It is interesting to see reviews of smart phones and the focus is always on the ‘big things’ that really stand out when in reality it is the culmination of those small niceties rather than one or two major big things that really draw an end user in. Here are some of the niceties that keep me within the Apple ecosystem, more specifically, the iOS ecosystem:
1) Integration with OS X – my favourite feature is being able to answer the phone on my computer and make phone calls as well. Ring up an organisation and being put on hold but not having to physically have the phone up against my ear the whole time I’m waiting. When thinking about it without having used it the idea seems pretty simple but having used it so many times I feel lost when faced in a situation where I don’t have that option.
2) iCloud gets a lot of flack (and rightfully so in many cases) for its down time but when it does work it works very well – from the email service through to the keychain sync, the use of open standards when it comes to syncing: IMAP, CalDAV and CardDAV meaning that you’re never exclusively bound to the Apple ecosystem – if you want to keep using OS X but have some other branded phone you can still sync your contacts, calendaring and email without having to worry about dealing with weird proprietary protocols.
3) When the next version of iOS is released, be it an update or upgrade, everyone receives it rather than having a carrier artificially holding up or the OEM deciding that your particular market isn’t worth supporting for the long term – I’m looking at you Samsung and HTC ಠ_ಠ In this day and age there is no reason why Android is announced then it takes up to a year for an update to finally trickle out to end users – and if you choose to release 100 models and it slows down your Android building then that isn’t the problem of the end user, cut the number of models and focus on a core set of models so then you can deliver a consistent after market support experience.
4) For all the faults that iTunes has when compared to the alternatives for their respective smart phone devices I find that iTunes still does the best job for what needs to be done. HTC Sync Manager and Kies on OS X (and I’d hazard to guess also the same situation Windows) is just plain horrible. It is one thing to maybe relegating OS X users to an after thought but when your primary base uses Windows then you’d think that maybe some care and attention would be spent on making their software polished so that the over all experience is enjoyable. Yes, I have been told that there are alternatives such as uploading my music to some sort of cloud drive yadda yadda yadda which makes what should be a 5 minute sync into a 5 hour clusterfuck that I’m sure no sane person would want to make themselves go through unless absolutely necessary.
5) The focus on delivering the complete widget – software and hardware. Nothing quite grinds my gears more than hearing someone ranting on about hardware specifications but are silent when ever it comes to the software. It is the software that makes the hardware usable and thus it is the software that dictates whether the experience is good or bad. For example, HTC has some great hardware but their camera in the M9 was plagued from day one with immature software and firmware which has since been resolved with 2 major updates plus many individual software updates through the Play Store but the point still remains that the initial immaturity of the software has haunted their perception in mind of many tech savvy people – even those who are long time HTC fans.
Samsung is no better when their long lead time between Google announcing a new Android release then it eventually making its way out to the end user where in many cases it isn’t the carrier that holds it all up but rather it is Samsung who does. Reminds me very much of an end user berating Vodafone NZ for not getting an update for his Samsung Galaxy phone but in reality it had already began approved 12 weeks prior and it was Samsung themselves who were holding up the deployment of the update. The worse part with the Android build Samsung provide is all the crapware that end users have to endure – if I wanted drop box I’d go out of my way to actually download it so I don’t need it pre-installed and impossible to uninstall without rooting my device and possibly voiding my warranty in the process.
6) Not being the first but getting it right. Something that people ignore is that it is all very well to boast that you get something first but it is an unworkable mess for 2 years then really the thing one is boasting about might as well not exist in the first place. Take Google Wallet for example and the common complaint about Apple Pay is that ‘Android had it first’ to which I ask, “and how usable was it in the real world?” Apple might not be the first but when they do something they tend to get it pretty much on the mark – Apple Pay was a large undertaking because rather than just throwing something out there then hoping by osmosis that financial organisations gravitate towards it is a plan that is doomed to failure. You have to work with those financial institutions – listen to their concerns and develop it in conjunction where you get what you want whilst also recognising that they have legitimate concerns that need to be take into account. Reminds me very much of Nokia who were last to the coloured screens way back in the ‘good old days’ but when they entered the market they delivered a great product that wasn’t riddled with the problems that other phones suffered from (battery life issues, poor text readability etc).
7) The audio and earphones out of the don’t suck – I have a nice pair of Sennheiser earphones which are great when on the train or when going for a stroll through the mall but when it comes to a good pair of ‘in the ears’ buds for when I’m riding my scooter nothing beats the quality. In the past the in the ear buds were horrible; the lack of bass, major distortion as soon as you push the volume just a smidgen higher than what the earphones could handle etc. but it seems that Apple have really fixed that. Compared to other vendors you’ll find that many still suffer from that very problem with especially when it comes to audio configuration – buy an Android phone then having to run off to the Google store to pay for an equaliser application just so you can boost the bass (yes, there are free ones but they’re all god nagware in them that keep asking whether I’m interested in purchasing xyz from some company I have never heard of nor care about).
Watch this space, I’ll be doing one for OS X and Mac’s.