The Current State of Porductivity on iOS

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 2 min read

10 months into 2014, my time has been almost exactly split in half between Android and iOS devices. I have had the rare pleasure of being able to use 4 phones this year. I started with an iPhone 5S, then got a Moto X, then the HTC One M8, and finally ended up with the iPhone 6. I've had the pleasure (and frustration) of being totally immersed in both major mobile ecosystems. I think this gives me a pretty objective view of each platform.

One of the reasons I made the move to Android was that I felt iOS was holding back my productivity. The siloed nature of apps on iOS had become too restrictive. I'll be honest, the system-wide share sheet was a major factor in my decision to abandon the iPhone this spring.

I got off to a nice start in the Android world, but quickly ran into issues. First off, there are no great GTD apps on Android. My task manager of choice was Quantus Tasks, an app that was completely mediocre in every way, but it did sync with OmniFocus on my Mac, so I made due. There are not any word processors worth a damn on Android either. JotterPad X was my text editor, and I never found a good rich document editor. JotterPad X was made by a great team, and they did what they could, but the fundamental design of Android held them back from making something as delightful as Byword for iOS.

I could go on, but long story short: Despite the apparent extra freedom afforded by the OS, the apps on Android simply are not as good as those on iOS.

It's an old story but it remains true in 2014. I've only been back in the iOS game for a week, but the differences are already apparent. From an app perspective, OmniFocus is making me more organized, Transmit gives me the power to work on my site from anywhere, and Drafts is a note-taking powerhouse that I have barely scratched the surface of.

On the OS side, iOS has gotten much more robust since this time last year. Extensions in particular are a revelation! The system share sheet is more capable and customizable than Android's, and the ability for apps to project their interface into other apps[^1] is amazing.

New phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 tote a stylus and apps running side-by-side, but the software isn't there. The bottom line is this: if you want to be productive on your phone, I think that the iPhone is the way to go.

[^1]: For example, Afterlight and Camera+ are able to add their editing tools into the stock Photos app. The Bing app is able to provide web page translation into Safari. It's kind of amazing, and I just want more developers to build these sorts of extensions.