I've never been a big fan of Android and every time I try to switch from my iPhone, I'm frustrated. Every Android phone I pick up has a different interface with awkward navigation, inferior animation, and a general lack of polish. While the Galaxy Note 10 I tested recently does a slightly better job on some UI elements, fingerprint readers, bloatware, and the forced Bixby integration still made me want more. I've been using Google Pixel 4 for almost a week now and I hope Android is going in the right direction.
Google has taken a number of measures with Pixel 4 to appeal to iPhone users like me. The basic navigation mechanics has been changed to gestures as part of Android 1
In addition to these new gestures, Google has also introduced its own version of Face ID. During my tests, I found it to be incredibly reliable and fast. It actually works better than Face ID, by automatically bypassing the lock screen so you can access your phone directly without ever having to touch the screen. There is even an on-screen attention feature (which you must enable) that prevents the display from hibernating when you look at it.
Google's Face Unlock feature feels much better integrated with Android than any other facial scanning feature found on other Android phones. It works with Google Pay, websites, and even third-party apps like 1Password. It may only support a handful of apps, but it's far more seamless than the many picky fingerprint readers I've struggled with before. Similar to Face ID, it only works.
Google's built-in Android apps are also far superior to Apple's iOS apps. Google Photos intelligently maps my photos, Chrome syncs with all the browsing I do on my desktop PC. With Google Maps I come to Victoria in London and not to Victoria in Australia The integrated in iOS 13 mail client.
All of these improvements gave me hope that I could soon switch to full Android, but there are also a lot of annoyances that still leave me in doubt. The new navigation system works well in many apps, but there are many who are obviously not ready for it. I use Slack on a daily basis and it works well when I tap a conversation thread with colleagues and wipe back. But as soon as I try to swipe my finger over the navigation bar (like on iOS), the app closes immediately.
Google implemented the swipe right gesture as a universal back button, but apps like Gmail used these edge gestures to open a pop-up menu. This has puzzled me several times over the past week, and it's a really frustrating experience, especially if you're used to the gestures in iOS.
Again, this problem of navigating back to an app Apple has not solved exactly. In iOS, this ugly text appears at the top left of an app to help you navigate back. It's not ideal, but I prefer to skip over and quit the app instead of getting a sidebar. Brushing apps with gestures saves me a lot of time navigating apps, and I'd like to see this in Android.
There is also some inconsistency in Android in many parts, so it still feels less than iOS. I can navigate to the photo app on Android and tap a picture and then swipe down to close it. However, if I take a picture of the camera and preview the picture, wiping down to nothing will result. The navigation buttons in many apps, such as the Play Store, the phone, and the camera, are located at the bottom of the screen for easy access. In Chrome, they are placed on top of Android, but even in Chrome on iOS, they are placed closer to your thumbs down the display. Some have hamburger menus and navigation buttons, and it's almost as if the Google teams are not talking to each other here or agreeing on a single joint effort.
Otherwise, it's really the little things that still keep me from Android. and you could probably ridicule me because I even noticed her. When I swipe to the bottom of the page in Chrome, it only stops abruptly. There's no subtle jump animation or anything that indicates I may have reached the bottom of the page. On Twitter for Android, I go to the update and there is no rubber band effect or anything that resembles a decent animation, just a boring loading circuit.
Both are strange omissions, considering that I can do the same in the main app launcher of Android 10 and make a subtle leap. There are many examples of this inconsistency in Android, and I will not list them all, but you'll feel like missing out if you're used to the smooth animations in iOS.
There is also a lack of clever haptics for Android. On my iPhone I can call apps like Outlook to update. A subtle vibration indicates that the phone is looking for new emails. Android has this feature when you hold down to select or swipe down in the photo app to receive notifications. However, it is not widely available in all apps given by Polish and love to Android apps compared to their iOS counterparts. Even Twitter still has only the basic dark mode, not the completely black "light off" mode available on iOS. Apps like WhatsApp feel completely different on iOS as they are obviously trying to stick to some Android standards that are outdated in this modern Android 10 era.
I would like to see Google focus on all these parts of the user experience. There is a clear desire to match available products with the iPhone. However, if you want to revise the whole way you navigate a touch-screen operating system, you need to be more in tune with the developers.
This overhead must be extended to the hardware before I can think about a change. The bezels of the Pixel phones have always annoyed me, and the Pixel 4's forehead is not much better. Luckily, overall build quality has improved over previous years, and the new orange color has really worked well. However, with the battery life of Pixel 4, Google has taken a step backwards. This is particularly regrettable given the improvements on the iPhone 11 side.
I'd also like to see a good Android compatible smartwatch before I think about a change. I use the Apple Watch paired with my iPhone, and there is no competitor that I would seriously consider. (The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is nearby, but to get the best experience with it, you really need to use a Samsung phone.) Since you can not use the Apple Watch with Android, I feel a little bit in the Apple here Integrated ecosystem. I also use AirPods. Fortunately, the Pixel 4 does not come with headphones or dongles.
Despite all the challenges that Google is facing, I really enjoyed Pixel 4 in the past week. It's the first time I've really considered switching to Android for longer than a week or two. As a Windows user, I really want to switch to Android as Microsoft is increasingly focusing on making sure that Android and Windows work well together. Your phone offers the kind of integration between Windows and Android that Apple offers between iOS and macOS. Google is definitely bridging the gap between Android and iOS, and I'll keep checking to see if it closes any further before I make the big jump.