It sounds small but is Apple’s walled garden a Google Pixel deal-breaker?
Hard to deny
Apple’s ecosystem it turns out is a real thing.
This week I’ve been getting used to life on Android street and for the most part, it’s been a positive experience.
The Pixel 7 Pro that I’ve been talking about has opened up my mind. The Tensor G2 chip is fast and fluid and the Android 13 OS intuitive. With a little sideways thinking it’s surprised me how quickly I’ve picked most things up. Sure, the set-up and installing apps, as you’d expect was pretty straightforward…and it was.
But the revelation to an Android newbie has been the ease with which I’ve picked up on the less obvious features – screen recording for instance was something I thought I’d struggle to find but as it turns out was super easy.
As you’d expect, using the Pixel 7 Pro this week has raised the question would I be happy swapping from my iPhone to a Pixel or even a Samsung.?
Having been a devout iPhone user for so long it’s surprised me just how open to change I’ve been.
Part of it is the fact it’s new and sort of exciting – I get that, but that’s not the full picture and it wouldn’t be a fair reflection on how good everything has been with my Android experience.
It doesn’t take long until you begin to realise that using an iPhone goes way beyond just the phone and the iOS. I hate to say it, but that ecosystem is a real thing. Apple has been quietly working on it in the background – and it’s probably the smartest move they ever made and the one they draw the least attention to. It’s their silent weapon!
It’s a real player and deal breaker when it comes to choosing your main phone – and you’d better be aware of the implications too.
Hand to mouth
The phone we chose is central to pretty much everything that goes on in our lives. Crazy to think and write, but it is.
And it’s here that Apple scores – hard & heavy and where Android will always be playing catch-up.
I know there is Google Drive but iCloud seems a much more logical system to me. Apple’s iCloud is ever so Dropbox-esque – so being a heavy Dropbox Business user it sits well with me. The simplicity of the folder layout I love. Google’s version just seems to have too many layers and ‘clicks’ to it. Possibly if I used it more I’d get more used to it, but sometimes your gut reaction counts for something.
The cloud drive system behind whichever platform you are on is integral as to how easy it will be to switch from handset to desktop – and of course, having everything available everywhere and to my mind Apple wins hands down on this one.
As we know Apple is pretty serious about its streaming TV service and is busy investing millions into it.
It’s about to become a major player in not only the streaming wars but as a full-blown movie production studio too. But on the flip side of the coin, it was another clever way to pull us into their grip further still.
I have watched the content they’ve put out over the past couple of years improve & grow not only in quantity but in quality as well. Show after show they just seem to be getting it right and it has become my go-to set-top-box when it’s time to relax and put my feet up of an evening. But behind this service is another subtle way to make sure we stay Apple morning through evening.
Watch the subs
That ecosystem keeps pulling you in – Apple Music is another example.
Like Apple TV it’s a sub-based service and is expensive – but it’s a damned good service letting you listen to your music collection as well as streaming music for ‘free’.
Ok, you can pull minor faults with the UI on some of the services, but basically, they deliver.
Now I know I don’t understand the Android world that well and have only just started to dip my toes in that pool, but it’s the collection of all these services that Apple offers that make it almost unbeatable. Throw in Apple Fitness and News and they make it so that you never need to leave their network of services – it’s not cheap granted but everything you need is there.
Even in taking our ‘hard-earned’ money though Apple has been canny in dreaming up the Apple One Bundle. It’s a case of them saying ‘we know you’re spending a fortune with us but let’s make it easier for you.’ Yeah, it does save you money and has some other benefits but once you take that sub out, it means that Apple has got an even tighter grip around your throat.
The small things that count
So the services are one thing that I’ve sorely missed on the Pixel 7 Pro. I realised this week just how ingrained those Apple services are but they are almost the more obvious or in-your-face features.
It’s the other more subtle ones though that I’ve found have made a more impactful challenge in my daily workflow.
AirDrop is a massive loss for me. This week I’ve been working on a video about the Pixel 7. That means I’ve been out taking videos and pictures with it and in turn that means getting them from the phone.
With my iPhone, I’ve gotten so used to just using AirDrop for anything other than the biggest of files. Phone to downloads to Premiere Pro in a matter of moments it’s just brilliant and certainly quicker than waiting for it to upload to the Photos app.
Again I’ll preface it by saying that I may be missing something obvious here, but Android to Mac is proving slow. As much as Google Photos is pretty quick, there is still that delay and I’m an impatient sod! I’ve struggled with this simplest of tasks. Yesterday I installed Android File Transfer on my Mac. It’s ok but not 100% reliable and certainly no match for AirDrop. So file transfer is an issue but do let me know what I’m overlooking as I have a feeling there will be something better out there.
Handoff is another one of those small features that I both love and miss. Whether it’s opening up a tab on the MacBook Air that’s already open on my iPhone or throwing a podcast onto the HomePods. Again, normally it’s not anything I give a second thought to but boy do I miss it when it’s not an option…
If your Apple TV remote is out of reach or needs a charge – no problems – you can use your iPhone as a remote instead.
On the move
Keys are a pain – there’s no denying it. Clunky, heavy and easy to lose but Apple’s ecosystem can come to the rescue again.
My car now has its key in my Apple Wallet and as far as I know Android doesn’t offer this at all. I know it relies on the manufacturers coming on-side but I can’t recall reading that any of them offer an Android car key option. Why I don’t know and again if I’m wrong let me know. It’s been so good though that I’ll also be looking into getting a keyless front door option sorted too – and that’s all down to Apple and the way they look ahead and reel us in.
Still in the car, there is CarPlay too. Now I know there is Android Auto and Android Automotive but CarPlay seems to be the more widely used in-car infotainment system. All the apps you want from your iPhone to your car’s screen – easy.
Looking back it was Apple Pay that kind of set the road ahead for the ‘empty pocket’ life but it makes sense in every way. It’s more secure, quicker, safer and means there’s less to lose or get stolen – and importantly it’s another strike for Apple. They know the more they seep into every walk of your daily life the less likely it will be that you’d ever leave their grasp.
I know I will be overlooking some solutions to some of the issues I’ve highlighted, but hopefully what I have demonstrated is that Apple’s ecosystem is a real thing.
It’s way more than having your photos or documents up to date everywhere it’s more to do with the very core of your day – the invisible glue that you barely notice – that’s where Apple wins and why I reckon I’d find it hard to swap away from my iPhone life full time.
Years ago it all started so innocently when all I had was iTunes – next came iCloud and it all slowly but surely started to change – app by app, service by service I was silently being roped in.
If you want to go Android and you’ve been Apple for any length of time plan ahead is all I can suggest. I promise you out of the box there’ll be no obvious problems. But the more you use it the more of these ‘little’ things you’ll start to miss – and I haven’t even mentioned how Apple Watch, Fitness+ & iMessage fits into this whole experience!
As much as I am loving what I’ve seen of the Pixel 7 – it’s going to have to be iPhone for me for the foreseeable future – I’ve got too much to lose. There may be things I’d love to see come to iOS or design-wise for the iPhone but they are fairly easy superficial fixes.
Like it or not the phone you choose has a big impact on your daily life and if you’ve been an iPhone user for any length of time trust me – Apple has got a target on your back.
Watch your step – once in it’s mighty hard to leave.
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