iOS 7: why I'm finally dumping my iPhone for an Android

iOS 7: why I'm finally dumping my iPhone for an Android

Summary: My iPhone lies there like a dead fish, telling me nothing. If you believe the weather and clock icons on my iPhone, the temperature and time of day haven't changed for 18 months.

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I think I figured out what's going on with iOS 7. Sir Jony has been trapped in a monochromatic hardware world of his own making for so long that now that he's allowed to meddle in software, he's pulled out that box of Crayolas he's kept locked in the bottom drawer and let loose his inner Wonderland.

I'll get back to iOS 7 in a minute. First, let me tell you about our phones.

I've been using iPhones since a month after the iPhone app store opened back in 2008. After five years, I've decided to dump my daily driver (an iPhone 4S) for a hot new Samsung S4.

In fact, we're getting two of them.

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My wife's iPhone 4 contract ran out in April. After two years, the iPhone 4 is surprisingly old. Not everything runs on it (Siri, for example), and our AT&T phone service is often spotty. You still can't manage applications from the Web (you're stuck working them over on the phone or in iTunes).

And it's all so very boring.

My iPhone 4S contract is up on 11/12/13 (cool, huh?). So if I cancel my service now, I'm going to have to pay a penalty. But AT&T drops the amount of the penalty by ten bucks for each month of service the phone has used, and since I've had my iPhone for 18 months, I can knock $180 off the penalty. It'll cost me around $145 to switch.

But here's the thing: a family plan is cheaper than our two separate plans. We're switching to Verizon because they now have 4G LTE working in parts of our area (although Verizon reception, like AT&T reception, is virtually non-existent in our house). By combining our two plans, we'll drop nearly $60 in monthly costs. Since neither she nor I text or talk on the phone much, a shared texting and data plan works to our advantage.

But none of that really tells you why I'm dumping the iPhone for Android. You want to know why? Two words: iOS 7.

As much as I'm not a fan of the Start screen on Windows 8, I've come to appreciate active tiles and widgets. Windows 8 lets you see the weather at a glance. My Nexus 7 has widgets that show me my email, the weather and my calendar right on the home screen.

A new Android phone can do the same thing.

My iPhone lies there like a dead fish, telling me nothing. If you believe the weather and clock icons on my iPhone, the temperature and time of day haven't changed for 18 months.

I was disappointed to find that iOS 7 adds weird things like tilting backgrounds (some kind of bizarre parallax effect) and iOS in the car, but not useful things like live icons. The car thing seemed incredibly anti-climatic, because the Davemobile has been answering and dialing my iPhone since the day I first turned the key. Perhaps Apple was reading some old Auto PC press releases, or something, but that's not exactly a reason to stay with the iPhone.

And then there's the overall look. I don't want to use iOS 7. It's ugly. Really, really ugly. Oh, sure, the emperor-has-no-clothes contingent will claim it's forward-looking and beautiful, but the reality is it's the worst of Windows 8 iconography and typography, mixed with a Fisher-Price sensibility.

Update: I'm told the clock icon will tell the time in iOS 7. Well, that's something. If we wait until sometime after September, the clock icon will tell time. Yay that. Of course, Windows has live tiles and Android has widgets. But hey, there's hope.

The camera icon is no longer a lens icon. It's now designed for two year olds learning to identify their grandparent's objects: "Look mama, camera!" Okay, fine, so the old photo icon looks like someone changed Hal's eye from red to blue. The point is, it doesn't look like it's part of the parental controls. It looks like a grown-up person's icon.

The photos app no longer sports a pretty photograph of a flower. It's now a batch of colors. It's not a photo! It doesn't even represent a photo. MacPaint, maybe. But "my photos are in there?" No way.

The new iOS icons feel much more like they were designed to be prizes in a McDonald's Happy Meal than like they were designed by the brilliant designers in California. At WWDC, Apple really emphasized California. Oh... trippy, man!

Then there's the forced translucence. I know we all miss the Aero interface of Windows 7 and hoped that some of it would be brought back in Windows 8. But, instead, Apple seems to have decided to make translucence their own, and use it behind everything.

Are you noticing a pattern here? There are a lot of old Redmond ideas in the new iOS.

Remember back in the very earliest days of desktop publishing and fonts, when people discovered the world was more than Courier? We had font overuse everywhere. Apple seems like that with translucence. The Apple folks seemed to have decided it's cool, and they might as well make every single background translucent.

Ever have finger paints and mix all the colors together into one brown smush? That's what your iOS 7 screens are all going to look like. Ugh.

Now, don't think we're anti-Apple. We have a pile of Macs (mostly running Windows, yes, but that's not the point). We have iPhones, iPads (his and hers), an iPad mini, a boatload of iPods, and more. We also have Android tablets, and Kindle Fires. And we spent years on Palm OS (we created PalmPower Magazine back in the day).

The point is, we're ambitextrous. We don't side with any one smartphone or OS out of fanishness. We just use what gets the job done better, what's least annoying, or most fun.

The fact is, we looked at iOS 7 and realized we just couldn't face two years being locked into using that environment. Then we looked at all the goodies you get with Android phones, not the least of which are replaceable batteries.

We added it all up. We could each get an enormously more capable machine with an interface that wouldn't make our eyes bleed, for less money.

So that's it. The next day that we can get a few hours free, we're heading over to the Verizon store (hoping it doesn't also have a stench) and getting Samsung S4s.

Oh, yeah. We're keeping our old iPhones. Heck, we can always use a few more spare iPods.

You might have a day or so to dissuade me. Tell me why I'm wrong. Or tell me why this is the best decision ever. Or, for you five Windows Phone and seven remaining Blackberry trolls out there, tell me why I should jump on your favorite beautiful, if dead-on-arrival, platform.

Topics: Mobility, Android, Apple, Smartphones

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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216 comments
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  • There is a place for the iPhone

    It all has to do with use case. I personally do not like the iPhone but I am like you in that I like flexibility, options, tinkering, etc. An Android platform is a framework to do with what you want, an iOS device is what Apple says it is.

    Now for businesses or a family member that is not tech savvy (and whom I don't want to have to give tech advice to) I recommend either iOS or WP8, again, depending on their use cases.
    Rann Xeroxx
    • Yep

      Since he has a Nexus 7 and Kindles he won't have a learning curve with Android
      LarsDennert
    • There Is No Learning Curve w/ Android

      This summer Android OS will break 1 Billion Activations and 250 Million of those will have been activated in the previous 6 months. Which compared to iOS, there are only 250 Million Total Active Smartphones still in use today!

      The reality is that people are a whole lot smarter about Smartphones than Apple likes to give them credit for. Even with all iPhone models now available for Cheap or FREE on contract, people are more likely to go with Android Smartphones either on contract or Pay as You Go Phone Purchases World Wide Today!!!
      KronJohn
      • Androids are alot cheaper

        I wonder how many of those androids are cheap cricket types, i like ios and android, I don't understand people arguing over Operataing systems. Lol. It's funny.
        I like nexus and tegra lines, but there are alot of cheap android phones.
        I wonder how many are high end android devices
        Bryan Faber
        • Great point.

          You'd be surprised what a difference of $50-100 will do for the bottom line of activations and sales.
          James R Wilson
      • androids are too cheap compared to ios

        you can get a android phone for 80$ ,an ios device for 600$. there's a lot of people who cant afford an iphone man
        dfyjghjyurf
    • Ehhhh . . .

      They just use them like very expensive feature phones. I.e. my son got mildly lost coming home from the beach with 3 other young men. All armed with iPhones . . . he called me for help with directions!

      Apparently, he knew how to use Google maps on his iPhone, but none of the other 3 could. This is normal, Apple has sold the bill of goods that everything is easier with its software for years. Actually all it means is you won't expect to do anything complicated. Of course some people do, but most don't.

      Sorry, just read your post better. You said the same thing " An Android platform is a framework to do with what you want, an iOS device is what Apple says it is."
      stano360
      • Smart phones, dumb users.

        Smart phones are only as smart as the user.
        John Ogre
        • Smart phones, dumb users.

          Exactly what I was thinking. How is that an indictment of the phone or software. If the 3 of these brainiacs couldn't figure out how to use the maps app, I'd wonder what other simple tasks they can't do.
          James R Wilson
    • iOS: a disappointment or a trend?

      While Apple hardware moves fordward, it seems that Apple software, including iOS, and iWork, has been STUMBLING. Sometimes it stumbles forward, but often it stumbles off the path.

      Were customers really clamoring for "Save As..." to be removed in OSX? For the complete URL to be removed in iOS Safari?
      For Pages, Numbers and Keynote to be dumbed down and practically ruined in OSX?

      I love Apple and have almost every product it puts out, but lately they just don't have their act together like they used to when it comes to software.

      I'm very worried that Apple may be overextending itself software wise, or at least not managing it well enough.

      BTW, it is laughable that the clock icon on iOS displays the correct time given that the time is also displayed on the top line of the screen.
      Tom007
  • Windows Phone

    I love my Lumia 920! Had a 4S myself but as you mentioned.. it got stale and boring.. (that and I like to sync my stuff between Win 8 on my PC and my phone. (And skydrive). Other then that I really like the way my Lumia does not autocorrect everything all the time (never figured how to disable autocorrect on my iphone after years of use...) .. and really like the suggested word system where if I type I immidiately get 4 or 5 suggested words so i just stap, type a few letters, tap etc, goes a lot faster then having to correct my iphone 4S autocorrect all the time...

    As icing on the cake I do like my wireless charging pad and camera quality :)

    Now I'm not trying to pursuade anyone to buy this or that.. Im sure Samsung has some great phones as well.. I'm just saying, I got a Lumia, I like it and I agree that Ios got boring..
    DJK2
    • Windows Phone

      ... "... but the reality is it's the worst of Windows 8 iconography and typography, mixed with a Fisher-Price sensibility."

      I think the author already mentioned the Windows 8 (and phone) style in the article ...
      BrentRBrian
      • Windows and Windows Phone are not exactly that same thing....

        ...love my Windows Phone too!
        toph36
        • Me too.

          Great OS.
          Don't fear the future
        • Re: Windows and Windows Phone are not exactly that same thing

          But his comments apply equally to both.
          ldo17
          • His comment was aimed at iOS 7

            Not Windows 8.

            Do try to keep up, ldo17
            William Farrel
          • Re: His comment was aimed at iOS 7

            Which comment did you think I was referring to?
            ldo17
        • windows phone 8 is the business

          You'll never look back
          hubivedder
          • 928 on Verizon is

            really nice. Camera is awesome.
            CriticalSection
  • You need a dictionary and therapy.

    I think you are confusing enthusiastic windows phone users with shills, a word you clearly use reflexively in your posts and of which you do not know the definition. I doubt they have a relationship with Microsoft. Are you that insecure in your selection of tech that other people's enthusiasm for theirs somehow compromises yours? Wow. Seek help.
    Vabraxys