Android, as a platform, has a problem: multiple manufacturers of devices with their own independent blends of software will only ever result in an enormous mess of an OS. No two manufacturers’ devices can really be the same. They assert control over their own blend of an OS to insert their own assorted priorities and monetizing opportunities, and prevent you, the user, from correcting some of their user experience mistakes.
Earlier in the year, using a Samsung Galaxy S5, I became enraged at some of their poor design decisions. A mandatory second app store, an unremovable browser saddled with their own branding instead of the normally useful Android default. Several tie-in applications that can’t be truly de-activated, but that are unnecessary as services I don’t use. The list goes on for quite a ways, but after another software update they pushed that added more unwanted garbage, I’d hit my limit. There had to be a solution.
I decided that the multiple manufacturers was a permanent issue for Android. The solution would be not-Android, and therefore, the only option that had only one manufacturer: iPhone. We got two, at unnecessary expense, in April.
It has been a nightmare.
Of course, it wasn’t clear right away how aggravating the IOS platform is. It took a while, I had to get used to it to see the headache for what it was. In the face of vast throngs of people praising Apple as User Experience Geniuses, I assumed at first that it was my own failings that made it all seem clunky and poorly thought out. But as time went on, it became clear that there were some huge, ridiculous, and in a few cases outright unforgivable issues.
Let’s start with what seems to be the overall theme, which is the lockdown. Apple keeps their crap locked down, in theory, so that security can be paramount and users don’t need to worry about malicious applications. Ok, that’s a noble thought, and Android certainly has issues in that regard. But it takes it to frankly inexplicable levels and cripples the device’s ability to suit my needs. Here’s a brief list of those that have been most frustrating to me.
- Mr Number – A crowdsourced robocall blocking app. Works perfectly on Android, but on iPhone, the app isn’t allowed to auto-hang up on calls. So I get robocalls out the ass, all over again, and all I can do is report them afterwards.
- Wifi Analyzer – An app that polls wireless networks in the area and offers info about them. Super helpful for someone technical, and I used it all the time. iPhone doesn’t allow it. It’s not clear why.
- OBD2 Reader – I have a bluetooth powered OBD2 reader. It can’t work with iPhone, because IOS won’t let it connect (though it’s ok with other BT devices). Nobody is sure why, so I had to get another one that uses Wifi instead to work specifically with my iPhone.
- Keyboards – Ok, I can install and use alternate keyboards, which is good because the default IOS one sucks. But it will randomly switch back to the IOS keyboard without explanation or reason (it does so for passwords, which I get, but dislike, but other times too).
- Browsers – You can install Firefox, Chrome, etc… but you can’t install extensions for them, making them much less useful. Apps like my ad blocker only work for the default browser app, thereby ensuring that the normally faithful Chrome runs slow as shit downloading ads all the time.
Moving on. Why must the icons auto-sort? Why can I not leave them in the convenient spots that my thumbs go, rather than have everything stack up to the top of the screen where it’s all vaguely harder to reach? And you apparently only get two pages until you fill that second page with stuff and get a third. Used to be able to create several individual screens as containers for what I was doing… games, tools, etc. Now I’m having to use their annoying little containers.
And what’s with muting my phone?! I’m on calls all day long for work, and on those calls, I keep my line muted until I need to speak. It’s common courtesy. On an Android, the mute / unmute button is immediately available on the lock screen even after the screen turns off. Push button for screen, push mute, all good. On the iPhone, when someone asks me a question, I have to unlock the phone (lucky I can with a fingerprint), then open the active call, then either hit the mute button there or have to get back to the call options if I’d used the keypad… several seconds go by, needlessly, and of course it’s massively distracting if I have to be on a call while driving. I can’t describe what an aggravation this is. I’ve looked all over to find if there’s some secret setting I’m unaware of to handle this. For god’s sake, even my old Blackberry had a dedicated physical button for this!
But to roll into some of the remaining laundry list of whines: Notifications take an extra step to dismiss, the default apps are just annoying (an upcoming patch promises to let us remove some, very eager to do so), iTunes for my desktop is a severe pain in my ass and yet is the only way to transfer files which is fucking bullshit, you can’t put widgets on the home screen and they have to live elsewhere which is just dumb, I’m tired of the little Airplay icons everywhere because I have absolutely no use for it, at all. And the camera sticks out of the back of the phone, meaning when I set it on my desk it’s resting on the goddamn lens.
Things I like: the dedicated silent switch is very handy, I like that. Wish it could, you know, mute my phone. The camera’s alright, we’ll see if it stays so as the lens gets scratched up.
Anyway. So now I have a phone I paid a hell of a lot of money for that I’m sick to death of using. There’s a market for selling used ones, but on a good day I’d get half of what I paid, and that amount of loss is kind of unacceptable for a few months of using it. Needless to say, the refund policy only allows for about 7 days or some crap, so that time is long past.
What gets me, though, is that for all the above frustrations people will still look at all of this and call Apple the user experience standard. Meanwhile, every day I’m over here googling “HOW THE FUCK DO I <X> ON IPHONE” because it’s completely illogically designed.
So next time I get the chance, I’m crawling back to Android. Never touching Samsung again, mind you. Fortunately Google has their own Nexus devices, which is probably where I’ll look.
Ugh. Fuck Steve Jobs.