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I Tried Using iOS Instead Of Android, And… Oh Boy

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I’ve always been an Android user. Since the Samsung Galaxy 5 back in 2010. I’ve used A LOT of Android smartphones. I’m used to the OS, and have watched it mature over time. I’ve never used iOS as my primary OS, nor did I ever personally buy an iOS device. I’m familiar with the OS, though, which is actually one of the reasons I’ve never used it instead of Android. That changed recently, though. I reached an agreement with a friend of mine, an avid iOS user. We’ve agreed to switch places, I opted to use his iPhone, while I gave him my Pixel. So, essentially, I tried using iOS instead of Android, and… well, it didn’t go down well.

I’ve stumbled upon a ton of problems during my rather short usage. The initial plan was to use it for two weeks as my daily driver, but that time got cut short. I became quite irritated in the process, which is why I had to quit altogether. Now, in this article, I’ll share my experience with the OS. This is, by no means, the opinion of everyone, or anything of the sort. This is my personal opinion and experience. I’m sure it will trigger some of you, which is completely unnecessary, as I’m not trying to say Android is superior, or anything of the sort. This is not about that. This is about what I experienced, and what I think, one person, one man. My opinion will surely be different from yours, quite possibly completely different.

Having said that, as I’m writing this, I’m expecting this to be a rather long article, but we’ll see how it turns out. I’ll try to separate it to as many sections as possible, as I’ve jotted down a lot of notes during my usage. I’ll also get into it in no specific order, quite frankly. I did note what pushed me over the edge, though, spoiler alert, it’s the last entry in the ‘Notifications’ section. Things have been piling up as I went along. Also, I had to use an Android phone during this experience alongside iOS, as my secondary device, as there are things iOS can’t do, and I require, on a daily basis. Both personal and business-related.

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Things I disliked

Scrolling

Linear scrolling

The scrolling on iOS works differently compared to Android phones. On Android, the faster you move your finger, the faster the phone will scroll from the get-go. On iOS, you need to get momentum in order for that to happen. Scrolling is linear if you make one quick swipe over the screen (it can speed up to a certain degree), it won’t scroll a bunch of content. If you quickly repeat that process a number of times, you’ll get momentum, and the phone will scroll fast. I couldn’t get used to that, and found it to be limiting. It felt like using a mouse with a 600 dpi setting when you’re used to 2,000 dpi, for lack of a better metaphor.

Postponed post-scrolling actions

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What do I mean by “postponed post-scrolling actions”. Well, let’s take the multitasking menu, as an example, when I fast-scrolled between cards, it always felt like iOS needed an extra second to stop and let me tap on something. If you swipe and tap to stop, there seems to be a short delay after which it doesn’t allow you to open a specific card. Longer than on Android, anyway. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when you’re used to something working faster, it can be quite annoying, I had a lot of wasted taps, let’s just put it that way. It didn’t feel as snappy as I’m used to.

The widget situation

Top-adjacent placing

As most of you know, iOS introduced widgets a while back. They’re here but they’re half-baked, to put it mildly. Let’s start with the first annoyance, you can’t place them anywhere on the screen. That goes for icons as well, in fact. They always go in the first available space at the very top, regardless of what you want. You can create a workaround for this by installing invisible icons and widgets (paid third-party apps), but that’s just… well, a number of extra steps for no good reason, it only complicates things. This is definitely not a complication that should exist.

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Widgets not being interactive

Widgets are not interactive on iOS. For example, if you’d like to use a music widget that will allow you to play/pause music, and switch between songs, without leaving the home screen… well, you can’t. You have to open the app and then do it. That kind of defeats the purpose. You can get information from a widget, but you cannot really interact with it properly. So, that basically makes these half-baked.

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Poor selection of widgets

I was expecting a lot richer selection of widgets on iOS, as they’ve been around for a while now. Many developers opted not to make them until they become interactive, though, it seems, though that’s just an assumption. I installed a number of multi-platform apps I’ve used on Android, expecting to have at least some form of widgets available. That was not the case for many of them. More than half of the apps I installed didn’t offer widgets, which was disappointing.

Settings

Settings in iOS were infuriating. Not only was I not able to set a number of things that seemed logical, but I was unable to find a ton of options. Some logical placement for specific settings were not where you’d expect them to be. In fact, they didn’t even have proper names, so I couldn’t search for them with ease. On top of that, many options that were available were individual, per-app, they lacked a general switch. It was a truly annoying experience that wasted a lot of my time.

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Navigation

No universal ‘back’ action

This one is mind-boggling to me. I knew it before I went into this whole ordeal, as is the case for a number of other things on the list. iOS does not have a universal back action. You can generally swipe from the left side to go back, but not always. For example, if you’re in a video, you have to swipe down most of the time, you cannot simply swipe back. The same goes for when you open a photo, in iPhone’s default gallery. Also, if you’re in an app, and you delve further into the settings, some apps will make you use a different gesture or even a back button that is in the top-left corner. Needless to say, this is immensely annoying, and illogical.

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Inconvenient back gesture

In order to go back on iOS, you can swipe from the left edge of the display towards the middle. You cannot do the same from the other side to achieve the same goal, though, like you can on Android. This wasn’t too much of a problem on the iPhone 13 Mini that I’ve used, due to its size, but it would be on any other iPhone 13 model. 90% of the time when I go back on Android phones, I use the right-to-middle swipe. It’s far more convenient.

Notifications

Notification Center is only accessible from the top-left area

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I’m used to swiping down wherever on the homescreen to access my notification shade on Android. Pretty much every mainstream Android OEM offers that option at this point. It’s convenient and it makes sense. That action will activate the search function in iOS. That’s fine. So, you should at least be able to swipe from the top to access the notification center, right? Well, yes, but only from the top-left side of the display.

This is so… ugh. If you’re a rightie, that motion is impossible to achieve with one hand without doing serious hand gymnastics, especially on larger phones (without utilizing the reachability feature every time). Swiping down from the top-right side will activate quick toggles. For me, personally, it would make more sense to be the other way around, if that’s the route iOS is taking. Why? Well, I access my notification shade/center a lot more frequently than I do quick toggles.

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‘Older notifications’

Another notifications-related gripe is with disappearing notifications, well, kind of. So, even if you don’t tap on a notification on your lock screen, after a while, it will be moved to the notification center only. I was able to swipe up on the lockscreen in order to see it, as that’s where ‘older notifications’ are located, but it was no longer front-and-center when I turn on the display.

That makes absolutely no sense to me, as I didn’t act on that notifications, I didn’t tap on it for a reason. It should stay there until I do. I do that all the time with notifications, as I either don’t want to act on it at the moment, or I don’t have the time to. There may be an option to change this, but quite frankly, I didn’t find it. It would be fine if this were an option, but it’s enabled from the get-go, and quite frankly I didn’t find an option to change it.

Quick reply long press

If you’d like to quickly reply to a message that is in your notification shade/lockscreen, you need to long-press on the message, and tap ‘reply’. That process is much simpler on stock Android, as the ‘Reply’ button sits right below the message card. I generally don’t prefer doing extra steps to do something, especially if I do it often, so this was also rather annoying, but at least the option was there.

Notification Center’s swipeability

You can swipe away the notification shade from the bottom only. You cannot swipe up from somewhere else and get it to go away, no… it has to be from the bottom. I really don’t see the point in this, especially when there are not a lot of messages on the screen, but there you go. This is not a big deal, and I got used to it quickly.

No option to disable ‘screen on when notification arrives’ feature

I got pretty annoyed during my time with iOS. Things have been piling up, but this one truly pushed me over the edge. This was the one that caused me to give up my originally planned two-week usage, and switch back. I simply couldn’t do it. So, one morning, I was getting a lot of emails, birthday wishes, and other types of notifications, and the iPhone 13 Mini was constantly lighting up the screen on the table. So, I decided to go to settings, and disable the ‘light up screen when notification arrives’ option. The thing is, I couldn’t find it.

Then, I decided to Google the issue, as I did for many other things, as I simply couldn’t navigate the horrible settings in iOS. Many people seemed to have the same question. To my surprise, there is NO OPTION to disable this. So, I still wanted the phone to notify me that I received a message, but for it not to light up the display while doing it. You can’t do that.

Users were suggesting to disable lock screen notifications for a certain app, which is not a solution, as I wouldn’t see that notification when I decide to unlock the phone. Others were suggesting to enable Do Not Disturb mode, which would prevent the phone from notifying me I received a message. There’s also the ‘flip the phone upside down’ to avoid this problem. That’s also something I didn’t want to do, as I was using it without the case at the time.

This managed to upset me quite a bit, as it seemed like a trivial option, but it apparently is not in the world of iOS. At that time I decided to give up, and I switched back.

Other tidbits

iOS looks outdated

iOS, in general, doesn’t look modern to me, at all. The general design language does not appeal to me at all. I much prefer Material You, or something of the sort. Truth be said, every Android skin I’ve used in the last couple of years looks better to me design-wise. That’s not surprising as iOS didn’t change that much over the years. Apple did refresh its design to a degree, but this is still not what I’d prefer, to be quite honest.

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App Library

I’m not a fan of the App Library in iOS either. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad iPhones have a way of removing all the apps from the homescreen(s), but this is not what I’d prefer to use. App Library automatically sorts your installed apps into categories. There’s no way to manually categorize them, nor throw them in a single, alphabetical list, which is how I prefer to use my app drawers. I hope Apple plans to change this moving forward. Another gripe with the App Library is the fact it’s accessible from the most-right screen, so if you have plenty of home screens, you’ll need to swipe quite a few times to access it. This didn’t bother me all that much, to be quite honest, as I rarely navigated there.

Lack of keyboard customization

To no surprise whatsoever, I hated Apple’s keyboard from the get-go. That’s fine I said, I can install Gboard, and it’ll all be good. Well, no, not really. I installed it, but then I realized it’s lacking a ton of customization that is available on Android. For example, I cannot place a comma next to the space bar, to its left. Swiping across the backspace doesn’t delete a word you’ve typed, and so forth. I was really slow when it comes to typing messages because of such issues.

Wi-Fi & Bluetooth resurrect themselves, it’s a “feature”

This is also something I knew beforehand, and it still struck me as odd and stupid, quite frankly. You cannot disable Wi-Fi entirely from the quick toggles menu. You can if you navigate to the settings, and do it the long way around. If you do it via the control center, it will only be partially disabled, as it will activate the next day (in the morning). The same goes for Bluetooth. As someone who disables both Wi-Fi and mobile data overnight, and enables them upon wakeup, this seemed like completely pointless. I mean, I was able to get to Settings, and do it that way, but… why? Ah….

The glanceable battery percentage is a no-go

On Android, most people either include a battery percentage next to the battery icon in the status bar, or replace the battery icon with a battery percentage, depending on the skin you’re running. Well, that’s not an option here, all you see is the battery icon. You can see the battery percentage if you access the control center, or if you place a widget on the homescreen. That’s one of those extra steps that are completely unnecessary, but… that’s something you realize really fast on iOS.

Underutilized volume buttons

If you press a volume up key, or a volume down one, there won’t be a shortcut to access all your volume-related controls, as is on Android. This won’t bother many people, but I find it to be really handy, and was quite disappointed by this. A number of times per day I want to tweak the media volume, and the same goes for calls and general notifications, so this feature would be useful.

An extra step to use Apple Pay

There’s also an extra step to use Apple Pay, in comparison to Google Pay. This is not a huge problem, as you can set the power/lock button to activate Apple Pay upon the double press, or press an icon from the toggles menu. Still, it’s not as fast as it is with Google Pay. With Google Pay, all you need to do is unlock your phone, that’s it. You don’t have to press buttons or navigate to other menus.

Wasted space up top

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The last x generations of iPhones (not counting the iPhone SE) have a large notch at the top. That doesn’t leave much room on the left and right sides of that notch. Still, there is some room. Considering that the notch on the iPhone 13 Mini is even narrower (despite being a bit taller), there’s even more room on the side. One would think Apple will make use of that, but… the company did not. There is a clock on the left, at all times, while you’ll get your basic connectivity info and battery on the right. You don’t see icons for unread messages, nor can you add any extra icons there.

Wasted space below the keyboard

iOS has a lot of wasted space below the keyboard, as does stock Android (not some skins, though). On iOS, it’s a bigger problem, though. Why? Well, because there are two buttons down there, the globe on the left side, and a microphone icon on the right. I was constantly pressing those two by accident, as there’s no way to remove them, at least to my knowledge, it’s possible I missed an option, as settings on iOS are a nightmare. Google, at the very least, didn’t place anything below, so there’s nothing to press by accident. An option to remove that wasted space would be appreciated on both platforms, though, as OnePlus does, for example.

Things I liked

Fluidity

iOS is a really fluid OS, there’s no doubt about that. Part of that is the way it’s made, with a lot of limitations, many of which are focused on providing great performance, and part is on Apple’s excellent SoC. That performance didn’t surprise me at all, but it’s definitely worth noting. I’m used to great performance on Android as well, though, so this wasn’t exactly an improvement for me.

Face ID

Face ID worked great during my usage, to say the least. Apple did a great job implementing this, and I didn’t miss the fingerprint scanner. That’s odd to say, but it’s the truth. It even worked great with a mask on, so… that was a non-issue as well.

App optimization

Some apps are still better optimized on iOS than they are on Android. Facebook is a prime example of that. I did notice better performance in a handful of multiplatform apps. The difference wasn’t huge, but I did notice it.

Camera app UI

I liked the camera UI in iOS, that’s for sure. I’ve seen similar implementations on Android. It makes sense. You can quickly toggle between modes, and get what you need. It was annoying to go to general settings in order to preserve camera settings once you apply them, as that is not set by default, I would have much preferred to have that option in the camera app, but that’s the way iOS handles things. You have to do it once only, so it’s not a big deal. All in all, the camera UI is solid.

Ease of switching to another iPhone

This is not something I actually experienced during my usage, but I’ve seen it done a number of times. The latest of one was from the iPhone SE (2020) to the iPhone 13 Mini. The change was seamless. Something like that is nearly impossible to do on Android, at the moment. That is to be expected, as there are tons of different skins in play, and so on. It should, however, be one of the main focuses of companies. Switching in such a manner should, at least, be possible from a Pixel to a Pixel, from a Galaxy phone to a Galaxy phone, and so on. I’m hoping Google will put more focus on this. There have been improvements over time, but nothing comes close to switching from one iOS device to the other.

The bottom line

Does this mean iOS is bad? No, not at all. iOS is a great operating system, there’s a reason Apple is doing so well, and its phones too. This only means iOS is not for me, not at all. I don’t like being pushed into a corner and ordered around, which is what this felt like. I was feeling trapped while using iOS, and it really did impact my productivity along the way. Even before I started using iOS, I knew that specific apps are not available on the platform, in any way shape or form, I knew that I’m going to encounter tons of problems, in fact, I predicted the vast majority of the ones mentioned in this article. Some things did surprise me, some in a negative way, some in a positive way, though mostly the former.

So, the bottom line is, iOS is not the right OS for me. I can understand why people use it, and love it. Sure. People are used to it, they enjoy the fact it doesn’t change much, and that it functions really well. I actually talked to a bunch of iOS users (none of which are trapped by iMessage, or anything of the sort), just to see what’s their take on it, and well… people don’t really care about convenience, is what I got as a response, indirectly.

They don’t mind using two hands to do something one hand can do, they don’t care about poor notifications implementation, about messy settings, or the fact their display lights up a million times a day (no, they’re not using Focus Modes, or anything of the sort). They’re used to the way iOS works. It presents them with an easy way to switch to a new iPhone when they get rid of this one, and it works well. That’s all they care about. Well, there are always those that need to show off that Apple logo on the back, but that’s a completely different story.

All in all, I really hated my experience with iOS, and that’s not surprising at all. I’m a techie, I’m a person who likes to customize my phone for it to serve me, using iOS felt the opposite of that, almost. I like being as productive as possible, and that was simply not possible in iOS. On top of that, I’m a highly logical individual, so I cannot fathom some of the choices in iOS. I want for using a phone to feel convenient, and pleasant, without unnecessary hand gymnastics, and various other annoyances. That doesn’t mean you feel the same way, of course. This way only my personal experience, and I’m glad the experiment is over.