From (12 years of) Android to iOS: What does Android do better?

I started using Android Phones since 2011. I recently (2 months ago) made the leap from the Google Pixel 4a to the iPhone 15 Pro. My decision was influenced by certain changes in the Pixel series: the removal of the unlimited photo backup feature, the elimination of the physical fingerprint sensor, and the shift from selling “pro” services to unlocking “advanced” features, which left me feeling somewhat frustrated.

After two-month period, I’ve gathered more grounded feedback and identified areas where I believe Apple should take notes from Android’s more favorable practices.

“The ‘Back’ Gesture”

One of the most frustrating differences I encountered between Android and iOS was the gesture for returning to the previous page or screen of an app. Android has an intuitive slide gesture from either the left or right edge of the screen to go back, which was a game-changer when they introduced it, accommodating both left and right-handed users.

On iOS:

  • Some apps (like Signal) somehow implemented it, while some widely used apps like Google Maps don’t. This inconsistency forces me to use my second hand to go back to the previous screen, which is quite annoying.
  • iOS’s gesture only works from the left edge of the screen to the right, lacking the flexibility of Android’s bidirectional swipe to go back functionality.

The adoption of a more versatile and universally applicable gesture would be highly beneficial, especially considering the trend of phones becoming bigger and bigger.

Available since the Android 12 (2021)

New Action button isn’t that “actionable”

The newly introduced Action button on iOS poses usability issues, especially for right-handed users. It require my second hand to activate it.

Binding it to an app also has its limitations. You can’t launch an app if the screen is locked, it ask the passcode or Face ID authentication.

Apple could enhance this feature by implementing special permissions allowing certain apps, like the camera, to open directly from the Action button without authentication, streamlining accessibility and user convenience. I would prefer it to use Side button (turn off/scree scree), see next section

Tripe “press” for opening the Camera app (or any app)

Android’s double-click side button functionality for swiftly opening the camera app without requesting a password is truly remarkable. I used it daily, and it remains ingrained in my muscle memory for capturing quick moments.

The Apple team saw the need with the Action button, albeit its quirks I described earlier. The ideal location (for right-handers) would be the “Side Button,” used for toggling the screen on/off. The double press feature triggers Apple Pay, a useful functionality in my opinion But we can also configure the triple press, that allows for curated accessibility features.

In an ideal scenario, users would have the freedom to launch any app of their choice from that triple press, creating a more versatile and personalized user experience.

Available the Pixel 3)

Icon Sizes on the Home Screen are too large

Android alloweed five app icons on the screen felt more convenient compared to Apple’s restriction to just 4 icons. Having all my apps available on one screen without the need to swipe through multiple pages was preferable.

The ongoing expansion of phone screens results in larger icons on iOS devices due to the fixed icon layout. Do users wants larger icons? It appears to be a decision that hasn’t been re-evaluated and could benefit from reconsideration to align with changing user preferences. Adapting the icon layout could optimize screen real estate and offer a more user-centric experience.

Some Native Apps Feedback:

Regarding the Camera App, adding the functionality to “Pause” video recording would be a valuable addition, a feature already available in Android’s camera app.

For the timer in “Clock”: An intuitive improvement could involve allowing users to press on the prominent timer display to pause the timer recording, offering a more accessible and user-friendly alternative to pressing a relatively small “pause button.”

Thanks for reading

As always, hit me up and let’s hang out. I am thinking a lot about AI, Health, Tooling, Hacking and other stuffs. I now focus on TaipeiDev and HackersBait. If you are in Taipei, come hang out.