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First iOS vs Android impressions

I switched back to an iPhone a few ago after several years being on Android. Here are a few first impressions and thoughts:

  • Battery life on the iPhone 11 Pro is insane. I get almost two days on a single charge compared to less than a day on my Pixel 3. This has been the most noticeable difference so far.
  • The iPhone camera is great but doesn’t feel like an upgrade from the Pixel. In fact, when it comes to the software part of the camera the iPhone is clearly a step back. Portrait mode looks like a poor Photoshop job in 9 out of 10 cases. I’m surprised this isn’t highlighted more in iPhone vs Pixel reviews.
  • Notifications on iOS are a hot mess. It’s wild that Apple still hasn’t solved this. I don’t get why they don’t simply copy Android’s notification center design?
  • I miss having a Google search bar on my homescreen.
  • I haven’t used Siri even once – but I never used the Google Assistant much either. This still feels like a solution looking for a problem.
  • Similarly, I was looking forward to the Shortcuts feature on iOS but have barely used it so far. Any recommendations for useful shortcuts?
  • The quality of (third party) iOS apps is noticeably higher than that of their Android counterparts: Less bugs, nicer animations, even features I wasn’t aware existed.
  • I keep on accidentally turning on the flashlight (apparently I’m not the only one). Why can’t I remove this from the lock screen or – better even – replace it with something useful (e.g. notes)? The lack of customizability on iOS is frustrating.
  • Another example of this: Why can’t I freely arrange icons on my home screen the way I want to? (some on top of the screen, some on the bottom, for example)

    Thinking about it, it’s pretty crazy that the design of home screens (or desktops) hasn’t really changed since the 90s. This is an area where Windows Phone was really onto something.
  • I was happy to see that pre-installed apps on iOS are finally deletable … until I realized that deleting apps doesn’t actually mean you get rid of them. You are permanently locked into a variety of Apple services that are vastly inferior to 3rd-party apps.

    • Why can’t I replace Apple Maps with Google Maps in 3rd party apps?
    • Why is it not possible to use another assistant but Siri?
    • Why am I not able to make back ups with Drive instead of iCloud?
  • Why do iPhones still have physical mute buttons? Feels unnecessary.
  • The Screen Time statistics feel better designed than Google’s Digital Wellbeing app. I wish Apple would make it harder to keep using apps which have reached their daily time limit though.

    (Also: My name number one feature request for both Screen Time & Digital Wellbeing is an API so I can export data and set up more sophisticated IFTTT-type rules)
  • Face Unlock works better than I expected but isn’t as convenient as a finger pint sensor:

    • Face Unlock requires two actions: Holding the device in front of my face plus swiping up. Unlocking with fingerprint on the other hand is just one action (You simultaneously tell the device that you want to unlock it and authenticate yourself).
    • Face Unlock doesn’t seem to work as reliably as the fingerprint sensor on my Pixel (I’d guess 90% success rate for Face Unlock, compared to 95%+ for fingerprint)
    • As I’ve written before, the fingerprint sensor is underrated as a secondary interface. Android only used it to pull down the notification center, but I think you could do so much more with it.
  • The Apple Wallet app is great, especially at the airport. Surprising that Google has never built something similar.
Dec 05, 2019  ×  Berlin, DE

Thoughts on Google’s hardware event

  • While I think that the keynote presentations were better than in the last few years, the overall narrative still felt incredibly unexciting. It’s fascinating to see how clearly marketing isn’t baked into the Google’s DNA and how much it struggles with products that don’t sell organically like Search (Cloud is another good example of this).
  • Related: It’s telling that the most exciting announcement of the event wasn’t new hardware but the new recorder app. I can’t wait for this to roll out beyond Pixel phones (Side note: I’m still confused by Pixel-exclusive software features .. I doubt that they have an actual impact on Pixel sales and Google’s strategy has always been fundamentally about reach)
  • I’ll be switching back to an iPhone this year after being an Android user for the last five years. In those years I’ve owned about five Nexus and Pixel phones of which every single one broke after at most six months (stuck in boot loop, display stopped working, camera bugs, etc). I still prefer Android over iOS, but I just can’t justify spending another 700 bucks on a phone I constantly have to worry about dying on me. (Request for product: An iPhone that runs Android)
  • I was a little disappointed to see that Google ditched the fingerprint sensor in favor of face-unlock. The backside fingerprint sensor is not just more convenient but also way underrated as a secondary interface in my opinion (see: swipe for notifications).
  • Speaking of secondary interfaces: I love that Google is experimenting with Motion sense – even though this will face the same dilemma as the recorder app: If you keep this a Pixel exclusive, no app developer will seriously build features based on it. Why didn’t Google build this into its Nest speakers instead?
  • Great to hear that there finally a more serious competitor to Apple’s Airpods. I wonder why it took Google so long to start competing in this space given how much effort they put into smart speaker adoption.
  • Related to the previous point: I’m surprised that there’s still no Pixel watch. Feels like a necessary addition not just to the Pixel Buds but the entire ambient computing narrative.
Oct 21, 2019  ×  Berlin, DE

Emoji as a Platform Moat

There have been a few reports recently about Apple rejecting apps which make use of Apple’s emoji set outside of the keyboard.

I find this very surprising. Emojis are a completely underrated platform moat, in my opinion.

Android and iOS have become more and more similar and there are hardly any switching costs left for consumers:

  • Both operating systems offer pretty much the same features
  • You have high-end devices for both platforms (most importantly equal camera quality)
  • All major apps are available for both iOS and Android
  • Switching from iOS to Android literally doesn’t take more than a few minutes

This leaves Apple with only handful advantages over Android:

  • New apps are usually released on iOS first (temporary exclusivity)
  • Apps which are only available on iOS, most importantly iMessage
  • And: Emojis

Android has several emoji-problems:

I don’t have data to back this up, but I’m pretty sure there are psychological switching costs because you feel partly excluded from the conversations you are having with your iOS-friends (especially in group chats).

So Apple should embrace the use of its emoji set as much as possible, but prohibit developers from using them in their Android apps (which I assume has happened in the case of WhatsApp and Slack).

It’d be great if someone would come up with an open-source set of great looking emoji that become the standard across all platforms.

Feb 15, 2018  ×  Berlin, DE


Excited to finally give Revolut a try. I’ve been an N26 customer for more than two years and am pretty happy with it, but I guess it can’t hurt to test some alternatives.

Sep 18, 2017  ×  Dublin, IE

Form vs. Function

The Sense is still one of my all-time favourite product designs. It reminds me a lot of the Beijing National Stadium by Herzog & de Meuron.

Unfortunately, the Sense never delivered on any of its other promises: The app UI wasn’t great, the personalised sleep insights & recommendations didn’t feel right and they never released the API they promised in their Kickstarter campaign. A few months ago the company announced it was shutting down. The email with instructions on how to export your data? I’m still waiting for it. My Sense is now nothing but an expensive paperweight.

There seems to be an interesting trend with quantified self devices: They either look great but don’t perform well (see Sense, Jawbone Up, Vessyl), or they perform well but lack good design (see Garmin, Zeo, Fitbit).

Fitness trackers in particular will need both great design and additional functionalities beyond step tracking to stay relevant, which is why the latest Fitbit release was so disappointing: The Ionic is not exactly a stylish piece of fashion. The form follows function approach would be okay if the watch had any ground-breaking new tracking capabilities, but that doesn’t seem to be the case either.

The winner seems to be the Apple watch, which both looks nice (I really like the Nike+ version) and offers pretty decent fitness tracking. Then on the other hand: No proper sleep tracking since the battery doesn’t even last 24 hours …

I’ll keep waiting for a device that gets both form and function right.

Sep 17, 2017  ×  Dublin, IE

Thoughts on No-Ads Subscriptions

Fred Wilson published a blog post last week in which he argues that “low-priced subscription offering[s] that remove ads” are a good monetization model for free apps.

I tend to disagree.

The best subscription offerings add value in form of extra functionalities or content. “Remove ads”-subscriptions don’t add value – they remove a disadvantage. Adding something positive is a better sales pitch than removing something negative.

Additionally, most users don’t mind ads. Music apps are the only exception that I can think of since audio ads are more intrusive, but even these companies don’t use ad removal as their only subscription benefit. Instead they list it together with premium features that add value such as offline listening, multi-device support or exclusive content (see Soundcloud, Pandora).

That being said, I do agree that it can make sense to offer a no-ads subscription tier as an irrelevant alternative (or decoy price) alongside other subscription packages, to positively influence the price/value perception of more lucrative subscription offers.

Sep 04, 2017  ×  Dublin, IE
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