For Me

So, this morning I woke up to read both Paul Stamatiou's post and Marco Arment's post about what I've thought about for a very long time. I own both an iPhone 5 and a Nexus 4. I've made two attempts so far to switch to the Nexus 4. I haven't succeeded. The first time was when I first got the Nexus 4. As with every switch to a new platform, there is a long period of searching for apps. One fascinating fact is that it took me a longer time for me to find apps which suited me on Android than it did when I first switched to iOS from Android. At first, I went back to what I used to use; and then I found that now that I was using lists on Twitter, I needed to find a new one. After going through around five different Twitter clients, I finally settled on Plume. I proceeded to do the same thing for Reddit, e-mail, podcasts, Google Reader and music players. So far, after my second attempt, I haven't found a Reddit or e-mail client to settle on. I find Doggcatcher to be great, but still not my cup of tea. I was still deciding between Press and gReader for Google Reader, and I'm finding that trying to manage music on Android is a slight annoyance when you listen to podcasts too.

People underestimate the truth behind the "for me" qualifier. My first attempt to switch to the Nexus 4 lasted 3 days. After those 3 days, I switched back to the iPhone 5. chewxy knows well of my attempts and my whining during that time. Maybe I'm just bad at looking for applications to download for my phones; but during the first attempt: I was frustrated at how I couldn't get a unified inbox application. That's fine, surely I could try to get by with my 6 e-mail inboxes over several different services - and then it came to light that Google cares more about their Gmail app than their Email app. Why the behaviour in the Email app isn't the same as in the Gmail app, I'll never understand, but hey, I guess I could live with a few extra clicks in a day, after all, it was saving me the effort of syncing my Reeder app every day before I left Wi-Fi.

The real backbreaker was actually Bluetooth. Bluetooth on the Nexus 4 was unstable. Unpredictable. I know my use case isn't particularly common, but when you listen to podcasts on the way to work and back, it becomes kind of important. I'm not sure if Android's audio was a mess or Bluetooth was a mess or both, but hell it was annoying. Every other day, it was either my Bluetooth headphones or the Nexus 4's bluetooth stack that would crash. This mean I was spending around 10 minutes every day in silence because I was trying to reboot either my headphones or my phone in an attempt to get them working together again. To add insult to injury, the way Android's multitasking worked meant that sometimes, the remote control functions would not actually behave deterministically. This meant hilarious situations where trying to pause a podcast would fail or even worse, another music player would start playing.

And that's how I gave up after only 3 days using it as my main phone. A few months later, I got a second attempt. My iPhone 5's ear speaker failed - so since I couldn't use it as my phone, and I thought the Nexus 4 was somewhat tolerable, I switched phones again (and this time, for a full week!) This time was a lot smoother because I had a Pebble and Google had recently pushed an update which fixed some of my gripes. I had also learned how to work around the Bluetooth failings and behaviour by performing certain actions to ensure the right audio player was getting the remote control instructions. I hear Android 4.3 has a new Bluetooth stack, so maybe it won't be such a problem anymore.

Enough of my ranting - there's a reason why the "for me" qualifier is important. In our HipChat, we have 4 people in it. As it turns out, I'm the only one who uses an iPhone as his daily driver. As far as I know, one uses a Nexus S, one uses a Galaxy Note II and another uses a Nexus 4. My use case for my phone turned out to be quite far removed from theirs - they couldn't help me much with my problems and gripes because they didn't need to do these things.

So, why do I not find gripes with my iPhone? Simple - I use it differently. I'm not a Gmail power user. My use of Google for things other than e-mail tends to come down to more of a widely supported sync service. Google Now is great, but it's crippled by the fact that I live in Australia. I've never seen a need to change my default web browser, e-mail client or music player. (The fact that I tried to do some of these things on Android is probably more telling on the difference in quality of the default apps rather than the platform as a whole.)

However, it doesn't mean I don't understand why someone else would want to do it. It's very easy to think that what someone else says means that what you think is wrong, but often, this isn't the case.

(P.S. No, I haven't found a great Android substitute for Alien Blue, Downcast, Reeder or Tweetbot. I'm still looking.)