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Switching from iOS to Android - Closer than you might think

Author: Ken Addison
Subject: Editorial, Mobile
Manufacturer: Samsung

Software Ecosystem

One of the easiest and subsequently most widespread arguments that are used in the iOS vs Android debate is fragmentation of the software ecosystem. Personally, I think this a tired argument and not necessarily representative of reality.

While there were significant issues in the early days of Android involving a myriad of different device screen resolutions/scaling, the switch to using dynamic layouts for UIs and improvements to core Android APIs have made these problems almost nonexistent for the past few OS releases.

In a similar vein, the decoupling of core Android services from the Operating System itself has greatly improved Google's ability to change functionality on-the-fly without having to depend on handset makers and carriers to release patched versions of the OS itself. Instead, things like the Google Play services which provide things like authentication to Google services, location services, and contact syncing, are updated through the Google Play store and available on just about any device.

All of this being said, I'm still not a fan of the user experience of Android on the Samsung Galaxy S7. I'm not saying that the S7 or Android are bad or subpar experiences by any stretch of the imagination, just that I personally don't seem to click with how things operate.

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A mostly default version of Samsung TouchWiz

Instead of just getting rid of the Samsung launcher right away, I decided to force myself to try to use it for a few weeks in order to get a feel for the stock experience, and how the vast majority of people who buy this phone will experience it.

Given the horror stories I had heard over the years about Samsung's TouchWiz launcher, I was pleasantly surprised at both its performance and usability. Once you go ahead and remove the extra Samsung/Carrier default installed widgets that you don't want and start to customize the home screen, it all works pretty well. The app drawer is the paginated-style that Samsung has been using for several generations as opposed to the infinite scrolling of the default Google app drawer, but the alphabetical organization made it quick to find the app I was searching for.

One thing that did bother me about the out-of-box TouchWiz experience was the placement of Flipboard on the left most screen. Normally reserved for Google Now, I found this to be a waste of this screen and I found myself wanting the Now functionality. I'm not sure if this is customizable or not without replacing the launcher.

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The app drawer of the Google Now launcher

I went ahead and installed the official Google Now launcher a while ago and have been satisfied with the experience. I find the design to be a bit cleaner, and I prefer the infinite scrolling app drawer, and Google Now integration. That being said, it wasn't as big of a change as I had originally forecasted over TouchWiz. It seems that Samsung has walked back from a lot of the sweeping changes they were attempting to make in the launcher in previous iterations.

As far as app support goes, there aren't any apps that I normally use on iOS that I haven't been unable to find Android versions of, or suitable replacements for. This is probably due in part to my use of Google services for things like my Email and Calendar as opposed to Apple's iCloud offerings.

There were very little differences between the functionality of the same app between operating systems, and everything mostly worked as I hoped it would. The Android app ecosystem has truly matured since the last time I attempted to use it on my main handset, and while there may be exclusive apps here and there for each OS, I don't think users of either iOS or Android are missing out on much from the other side.

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I expected to have a stronger opinion after using an Android phone for an extended amount of time and mostly abandoning my iPhone, however, I really don't. The S7 is a great piece of hardware and the software is perfectly usable. While I don't necessarily agree with the way some things are handled in Android after being an iPhone user for so long, I see how it could appeal to a lot of people, especially people who are looking for complete customization over their mobile experience.

Look for a more exhaustive overview of the Samsung Galaxy S7 coming soon to PC Perspective.

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April 1, 2016 | 03:29 PM - Posted by Jann5s

Nice opinion piece ken. I can only hope people can see past their limited horizons and not start apple vs android bashing.

Your statement in the beginning connects to me. I'm too using more and more apple hardware just because they get it right, no skimping on the small stuff like keyboards or touchpads or adding tons of crapware to make 2 extra cents per sale.

April 1, 2016 | 03:46 PM - Posted by taisserroots

The hardware (atleast on the mobility side of things) has been pretty great, it's just the software and the premium you pay for that which is the issue, since many like me and I guess the authour too find the Software to be not worth it.
There are ethical issues regarding production which may worry many, but that's not about this

April 1, 2016 | 03:58 PM - Posted by funandjam

Believe it or not, it is actually Apple's marketing is the reason why so many people keep coming back to them over and over again.

Simon Sinek talks about it in a "Ted Talk" video, where goes over the golden circle(or the "start with why") approach to marketing:
http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action#t-...

Turns out that this is the approach that Apple uses and it is indeed very effective.

April 1, 2016 | 04:27 PM - Posted by eagle63

I'm a current iphone user but was an Android guy for many years before that. I like both platforms, but I prefer iOS/iPhone for a number of reasons. That said, I've always bristled at the notion that the "only reason people buy Apple products (the iPhone in particular) is because of marketing."

I'm not suggesting that that's what you're saying, nor am I suggesting that Apple doesn't have very effective marketing. (they do) But the primary reason their products are popular is because they are good products.

April 1, 2016 | 04:45 PM - Posted by funandjam

Your last statement is implying that other competing vendors don't make good products, which is untrue.

This tells me you didn't watch that video or read up on the "start with why". Here is a very telling quote that explains:
-----------------
"...Not Apple. Apple starts with "why." It is the core of their marketing and the driving force behind their business operations. To help illustrate this point, imagine if Apple also started backwards by creating a marketing message that started with "what."

"We make great computers. They're user friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. Want to buy one?"

While these facts are true, I'm not sold. We instead want to know why they are great and user friendly. Turns out Apple has figured this out over the years and knows better. Here's what a real marketing message from Apple might actually look like:

"With everything we do, we aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think differently. Our products are user friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?"

See how different that feels? "
-------------------

This is excellent marketing. The reality is that apple makes good products, but so do other competing companies. The difference is how apple markets them to you.

quote taken from here - http://blog.hubspot.com/customers/3-takeaways-from-start-with-why

April 3, 2016 | 09:45 PM - Posted by eagle63

"Your last statement is implying that other competing vendors don't make good products, which is untrue"

If that's the way it came across then I apologize, because that's certainly not what I meant. My beef is more with the folks with don't think Apple makes good products at all, and instead are able to somehow pull the wool over everyone's eyes with nothing but marketing. (you'd be surprised how many people fall in that camp - mostly Android fanboys of course)

As far as quality is concerned, I would argue that the iPhone was substantially ahead of everyone else for quite a while. I still think they're ahead in several areas. However, the competition has caught up in many ways. I despise Samsung's software, but the Galaxy 7 is a gorgeous piece of hardware. I'm also a big fan of the new Nexus phones. So yes, I agree that many of the competing companies also make excellent products.

April 1, 2016 | 04:41 PM - Posted by burkhartmj (not verified)

I think your last statement kinda nailed it for me. The iPhone is by any standard a great phone, but it's just too restrictive for me. Heck, Samsung's take is even too restrictive for me [well, at least carrier branded versions], which is why I try to go unlocked as much as possible and currently use a OnePlus One. If Apple catered to someone like me they'd be sacrificing many of their greatest strengths though, and I'm glad their phones are out there for the people who just want something that works well out of the box.

Gotta say, I really don't like the Samsung apps. I really wish they'd stuck with the AOSP versions of things like email, phone, and messages, they look so much better.

April 1, 2016 | 06:11 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I support Apple devices at work and use Android at home. I'm currently on a Nexus 6P but was on a Samsung S4 (root). I have a s5 for work. what I love about Android is the filesystem. I can plug in the phone, transfer files to and from easily. Apple makes it much harder. I had to copy a video from an iPad to a Mac and I gave up after a hour. mind you I work in IT and use a Mac so this this annoyed me.

Apple has good backup but is to restrictive.

April 7, 2016 | 03:22 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

"I had to copy a video from an iPad to a Mac and I gave up after a hour. mind you I work in IT and use a Mac so this this annoyed me."

First of all, I'm not trying to come off as too much of a dick here; and I am certainly no fan of Apple products, but you are either a troll or need to seriously pay attention to menus.

It would take someone actively working against you, to the point where they took your mouse and keyboard away and ran off with them for it to take more than 5 minutes to transfer a video from an iPad to a Mac. If your in IT it should take you all of 5 seconds too google it. I did, it was the first result.

April 1, 2016 | 06:38 PM - Posted by axium (not verified)

I disagree. I've recently went from an iphone 6 plus to a Samsung note 5 for Gear VR and I hate every single minute of it. Apples mantra of "It just works" makes a lot more sense now and I've been taking it for granted for years.

As an OS, the feature parity is very close, I'd agree with that, but there are so many small quality of life approach differences between the two.

Here are a few instances in no particular order.
-Received an email that contains a .tiff file fax? Yeah, you'll need an app for that.
-Received a phone call while your phone was in a locked state? Yeah, we will just leave your phone unlocked with the screen on after your call is done.
-You can't download a .pdf from an intracompany website with the default browser? That's all right, try the 50 other browsers we have available.
-Listening to Pandora with your device locked and would like to change the track? Yeah, you'll have to unlocked the device and go into the app, we took away the control panel from the lock screen now.
-You'd like to upgrade to the latest version of the OS? Yeah, you'll have to take that up with your carrier. You may get the update before the next round of devices launches.
-Want to record multiple 4k videos in a row? Let us just shut down the device for you because it's overheating.

I can go on and on ranting about these small things, but when you add all of them up, it's just an unpleasant user experience.

April 1, 2016 | 07:38 PM - Posted by Sonic4Spuds

It may be wise to take note of the fact that most Android people would have the same gripes about the Samsung software and user experience, which is why many of them choose to use something like the nexus products.

April 3, 2016 | 12:13 AM - Posted by JD (not verified)

Funny, because I own that phone and haven't got any of those issues (I can't speak to Pandora or the tiff attachment though...). OS updates come from Samsung for me which are as late as everyone else except Google (which is still not fast enough).

April 1, 2016 | 07:31 PM - Posted by Ninenindynine (not verified)

Fanbois... Apple Fanbois Everywhere

April 1, 2016 | 11:21 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

Apple's iPhone OS, later renamed iOS, was a great introduction to capacitive smartphone use. It was built on the concept of single, sandboxed application use; with a simple "home" button to return you to the start screen.

I was one of the people who would jailbreak my iPhone to do things like switch between open apps - back in the days before iOS even had a notification system other than a popup dialog box.

Android was a terrible-looking alternative that ran on subpar hardware in the G1 era. The DROID phones made it mainstream, and by 4.0 it was a great OS. It's no coincidence that Google's first great mobile UI came after Matias Duarte joined the company (and oversaw the development of ICS). If you remember WebOS for what it did right, you'll appreciate his talent.

The Nexus 4 is still my favorite Android phone, though it is very outdated now. I switched from iOS when it was released, and I've used Android devices ever since. But then only Nexus devices. And while I currently have a Nexus 5X I do appreciate the quality of the iOS experience, though I think Apple's UI/UX is moving in the wrong direction.

Really talented people make the devices, and user interfaces that give us control of them, and with most of us now using smartphones things have to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Apple does this very well. Power users; the vocal minority who will deride the iPhone and call its users "fanboys/girls", are missing the point. Apple doesn't do anything by accident. It's restrictive for a reason.

I can appreciate the iPhone 6S for having the highest performance per core of any SoC. It's amazing how much they get out of their dual-core configuration, whose "Twister" cores scale almost perfectly in multi-threaded benchmarks and outperform most quad-core and even some octa-core SoCs. But the iPhone still runs iOS, and I think vanilla Android is better right now.

Today, I'm not really happy with even my Nexus phone. There are things about Android 5 and 6 that I don't like as much as 4, and I actually liked 4.3 better than 4.4... But I think a lot about minutiae, and something as simple as a font color or thickness in the UI will bother me. (Such as the ultra-ultra thin fonts of iOS 7+.) Ah well. I'm not designing a mobile UI anytime soon. But I'm not going to stop complaining about what's out there, either!

April 2, 2016 | 01:27 AM - Posted by Shambles (not verified)

I'm still rocking my Nexus 4 and the only thing making me think about upgrading is dealing with 2.4Ghz 802.11N. I don't even miss the Marshmallow update as I'm using Nova launcher so most of the UI would have no effect on my anyways. However, I am jealous that I can't lock down app permissions like you can in Marshmallow now. The more Android updates though the more frustrated I get at its continually movement towards dumbing it down and reducing your options. There's a lot of simple problems with obvious solutions that aren't implemented for sticking to some silly iOS-wannabe style of mobile OS.

I love using computers but I get no joy out of mobile devices. For me they're nothing but a tool I use and the less I have to deal with them the happier I am. At some point I'll probably give Ubuntu Touch a try but it is low on my list of chores to do.

April 3, 2016 | 01:01 PM - Posted by remc86007

I see mobile devices as a tool too. Perhaps that's why I'm so satisfied with my 950XL. I need my phone for calls, emails, texts, music, podcasts, video, and internet browsing...any more is just fluff or something I'd rather do on my surface or desktop.

April 3, 2016 | 12:15 AM - Posted by JD (not verified)

"But I think a lot about minutiae, and something as simple as a font color or thickness in the UI will bother me"

Ooooo-kayyyyyy.....
Steve Jobs reincarnated? :p

April 1, 2016 | 11:43 PM - Posted by PMChambers (not verified)

One issue as an Android as a user from 1.6 days is the manufactures should make their phones much simpler to ROM once their warranty period is over. Especially the smaller manufactures who try to customise their own ROM for market presence. They don't have the size or capability (resources) to maintain the hardware after 12 months so it would make sense to open their system up to CM or other maintained ASOP ROM to allow the product remain reasonably up to date. Some of the methods to get ROOT access and unlock the bootloader are overly complex, risky and require far too much time for non-geeky people like myself. I would be happy to sign away warranty have the manufacture open up the bootloader and ROOT privileges and direct me to their maintained OTA site for recommended ROMs (even if only CM and a few ASOP). The only phone phone I never ROMed was N5, most of the Samsung's in the house end up ROMed within 12 months due to lag and crapware issues. My mother still using my Note 1 ROMed, stable, lacks some 'NOTE' functionality but very functional. Choice is a good thing, but manufactures do not have the ability or financial benefit to maintain and update their OS. Off loadign this in a moderated method would add value to their products, with XDA still maintaining a manufactures unmoderated forum.

April 2, 2016 | 06:49 PM - Posted by BrightCandle (not verified)

In the early years of Android it had a lot of problems, it would have phantom connections it had major performance issues etc. But now the experience is mostly seamless at the OS level and everything else is software available on both. Neither interface is awful and the end result is basically decent on both.

I still have issues with bad connections on Android, it seems to be a persistent issue with Nexus devices that their network layer has just a few bugs in it where it hates loosing connection for 30 minutes and then reconnecting, it regularly fails at that. But basically its the software not the OS that matters to the experience itself and there both have highly refined apps many of which are available on both and similar.

April 2, 2016 | 09:26 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Smartphones are a useless gimmick and will remain as such until they no longer rely on touchscreens: by far, the worst way ever devised to control electronics.

April 3, 2016 | 06:25 PM - Posted by quest4glory

LOL

April 4, 2016 | 12:58 AM - Posted by Virtuous

Hundreds of millions of smartphones would beg to differ.

April 4, 2016 | 03:08 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Popularity isn't correlated with quality. Of course, a lot of people have low standards and will use anything that can more-or-less access facebook, but that doesn't make the interface any less terrible.

April 3, 2016 | 10:21 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

so where are all the spyware people at?

c'mon out from behind the bushes, I see you....bias bros.

April 4, 2016 | 03:05 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Switching from one spyware to another isn't going to change much, so there's not much to say about this article. I would guess that Apple is less spyware since their business model is to sell you hardware, rather than selling your data, but any closed-source software must be assumed to be spyware until proven otherwise.

April 4, 2016 | 03:46 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

One of the reasons for sticking with Apple is because of the camera? REALLY?
Until iPhone 5, the cameras have been absolute dogshit.

April 6, 2016 | 10:47 PM - Posted by vailr

When I saw "Switching from iOS to Android - Closer than you might think", I was kind of expecting to see a method of flashing the iPad Pro's firmware so that you could actually boot and run Android on it. No such luck.

July 29, 2016 | 02:21 PM - Posted by syris

Your last statement is implying that other competing vendors don't make good products, which is untrue.

This tells me you didn't watch that video or read up on the "start with why". Here is a very telling quote that explains:
-----------------
"...Not Apple. Apple starts with "why." It is the core of their marketing and the driving force behind their business operations. To help illustrate this point, imagine if Apple also started backwards by creating a marketing message that started with "what."

"We make great computers. They're user friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. Want to buy one?"

While these facts are true, I'm not sold. We instead want to know why they are great and user friendly. Turns out Apple has figured this out over the years and knows better. Here's what a real marketing message from Apple might actually look like:

This is excellent marketing. The reality is that apple makes good products, but so do other competing companies. The difference is how apple markets them to you.

gapps 6.0 from here - http://www.gammerson.com/2015/09/download-gapps-for-andorid-marhsmallow....

May 23, 2017 | 06:48 AM - Posted by Alexporubay

Of course, the transition from iOS to Android is a painful procedure for any user, absolutely everything is different, beginning with design and approach, ending with sets of applications and opportunities. Especially difficult for application developers, because so many things need to be taken into account.

August 18, 2017 | 03:32 AM - Posted by Fene9976

Yes I agreed.

btw, the first problem you met is how to move the data from one phone to another, which is quite boring. If you were stuck on that, you can check with TunesBro software

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