05 Apr 2016, 17:36

iPhone Follow-Up: A Couple of Months In

I was just thinking back to what my original blockers were from considering the iOS ecosystem, since at this point any reservations feel so far away to me.

iTunes was a big one, at least some time ago. I didn’t want to have to sync with iTunes. Well, my 6S has never synced with iTunes and never will. Not necessary. What changed? I merge-uploaded all my MP3s into Google Play Music All Access and manage everything using its own pinned downloads. I use iCloud backups with no concern.

I didn’t want much to do with iCloud (aside from the backups). What changed? I turned off most iCloud stuff and use Dropbox to sync photos, completely avoiding the photo stream and all that other stuff.

I didn’t want to give up my Android apps. Not so much purchases, as my paid app collection was negligible enough to re-buy without much compunction. Mostly just concern that I would have to disturb cross-platform workflows. What changed? All my Android apps, including Chrome in its bastardized but effective form, are available in iOS. I also think that the liberalization of iOS to various third-party stuff (including Chrome) was operative in keeping any related frustration at bay.

I didn’t want to give up control. This is a place where I have had to compromise, but so much less than in the past. I used to run a pretty customized Android setup. I was even running CyanogenMod for some time on the old Galaxy S. What happened here was a convergence between iOS, stock Android, and my own preferences. I started running my Android phone in a much simpler way, which then aligned better with the iOS mandates. I did give up my Google Keep screen on my Android home screen, which I would say has had a noticeable impact on my awareness of my long-term to-do list (skimming past my Keep tiles was a key way to avoid forgetting home improvement tasks over the weekend, for example). This is manageable, and honestly using Keep how I’m using it is suboptimal anyway. I just haven’t found the best next option yet.

What did I get in return?

  • Touch ID: Massive increase in confidence using the phone to its full potential. Some apps are now using it to authenticate with online services.
  • Apple Pay: I kept waiting for Wallet or Android Pay to happen, but Apple Pay is here and works darn near every time. I’ve run into a few POS terminals (looking at you, local HEB) that say they have it and don’t, but otherwise (Panera, the Coke machine in my office, others) it just works.
  • Force Touch: Just kidding, I have virtually no use for this at this point.
  • iMessage: It’s nice. Just about the same, and I don’t love read receipts, but it’s nice. Will be nice whenever I’m out of the country for some reason.
  • FaceTime: Didn’t consider this up front, but it’s fantastic. Again, great for travel, too.
  • First class app citizenship: Even though Android is almost caught up, it will always be catching up until something structural changes that. You get the best options faster on iOS.

These have all been incredible adds for me.

In terms of surprises on the negative side, it’s been all about the alarm clock (still just a persistent minor pain in my neck for my odd use case) and diminished baby monitor functionality (although we’re still using a Nexus 7 as the primary, so no direct impact there).

Size-wise, I would probably align around a 6S-minus if I could. The 5 class is a little too small for my preferences, although a chamfer version (or with a neoprene-type case) would be the best hand feel in the whole mobile world. I can’t quite get my thumb up to the top-left of the 6S with a natural hold, and Reachability takes just enough thought to make it harder than just rearranging the phone in my hand. All in all I can’t complain, since my next Android phone was likely to be within a few tenths of an inch of the 6S anyway.