I never thought I’d be using applications as much as I do every single day. Back when they were first starting to gain in popularity, I barely paid them any attention. Not because I didn’t think they would somehow lose their appeal to the mass market, but simply because I didn’t find any need for them. That changed drastically, and in a short amount of time, and now I use a wide range of apps every single day. From checking news, to hockey scores, to just jotting down notes, the applications available on the mobile platform I’m using at any moment is crucial to the phone I want to use.
I’ll freely admit that it’s why I don’t use Windows Phone 8 every day. It’s also why I know I can’t jump on board with BlackBerry’s BlackBerry 10 quite yet, either. I think it’s funny that, during my tests of music apps Spotify and Rdio, it’s ultimately the result of that test that’s keeping me from enjoying a BlackBerry Z10 as my daily driver. As I’ve suggested in the past, just a single missing application from a mobile platform can ultimately prevent a person’s adoption.
It’s just the way things go these days. We love our applications, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. As long as developers keep making apps that serve a particular function, and do it better than what we were doing before apps, we’ll still need them in our lives.
I switch mobile operating systems a lot. In the first three months of 2012, I’ve gone back and forth between Windows Phone, Android, and iOS more than a few times, all on different devices. I’ve switched from a Windows Phone 8X by HTC, Samsung’s Galaxy Note II, another effort with the Galaxy S III, an iPhone 4S and an iPhone 5, Sony’s Xperia TL, and Nokia’s Lumia 920. I’ve run through a healthy set of options, trying everything I can get my hands on, but more often than not it came down to the applications I use every single day that made the decision for me.
Simply put, Windows Phone 8 just doesn’t have the apps that I use every single day. I’m talking apps like NHL GameCenter LIVE, MLB At Bat, Simplenote, and games like Real Racing 3. (There are a lot more than this, I'm just using these as examples.) Yes, Windows Phone does have alternative sports apps, like ESPN’s ScoreCenter, but they just don’t cut it. Why? Because I can’t watch live Boston Bruins games on those other NHL-focused apps. And, the ESPN ScoreCenter app for Windows Phone is good, but it doesn’t stack up against the Android or iOS options.
Android? Yeah, I may not be able to quit Android, but I keep running into similar situations. No, it is obviously not as bad as the Windows Phone predicament, but there are little gripes. For instance, while I have my “Number One!” fan team, I do follow other clubs during baseball and hockey seasons. If I want to use the MLB At Bat app for Android, for instance, I can watch or listen to live games, and that’s great – but I can’t add multiple favorite teams. Which means I don’t get notifications about those teams – I have to go search out scores, or news. (NHL GameCenter LIVE for Android just recently added the ability to have up to five favorite teams, so that's a step in the right direction.)
(This is almost made okay by the fact that Google Now exists, and it already knows the teams I care about. But, we’re just talking about specific apps for now, so we have to ignore that for the time being.)
But you know what the biggest deal to me is? The fact that the Google-based applications, like Gmail, or Google Search, or Google Maps, are just so dang good on iOS. They really are. Sure, someone might try to convince me that Google Maps on Android is better, and I’d tend to agree. But Google Maps on iOS isn’t missing any features that I need every day. The app works so well, based on my particular usage, that I don’t feel the need to switch to Android to get the best Maps experience.
As soon as Apple gives Google the go ahead for Google Now on iOS, then, well, it’s anyone’s guess as to why I’d feel the need to switch to Android. This is sort of the same situation that BlackBerry finds itself in, but on a much broader scale. Why switch to BlackBerry 10 when what I’m already using works just fine? Does exactly what I need and want it to do? That can be said for any platform when comparing to BlackBerry 10, by the way, not just iOS, not just Android, and not just Windows Phone. Why switch, if there isn’t an explicit reason to do so?
I switch because I need to know how the other platforms compare to one another, and because I can find small gripes in just about any platform or device that I’m using. (Though, I’m seriously wondering if I’m going to find anything wrong with the HTC One, other than my little nitpicks with Android apps.)
The truth of the matter is, is that my dependence on Google-based apps isn’t a hindrance because I’m on iOS at any given moment. In fact, Google has done such a good job with their apps on Apple’s mobile platform that I can’t find a reason to switch anymore. It works, and so well, that using iOS for the other benefits (like more games, and apps with more features) just seems to make sense. Based on my specific usage, mind you.
I think if Google stopped supporting their apps so well, or stopped making them work so well right from the start, I’d switch off of iOS completely. I could learn to get over the small issues with specific Android apps, I think.
But I want to hear from you. Do you still use iOS because the Google experience on the platform is well supported, and even worth using? Or do you prefer the Google experience can only truly be encapsulated on an Android device? Would you stop using an iPhone if Google stopped supporting their apps so well on the mobile OS? Let me know what you think.