After years of being a diehard Android fan and advocate, I have finally moved to IOS. The journey started after purchasing the iPad Pro 9.7 with the Apple Pencil. The idea was that it would be a better note taking device than the Android options. None of the available Android tablets at the time had the performance or consistent options I wanted. The Stylus options were fragmented, poorly implemented, and in most cases manufacturer specific. The chips used in tablets on Android were less powerful than the iPad Pro.
Rooting Android for features and security
Feature phones have been a staple in my life for the last seven years since the release of the first Galaxy S. My carrier at the time was not AT&T so I did not have access to the initial iPhone. The decision to stick with a long time carrier led me to embracing Android. After a bad experience with a Windows phone it was obvious that it was either switch to AT&T or get an Android phone from my existing carrier. I choose Android to avoid the hassle of switching carriers. Eventually stock Android versions weren’t being updated frequently enough for me. At that point, I began to root my devices and ran multiple versions of CyanogenMod. This gave me access to the latest versions of Android and a more secured device instead of running a year old release with known security issues.
After a succession of Samsung devices through my first carrier. I moved to another carrier who offered better service and coverage. The previous carrier announced their intention of leaving my service area so it was a good time to move on. My first device from the new carrier was a flagship HTC phone. In short order it was rooted and used for the next couple of years. The next phone that interested me was the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. I really only had one issue with the Note 4. The carrier had made it impossible to root. Samsung proved to have no interest in providing timely updates and the carrier was even worse. Time for new options.
Pure Android or IOS
The only way to get consistent phone OS updates a couple of years ago was to either run IOS or pure Android. Customization of Android devices has always been an advantage for Google. Widgets on the home screen can be useful. The draw of IOS was the lack of bloatware from the provider. Samsung, LG, and HTC had all managed to put too many apps that failed to move to the next phone if you decided to move away from their respective phones. There is an elegance to a homogeneous environment provided the apps work well.
Instead of going to the Apple store to check out phones, I borrowed my sons iPhone for a few minutes and played around with it. Teens suffer from the shakes when a parent does this. Which is just one of the fringe benefits of being a parent. But I digress, after playing with the phone for a bit it just wasn’t for me. I couldn’t buy into the folder approach that I would need to use with an IOS device. There weren’t any widgets for the home screen. There were other options.
Google Fi had launched and I had an invite in my email. The Nexus 6P had just come out. This was a worthy replacement to the Note 4. Same screen size and a faster processor running the latest version of Android. In spite of concerns about service quality of Google Fi, the move was made. The 6P ended up being one of the better phones I owned. Updates were consistently available. It did what I needed it to do. I could customize the screens. The Google Fi and Nexus 6P experiment started.
Google Fi and the backup plan
Not long after getting the 6P and living with Google Fi it became apparent that I needed a backup plan for wireless internet coverage. As mentioned at the top of this post, the iPad Pro won. Google Fi worked great as a calling platform most places. It worked less well providing high speed data. The iPad Pro was hooked to one of the major carriers and had service every time the 6P didn’t. On a family vacation to a cabin in rural Virginia the iPad Pro saved me. I needed to get our CTO some information via my boss. The 6P had no connectivity beyond voice. The cabin had minimal access via wi-fi but had great views. The iPad “Just Worked”. Over the next couple of days I was able to get my boss anything he needed. Everyone was happy.
Google Fi required some care and feeding to work optimally. I needed to adjust the call hand off settings. This required activating the developer options which I had already done. Even with Sprint and T-Mobile providing high speed coverage the coverage and speeds were less than Verizon. It became obvious that I would need to look at moving away from Google Fi and back to Verizon.
Customer Service and a terrible upgrade
My 6P developed a bad charging port. I never experienced the battery issues that some reported with the 6P. The phone worked well. All of the google services worked. Google Fi was just o.k. but I had learned how to deal with those issues. The real problems started when the phone needed to be replaced due to a defective charge port.
Paying for protection on the phone seemed like a good idea when I started service with Google Fi. I ended up using it when the 6P charging port died. I sent a service request via the Google Fi portal. Eventually ended up talking with someone. They sent me troubleshooting steps but I had already done all of them. After some time on hold, it was determined that I needed a new phone. The 6P wasn’t available anymore so they said they would send the still new Pixel XL. I asked that it be sent over night and they indicated that would be possible.
Three days later the replacement phone showed up. So much for over night. I limped along with the 6P by finding the one angle that would result in the phone charging. The phone was on but only used if necessary. It was a lousy customer service experience.
The new phone arrived and from the outset it was buggy. Upgrades were installed. Betas were employed. Eventually the Google Assistant would mostly work. It was a terrible phone but the battery life wasn’t too bad. While living with it for the last couple months of my time with Google Fi, I went to the Apple store to check out phones.
Apple Care+ and new iPhones
One of my co-workers is deep in the Apple ecosystem. We have had many conversations about phones over the years. Mostly of the IOS vs Android kind. He was shocked when I went to the iPad. He was more shocked when I asked him about Apple Care+ and if he ever used it. It turned out that he had. His experience was in line with what I expected from a provider. Walk in the store and walk out with a repaired device or new phone. No dealing with a three date wait. Just a great customer service experience.
Meanwhile, the iPhone 8 series was released. I made multiple trips to one of the local Apple stores to check them out. I decided I should wait to see if the iPhone X would be better. In the meantime, I started to put my apps in folders on the Pixel XL. Handling the iPhone at the store sold me on it as a no compromise device. The promise of Apple Care+ was the draw but the phone sold me on making the change.
Porting from Google Fi
I made one mistake in porting from Google Fi. It seems that I should have canceled my service prior to heading over the Apple store. It turned the purchasing experience into a longer endeavor. Steve from the Apple store was great. I got to spend a lot of time checking out Apple TV and the 12.9 inch iPad Pro. During the couple of hours we worked through the process of porting I came up with a few purchases to make down the road.
iPhone 8 Plus over the iPhone X
Without a doubt the iPhone X is a great phone. I prefer the form factor of the 8 Plus and it still comes with all the advantages of IOS 11. It seems likely that 2018 will bring a Plus size of the next version of the X. I’ll gladly take the rumored 6.4 inch rumored display as an upgrade next year. The iPhone 8 Plus came with a learning curve. My son told me, as only a teenage boy can, that I would need to get used to going to Settings for IOS app changes. Siri lags in development behind the Google Assistant but still mostly gets the job done. I had to spend a few dollars in the App Store to replace some of my Android favorites with their IOS versions. Having a lot of the same programs eased the transition.
Still a fan of Google Apps
There are still have a lot of Google Apps that I love, most noteworthy is Google Keep. It is especially relevant to my workflow as a Getting Things Done proponent. I have years of stuff in Docs and Sheets. Google photos holds all of my old Android photos. I love Google Mail, Google Calendar, and the Google Authenticator. The key is that they are all available to me no matter what phone OS I pick. They work just as well on IOS as they did on Android.
The biggest surprise of all has been discovering what a great app Pages is regardless of platform. I use it on the iPad Pro and on my virtual Mac a lot. I even use it on my work laptop via iCloud. The word count feature is on all the time. It’s the perfect lightweight word processor for general writing. Suffice to say that I prefer it over Microsoft Word. Look for a future article on it.
After living with the iPhone 8 Plus for a short time, it is the best phone I have owned yet. After a couple of days, I figured out where most of what I need was at and my thumb consistently found the front button. It turns out that Apple products “Just Work”. Kudos to Jony Ive and the design team at Apple for making great stuff. Obviously I am late to the party but I now get it.