I’ve been an iPhone user since 2014. Actually that’s not true. I dabbled with Android with an HTC M7 around 2013 and used iPhones before that (think my first iPhone was iPhone 3G). Regardless, I have been mostly an iPhone user and have been satisfied with my experience for the most part. iOS just works with no complications. And if your waist deep in the ecosystem, you appreciate the overall experience of all your Apple devices working with one another seamlessly. And yet, despite years of a hassle free experience with iOS, I still felt compelled to look over to see what I was missing on the Android side of things.
There’s an old adage: If it ain’t broke, dont’ fix it. And yet here I went and tried to “fix it”. I felt bored, and restless. I partly blame all the kdramas I have been consuming these past few years (all you see are Samsung phones being used in them). So I took the plunge and for 2 weeks or so, I was using a Samsung S22+. I did enjoy some of the customizations opportunities that one gets with Android (default keyboards, browsers, and arranging your apps to your liking are very well implemented). But that’s been the bulk of my Android use. I wasn’t using it as much, the way I would with an iPhone, to read my news blogs, listen to my podcasts or music, and play my casual games like sudoku or solitaire. No, at least 20 to 30% of my Android use was devoted to further tinkering settings and trying to recreate some of the experiences I missed using the iPhone.
Two weeks in, and I decided I had my fun and now it’s back to what works best for me. Samsung S22+ is on it’s way back to Samsung, and an iPhone 13 is on its way to me (slight upgrade from my previous 12 pro). So what made me decide to bail on Android and go back to what I know best and with what I am most comfortable? There are a few things and I’ll list them here.
I won’t go into too much detail to explain iMessage. iPhone users know all about it. Android users don’t have the pleasure to use it. Needless to say, for SMS/iMessage conversations, it just looks nicer and has a boatload of features that the standard Android Messages app doesn’t provide. And how could it? It’s just SMS messaging. There are several cross-platform apps of course, but the people I most communicate are iPhone users and just love the ease of use of iMessage and don’t want to bother with Whatsapp, Signal, Telegram, etc. So yeah, this is definitely one of the reasons to go back to iPhone (that darn Apple ecosystem in play again).
For contactless payments, Apple Pay is an absolute pleasure. It just works and is simple to use. Just double-press your side-button, use Face ID/Touch ID or passcode, pick your payment method (unless you have a default one that you always use) and let the card reader scan your phone, and done. My experience with Samsung Pay and Google Wallet/Pay has been hit or miss. Plus the way to use Samsung Wallet is a little more cumbersome than just a double-press of the side button on an iPhone. The issue with Google Wallet is that there is also Google Pay. Google has a habit of trying to fix things that are already working (which this post shows I’m guilty of). Google Pay/Wallet is no exception. It has gone through many different brandings and iterations. They did the same with messaging apps. This uncertainty makes me want to stick with Samsung Pay for contactless payments but the execution isn’t the smooth experience I became accustomed to with iPhone. I can tolerate it and deal with it but why should I?
This was my biggest disappointment on Android and made me finally decide on switching back. For those that don’t know, “VLC is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVDs, Audio CDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.” It has been my go for my video files on all my Apple devices. It’s great and just works. My favorite feature on iOS/Apple TV/iPad side of things, is the ability to send files to VLC via Wi-Fi. Just turn on “sharing via Wi-Fi”, you get a 192.168… url and you use a browser and drag and drop files over. That feature isn’t available on Android. So how do I drag files over? Connecting my Android to my Mac wasn’t enough to give me that option. Going to a VLC for Android support page didn’t give me any answers.
After struggling with different search queries I finally stumbled upon an answer. By simplifying my search to: transfer files from mac to android, I came across Android File Transfer. With this work around I moved media files to my phone. But wait, how is the video playback? Not good. If I stream video from streaming apps like Amazon, Crunchyroll, etc, those apps make good use of the screen, albeit with side bars but that’s fine. Not so with VLC. Either I get 16:9 ratio but it uses a fraction of the display, or fit screen but then it zooms in and crops out a good portion of the video making fit screen a non-option. Fill, 4:3, and Center are no better. Why can’t VLC on Android fill the screen the way the streaming apps can? This was never an issue for me on my iPhone or iPad.
So yeah VLC was the final straw for me. I was able to make do with Feedly and Pocket Casts as alternatives to Reeder and Overcast for my news feeds and podcasts. But VLC for Android just paled in comparison to VLC on iOS. That along with other little nit picky things (aside from what I just mentioned), was enough for me to call it quits on my short-lived experimentation with Android. It’s just not for me. I’m an Apple user and I have to just accept it, come to terms with it, and not make this whimsical folly again.