I have been a Google Fan since the very beginning. I’ve owned Google Glass ($1500!), Chromebooks, Chromebox, Android Watch, phones etc. If Google released it I bought it.
No more. You could say I’ve lost that loving feeling.
Years ago I chose Android because it was made by Google. Therefore it had to be good. I dumped my iPhone and became a convert. Android was up and coming and iOS was old news. “I am cutting edge, here let me show you my cutting edge phone!” However, years later, I have to admit in my opinion Android never reached it’s potential. It was always a promise and pursuit of the next release: Froyo, Gingerbread etc.
I was excited for Material Design and then realized it committed the cardinal sin of User Experience: the notifications steal focus. It’s like pop ups in your browser circa 2005… but on your phone. Uggggh.
Another reason I chose Android is because I am in the technology field and I refused to be in Apple’s walled garden. I had to have raw power and an open system. I rooted a few phones so I could be master of my mobile domain. Looking back, what a complete waste of time.
I’ve referred to iPhones as Fisher Price phones. So simple it’s only suitable for a child. Well, to tell the truth, kids have more fun. I’d rather enjoy my phone than ever drop to a command prompt to install an application, troubleshoot or do a debug. Again, ugggh.
And there’s Google in general. What a mess. Let’s review a few other things:
Google Reader (RSS): Wow Google, you had to kill Reader? Was it really a drag on development resources to categorize RSS feeds? There was a big push from dedicated users to spare it and it was summarily dispatched. Maybe minor in the grand scheme but foreshadowed how out of sync Google has become.
Gmail: I am a Gmail wizard. I use every feature and it’s all customized to my workflow. And I realized recently Gmail hasn’t evolved in …forever. I prefer usability over interface but neither have improved in Gmail in a very long time. I used to think you’d have to pry my Gmail web UI from my cold dead hands. I am not so sure anymore.
Google Inbox: LOL
Google Voice to Hangouts: Hangouts is awful. Really. I fought the good fight to adapt and as a lifelong techie I couldn’t make the leap. If I wanted to send a new SMS to someone via the browser I often couldn’t find my contact but I’d have dozens of options for people I don’t know from G+. I could never figure it out…and I tried! Someone should be fired for that mess. So I finally caved and ported my Google Voice number to my carrier. It’s a shame because Google Voice was a great service and Hangouts is awful. I would have even paid for Google Voice if it meant Google improved the service vs clumsily lumping it into Hangouts for some grandiose “Unified Messaging” system that sounds good in the boardroom but never works in the real world.
YouTube: So many ads. I rarely bother clicking on links anymore.
AndroidWear: This started out OK. The software update on the Moto360 was such a huge step back simple actions were now a challenge to execute and my desire to reverse engineer the new revision so that I could use voice commands again resulted in me being frustrated and yelling at my watch. Which is really embarrassing, especially in public.
G+: Well, for the two people who read this article, you already know about the problems with G+. =)
Then today… I received an email announcing new phones are available on Google’s Project Fi. I am a fan of the concept. But here’s where Google missed a HUGE opportunity. That email came after the iPhone 6S was available. Had Google announced these phones just last week I believe many people would have held out just a little while longer rather than going iPhone 6S. It’s inconceivable that a company like Google would make that kind of strategic error. It’s just another sign of how Google is always playing catch up.
Now, I am fully in the Apple ecosystem (except for my Amazon FireTV) Well, all I can say is that “it’s better”. Things work. I am not left scratching my head why a certain feature has this limit or works only this way. I don’t feel strung out between multiple product cycles (looking at you Hangouts). Apple may be a walled garden but it’s nice in here. The flowers are pretty, the sprinklers run on time, the walkways are always clean and I don’t ever have to yell at my watch in frustration.
I hope Google turns things around. They lost what made them great; incredible focus on speed and usability. I’ll keep an eye on what’s available from Google but there is now a track record to overcome. In the meantime I’ll be enjoying the simple usability of products that just work, even if the products remind me of Fisher Price toys from time to time. It’s a good reminder that technology should be fun and that it’s good to be a kid!