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What the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 Need to Win Me Back from Android

by Todd Haselton | May 17, 2012May 17, 2012 1:15 pm PST

What the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 Needs to Win Me Back from Android

A few weeks ago I sold my iPhone 4 on eBay using the site’s Instant Sale option. I was paid about $185, which didn’t seem too bad for an older phone. I wasn’t among the bunch that jumped to the iPhone 4S because my contract wasn’t up yet at the time and I didn’t want to shell out the hundreds of dollars required for the upgrade off contract. I decided to switch to the international HTC One X instead, which offers almost every feature I was looking for in a phone, including a larger display, a thinner form factor and an entirely new experience. I’ve only looked back once or twice.

As a phone reviewer I come across nearly every phone that’s released, so I get a bit of an attention deficit disorder from switching phones so often. It’s nice to finally settle on one I can call home. I miss Apple’s iTunes App Store selection terribly, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to take for homescreen widgets, an incredible Gmail experience and other small customization features that Android offers its users. I’m excited to see what Apple has to announce at WWDC and in the coming months, though, and kind of want to fall back in love with the iPhone all over again. Will the new iPhone draw me back? I kind of hope so. I miss iMessage, the apps, the music experience and more. Apple’s going to have to make a number of changes before I go on another date, though.

LTE

I’m using the international HTC One X, which is fine on AT&T’s 3G network but I really, really, need to get back on AT&T’s faster 4G LTE data network as soon as possible. I tether often for work, which means I need to have a reliable and quick connection for most of the day. It’s not so much that I need 4G for downloading movies and songs — I do that at home over Wi-Fi most of the time, but using 3G takes too long for uploading even small photos when I’m blogging from the road. Thankfully most reports suggest Apple’s new iPhone will offer 4G LTE connectivity, so I have little to worry about.

A Customizable Homescreen

I don’t mean a homescreen where I can make folders and move apps around in a pretty little square. Apple’s iPhone homescreen UI is so close to a feature phone that it’s laughable now. Windows Phone offers a lively experience and Android had thousands of widgets available. I need a number of apps that can let me see how our traffic is doing at-a-glance, I want to be able to look down and see my day’s calendar events immediately without digging through menus, and I want to know the temperature outside without having to ask Siri or having to pull down a shade (that is, admittedly, an easy task. But why can’t I just see the weather on a big widget?).

Better Email

I use Gmail for everything and Android, with Ice Cream Sandwich, offers the best Gmail experience I’ve used on a phone. Apple’s email application sorts emails nicely and even allows me to view threaded conversations, which I love, but it’s nowhere near as useful as Gmail on Android. Why can’t I choose to add an attachment once I’ve started composing an email? That’s a ridiculous flaw. I also love that Android automatically adds multiple Google Talk accounts so I can stay in touch with the staff on one account and my friends on another Gmail account. There are plenty of iOS apps available that offer Google Talk functionality, but none touch Google Talk on Android.

Free Navigation

Apple is reportedly working on releasing its own maps solutions in iOS 6, and we’ve even seen reports that it will offer a killer experience. I don’t see why Apple would sit still while Nokia and Google offer free turn-by-turn navigation options and largely expect this to be a part of iOS 6. It can’t leave Google Maps behind entirely, though. I star my favorite restaurants and places in each city I visit so that I can remember to re-visit them or recommend them to friends. All I have to do is pull up New Orleans, for example, and recommend Lafitte’s Blacksmith shop in New Orleans when a friend asks, “Todd, I’m in New Orleans. Where should I visit?”

Better Sharing Features

The camera on the iPhone 4S is already killer. In fact, one camera enthusiast I know argues that it’s much better than the 8-megapixel shooter on the One X, which I think is fabulous. I don’t expect or care if Apple decides to boost the megapixel count or not, but I’d love if it made it much easier for me to share my photos. With Android, for example, you can quickly choose any social network or email address to share a photo to. Apple needs to execute a similar option.

A Bigger Screen

The latest reports suggest that Apple is already contracting manufacturers to build a larger 4-inch display, which would be about perfect for me. I love large screens — you should have seen me fawn over the 5.3-inch screen on the Galaxy Note, but 4-inches seems like a happy medium. The 3.5-inch screen on the iPhone 4/4S may be perfect for some, but it’s just too small for my tastes; especially when it comes to gaming, reading comics or streaming Netflix.

NFC

I’m probably the only person in the world that’s drop-dead excited for mobile payments and NFC, but I’m OK with that. I hope Apple introduces the technology in its newest phone so I can make purchases by tapping my phone against a mobile payment system. A number of outlets already accept Google Wallet in NYC so I use it every now and then for buying groceries at Walgreens, but I think Apple has the potential to make it even bigger. I want to use NFC to jump through a subway turnstile or to buy tickets for my train. I’m weird. I like futuristic things.

Wrap-Up

If you’ve been reading closely, you might be asking yourself: “Why not just stick with Android, Todd? All of those features are already available.” That’s a good point, and that’s why I’m still using Android today. It’s just that huge selection of applications on iOS that’s really tugging at my heartstrings.

 


Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...

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