Flirting with the Android

My relationship with Apple products goes back to the early 1980's, 1983 specifically with the release of the Apple IIe. This is before the first Macintosh launched which revolutionized computing as we know it. You must also understand that by no means am I an Apple fan-boy. I don't wait in lines for much (maybe the best cheeseburger in Nashville) and certainly won't do it for a phone. So the latest offering from Apple - the iPhone 6 - left me unsatisfied and made me decide it was time to take the plunge and try an Android smartphone.

It sucked. Forty-eight hours was all I could take, and I'm glad I got that little dalliance out of my system. There are a few take-aways from the experience that I'll share with those considering a switch. You know who you are.

What's lacking?

Samsung battery life claims are a bald-faced lie. I thought the iPhone 5 battery life was pretty anemic. Well, let me tell you...Samsung's S5 is nothing to write home about. It just wasn't better...and was probably worse than my two year old iPhone 5. Yeah, I can swap out batteries...after I take off the Otter Box case...and who wants to carry around an extra battery? Well, I do if it's the Mophie battery case (which is pretty cool) but there are larger issues than battery life to consider.

The Android platform isn't nearly as responsive as I imagined. In fact, I was surprised at several things which were much slower. And that's just the tip of the iceberg...

The apps looked and functioned like they were designed by programmers. In case you're wondering, that's a horrific idea. If Apple did anything right, their core set of apps are supremely polished and functional. I didn't really have a clue as to how much I liked them until I used the less than ideal mess offered by the Android platform.

The apps I use regularly had no acceptable replacements on Android. The podcast apps out there are just infuriatingly bad. I'm sure I could download the Adam Carolla Show automatically if I dug three layers deep into the settings...but they fact that the garbage app had annoying gaps in the audio kept me from making that deep dive.

The idea that the Android platform is highly configurable was very attractive to me. After all, I'm a maximizer and have no use for "out of the box." As soon as I get a tool, I push it to the limit and make it as optimally useful for my purposes as I can. There is so much that is lacking on Android out of the box, that I found the process absolutely exhausting. It was demoralizing that I couldn't get things to work as I thought they should.

Prime example: the camera. The camera in the Samsung S5 is slower than Christmas for an 8 year old. I told a couple of Android users and of course the response was "did you change the options?" Uh, so the default is "terrible?" Who does that? Android, apparently. Give me excellence out of the box, then I'll take it to mind-blowing. Don't give me something I have to fix immediately to make it even average. I want to tweak, not fix. That's not a drug reference.

Twitter. Don't get me started here. Their app on both the iPhone and Android is a bad joke, regardless of what you think of the whole idea of Twitter to begin with. I'd like to consider myself a power-user, and there is no better Twitter app than TweetBot. If I had to describe all the reasons why it's better...well, it would require a second blog post. Suffice it to say that the Android Twitter app and all the alternatives are just horrible...and oddly, not configurable enough to make them even remotely useful to me.

The "smooth" function of Android I saw from afar...the seemingly quick scroll in apps and between screens intrigued me. I guess it was like the seemingly attractive blond you see across the room who approaches and looks more and more like Robert Plant the closer she gets. (No offense, Mr. Plant. You're an attractive man.)

If I turn the sound off on a device that I carry into meetings, I want to make sure my Katy Perry ringtones aren't going to emanate from my pocket when I'm jockeying for new business. Nothing against Katy, but damn Android, if I turn the sound off, I'd like it to remain that way. For some reason inexplicable to me, the volume controls are highly "touchy" and inconsistent.

So millions of Android users can't be wrong, yes? Ford, Chevy, I get that...some like one just to hate the other despite the fact that there is a millimeter of obvious difference between the two. I don't hate Android, I just don't want to drive one.

Since this dirty flirtation with Android, I've asked numerous Android users about what they actually use...and I'm not them. Most are heavy (relatively) users of the phone, contacts, calendar, text messages, and the web. Maybe a music app of some kind (Spotify works fine). Some use Twitter, but use it in a very vanilla way compared to my shenanigans. And for those people, I don't blame them for using Android; it makes economic sense.

Does Apple get unnecessary and undeserved media attention? Yes. Do they get unnecessary and undeserved criticism for perceived flaws? Yes. And you know what? Most companies would trade places with Apple in a heartbeat. Do I still have issues with the iPhone? Yes. Will I be switching anytime soon? Not on your life. Everyone stick their smartphone problems in a pile and I'll be scrambling to reclaim mine. Lesson learned.                                                                                                                                                              _______________________________________

Want more of Eric's thoughts? Read his analysis on March Madness this year or his Marketing Lessons from Richard Sherman. Both quick reads and guarunteed to contribute to the demise of your brain. Happy reading.