch is gesture-based.
  • Swipe up and down to navigate a list.
  • Touch the item to choose the thing.
  • If there are some context menu options associated with the screen you are on, you can swipe right to left to explore those context menu actions.
  • To go back, swipe left to right to dismiss the current thing and go back one.
  • On the main watch screen, you can swipe up to down to get access to some quick settings (like typical Android devices).
  • On the main watch screen, you can swipe down to up to view notifications.
  • Access the apps by pressing the button on the side (it’s not a scroll wheel, just a button).
  • You can use a keyboard in Android. Yes, a mini-keyboard. You swipe to get the word you want. It’s great for knocking out a sentence or two, and it’s surprisingly and amazingly accurate.
  • You get a tutorial when you start using the app, and I believe you can access this tutorial somewhere in the settings if you ever get stuck.

The only thing I would classify as “bizarre” in Android is that on the main screen, you can swipe left and right to change watch faces easily. I have no idea who even wants or needs to change watch faces that quickly, but there you go.

Apple Watch, on the other hand? Oh man. This thing gives me a headache to use. The UI changes the rules in subtle ways at literally every screen. Let me explain:

The main two ways to navigate the UI is with gestures and with the scrollwheel digital crown in the corner. You’d be forgiven that after using iPhone and iPad, the Apple Watch would be incredibly gesture-centric. You’d also be wrong, sadly.

  • In the main watch screen, using the scroll wheel up and down does nothing. Up and down actions are reversed to the Android Wear watch (kinda to be expected if you come from iPhone). Swiping left and right changes watch faces. 🤷‍♂️
  • Pushing the button in gives you access to the apps, as I expected. However, what I wasn’t expecting was the honeycomb layout for the app list.

    • Why show off a list of apps like this? Especially when you have a digital crown thing it would make more sense to see a list of apps instead of that monstrosity of UI.

      • Just for extra kicks, you can use the digital crown, but it zooms into the app. Oh, and once you zoom into the app, you can’t zoom out, as the scroll wheel functionality is hijacked by the app you’ve navigated into. 🤦‍♂️
  • You go into an app, and this is where UX shits the bed

    • Sometimes you get a list
    • Sometimes you get options, and you swipe right to left to access them. You can tell as there are two dots at the bottom of the app.
    • Sometimes you get options, and you swipe left to right to access them. There is a visual indication, but in one app, there was so much stuff on the screen at once I missed it.
    • Right in the top left-hand corner you can see a back button. This allows you to go back up one.
    • The Apple Watch never explains these visual things UI
  • There is a “keyboard”, but you have to type in one character at a time. I feel like I’m about to get RSI from it, despite how accurate it is.
  • The email app shows HTML on the Apple Watch. On the one hand, that’s cool it’s capable of that. On the other hand, it’s entirely unreadable.
  • I tried using the Costa app on my Apple Watch to scan the barcode. It was so tiny I had to pull out my phone and have the QR code scanned.

I find another pain-point is the form-like UI controls in a watch. It is horrible to use. It just makes me want to use my phone instead, defeating the point of a smartwatch. This is the opposite of Android Wear where it is basically a somewhat dumb client showing notifications and allowing you to do Google searches (I never use this feature). It’s useful for keeping me in the loop of incoming notifications on my phone and allowing me to mentally come up with a response in my own pace rather than forcing me to deal with the issue there and then.

Ugly look

If you’ve seen the Huawei W1 Watch, you’ll get my point. Even if you haven’t, I find it kind of hard to not believe that the Apple Watch is a nerdy, ugly look. All the time I had it on my wrist, I was basically ashamed of wearing it. And what frustrates me is that this is Apple - they turn digital devices into fashion accessories. Somehow, they managed to make an utterly, bland, tired watch look for the Apple Watch. Meanwhile, Android Wear handles circular watches. For context, I’ve had people say to me they like my watch and then be completely taken aback that it’s a smartwatch (I even get “Is that the new Apple Watch?” which is hilarious).

Lack of third-party app support

I’ve pretty much got the same amount of third party apps on my Android Phone as I do on my iPhone, but somehow the Apple Watch has less third party apps on it than my Android Wear watch. One would think with Apple’s power that it would have more apps, not less? Apple’s first-party apps don’t entice me that much, I’m afraid.

Poor battery life

My Huawei W1 watch would be taken off charge at about 6am and make it at the end of the day (7-7:30pm) with ~20% charge. Not great, if I’m being honest. My Apple Watch? Took it off charge at 6am and it started complaining about 10% battery life at 1:45pm. It had 1% battery life at 6pm. This is absolutely astounding considering that my Huawei W1 watch shows a black and white display when it isn’t used (i.e. it is showing something on its screen constantly) meanwhile my Apple Watch doesn’t show the time when not being pulled up to my face.


I feel like I’m in some dystopian nightmare where I feel like I absolutely must breathe at certain times or otherwise my Apple Watch/iPhone will give me an Activity report that punishes me for not breathing enough. I know I’m breathing Apple. You want to know how I know? BECAUSE I STILL HAVE A FUCKING PULSE AAAAAAAAAHHHHHGKSJDKFLHASDKLGLDA

With all that said, if you asked me which watch I’d recommend to anyone, it would be neither. As much as I love my Android Wear watch, it really didn’t sell too well, and we all know how Google loves to kill off products on a whim. Sadly, the smartwatch era is slowly dying, and Apple are the only ones who have invested as - if we’re being honest here - it’s the first new product that Apple has announced post-Jobs death, and I’m pretty sure they want to show they are committed to the product and it will sell gangbusters if they just keep at it. But with my experience, even if Apple does sort out the UI, the whole smartwatch is a plaything for the bourgeois, and nobody wants a crappy middleman to their notifications when they can pull out their phones at any time.

As for iPhone/Android, I do feel like they are getting similar, and I can predict myself possibly moving over, especially if Apple addresses this issue (and it is a problem that exists on their platform as Facebook and Google both have an SDK for iOS which is designed to track user activity). In the meantime, I’m too familiar with Android and iOS doesn’t really meet my needs, especially for driving. If I were in the city, I’d probably get an iPhone over Android as it would probably fit with my lifestyle better.

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