Home EditorialWhy The iPhone Is Impossible For Me To Use
04
Feb

Why The iPhone Is Impossible For Me To Use

Written by Rachid Otsmane-Elhaou. Posted in Editorial

Feel free to contact me directly on twitter @le3ky if you like my posts or want to discuss further!!

I was recently given an iPhone for use as my work phone and you know, I actually quite looked forward to seeing how the other half lived and worked. I went into it trying to keep an open mind, and not let my thoughts of ios judge how I was about to use it. I think coming from android might have spoiled me slightly, I probably expect too much from a phone now. If I had come from a dumbphone, my view of the iPhone would probably be quite different, as it is, the following key things stood out at me..

Shortcuts

There is no quick way to disable/enable things like WiFi or Bluetooth. Each of these takes multiple clicks. It should be easy. It isn’t, it’s frustrating, especially if you do it lots like I do.

Android lets you add quick toggles to your notification bar, a much more user-friendly way.

Background Processes

Possibly the most disappointing aspect of ios. The scope of background processes is extremely poor. Two big examples are that Dropbox cannot upload your camera uploads unless you open the app. That is one of the main reasons Dropbox included this feature! So you don’t have to worry about doing it. The other? Spotify will stop syncing your playlists after a few minutes once you leave the app. Needless to say, it won’t even attempt to sync them unless you open the app to begin with.

Things like this happen on android automatically. Apps can have separate background threads designed to do things like sync playlists, and upload photos without eating up your battery.

Folders

Apple won’t let you move certain apps inside a folder, so if you don’t read magazines or newspapers on your 3.5″ screen, you’re stuck looking at an empty bookshelf forever. Literally, you can’t remove it unless you jailbreak. I know, I thought the same too, you actually have to jailbreak your device in order to move an app icon into a folder (or totally from view).

It feels a bit silly to even mention android folders in the same paragraph, the functionality is miles apart.

App Interaction

Apps do not speak to each other at all. You can only share to apps that the app you’re in says you can. This leads to some strange situations:

  • You can’t share a photo to Instagram from the camera. You have to actually close the gallery and then go into Instagram, then locate the image inside the gallery. Way too many clicks than should be necessary.
  • You are presented the option to share to apps you don’t even have installed! Talk about confusing!

If you’ve ever used android, you’ll understand just how sophisticated app interaction can be, and how pathetic Apple’s version is.

Settings

The settings to configure an app are not accessible from the app in question. Using an app and want to change how it works? You have to leave the app, go to the settings icon, scroll all the way down what could be a pretty huge list (you have to scroll past all the Apple-owned apps first, even if you never use these), then enter the settings option for that app. Then you have to go back and reopen the app again. It’s a long, drawn out process, that makes little sense to me.

Unlimited Data

You can’t download an app that is larger than 50mb unless you are on WiFi, or unless you connect your phone to iTunes. You know that unlimited data you pay a lot to your network for? Apple doesn’t care.

Notifications

The notification pulldown is quite poor. It shows every notification for each app, rather than grouping them. This means the list can get pretty large, and the only way to clear an item is to clear all items.

  • You also have to do two things to clear a list of items. 1: Click the cross, then 2: click clear. One action should suffice here.
  • You get told of a new notification, but after the initial message you have no idea if you have any. You have to manually swipe down to see if there are any there. Ruins the point of a notification panel.

Keyboard

iPhone owners say the keyboard is fantastic, the only conclusion I can reach is they have never used something like SwiftKey on android. Because the ios keyboard falls dead on its arse once you’ve used android. Little things like:

  • The keys always show uppercase letters. sure you can tell if you’re actually about to type in upper-case as the shift key is highlighted, but come on, it feels so archaic when you’re using it.
  • You have to click the more button to type anything other than a letter. Writing anything with a comma, question mark or number in takes twice as long as you have to switch back and forth over and over.
  • When you tap on a letter, the pop-up showing you what you clicked is enormous! Its ridiculous  it’s so big it actually stops you from seeing the character you want to type next.

Screen

There is no point having a good camera when you can barely see anything you take as the screen is so small. This isn’t just holding back the camera either. You need great eye-sight to use an iPhone, everything is tiny.

Sure you can zoom in on the browser, but then you can’t see much of anything else.

  • Most apps don’t let you zoom.
  • This is a big issue during general navigation too. The amount of times I’ve had to keep jabbing at a small cross, or mini back button because it doesn’t register my touch. It’s just annoying.

Default Apps

So I use Chrome on every device, why? So all my stuff syncs wherever I am, whatever I’m using. Apple tries its hardest to make your life difficult. I installed Chrome on the iPhone, but I rarely ever got a chance to use it. Apple defaults to Safari for everything. This is the same for the majority of apps that Apple bundle with the phone. Keyboard, dialler, email client, you name it, you probably can’t change it!

UI

The UI is really beginning to show its age. This is essentially a 6 year old design, and it shows. When others are actually pushing design forward (see Windows Phone, Android), Apple are really stuck in a rut here. If you disagree and own an iPhone, then simply take a look at any google app on your device. You’ll understand what I mean.

A couple of years ago I’d get laughed at for saying this, but right now Apple is trailing far behind android on looks.

Scrolling

The scrolling! Have you ever tried scrolling on an iPhone? It’s like you purposely stuck your phone in a big tin of Golden Syrup, then put glue on your thumb, then attempted to scroll down a web page.

Downloads

Fancy downloading an attachment from your email? Tough luck. You can open it, you can share it to about 4 places (the places Apple allow you to), but download it? No chance.

Conclusion

That is just a list of things that annoy me about the iPhone, there are plenty more things that android does a lot better, but quite frankly I ran out of time.

The single biggest annoyance though? Apple makes it clear when you use the iPhone that it knows best. They know better than you what apps you want to use, how you want to interact, how you set your phone up. But throughout my use of the iPhone I’ve come to one major conclusion. Apple knows nothing about me.

But wait, it’s not all bad. Apple does have some good stuff going for it (if you forget about the cost), I mean it’s all about the apps right..? Right? (NB: This argument doesn’t work when your biggest competitor also has hundreds of thousands of great apps).

But truthfully, there are some things that Google can learn from Apple. I’ll discuss these in an upcoming post!

Rachid Otsmane-Elhaou

Rachid Otsmane-Elhaou (27) is a Business Analyst by day, but his real passion is technology, and in particular android (how can you not love the little green guy?). Rachid runs the Droid-Den website, that came about with a mission to help and inform android users about the great device(s) they have in their grasp.

Find me on Twitter (Le3ky) and Google+.

Tags: android, comparison, ios, iphone

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  • twitter.com/GadgetsBoy GadgetsBoy

    I like this, and I agree with most of it.  Just wanted to say the irony is that, those reasons are also why Apple fanboys love the iPhone.  What or How do you think Google can improve on Android going forward? and same question for Apple iOS?

  • Abhijeet Mishra

    Hah, I have almost exactly the same complaints, though thankfully I have iOS only on the tablet so it’s not an issue ruining my every day life.   

    “Apple makes it clear when you use the iPhone that it knows best.” Yes, Apple seems to focus purely on those that don’t want to get much out of their smartphone and just want to launch apps, not geeks and power users and those who might want to do a few things akin to a computer (like downloading any file, zipping files together and uploading somewhere, have apps doing things in the background, etc.). 

    They say they make things really easy for the average consumer, yet I fail to see how things like needing to go to the homescreen to stop an app download as there is no stop button in the App Store itself make it easy for the average consumer, to whom it’d probably never occur that an app download can be stopped that way. Or the fact that the music controls on the lockscreen come up on a double press of the home button, which I discovered by accident then had to tell my Mom and sis about it who also use my iPad. I mean, “just works” and “easy to use” are not phrases I’d use to define iOS today. 

    Then there’s multitasking. Oh boy, those limitations are so crazy (like an IRC client unable to stay connected for more than 10 minutes in the background). It amazes me how many self-proclaimed “geeks and power users” can really live with iOS on their main smartphone. Guess it’s the “smoothness and speed and good looks” of the OS that rise above all else, plus the battery life which is great, otherwise I fail to see the charm (oh, and HD games run and look much better on iPhone/iPad comparatively).

    But yes, I’d say too that Google could learn a few things from Apple (mainly consistency, though Google is improving in that regard). Looking forward to that post.Good article!

    • www.droid-den.com Rachid

      Thanks so much for the comment Abhijeet, you made some good points too!

  • kennydude.me/ Joe Simpson

    Android needs to get the design right and consistent. Google can help by demoting apps that do not fit in with Android (Twitter could be put bellow the other apps because it does not look and feel right).

    Also there is literally so much depth inside of Android’s SDK that is there but not used and abused enough. RemoteViews, Binders, Public Content Providers and much more. We need to see in the future most apps interconnected in such a way which is seamless on Android

  • twitter.com/darktheory Nij (InfiniteGooner)

    i’ve always disliked the iphone but didn’t realise there are so many reasons to dislike it after reading your review.

    • John Longson

       I didn’t imagine there were this many GOOD reasons either.

  • Zamees

    I hear what you are talking about. I do know that there are a few short cuts that you might not be aware of at this time. I found the forum to be very helpful and as I read thru some of my ?’s I found answers to things I was unaware were available.

    I have only used an apple and never wanted to jailbreak, thereby negating the integrity of their system. I am not staunch in dedication but they do have good fail safes. I put all my unwanted apps that I can’t folder on the back page and never bother with them.

    I wonder if we sent directly to Apple the ideas as you have them listed plus a few others that they may work on adding them in.

    I want a left arrow key so I don’t have erase everything as sometimes the finger finder wants to copy!!
    Thanks for the post. I enjoyed knowing what the other side thinks.

  • natavia

    i lovethat

  • www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003150122710 Brandon Shea

    I can’t tell if this is a parody or not. There are a couple valid points, but a few things jump out at me as blatantly ridiculous.

    1) What exactly is the purpose of quick toggles for things like wifi, Bluetooth, etc? Most people have absolutely no desire to manage their phone to that degree. If your phone’s battery life is bad enough that you need to worry about things like that, I’d argue that you just need a better phone. I never have to manage any of those options on my iPhone, and my battery life is consistently better than on any Android device I’ve used.

    2) The keyboard in iOS could probably use some extra prediction options, but I’m still able to type faster with it than on any Android keyboards I’ve used. I think a large part of this just has to do with the touchscreen accuracy – my Evo 4G was especially bad, and would often hit multiple keys or the wrong key with a touch. The Galaxy Nexus seemed better, but even then, it seemed like there was often a delay when pressing keys as compared to the iPhone. I’ve never actually seen the purpose of Swiftkey (too much effort put into correcting bad predictions in my testing), but I guess it’s good enough for many people.

    3) You are literally the first tech blogger I’ve ever seen that has praised scrolling on Android when compared to iOS. If there is one thing that Android has been bad at since the beginning, it’s scrolling performance. Trying to scroll through pages on my Nexus 7 is almost tedious because it gets so laggy and jittery.

    • Gabriel Romero

      1) For someone like me who needs to toggle WiFi on and off all the time because I like using my 4G when I’m at work and my WiFi when I’m at home,this is totally convenient  Let’s be honest, we use “smart-phones” for convenience. It’s a “didn’t miss it till I had it” feature, just like automatic locks on a car.

      2) Depends on the phone, but SwiftKey and Swype (or the new 4.2 keyboard) are fast and convenient. Hunt and pecking on a touchscreen will never be as great as a physical keyboard, and I am very glad people are innovating around this. The iOS keyboard is about the same as my 1st generation iPod Touch, which is definitely not a good thing.

      3) First tech blogger I have seen praise it too. I think what he likes is that it is speedy though. On iOS it looks smoother because it forces you to scroll very slow, where on Android, if you so choose, you can flick it as fast as you want, and it will respond accordingly.

      • www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003150122710 Brandon Shea

        Simple solution: don’t connect to wifi at work in the first place. Seems like a no-brainer, but maybe not.

        I do like the keyboard in 4.1 and 4.2, and it’s easily the best I’ve used on Android so far. Maybe I just didn’t use it long enough, but Swiftkey always seemed like more effort than it was worth, and it definitely doesn’t seem to be worth the price over the stock Android keyboard in Jelly Bean.

        For the record, iOS doesn’t look smoother because it’s slow, it looks smoother because user input is prioritized over background tasks and because of hardware acceleration. It scrolls as fast as you want it to, just like Android, but in a much more predictable way.

        • www.droid-den.com Rachid

          You should spend some time with SwiftKey, it definitely is worth the price.

        • Gabriel Romero

          Again, seems like a no-brainer, but data is not available everywhere on my job. I work in multiple building, and in basements it is nice to have WiFi, otherwise I keep it off. For the record, I’m scrolling on my galaxy nexus next to two iPhone’s and I am winning.

      • Jerry

        I am not really sure what the problem is with the way the iPhone handles WIFI. My iPhone is automatic. When I am in range of a WIFI that I have used before, it just silently switches to WIFI. That way the only time I have to touch the settings is when I get in range of a WIFI that previously worked and is now broken. Otherwise when I am in range of a WIFI, the phone uses it and when I leave it silently switches to LTE or 3G or EDGE In that order until I get back in range of a WIFI. Seems easier than a pushbutton to me.

        It looks to me like the Android users are accustomed to working too hard to get what they want. Then of course I have said that about Windows users since 1983. If you want a tool to get a job done, buy an Apple. If you want a computer that you can build into a tool get an Android or Windows device they are much better at that task than Apple will ever be.

        • www.droid-den.com Rachid

          The point is, to turn on wifi, or bluetooth, or screen rotation, you don’t have to work hard. You have to work a lot harder on ios to do the same thing.

        • Gabriel Romero

          You’re just only thinking about this WiFi thing from your own point of view. For example, at my work we have a gated network, it is a university, so if I want to use WiFi where there is no 4G available (in a basement) I have to open up a webrowser on my phone (or any device) and log in after I connect to WiFi. So if I want to use WiFi, this is great, but If I am somewhere where 4G is around, and so is WiFi, my Android phone, just like an iPhone, will preference the WiFi. But the thing is, is that if it’s the university WiFi, it will connect, because I’ve connected before

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