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Notes on Switching Back to iPhone

A few years ago, I was having trouble connecting my iPhone to my car’s BlueTooth.  I decided to explore my options. 

I tried a Windows Phone, which I liked but had no apps.  The apps that did exist, in particular Amazon’s Audible and Kindle apps, were built for an older version of Windows Phone and crashed a lot.

So, I switched to Android.  Over the next few years, I tried an HTC and Samsung, both loaded with horrible carrier software, and then the Google devices – Nexus and Pixel.  My daily driver for the last year has been the Pixel 2 XL, with a variety of Android Wear (now Wear OS) smartwatches – most recently a Fossil Explorist Q Gen 3. 

Nobody, and I mean, nobody, seemed to have ever seen an Android Wear watch.  I would use it to buy coffee at Starbucks, to universal surprise by every barista.

I made a list of the reasons why I switched to Android a few years ago.  In brief, not in any kind of consistent chronological order or mapping to any specific devices:

  • Can buy Kindle books easily in the Kindle app

  • Better password manager integration (LastPass, specifically)

  • Far less expensive watches, with standard 22mm bands

  • Better integration with Google services, including OS level accounts

  • Better customization of notifications

  • Wireless charging (on at least some devices)

  • USB-C support – one charger for both my laptop and phone

  • HDR & OLED screens

  • Waterproof

  • Google Play music was more flexible than iTunes

  • Better fingerprint reader position (on the back instead of the bottom)

But, a few minor annoyances.  I used to love Google Now for pushing out highly personalized notifications (in particular traffic travel time alerts for calendar appointments. Google dropped it in favor of a mediocre news feed.

The Wear OS watch hardware hasn’t been updated in years.  The watches are cheap, but now are less useful (without Google Now cards) and pretty slow.  The Apple Watch Gen 4 is expensive, but it’s also stunning.

The notch on the iPhone X was initially somewhat… meh.  And then the Pixel XL 3 leaks showed a monster notch.  Twice the size of the iPhone XS?  But also still having a giant bezel on the bottom?  Ugh.

I have a car that supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.  Android Auto is shockingly laggy, even on a Pixel 2 XL.  It’s also buggy – I won’t bore you with a list, but lots of strange extra taps and lag.  I tried connecting my wife’s iPhone 8 Plus – and it was a revelation.  Instant response times, much faster access to relevant apps.

So, yesterday I picked up my iPhone XS.  The Apple Watch Gen 4 won’t show up until October.

Virtually every single advantage I had previously cited for Android devices has been fixed, with the relatively minor exception of still having to buy Kindle books via the mobile browser.  And Lightning instead of USB-C. Oh well.

FaceID is really, really nice.  On the iPhone XS, it’s really fast, and means I don’t have to readjust my hold on the phone to put my finger on the thumbprint reader.  Faster and less annoying.

The password integration with LastPass is much nicer than the similar integration on Android P.

Notifications in iOS 12 are much more manageable.

I still need both for development work if nothing else.  I don’t think that upgrading from an iPhone X to an iPhone XS is a must do, but coming from a Pixel 2 XL it feels like a big upgrade. 

As a side note, I went for the iPhone XS instead of the iPhone XS Max because the screen size is virtually identical to the Pixel 2 XL, but in a much smaller case.  It makes for much better reachability in a smaller form factor.  Get whatever works for you!

P.S. Next year they are going to have to go back to the well again and reset the iPhone naming scheme.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t just go back and call it the iPhone or something.  Maybe the iPhone, iPhone Max, and iPhone SE?  What a mess.

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