These days, buying a smartphone is a lot like buying a car. Whether you get a Hyundai Getz or a Ford Focus doesn’t really matter in terms of driveability. Both will get you from A to B, both have 4 wheels and you can choose whatever colour you like. Which one you decide to get depends on one factor: Which one you like better in terms of looks and a gut feeling of ‘this is it’.
This easily translates to smartphones. If you are deciding between the iPhone or an Android you will instinctively go for the one you like the look and feel of better. They both do the same basic things: Call, text, social media, internet and both have cameras for the all-important selfie. Both have very similar apps if not the same and you could easily manage with either so how do you choose?
In a perfect world you could ‘test-drive’ the phone first before having to commit. Since that’s not really an option, you’ll often stick with what you know, or ask your friends what they have and like. At the end of the day however, it’s you who will be using the device for the next couple of years – so you don’t want to end up with a lemon!
I regularly change my mobile phone so that I can confidently talk about the pro’s and con’s of different options with my clients. I’ve just spent 4 years living in Android-land, most recently rocking the Google Next 6, a 6-inch “phablet” mega-phone which is a ‘true’ Google Android flagship device.
Whilst I must admit I loved the screen real-estate, I got quite frustrated with the physical size when it came to living in my pocket (or car centre console).
This year I decided it was time to leave Android land and try something else. I contemplated going to Microsoft’s “Lumia” series, but after checking out the available apps I could see some of the tools I use daily were nowhere to be seen. So with that, I jumped back into the Apple ecosystem.
My last iPhone was the iPhone 4, and I left the Apple world with a desire to be ‘free’ of the restraints Apple put on me. With a new iPhone 6S in my hand it took a bit of adjustment, but not as much as I had originally thought!
Android and iPhone differences
These days there’s really not a lot of difference between the iPhone and it’s Android competitors. The iPhone feels in all ways a bit more polished than most the Android’s, but then the Android software seems to talk to one another much better. For example, I use LastPass for storing all my passwords – on my Android, when I open a website or application that has a username/password prompt, LastPass prompts me as to whether it would like me to log in for me (after entering my pin number); This feature is completely lacking on the iPhone unless I browse through the LastPass application – and forget about password entry for applications.
Getting used to really only have a ‘Home’ button, when I used to have a ‘Home’, ‘Back’ and ‘Menu’ button also takes a bit of adjusting, but after a while the brain clicks and you find navigation smooth and logical.
Probably the NICEST feature of the iPhone is the fingerprint reader. I am always looking for a way to make my clients more secure, yet am challenged with the problem that we are all overloaded with passwords. Being able to authorise myself by my thumb print, both to unlock my phone, open LastPass, enter my banking apps and a range of other software is just delightful. And whilst I know that Google is bringing fingerprint biometrics to Android, I feel like Apple has done a phenomenal job with this process.
Phone Size.. Big or Small?
It's also nice to be back to a normal sized phone. Don’t get me wrong, I think the phablet size suits certain people and certain roles. I actually purchased my mother an iPhone 6S Plus. She is in love with it. She can read it clearly and it fits nicely in her handbag, and doesn’t get lost (how can you lose something that big, no matter how big your handbag is?).
I think the phablet (6 inch) sized phones are great for anyone who may have eyesight problems, doesn’t carry their phone in their pocket, spends a lot of time ‘reading’ on their phone, or have large hands and do a lot of email on their phone. If you carry your phone in your pocket, run with your phone, don’t have large hands/fingers, and use a tablet or computer for most your internet browsing and reading, stick to the standard phone size.
One of the big reasons however that I moved FROM Android was for security. The sad truth is that from a computer security perspective, Android is considered the most insecure mobile platform, particularly because most apps in the Google Play (store) are not vetted as tightly as they are in Apple’s App Store.
A team from the University of California found that about 9% of all apps in the Google Play store interact with web sites that can compromise user security. As one of our goals is to better educate and protect our clients from cyber-security threats, it doesn’t make sense for me, a self-proclaimed cyber-security evangelist, to be using an insecure device that holds all my clients contact details as well as my business information.
Likewise, in the Android world we give away all our permissions for an app the moment we install it. Do you want Facebook? You need to click YES to allow it to have access to just about EVERYTHING before it will install.
In Apple world these days you can install the application and only when you try and do something in the app that will require access to something 'else' are you asked whether you want to allow that app to have that specific access. This is by far a much better approach to the way we give applications access to other data, and I must confess I was really quite impressed by this move.
Just a sidenote, in the latest version of Google's Android OS, the security permissions are now working much the same way as the latest Apple products - but as most manufacturers are slow to push out software upgrades, preferring customers to buy a new handset with the latest version instead, most Android users are still working via the old security permissions.
The only issue I have, for most business people with the iPhone is a simple to use 'Kid Mode'.
On many Androids, whether built in or through a 3rd party app, it's a trivial process to lock your phone to a set of kid friendly applications, restricting your child from getting access to sensitive information - like your emails, messages, etc. (Ever considered the implications of your 3 year old accidentally replying to a business colleague? or sending them a photo of you just out of the shower?)
Apple introduced "Guided Access", which is their implementation of a kind of kid mode, but to get to it you have to go into Settings, General, Accessibility, scroll to the VERY bottom and then you'll finally find Guided Access.
Once on however you can quickly lock the screen to a single app by triple-clicking the home button, making it easy to lock your child in their favourite game without fear they'll get into anything else on the device.
The main difference here is that you need to have 'Guided Access' on at all times so you can quickly lock the phone. Though once you've traversed the labyrinth to find the setting, turning it on is very easy.
Overall I'm quite happy with the move. Some of the apps I use for network penetration testing simply don't exist, and for that I'm going to have to keep an Android device around with me; but for business, the iPhone 6S is a delight to use and all my familiar apps are there.
Even my mother, who had been using an Android based HTC One has made the move to her iPhone 6S Plus without too much fuss. In fact she declared with much enthusiasm how much she LOVED the camera on her new phone, as she takes many photos of things she likes to sell on eBay and loves the clarity of the pictures she can now take.
There's a lot to be said about being locked into an ecosystem that's mature. There are more devices I can buy and use that know how to work with my iPhone, whereas with more Android handsets than we can count, few manufacturers produce 'Android-specific' devices, let alone phone cases!
I'm sure in the future we will see the same for Microsoft's devices as their platform matures - and I look forward to experiencing that world in the next few years! For now, I'm happy back in the Apple ecosystem, and can quite happily see why so many people are content staying here!