Even though I have used multiple Android handsets over the years, I have always been stuck with an iPhone. On the one hand, I’m so invested in the ecosystem at this point (I’ve purchased a lot of apps, several of which are iOS only) that switching to another platform would be too painful.
But the main reason I still have an iPhone, despite Android’s many benefits, is simply force of habit. Its interface, design language, and keyboard feel so like second nature that I can’t get used to anything else. This is a big reason why Android widgets and home screens just don’t appeal to me – I’ve never seen the need for them. Even now, after installing iOS 14, I didn’t bother adding a widget or cleaning up my home screen, because I just like it as is. I suspect there are many other iOS users feeling the same.
For me, Android’s main advantage over iOS has never been its design or interface or anything like that. The main advantages of Android, in my opinion, are the features. More specifically, its compatibility with Google applications and services. It’s because, as much as I love iOS, Google is the world I live in. I use Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Maps, Google Photos, and Chrome literally every day. I find Google services easier and more enjoyable to use, and I like everything to sync with each other. The fact that Android comes with Gmail, Chrome, and all the usual Google services by default, working seamlessly with a single authentication, is great.
This hasn’t been the case with iOS, and we can certainly see why. Apple obviously wants you to use its own apps and services compared to the competition. Of course, third-party apps like Gmail and Chrome have been around for a few years now, but there were still some restrictions. The biggest problem is that tapping an email link in an app or in Safari would often send me to the default Apple Mail app rather than Gmail (if you tap an email link in the Chrome application, however, this allows you to access Gmail). Now, thanks to iOS 14, this is no longer a problem.
Of course, it’s likely that Apple won’t allow it in iOS 14 out of the goodness of its heart. Instead, it could be a tactical move. The company is already facing serious antitrust scrutiny as well as accusations that it has a monopoly on the App Store, in part because of the 30% commission it charges developers (this is the basis of Epic’s recent legal battle with Apple). Perhaps by ceding ground to the default iOS apps, Apple could allay fears of at least having a monopoly on this. This is reminiscent of when Microsoft was forced to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows in 2009 due to European regulations.
Either way, it could be a sign of bigger things to come. It gave me a silver lining that other Google apps, like Calendar and Maps for example, could benefit from the default processing as well. Of course, there are a lot of things Android always does better than iOS like handling notifications, handling app permissions, live transcription, the ability to load apps that aren’t from an App Store, etc. But if all I get is better access to Google’s apps and services while still having the phone I love, I’d be happy.