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How I spent my Android vacation

Michael Simon | Dec. 1, 2015
Is the grass greener on the other side of the walled garden?

gph 001 11

I can remember the exact moment I stopped missing my iPhone.

Three days earlier, I had embarked on a brave new journey with the Nexus 6P, a month-long break from my long-term relationship with the iPhone. I wasn’t completely illiterate to Android—over the years I’ve tried a few Galaxies and a Moto or two, and even bought an original Nexus 7—but extended daily use was a bit of a shock to my system.

But it took less than 72 hours to wipe away eight years of memories. Part of it was the allure of the younger Nexus 6P, but it wasn’t just a newness thing; for a fleeting moment it was as if iOS and Siri didn’t exist. My once-beloved iPhone 6 sat on my nightstand, slowly draining its charge, with a persistent “No SIM card installed” message as if begging for my attention.

I would eventually return to my true love, but my time with Android turned out to be more than a passing fling. There were things about it that were better and more exciting, but it also made me appreciate aspects of my iPhone that I took for granted.

But in that one moment, the Nexus 6P was my world. And I was infatuated.

Merit badge

I’m not going to sugar-coat it: The first couple days with Android were a clunky, fumbling affair filled with gestures that did nothing, taps that led me astray and a general sense of confusion that left me staring at my screen for long stretches of time. Some of it was a lack of intuition, but mostly it was my iPhone muscle memory taking over. Much like the computational distinctions between OS X and Windows, Android and iOS are fundamentally different in how they are controlled, and while there is definite feature overlap, executing simple tasks requires a serious shift in logic.

In fact, just getting to an appropriate level of comfort required manipulating my phone in ways Apple would never allow. Despite purchasing a “pure” Android phone for my experiment, I was struggling with the out-of-the-box experience. In short, I wanted badges.

nova launcher prime
Nova Launcher Prime (shown here on a different phone) has the look of the Google Now Launcher, but a ton of extra flexibility. 

I hadn’t realized just how dependent I am on them. On my iPhone I generally remove badges in favor of discrete banner notifications, but with the holy trinity of communication apps—Phone, Messages and Mail—I find them absolutely essential. Case in point: Just a few hours into my Android vacation I missed an urgent text because I was on the phone when it arrived.

 

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