What iOS Lacks, Android’s Advantage

I’ve been using a Nexus 7 and an iPad on and off for the last two months. I was never against Android, but after using it on a tablet I’m seeing some major holes in iOS. Here are some critical things Android has and iOS totally lacks.

  • Fast typing. I have to look at the keyboard more, but in portrait mode swipe typing is the unrivaled native keyboard. In contrast the split keyboard in iOS is really nice in any orientation, and I wish that was in Android. Swipe typing is really nice because you only need one hand, any iOS keyboard always takes two hands to be effective split or not.
  • Widgets. In iOS I suffer from “What should I do next on my black rectangle?”. I somehow end up opening every app and checking the status of everything from Evernote to Wunderlist. This wastes time. Android abbreviates that process with widgets. I have a little window on any of my home screens for all the quick info I need. For example I have a Wunderlist window for everything I need to do this week and recent notes I’ve written in Evernote. iOS has something close to these widgets, but it’s hidden away in the notification center, it’s really just for stocks and weather too. When was the last time you actually opened the weather app in iOS? I never do, the “widget” in the notification center tells me what I need to know much quicker and easier. Other issues with the notification center lead to my next point.
  • A useful swipe down menu. What do you actually use the notification center in iOS for? Besides the weather, emails, and text, when was the last time you intentionally swiped down from the top of the screen to get some notifications? I practically never do. Perhaps if there was more functionality in that little menu. Let’s look at Android’s swipe down menus for a second. Yeah menus, plural, there’s more than one and does it save time. On Android tablets, swipe down on the left half of the screen and you get notifications. You can get rid of all of them with a single tap too, as opposed to several clicks of a tiny “x” button in iOS. Swipe down on the right half and you get some quick settings buttons. WHOA, I don’t even have to open the settings app to turn on Airplane mode? Turning on and off any of my antennae are aways a click away.

In short Android’s workflow is just quicker. When I use my Nexus 7 I usually manage to get some stuff out of the way work wise. I would conjecture the iPad offers me more distractions because it lacks these little bits that make everything flow together. iOS 7 is going to be announced sometime in the next six months. Based on this list I would like to request two things of Apple.

  • Widgets. How do the weather and stock apps in the notification center work? Make it so developers have access to that pipe, and I’ll intentionally swipe down much more. Badges are a short form of this already but they only tell me the quantity of work I have, not what the work is. The settings swipe-down menu in Android is nice, but too much to throw in iOS right now. The design language would have to change a bit in iOS before that could happen. The settings swipe-down fits Android’s holo, or Windows Phone’s live tiles themes much better.
  • Faster typing. Our descendants will laugh at us because we hunt and peck on our digital keyboards so much. Apple already changed the perception of a functional touch screen keyboard when they unveiled the iPhone. They should try to do it again. Fixing how the split keyboard affects content at the bottom of the page would be nice too but that’s another post.

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