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Posted on December 9th, 2013 by Barry Collins

Switching from iPhone to Android: what I miss, what I don’t

HTC One Dual SIM

A few weeks ago I jumped camp from iPhone to Android, in the form of the HTC One. It’s a move I’d been contemplating for a long while but over which I dithered, largely down to that same institutional fear that stops us switching bank accounts or broadband provider.

Now I regret not making the move sooner. Here, for those considering making a similar move, is what I miss about the iPhone and what I don’t.

What I miss

I’m one of those saddos who spends half my waking life monitoring Twitter, and the absence of a Twitter client that’s anywhere near as good as Tweetbot for iOS pains me. I’ve tried several: HootSuite, TweetCaster, Seesmic, Echofon, and my current Android favourite, Plume – but none can hold a candle to Tweetbot.

The Tweetbot feature I miss the most is its wonderful, mind-reading ability to anticipate who you’re trying to message. When you type the @ sign in Tweetbot, you can type the user’s real name or Twitter handle, and nine times out of ten it will find the person you’re looking for. The only Android client I’ve found that comes close to matching that ability is the official Twitter app, but I can’t get on with it otherwise.

If it was legal to marry to an app, I would have whipped TomTom down the registry office and slipped a ring on its finger years ago. I can’t count the number of times it’s saved me from sitting in a monstrous traffic jam by diverting me around snarl-ups. I trust its directions implicitly. I spend a good portion of my life driving to non-league football grounds and it hasn’t let me down once (unlike the eleven sods I follow).

There is a TomTom for Android, but it’s more expensive than the iOS version and not as good

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been trying Google Maps instead. For a free app, you really can’t complain: the voice directions are much clearer than the TomTom’s, and the built-in power of Google search means you can normally just enter a venue’s name rather than a postcode to receive accurate instructions. However, I find its onscreen maps more difficult to read than those of TomTom, and there’s already been a couple of occasions where it’s told me to leave a roundabout at the wrong exit or a voice instruction has arrived too late. Worse still, without live traffic rerouting, I live in constant fear that I’m going to be parked on the M25 of a Saturday afternoon, instead of behind the goal at Billericay Town, or wherever I’m meant to be.

There is a TomTom for Android, but it’s more expensive than the iOS version and not as good. Instead, I’m going to pop the SIM out of my HTC One and take my iPhone with me on long journeys.

Being told what to do
Android is a bit too democratic for my liking. Almost every action requires a decision. Click on a link in a Twitter client: how would you like me to open this? With Internet or Chrome? Repeat ad nauseum for almost anything you can think of. Yes, you normally have to set that default only once, but right now, in this honeymoon period, I feel like I’m being pestered. The iPhone, for better or worse, makes most of those decisions on your behalf, and I don’t remember ever resenting it for doing so.

What I don’t miss

The keyboard
The iPhone keyboard is years out of date. There’s no swipe text entry, the autosuggest facility is Neanderthal, and – crucially – there’s no choice. You can take Apple’s keyboard – now in weirdly random dark or light colour schemes – or you can take a hike. Which I did.

I estimate my typing speed has improved by around 50% to what it was on the iPhone

It’s taken me a while to find an Android keyboard I can get along with (this will almost certainly be the topic of a future blog post), but after flirting with the default keyboard, Google Keyboard and Swype, I’ve finally moved in with SwiftKey. It’s much better than the others at predicting what I’m going to type next – largely because it’s scanned my Twitter and Gmail output, and so knows that the word I’m most likely to type after “Burgess” is “Hill” (my home town), and so forth. I’ve settled into a speedy pattern of tapping out short words and swiping the longer ones, and tapping on SwiftKey’s well-sized suggestions when they appear. I estimate my typing speed has improved by around 50% to what it was on the iPhone, and I feel there’s plenty of room for improvement yet.

Apps in general
Aside from the specific Twitter client and satnav apps I mentioned above, Android has many more of my favourite apps than I thought it would. Zite, Flipboard, Spotify, LinkedIn, National Rail, 500px, Snapseed, The Times, Scrabble, Sky+, Evernote… almost all of the apps I’d use on a daily basis are on Android, and unlike a couple of years ago, they’re not substandard versions compared to iOS, either. Even my favourite game – the achingly niche Orbital – is in the Play Store. I do slightly resent paying for some apps again, but I’m largely over it.

Notification Centre
Android handles notifications with much greater elegance than the iOS Notification Centre. Maybe it’s because I have fewer apps installed on my HTC One, but the notifications seem less of a chore to deal with and genuinely convey useful information. They’re easier to dismiss with a single swipe than the awkward double-tap it takes to dismiss individual iOS notifications, and you can wipe them all away in one shot. The only thing I do miss notification-wise from Apple is the single menu that allows you to alter notification settings for all your apps; with Android you have to deal with each app’s notifications setting individually.

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34 Responses to “ Switching from iPhone to Android: what I miss, what I don’t ”

  1. Alex Says:
    December 9th, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    I moved from iOS to the Galaxy note 3 and I’ve never made such a good decision. My phones like a little computer now. I can understand some users just wanting a simple interface, but after graduating to Android I’d never go back. And swiftkey is a godsend.

    Also, download and learn how to use “Tasker”.

  2. Wyson Says:
    December 9th, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    I refuse to use tomtom. I used to use it on Windows mobile, when there wasn’t any other choice. My phone got stolen and tomtom refused to allow me to transfer it to my new phone, saying it wasn’t technically possible, that I would have to purchase it again. Such nonsense. Try Co pilot instead. All you have to do to move between phones (on the same is at any rate) is to download the app and log in. Not quite as user friendly as tomtom but works quite well with live traffic updates / really routing.

  3. wyson Says:
    December 9th, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    I wonder if my passwords will remain secure with Swiftkey. As its a keylogger, won’t my passwords be recorded somewhere and be vulnerable somehow?

  4. tech3475 Says:
    December 9th, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    On my S3 you can permanently associate an action to a task when prompted.

    Moving to Android was one of my better decisions though, so far the only things I miss is that playing music is better on Android (occasionally it jumps and the controls aren’t as reliable) and the lack of a Lovefilm Instant App.

  5. Lawanda Says:
    December 9th, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    I agree. Once I switched from iPhone 5S to the new Nexus I was in love. The phone is so much better and customization is what I love. I don’t have to worry about tapping every letter with Swift Keyboard. It makes it a whole lot better.

    I hear a lot of people talking about how great Tasker is. I have yet to use it. I might give it a try. Very informative article.

  6. Lawanda Says:
    December 9th, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Also, on the 5S I have to constantly scan my fingerprint in since it forgets it. This is a big pain. This is second one Apple sent me since the first one was completely malfunctioned.

    I miss Steve Jobs. Apple is syncing slowly with Tim Cook. Maybe I will switch back to Apple when they catch up with some really good features Android has to offer.

  7. Lawanda Says:
    December 9th, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    Spelling errror above. Apple is *sinking without Steve Jobs.

  8. Mark Says:
    December 9th, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    Google Maps does do live rerouting, as far as I know, it can pop up an alternative route.

  9. Nicholas Costa Says:
    December 9th, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    Hi Barry,

    Couple hints and tips from a 5 year android user.

    For your twitter application I’ve used all of those also and they stink. Even the main Twitter app is awful. But there is one app that nothing comes close too in functionality or customization, and that’s Falcon Pro. Unfortunately it can no longer be found in the play store because the developer pulled it. Twitter only allows 100,000 tokens per app and Falcon hit that limit so to prevent anybody from buying the app and not being able to use it he pulled it from the play store. Fortunately, if you go directly to his website you can side load the apk and sign in from there. Trust me you won’t be disappointed.

    2. Google maps does do live traffic updating, but if you want to try another great app try Waze. It’s crowd sourced so not only does it point out traffic it also points out speed traps and other road hazards.

    Enjoy your new android device!


  10. Beanoir Says:
    December 9th, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    On the subject of Twitter apps, have you tried Carbon ?

  11. Nila Says:
    December 10th, 2013 at 1:04 am

    Regarding ‘paying again’ – this is one of the things that most made me want to leave the Apple eco-system.
    If I bought an app, I then only had one choice for eternity – upgrade to another apple or lose your purchase.
    With Android I buy apps without worrying or caring because I know I have a million phones I can choose from and I can carry on using my purchases in any of them. Its not even a worry.

  12. Tom Colvin Says:
    December 10th, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Nila is right. The sooner you make the switch to Android the better, because you’ll have to do it some time. The alternative is to forever upgrade to only Apple devices – and what is the chance that they will be the best or even remotely competitive years hence? With Android you get a vast selection of devices.

  13. DaveyK Says:
    December 10th, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Good article. Personally I don’t like SwiftKey due to some of its features not being tweakable (I hate auto-space after punctuation). On the plus side for Android, there’s plenty of alternatives though so I settled on Smart Keyboard Pro. Only other thing I miss is the ability to play music on random, then drill into the album that the current song is on to select a different one from it.

    Other than that, some of the gadgets are really useful (the calendar one particularly) and it does feel so much more flexible. And as others have said, I can switch to an HTC, or a Sony, or an LG etc. etc. and keep all my apps. Much more future flexibility!

  14. Jonathan Chard Says:
    December 10th, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Re: Traffic and Maps. Have you tried Waze? It gets a lot of press, but I’m conscious that it’s only going to be as good as the number of people using it… and if no-one is using it around you, the traffic alerts aren’t going to be any good.

    That being said, I have seen other Waze users on the map around me and I don’t live in a built up area. I don’t know how many people need to use it for you to get good information – maybe it’s really useful in cities, but not so good in other parts of the UK. Literally, YMMV

  15. Craig Dunn Says:
    December 10th, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    I have to say, having tried them all, I’m finding my Nokia 1020 the most polished of them all. But then I’m biased, because I own one. And my one big fear was a lack of apps, but this has been unfounded and indeed some of the ones I used on Android are more polished on windows phone… Seriously. Have a look at it next time your in a phone shop.

  16. Andrew Mogford Says:
    December 10th, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    I use TomTom on my android, living in Devon where there is very patchy 3g coverage Google Maps requirement for a connection has let me down a few times. I find TomTom works fine for me. I did have a phone pack up on me, and was able to set it up on the new no problem.

  17. SPD Says:
    December 10th, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I’m pretty certain GMaps should be doing live updates since Google bought Waze.
    Google Maps with crowd sourced live info… what’s not to like.
    Or just use Waze.

  18. Tucker Says:
    December 11th, 2013 at 2:20 am

    Switched from iphone 4s to LG G2 Today. Screwed around for about 5-6 hours now. Trying to get an itunes like doubletwist to work. Piece of junk. Paid $4.99 for its “air” version because it wouldn’t work via usb with a macbook. Still junk and only then it told me it dropped support of podcasts for Mac (?!) So I say screw it. My time is worth more than $200/hour, and I just spent half a day on something that was crap. The first few hours I spent with my iphone 3gs five years ago were magical. This day was crap that reminded me how special my Apple devices are and how excited I was when I got my MacIntosh in 1985, my iPhone sometime about 2009, and my macbook pro a couple years later. There is something special about a beautiful piece of hardware with elegant software that never lets you down. Is it perfect? No. Will it waste my time? Never. The apps are there. All we need now is a slightly larger screen for my aging eyes. It’ll come and I guess I’ll just wait. Returning the LG tomorrow.

  19. Miles Says:
    December 11th, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Good article.

    I’ve also recently moved over from an iPhone (4) to an Android device (Nexus 5). It’s been largely a positive experience and I love the fact that if something in the operating system bugs you then there’s (usually) an app / tweak / widget to sort it out.

    I don’t like the fact that the in-line volume control on my headphones no longer works, but this is because Apple owns the patent on certain voltages via the headphone socket (bizarre I know).
    However that’s a minor issue in an otherwise enjoyable experience.

    I never bought a lot of apps from the Apple app store, so it’s been an easy transition for me (plus no more sync errors when trying to put new videos or music on the device! Now I just copy + paste :) )

  20. Steve Says:
    December 12th, 2013 at 9:09 am

    For Sat Nav I use Sygic, which has been largely ignored by PC-Pro. It’s the best; it can be used off line, has speed camera data and can re-route round jams and incidents. I never need to look at the screen because the voice instructions are so accurate.

  21. John Beal Says:
    December 12th, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Moved over 18 months ago have galaxy s3. Loved Android brought a nexus 10 on strength of it, brilliant. Downloaded tasker but mystified me will take another look.
    Apple haven’t moved on as mentioned the keyboard, naff although the Air shows promise.

  22. Alan Says:
    December 12th, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    I’ve got to say I disagree.

    On the strength of many good reviews, one on PC Pro, I bought a HTC desire a few years back.

    Complete disaster as the memory management was so poor that despite having a 16gb memory card, I could only have three screens of apps before getting constant low memory errors.

    Even transferring the apps to the SD card only improved matters marginally.

    Ultimately I reflashed the ROM to make further memory space available. From then on it worked much better but was still not a patch on my partners 4S and my 5.

    If that was the pinnacle of Android at the time, then I’m sorry you can keep it.

  23. Surefire Says:
    December 12th, 2013 at 2:22 pm


    Why don’t I believe one word you say?

    Could it be because your are obviously such a HUGH apple fanbois that the likelihood of you switching away from the fruit is about nil?

    Or could it be because the coincidence of a major apple fanbois switching to android on the very day that a favourable android review comes out is just too much to credit?

    By all means tell us you prefer apple, or are so infatuated with them that you won’t even try anything else, but don’t insult our intelligence with drivel such as that you posted above.

  24. wyson Says:
    December 13th, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Android has moved on in leaps and bounds since 2.2 / 2.3 in the HTC Desire. 4.4 is much more joined up and can do things that iOS7 can’t and vice versa. I also had and hated the HTC Desire (iOS5 in the iPhone 4 was much better, but my iPhone had terrible call quality and was returned) but recently got a Nexus 5. I would say its now an alternative rather than a poor runner up to iOS. It still lacks the polish of iOS and isn’t as intuitive but in terms of functionality, it’s equivalent. You will need a beefy phone to cope however. My Nexus 5 uses around 800MB RAM to cope with an average app load, so phone with less than 2GB RAM are out of the question.

    I have some sympathy with Tucker. It took me AGES to get my Nexus 5 going to match the functionality of iOS7. It cursed and swore at the phone for two weeks until I found the right suite of apps. Now its functional but totally lacks the slick intuitive polish of iOS. If the iPhone 5S had good call quality (I tried my friends and it was marginally better than the 4, but still not good) I would also have got an iPhone.

  25. Surefire Says:
    December 13th, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    I don’t doubt there are people who have problems adapting from one OS to another. I just find in unbelievable that such a raging apple fanbois would consider an android in the first place when it’s pretty obvious that he would never be satisfied with a non apple product. The fact that he appears not to know where this site is based (200$ per hour) leads me to believe he is one of those people who scan the net for anything unfavourable to apple and blast a massive salvo at whatever opposition is under consideration. We’ve seen it before and I’ve no doubt we’ll see it again.

  26. C3PYoke Says:
    December 17th, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Tucker. You are trashing a phone because an ‘app’ (yea an app) you bought did not work henceyou wasted too long on it. I would say the app was at fault then, no?

  27. Tablet_Surfer Says:
    December 17th, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Well I agree and disagree!

    I have an Android Phone but am getting an iPad Air as a tablet.

    For me the apps that I want are far superior on the iPad compared to Android tablets. This may change over time but for the next year or two I think Android will play catch up.

  28. Russ Says:
    December 21st, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    The keyboard is just one example of the “core” operating system changes that can be made on android that can’t be made on ios – one of the main reasons I prefer android (the notification system being another). Another example is the launcher – or the Home screen as most people know it. Search for “launcher” in the Google Play store and you’ll find plenty of options. One that I’m using at the moment is Cover. Only recently released, it’s more of a replacement lock screen than home screen. It keeps track of which apps you use most and presents them on the lock screen so that you can jump directly to that app without having to unlock the phone, locate the app and then tap on it. It has other features but the point is that these kind of “os modifications” are not possible on ios.

    Another example… a while ago I was using an app called Timeriffic on my android device that allowed me to set the days and times that my android device was silent (I used it to automatically silence my phone at night). When I first got my iPod touch, I looked for a similar app as there was no silence switch like there is on the iPhone. The closest thing I could find was a little device that you had to plug in to the headphone jack at night! That made me laugh.

    I have both android and ios devices in my home but use the android devices over 90% of the time. I can understand why people would prefer ios though – it’s possible to get a bit lost with android if you don’t know what you’re doing and don’t have the patience to find out.

  29. Byron Alexander Says:
    December 26th, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    I would appreciate an article addressing the reverse. I will soon be ditching my S3 for an iPhone. On paper the S3 compares well but the untimely glitches and hiccups has me moving to a platform where things just work. Moved from Windows to Mac a few months ago due to the non-intuitive Win 8 and love the Mac.

  30. Mark Says:
    January 8th, 2014 at 10:34 am

    @Russ, I believe your iOS device may have a “Do Not Disturb” setting that can automatically silence it at night. I think it’s in the Settings screen.

  31. Russ Says:
    January 13th, 2014 at 11:39 am

    @Mark – thanks. It must have been before September 2012 when I went looking for a Timeriffic equivalent for my iPod – this is when Apple released iOS 6 which introduced the Do Not Disturb feature. The Do Not Disturb feature didn’t exist before that. But this is why I prefer Android – if you don’t like something about iOS or there’s a feature missing, you have to wait for the Powers That Be in Cupertino to add it to the OS.

  32. Ian Says:
    January 28th, 2014 at 6:50 pm


    ‘Should have gone to XDA Developers’. HTC abandoned the Desire with 2.3, but the reason I still have one is that third party 4.x ROMs will now do things like move virtually everything to the microSD card.

    I went from having to uninstall one program so I could install another I needed to use, to having more space than I know what to do with.

    When I finally come to replace it (and it could be years) it will be with something that people on places like XDA are working with. It will never, ever, be an iPhone.

  33. Paul Says:
    February 4th, 2014 at 1:51 am

    As long as Android support mini usb to flash drive i wouldnt ever go back to an iphone. It dosent do anything! even if an iphone is jailbreaked you still need a few parts to attach a flash storage its pathetic. Android just plugs in and i can download movies and music videos straight to my phone then copy or transfer to flash drive, then pop it straight into the telly and watch hd movies. Just try and do this with a iphone this 1 huge feature of android thats not talked about much!

  34. Jenn Says:
    February 6th, 2014 at 6:32 am

    years ago i had an android it died and i switched over to an iphone 4s… i havent had any complaints except for the poor camera/picture quality. I just got an upgrade and got thr galaxy s4 bc i know the camera is great on it (i know i should have waited for the s5 but im impatient) but now im not sure if i like it… Apple is just easier and has a neater appearance. i can just put all my apps in different folders and thats it. But now im still very torn between the galaxy s4 and the iphone 5s :-/


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