5 things I discovered after switching from my iPhone to the Pixel 8 Pro.

    After having practically every iPhone model since 2011, I switched from my iPhone 14 Pro to a Pixel 8 Pro three months ago. As a cross-platform user, I was fed up with Apple’s restrictive practices, notably its control over text communications via iMessage.

    As pleased as I was with the iOS experience, including the iPhone’s perfect integration with my MacBook, Apple Watch, iPad, and Apple TV, it broke down quickly on my Windows and Linux computers. What started off as a small inconvenience of needing to transfer to another device every time I wanted to text someone became into a persistent desire to free my mobile messaging life from Apple’s grip.

    Sure, I could have tried to shift the majority of my chat exchanges to WhatsApp or another texting service. However, as an American user, SMS has remained the major mode of communication throughout my life. To send and receive texts to and from my cell number with everyone in my group, I had to forsake iMessage.

    Of course, Apple does not allow any other software to send and receive SMS on its devices, so in order to replace iMessage with an app that works across all platforms, I had to abandon the iPhone.

    Here are five things I’ve learned after 90 days with Android on Google’s Pixel 8 Pro.

    Pixel 8 Pro
    Android’s user experience has evolved nicely over the years, and while it retains the high degree of customizability that iOS has generally lacked, I find its overall user experience has caught up with Apple’s in most ways.

    Android has come a long since the days of chaos

    When I gave in my previous Android phone, a Motorola Droid, for an iPhone in 2011, I had come to see Android as a chaotic mess, and iOS as the clean, solid alternative. Sure, Apple phones were insanely costly, but they worked almost brilliantly as long as you didn’t mind not being able to modify anything other than the wallpaper.

    While Apple’s aesthetics and UX polish still stand out as superior, the customizability of Android remains far more extensive than that of iOS.

    By quitting Android, I gave up the ability to customize my phone as I saw fit in return for increased app ecosystem security and a more dependable mobile operating system. In those days, Android had an app ecosystem riddled with bugs and security flaws, and performance difficulties persisted across devices.

    Furthermore, Google lacked a robust ecosystem, whereas Apple designed its numerous gadgets to function flawlessly together.

    Fast forward to 2024, and the Android ecosystem has blossomed. Android phones are compatible with Google products such as Chromecast, Nest doorbells and cameras, as well as Chromebooks and Windows PCs.

    Outside of Apple’s walled garden, everyone has just gone on with their lives, and Android phones make it simple to share data, messaging, and app experiences across PCs and other devices, even those not produced by Google. Google Messages works just as well in the browser on my Ubuntu Linux PC, Windows 11 PC, my much ignored Chromebook, and, yes, my MacBook Pro.

    While Apple’s aesthetics and UX refinement remain outstanding, Android’s customizability is significantly more than those of iOS. Meanwhile, Google Play has greatly reduced the danger of Android applications compared to iOS apps over the years.

    iMessage’s green bubbles are meaningless

    As an iPhone user, I’ve never understood why non-Apple texts appear as green bubbles instead of Apple’s typical blue bubbles. I don’t care what gadget the other person is texting from, and having half of my incoming texts show in a different color has always felt like an unnecessary distraction. But now that I’m on the other side of the mobile platform divide, Apple’s attempt to categorize mobile consumers into blue and green is even more ridiculous.

    Apple’s green bubbles have always been just another branding ploy

    Android users don’t waste one second of their day worrying over whether the text bubbles on their screen are blue or green. They’re not missing anything. In truth, Android phones have been utilizing RCS (rich communication services) since 2008, and it looks that Apple is just now catching up with the anticipated release of RCS on iOS 18 this year.

    The simple point is that Apple’s green bubbles have always been merely another branding trick, designed to reinforce its consumers’ conviction in the inferiority of rival products while having no actual purpose at all.

    Device ecosystems still matter

    When I moved to Android, my Apple Watch lost the majority of its functionality for me. Aside from telling time and monitoring exercises, I largely relied on the wristwatch to provide me with notifications throughout the day, connect to my calendar, and keep track of the weather.

    In today’s technological world, phones and smartwatches are inextricably linked, thus if you have an Android phone, you must also have an Android wristwatch. Naturally, I purchased a Pixel Watch the same day I received the Pixel phone, and the two are as compatible as the iPhone and Apple Watch.

    Pixel 8 Pro with TV

    Casting videos from my phone to the TV was another regular practice that required immediate attention when I swapped phones. You can’t transmit from Android to Apple TV without using clunky third-party programs.

    Fortunately, Google Chromecasts are really inexpensive, so I purchased four of them for less than the cost of a single Apple TV and installed one on each of the televisions in my house. Now I can cast to any of my TVs while still watching my Apple-purchased movies on Chromecasts via the Apple TV app. It’s an unusually round experience.

    Switching platforms within a home can be problematic. While I migrated from iOS to Android, the rest of my family did not. So now we have two distinct digital TV devices connected to every screen in the house, with little consensus on which to use by default. My kid appears to enjoy the Google UX, however my wife and daughter frequently quit the Chromecast and go to the Apple TV when they have the remote.

    Android Auto is an embarrassment

    When I chose to make the transition, I never considered that I would have problems with Android Auto. In my opinion, my automobile arrived with support for both platforms, therefore it shouldn’t matter which one I utilized.

    Oh how I was deceived. After four years of trouble-free driving with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto’s clumsy, confused experience has been plain frustrating on several occasions.

    half my apps don’t work correctly with my Audi’s click-wheel control

    Pixel 8 Pro
    Pixel 8 Pro

    With CarPlay, Apple’s strict control over app behavior assures, at the very least, that applications work well with the car’s built-in controls, in striking contrast to Google’s dismal implementation. With Android Auto, half of my applications do not operate properly with my Audi’s click-wheel controls. When I swap apps in my car, I should be able to return to the primary screen by pressing the Back button on the center console.

    However, this seldom works, and there’s no way to dismiss an unresponsive app without asking Google Assistant for assistance or picking up the phone and physically selecting anything else.

    At first, I assumed the problem was limited to third-party programs, but Google Messages is also affected in my automobile. Searching Android user forums, I noticed that these difficulties differ somewhat from one automobile maker to the next, with the general theme being that Android Auto is rubbish.

    Google’s AI rocks

    I’ve had a combination of Google Home speakers and Apple HomePods in my home for years, so I’ve seen firsthand that Siri is a rather stupid assistant. With Google’s latest push into AI technology, the gap between Google and Siri has only grown wider.

    Whether I’m at my desk, standing in the kitchen, or driving, I can typically rely on Google Assistant to answer any queries I ask it. Siri, on the other hand, frequently sends links to my iPhone instead of summarizing information for me on demand.

    With Gemini Nano integrated inside the Pixel 8 Pro, the AI experience on my Android phone is now light years ahead of anything I’ve ever encountered with Siri on an iPhone. It’s unclear whether Apple has any huge plans to catch up with Google, Microsoft, and Samsung in the AI field.

    Will I stick with Android?

    When I originally chose to convert from iOS to Android a few months ago, I thought it was just an intriguing experiment.

    If I didn’t like Android, I’d gladly switch back, but I was determined to give it a fair go before making a decision. I still have the iPhone 14 Pro on my desk and have used it several times to test various iOS-compatible items. It’s right there, and I could still use it as my daily driver phone today if I wanted to. But it turns out that I don’t want to.

    While my initial reason for switching devices was a little irritation with the way iMessage monopolizes my text communications, I’ve found the entire Android experience freeing. I absolutely enjoy being able to walk out the door with my Ubuntu laptop and still send SMS from my browser anytime I want.

    I also enjoy Google’s far superior AI and the freedom to rearrange the icons and widgets on my phone in any way I see fit. To be honest, I appreciate the misguidedly askance looks I get from my smug iPhone-wielding buddies when I pull my Pixel out of my coat pocket.

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