Making the switch from iPhone to Android

Two weeks ago, I made the switch from the iPhone 5 to the HTC One M8. I had been hating on my iPhone for a while and I was ready to make the switch, and a fellow Vons shopper with grabby hands helped me to make the switch sooner than I had planned.

I’ve had four iPhones and two iPads. I was very used to Apple’s walled garden. No viruses, no unwanted porn(?) It was a secure environment. Nevertheless, the frustrations began to pile up.

Top 5 iPhone frustrations:

1. Releasing apps is a pain. When my wife and I released our iOS app Flannel Animals, we had to jump through a bunch of hoops just to get it in the app store. I’m working with a startup right now that is trying to launch a game and it seems unnecessarily difficult. Also, the app needs two be written in the Objective-C language, which is a nice niche programming language to have on your resume, but it makes you Apple-4-life, though I know a couple people that are a-okay with that.

2. My iPhones always failed in a pinch. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a new neighborhood wanting to find a new place to grab lunch only to get so frustrated when trying to find a place on Yelp or Foursquare that I shut my phone off and just went home. Just recently, my wife and I were driving through Hollywood after visiting Bronson Canyon and when I started searching for brunch options my phone became a collage of swirling circles and error messages. Maybe it’s Apple’s fault, Yelp’s fault or Foursquare’s fault. Maybe it’s Hollywood’s fault. Maybe it’s my fault for going to Hollywood. That’s probably it. Maybe it’s because I was holding my phone incorrectly.

3. Fra-gee-lay. Sure the iPhone is a nice little piece of craftsmanship. But since it’s so fragile, I’ve held it without the case on maybe three times, and every time I did I felt nervous. It was like letting your dog go off-leash in the park and hoping that he doesn’t decide to go play in traffic. 99.9% of the time my iPhone was inside a $10 plastic case which made my iPhone feel like a $10 piece of plastic.

4. That new charger. I have sooo many old iPhone chargers around my house now. I may lace my shoes with them. They have to be good for something. Shortly after getting my iPhone 5 I lost the charger so I picked up a new one at a kiosk at Santa Monica Place. Of course, after working fine for a week, I started getting notifications that the charger was not supported. Yay, more money to Apple.

5. My iPhone always seemed to start dying when a new model was announced. I can’t prove this and I won’t even bother to try. But, it sure seemed to me that whenever a new iPhone was announced, my current iPhone would start to act all buggy. I’m sure it had something to do with updating to the latest iOS on an “old” phone, but this was always frustrating as well.

Even with all of these frustrations, I was still planning on hanging on to my iPhone 5 until I took the time to do some thorough research on Android phones and which one might be the best fit for me. But then, a couple weeks ago while shopping in Vons, I put my wallet/phone/keys into the basket I was carrying as I did not have any pockets (I was wearing a bathing suit, one piece). Because of a sweet combo of checkout anxiety and the fact that my $10 plastic iPhone case was as black as the Vons basket, I believe I left my phone in the basket and walked off without it. When I went back to Vons about 25 minutes later to search the stack of baskets, it was gone. According to the Find My iPhone app, it had been picked up by someone who has given it a new home in Venice. Of course.

Well, whatever. Just that week my phone had gone from a 50% charge to a 0% dead brick phone within 20 minutes, so ENJOY THAT PHONE, VENICE. My only stress now was choosing and getting a new phone within the next three days so that I could have it for my trip to the Bacardi Triangle.

I asked my Facebook friends if they had any recommendations for an Android phone and both a former coworker and my cousin’s teenage son convinced me that the HTC One M8 was the way to go. I read a few reviews, watched a couple YouTube videos, it sounded good enough to me. I overthink every purchase I make, but I was going to leave this decision up to people on Facebook that I rarely speak to.

The HTC One M8 arrived in the mail, and it looked pretty impressive. It was noticeably bigger than the iPhone 5 and it was very, very slippery. I was sure this thing was destined to find a new home in the Caribbean Sea as soon as we landed in Puerto Rico, but somehow it would make it back alive.

3 First impressions of the HTC One M8

1. These app icons are kinda ugly. On an iPhone, all apps have the same rounded-edge square shape and they generally go pretty nicely together. On Android, it appears to be a free-for-all, as in, “you are free to make your app’s icon as ugly as you want.” I would fix this after two weeks by installing the Nova Launcher and watching some videos about personalizing the look of the screens, but ugliness was my original thought.

2. The bloatware is real with this one. I’d gotten used to taking all of iPhone’s calculator and compass type apps and throwing them in a folder on my 5th screen, but 0n my Verizon HTC One M8, there was a lot of bloatware. I’ve read articles that say the HTC One M8 doesn’t have much bloatware, but coming from the walled garden, this thing seemed to be packed. When I swiped to the right I was presented a whole page of Amazon BS telling me to log in and download their apps and whatever. No thank you. However, within two weeks I was able to remove this screen easily.

3. This thing is too big to one-hand. Heyo. I am not able to one-hand the HTC One M8 as well as the iPhone. The iPhone and I had a deal: my left hand holds the phone and does all the scrolling and tapping while my right hand holds cocktails and scratches things. Even though I’m able to use some hand acrobatics to get my left thumb to reach the right side of the screen, the tap doesn’t always register. After two weeks I’m getting better at this, but I think I’m just learning to hold the phone a new way. That said, there are still a ton of hand acrobatics required to travel to the various areas of this phone, kinda like when you watch an exotic bird climb around a cage by holding onto the cage with his beak. Just like that, actually.

Since I had decided to leave my computer at home (a MacBook Pro, I’m not Apple-hating too hard here), I had a lot of quality time to spend with the M8. First, I needed to figure out how I was going to take notes, photos and videos, and second I needed to replace my favorite iOS apps with Android versions.

Android apps that replaced my iPhone apps

  • I downloaded an app called Classic Notes that looks exactly like the iPhone’s Notepad app.
  • Alien Blue is an amazing app for reading Reddit (I believe they just became the official Reddit app for iOS) but it doesn’t exist on Android. I tried a few other Reddit readers and finally settled on Reddit Sync Pro which is the closest thing I could find to Alien Blue. It’s working fine but I’d still like to see Alien Blue on Android.
  • Garageband is an Apple product, so I didn’t have much hope that there would be an Android version, but I’m not about to walk around without a full orchestra in my pocket, so I needed to find something. Walk Band looks pretty comparable. I haven’t played with it too much, but it’s got a similar feel.
  • I’d uploaded a lot of PDFs into my iPhone’s iBooks app, and now I’ve done the same with Android’s Play Books app.

Most of the other apps I use have Android versions. Nike+ Running is a little wonkier on Android and doesn’t have the auto-pause feature when you hit a red light (which is killing my pace.) Netflix and Spotify seem the same. Yelp appears to allow me to look up restaurant suggestions on the go. I’m not really using Foursquare since they split into two apps so I haven’t actually downloaded that. Netflix seems to work well.

Oh, I downloaded Swiftkey app to replace the native keyboard on the M8. Swiftkey uses an AI robot that lives inside your phone (probably) to guess what you’re trying to type and what you’re going to type next. It takes some getting used to, and it’s screwing up my Duolingo Spanish lessons, but overall I’d say it’s helping me type a little easier. Also, typing a little easier seems to be a positive side effect of the two-hander sized screen.

I mentioned earlier that I downloaded the Nova Launcher app because someone on YouTube told me it would help me customize the look of my desktops. It worked out pretty well, and I’ve gotten my phone up to a near-iPhone level of sexiness. This tutorial was helpful.

Finally, after a couple weeks of slip-sliding around my new phone, I picked up a SUPCASE case for my M8 and as of right now (knock on wood) I have not dropped it. It feels a little bulky with the case, but in a good, durable way. I like it.

If you’re looking to make the switch from the iPhone to the HTC One M8 I say go for it. You’ll need to be up for an adventure, a trip into the unknown, but it will become pretty familiar within two weeks. Maybe pick up a pair of Baoding balls to prepare your hands for all the climbing around this phone that will be required. My next goal is to figure out why every Android forum is telling me to root the M8. More on that when I figure it out.