Which mobile flag do you pledge allegiance to? Like so many important decisions we face, it basically comes down to the two major parties: iOS and Android. The nature of each operating system have notable differences, but in general share most of the common, day-to-day functionality. However, as time goes on and features evolve, what separates the two is also separating the larger demographics of users, partially eclipsing the initial mission to connect.
I’ve switched back and forth between iOS and Android throughout the years and am tempted to do it again. Since the dawn of the iPhone 5s, I have been pretty firmly planted in Apple’s court. A clean and sleek laser-cut biometric TouchID interface, with anodized aluminum casing and high-definition display, and a 4G LTE connection was all I really needed circa Fall of 2013. The iPhone 5s effectively brought me back to Apple and I’ve been here ever since. For the first time in years, however, I’m starting to struggle.
As of late, Apple has been steadily putting themselves and their customers in a design corner. The initial step in this direction was the dropping of the ⅛” headphone jack from the iPhone 7 and not offering expanded memory options. This minimization of ports was followed by a massive leap from multi-input and output Macbooks to a singularly USB-C dependent system. Most recently, our friends in Cupertino forced an expensive-to-replace all-glass design on the market. Add to that the transformation to an essential security function via the introduction of FaceID; leaving no room whatsoever to alternative options for accessing what is arguably your most personal device. And throw in lofty repair fees to boot.
If you currently use (or have at least tried) FaceID, you’ll realize there are imperfections in the technology. Despite advancements in the XS and Apple’s assurance that its machine-learning will fix any gaps in the recognition process, it is simply limited in ability, accuracy, and subtlety when compared to its predecessor. Similarly, you run the risk of ending up like Kanye West, forced to type in your pin, live in the Oval, which nobody wants.
This of course won’t stop millions of iPhone enthusiasts from buying or leasing brand new XS and XR devices this year, but it does make me reconsider. Why must so much be condensed to such limited interfaces? What if I need to subtly unlock my phone without looking like I am taking a selfie? Why does one of the most powerful global distributors of music and technology not support or carry lossless or high-resolution audio files? Where is their native wireless charging station and lastly, why are Apple’s customers (myself included) seemingly so complacent about it all?
I think in the end, it comes down to relationships and the people we care about. I’m more than hesitant about giving up iMessage, Find My Friends or Animojis, as they nurture those most important connections in my life. I can obviously still get by, but it’s really hard to not think about life on the other side, a seemingly faraway land where my fingerprint isn’t worthless, where I can expand SD memory, scan 3D objects, or listen to high-resolution audio. Am I destined to either live an incomplete mobile life, or be forced into a life of dual mobile citizenship, simply because of divisive decisions made at the top to keep the game alive? I’m still not totally sure, but I’m guessing by the holidays, we’ll find out . . . .