Apple unveiled iOS 8 at WWDC 2014 with some interesting new features that makes it a tempting platform, even for Android fans like me. Did they do enough to draw this former iPad fanatic and iPhone lover back to the Apple fold ? Almost! They need one more thing to close the deal.
To see if the changes in iOS 8 did enough win prodigal Apple users back from the far country, first let’s see what Google and friends did with Android to pull us away.
The Draw of Android for Former iPhone Users
Android has enticed many due to their openness to larger screens and interface customization. Customization like:
- Keyboards – Users can install third-party keyboards like Swype.
- Launchers – Change the user-interface by installing an app to reorganizes the way the home screen looks.
- Widgets – Add interactive tools that live on the home screen.
- Active notifications – Pull-down from the top of the screen to play music, end phone calls, answer or archive email and more.
- Lock screens – Change the phone’s lock screen by adding widgets, apps and other notifications as well as the entire look by installing an app.
- Open app store – Google doesn’t block as many kinds of apps as Apple, allowing apps that change the way we work with the phone.
- Large screens – The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has a 1080 x 1920 resolution on a 5.7-inch screen with a pixel density of 386 ppi while the iPhone 5s screen measures only four inches and 1136×640 with a 326 ppi density.
The above list shows that Google fosters an attitude of openness to user needs, while Apple seems more tied to their own ideas about design and user-interface.
Apple designs beautiful products, and their user-interfaces look beautiful too. That’s what made many us love Apple products. However, Apple sacrifices the wishes of users in favor their consistent design aesthetic. Their popularity and great sales figures support their decisions. Will that hold up if they stay so conservative, though?
Apple didn’t allow third-party keyboards, which look and behave differently than the built-in iOS keyboard. At first, this didn’t bother me, but the Swype keyboard changed that. I love to enter text by sliding from letter to letter without lifting my finger. The predictive text from the makers Swiftkey makes entering text on Android even better. I hate to use the keyboard on an iPad or iPhone. It feels clunky and my typing accuracy and efficiency plummets.
Apple Springboard launcher puts icons in a grid of rows and columns with the dock of four icons showing up on every screen. Unless a person jailbreaks their iPhone, they can’t change that.
A lot of Android users don’t like the launchers that come on their phone. HTC Sense, Samsung Touchwiz and Motorola Blur never won many hearts, but with Android a user can stay with the stock launcher or change it to something else, even one that mimics iOS Springboard.
iPhone users don’t complain a lot about Springboard, but I think that’s because many have never seen what a third-party launcher looks like on an iPhone, and that’s because it’s so hard to jailbreak an iPhone.
Widgets like EazyRedirect let me put interactive icons and controls right on the home screen of an Android phone. With one tap, I can forward my phone to another number using EazyRedirect. Other widgets make it quick to…
- Make a call or send a text with a single tap on the home screen
- Create a scan of a document and save it in Evernote for quick optical character recognition
- Update social networks with a single tap
The Google Play Store includes hundreds of useful widgets. Right now the Apple App Store includes zero widgets.
Apple took a big step forward by putting a camera launch icon on the lock screen of the iPhone. However, I can add other icons to my Android phone lock screen. This lets me launch apps, change settings and make phone calls without entering my password. That’s less secure, but that’s my problem, not Apple’s or Google’s.
For people like my wife, who like Apple’s locked-down simple interface, the present iOS fits nicely. She picks up my Android phone or tablets and hates using them because they’re more complex than the simple grid of icons and folders on her iPhone 5 and iPad 4.
Many mobile users want more, so Android, and even Windows Phone, puts pressure on Apple. Apple stubbornly disappointed people like me with their rigid adherence to a locked-down philosophy… until this week!
How iPhone 6 Can Win Us Back
This year at WWDC 2014, Apple signaled a change in philosophy with some really exciting things for those of us who like to tinker, customize and change our OS. Here’s a few of the changes Apple promised that might inspire Android users to buy the new iPhone 6 when it launches this fall.
- Third-party keyboards are supported, including a confirmed version of Swype for iOS 8.
- Widgets in the notification center of iOS 8.
- Interactive notifications that let me reply to a text or accept a meeting invite.
- Continuity with OSX Yosemite that lets me begin an email on my iPad and finish it on my computer.
- Calls started or received on my computer using my phone, just like Google Voice.
- Instant hotspot that automatically pairs my iPhone to my Mac so I can get online using the phone’s data connection.
- Favorite contacts in the multitasking screen opened when I double tap my home button.
- More features included in Spotlight search so I see more than just web pages, contacts or documents on my phone.
- iCloud Drive acts more like Google Drive, with access to photos, files and more.
- All photos backed up to iCloud for later access, not just recent.
- Cheaper iCloud storage upgrades more in line with Google Drive prices.
- Video app previews in App Store like Google Play Store.
Apple promised nearly all of the features that drew me away to Android. I’m most excited about the third-party keyboard and interactive notification widgets. I’m also looking forward to the continuity features that make Yosemite and iOS 8 work closer together. These will put pressure on Google and Android. However, these things alone can’t draw me back. Apple needs to give me one more thing – a bigger screen!
Some of the details found deep inside iOS 8 point to a larger screen on the next iPhone. Add this to the avalanche of rumors we’ve heard over the last year or so and Apple will shock most observers if they don’t sell an iPhone 6 with a bigger screen.
iOS 8 solves 90 percent of the problems that pushed me over to Android. I will buy an iPhone 6 if it comes with a screen measuring five inches or bigger. If it’s the same 4-inch screen as the iPhone 5s, then I won’t.