Blog Post

An Apple Yankee in Android’s court

It’s time to admit it: I’ve been an Android user for the past two years. That might seem surprising since when I first started freelancing for Gigaom, I covered only Apple products.

While some posts where an Apple user tries Android (or vice versa) end up evincing as much enthusiasm as that of a toddler being asked to try Brussels sprouts, this isn’t one of them – there are things I like about Android(s GOOG), just as I do iOS(s AAPL). While I doubt I’m going to go the Full Ihnatko, I can easily picture always owning an Android device. I still use an iPhone as well as an iPad 3rd generation.

Why I got a Nexus 7

I got the Nexus 7 (2012 edition) for two reasons: even though I write about Apple products, I felt I needed to be up to speed on Android, and at the time the iPad mini wasn’t available and I liked the screen size. I also felt that since the Nexus 7 was a Google-branded device, I would get the pure Android experience, not a forked or bloated version.

This was a good decision. While the Nexus 7 isn’t my most-used tablet (that would be the iPad), I’ve had a very positive experience with it. I think even if the iPad mini was out when I got the Nexus 7, because of the better screen I would still have ended up with the Nexus 7.

The Nexus 7 is part of my daily carry and is used frequently.

In some ways, I find Android superior to iOS

At a certain level, I’ve always been platform agnostic. I’ve long believed that devices are simply tools to get a job done. I’ve tried to take steps to eliminate device and OS lock-in so if a better platform for my needs comes along, I can at least migrate most of my data.

I’m running Android 4.4.4 and I like it. A few weeks ago I was on vacation in Nantucket and wanted to see how close the ferry was to the island, and my iPhone wouldn’t render the map correctly. Because the Nexus 7’s GPS chip doesn’t require a cellular or Wi-Fi connection, I was able to use GPS Copilot to see where we were. I know that’s not strictly an Android feature, but it’s one area I feel the Nexus 7 is better than my iPad.

I love the inter-app sharing on Android. If I have Pocket or Evernote installed, adding a web page to these apps is easily done via the Share menu. While this is coming to iOS 8 with extensions, I’m not in the beta for any apps that support it, so I’m still not sure how it will also work in practice.

A web-based store when I can buy an app without needing to launch an app first is great. I often look for an app on my work laptop and it’s very easy to find and install apps that way.

The way Android handles the home screen is wonderful. I love not having to play a tile game if I want to move an app to a specific part of my home screen. I wish iOS had a way to tap and see an alphabetical listing of all apps on my device.

Those are a few ways that I feel Android is superior to iOS. I have no doubt the comments section of this post will be filled with other ways Android is superior to iOS. I feel that Kit Kat was a great OS that is enjoyable to use.

Why I don’t use Android as my main device

While I try to make it easy to switch platforms, it’s pretty much impossible to avoid some sort of lock-in. I try to buy my ebooks from Amazon(s AMZN) and my magazines from Zinio, and I try to keep my files in a service like Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive. This way, if I decide to switch away from iOS, I can get my data.

Last year, I mentally put Apple on notice. While iOS 7 was the re-skin I was expecting, and a necessary step to move the platform forward, what Apple announced this year for iOS and will (hopefully) announce for the iPhone were important to keep me as a customer. There are also a lot of conveniences (such as SMS and phone calls across all devices) if all of your devices are Apple devices. The other reason I still use iOS is app selection. I’m a musician who uses his iOS devices a lot for music creation and the app I use (JamUP) isn’t available on Android. I use Apogee devices as well, and those also do not work with Android.

What’s ahead for me and Android

Let’s assume for that Apple releases a larger iPhone, which seems to be a pretty safe guess at this point. I still need a smaller tablet. I can throw the Nexus 7 in the front pocket of my work pants and go read at lunch. The 32 GB  iPad mini with Retina display, at $499, is a hunk of change. I can’t afford that, especially for a secondary tablet.

That brings me to the rumored Nexus 8 tablet. There’s not much known about it — we don’t have details like specifications, price and release date. I am very curious about Android L. Since my Nexus 7 (2012) is a little slow with Kit Kat and the Nexus devices are usually cheaper than the Apple tablets, a Nexus 8 would fill my small tablet need quite well.

7 Responses to “An Apple Yankee in Android’s court”

  1. Being a software developer, and being in the age of broadband and remote machines, the big consideration with tablets for me is the screen aspect ratio on these smaller tablets (Nexus 7, Samsung Galaxy Tab, or iPad mini). At this time, I am in the process of attempting to switch all of my work over to a tablet and HD monitor.

    With the iPad mini, I can remote into a Linux virtual machine and have a great screen for the typical 1024×768 + VNC connection that is presented. However, with the Nexus 7 or Samsung Galaxy Tab, this does not show up nearly as nicely. Having said that, though, the Nexus 7 does present a mouse cursor when you plug in a USB keyboard and mouse. The Nexus 10, on the other hand presents a great aspect ratio screen for VNC.

    Given all of this, long term, I may actually opt for a Nexus 10 to cover most of my computing needs. Of course, I could probably also see what this Nexus 8 has to offer.

  2. Im a pro apple person but I will say I will not promise I will never change im 15 and I have apple stock so it’s kinda my little commitment to the company I just want to say good job with evenly saying pros and cons about the two.

  3. russellleeo

    “Because the Nexus 7’s GPS chip doesn’t require a cellular or Wi-Fi connection, I was able to use GPS Copilot to see where we were.”

    GPS chips on phones and tablets do not need cellular or wifi connection to work.
    You were able to see where you were because you had an off-line map, GPS Copilot.

  4. Davin Peterson

    The Nexus 7 (2013) edition is much improved over the 2012 edition and I think it is better than the iPad mini. It is faster, higher resolution screen and has miracast, nfc, wireless charging and bluetooth – missing from the iPad. The Nexus 7 is why Apple had to make a mini version of its iPad.