Android Oreo Review: An iOS User’s Review (Introduction)

This is part 1 of a multipart series on Android Oreo. The subsequent parts in this series will be posted daily to BirchTree, so subscribe via RSS, Twitter, or Apple News.

Well folks, I did it as long as I could…I’ve used Android Oreo full time for the past couple months and this experiment must end. I was hoping to make it to New Year’s Day before writing my review, but for reasons I hope become very clear over the course of the next few days, I’m throwing in the towel a few weeks early.

I have been using the Google Pixel 2, which is the latest and greatest Android phone out there. I chose this phone for my experiment because I wanted to leave no room for my conclusions to be colored by a bad OEM skin on top of Android or by a lower quality phone as my comparisons to iOS should be as fair as possible. Since I wanted to review Oreo, a Pixel was my only option in October, and thankfully that Pixel has top of the like specs and the best Android camera out there. This is Android how Google intended it.

The very, very TLDR version of my review is as follows:

Android has grown up considerably over the last decade. It’s no longer a complete disaster of a user experience, and some elements have actually surpassed what Apple is doing with iOS. Notifications are much better than they are on iOS and Google Assistant is more accurate and more helpful than Siri. That said, there are a million little (and not so little) things that truly make Android a sub-par experience for me. Your mileage may vary, but the abysmal third party software available for the platform, poor inter-app communication, and countless stability issues make Android a place I only want to visit for a month or two per year, not something I can see myself using full time.

You may value different things than me when it comes to a smartphone, so don’t take this review as gospel. All I can do is give my honest take on Android after giving it a fair shake. If you want to customize your home screen or install an icon pack or unlock your boot loader (because you’re into that sort of thing), then Android has you covered.

But if you’re like me and use your smartphone to get real work done, I don’t view Android as a platform up to the task. Android the operating system has some nice things that I wish would come to iOS, but the overall library of Google-produced and third party software is almost up to iOS standards at best and maddeningly broken at worst.

You know where I’m going with this, but stick with me for the rest of the week as we dive into some of the most distinct differences between Android and iOS. Yes, overall I think Android is much worse than iOS, but there are parts of Android that Apple can, and should learn from.

As a note, while this review is based on just under 2 months with Oreo, this is far from my first time using Android full time. I’ve reviewed numerous Android phones in the past (Moto X, HTC One M8, Galaxy S6 Edge, Nextbit Robin) and even reviewed Android Marshmallow/Nougat earlier this calendar year. I may use iOS more than Android, but don’t look at this review as “baby’s first time with Android.” I know what I’m getting into here.