Moving from iPhone to Android

A few months ago I moved from an iPhone 7 Plus to a Pixel 3 XL. This was going to be my first Android device and I knew there was going to be a learning curve so I went with a flagship device and got the XL.

After using the phone for a few months I thought I would outline my impressions.

The Gotchas

Performance

The first thing I actually noticed was general performance. I didn't actually do benchmarks or anything like that but my 3 year old iPhone 7 felt snappier than a brand-new Pixel. I’ve gotten used to it but there are still times when I hit the button to leave an app, it goes to the home screen but then takes 1-2 seconds to load my icons. This might be less of an issue if you only use a few phone apps (phone, sms, instagram, spotify). I use a ton of phone apps so I kind of notice that stuff.

Group SMS vs Apple iMessaging

Oh boy. This was a big one. I was able to transfer my SMS messages but group messages can get really screwed up when you move off of iPhone.

From what I understand - on an iPhone your phone number is associated with your Apple Account and Apple iMessaging. Anytime you send a message to fellow iPhone user it uses iMessaging. If you create a group message and everyone is on iPhone it will also use iMessage otherwise it will use SMS.

When you move your phone number to Android it disconnects that number from Apple iMessaging. This isn't a problem for 1-on-1 messages because it will just default to SMS. But if you're in an existing group iMessage doesn't do that - instead it will send the message to the email associated with your Apple Account.

This happened to me several times because much of my family is on iPhone. They would pull up an old group message, reply to it and it would go to my email. The only way around it was to create a brand new group message. This group message will show up as a completely new thread in everyone’s messaging app and will likely confuse and annoy everyone. Fortunately this only happens if everyone in the group is on iPhone.

Signal

As far as I know you cannot backup your Signal messages from iPhone and restore them to Android - so all my Signal messages are still on my old iPhone. Also you’ll lose access to any of your Signal groups. Technically you'll still be part of existing Signal groups but you won’t be able to access them until someone else sends a message to that group.


App Installation

Understanding the distinction between apps that are in the app drawer vs the home screen. On the iPhone your app is in one location - on Android your app lives in the app drawer and you can have multiple shortcuts to it.

Google Pass

The passes in Google Pay aren't quite as robust as Apple Pay. E.g. If you want to add a concert or airplane tickets to Google Pay you might need to download their individual app. It is a lot easier in iPhone - they email you the ticket or boarding pass and you can automatically add it to your pass list.

The Good Stuff

It’s not all been pain. Here are some of the things that I liked about the phone.

  • YouTube picture-in-picture is fantastic

  • Almost all of the iPhone apps have solid Android versions. The obvious exceptions are the IOS native applications

  • Google Pay and Apple pay are about equal in their ease of use. Also Starbucks. But as I mentioned above not all passes are available.

  • Airpods work pretty well

  • There are game emulators in the Google Play store. That would probably be a lot cooler if I didn’t have Nintendo Switch.


Unless you've got a really specific reason to change I'm not sure it's worth it to move between ecosystems. Contrary to what fan boys say I think both ecosystems have compelling pros and cons. And like most things there are trade-offs that you have to be okay with.


I moved to Android because I was curious to try something new and can afford to be frustrated. But I'm probably an outlier.

Does the Web Need to Be Decentralized?

A meetup friend asked me what I thought of the recent article(s) going around discussing Tim Berners-Lee’s push to decentralize the web.

Berners-Lee’s background is pretty well outlined in the TechCrunch article but, needless to say, he’s got some academic bonafides and now he hopes to course-correct the web by taking it out of the hands of all the major players and putting it into the hands of the users.

He plans on doing this by using Solid, an open-source set of conventions and tools that are meant to used to build decentralized web applications.

Solid sounds interesting but the articles are just puff-pieces that allow Berners-Lee to leverage his past-work and the nascent distrust of Facebook and Google to discuss his start-up inrupt.

I usually dismiss most companies with mission statements like “making the world better through technology” as being naive. But it did get me thinking about what decentralization could look like.

On the surface, there is some appeal to decentralization:

  • Avoids vendor lock in (and the tendencies towards monopolies, walled gardens, surveillance, and other abuses of privilege that go along with that)

  • Promotes healthy competition and diversity in app development -- because the user's data is separated from a particular service provider or application, users are free to choose their preferred way of interacting with their data

  • The user, instead of the service provider, owns all of their own data

  • Helps prevent data loss (in case a provider gets acquired, or decides to discontinue a particular service)

  • Encourages the use of standard inter-operable data formats, which provides a richer user experience

(taken from https://github.com/solid/solid-tutorial-intro)

But there is always a cost that is associated with it. 

I think technical people often forget how difficult it is for non-technical people to get up-to-speed with new technology.   

If a user "owns all their own data" that means that they are responsible for knowing how that data should be used and protected. But most non-technical people have no idea what that involves. Heck, most people have a hard time navigating outside of the desktop or Start Menu of their computer! So someone "owning all their own data" will involve the time and effort learning what that even means. And most people will conclude that it makes more sense to outsource that to someone else.  

That's exactly what I do with any number of things in my life that I don't understand.

  • growing the food I eat

  • fixing my car

  • doing my taxes

  • repairing the plumbing in my bathroom.

The key is finding someone you can trust - specifically, someone whose interests and business model are transparent enough for you to understand the nature of your transaction with them. You should be suspicious whenever you use a product or service and it isn’t obvious how the business is getting paid.

That is fairly straightforward with brick-and-mortal businesses but that doesn’t mean it's easy. It can be a real nightmare finding a mechanic or plumber you trust.

So overall I’m fairly skeptical that a startup pushing a new framework will be able to re-invent the web.

Why Start-ups / Rock Bands fail

Why Start-ups / Rock Bands fail

Survivorship bias in the start-up world makes it difficult to learn from other people's mistakes.

Most advice you get comes from people who have overcome incredible odds and have also been extremely lucky. Success stories rarely seem to discuss higher than normal divorce rates among entrepreneurs or how most successful entrepreneurs rely on family or spouse to support them.

Rock bands are the same way.  You mostly hear from magical bands that have been very lucky, had solid connection and are mostly competent. You sometimes even hear about bands that were unsung in their day and are re-discovered later. You rarely hear about the bands that kick around their hometown for 15 years and for some reason or other fail to build a substantial following.