The end of Android

For me, at least. When I started this blog almost two years ago, Android was one of its main topics. I wanted to write about Android in an intelligent, high-brow way, to make an Android blog that could go toe-to-toe with all the top-tier Apple-focused ones out there, from Daring Fireball to Six Colors. The material just isn’t there, though.

But now I’m moving on to the iPhone 6 Plus. As I hinted in my last entry, the release of iOS 8 and large-screen iPhones closes many of the gaps between iOS and Android – the former now has huge displays, easy sharing, and extensions. What’s left for Android? Default apps? I’m sure that’ll be addressed some day, too.

Ok, that’s a bit superficial. What drove me away from Android, slowly over many years, was Google itself. The constant updates to its legalese privacy policy and terms of service. The obsessive telescreen that was Google Now. The shoehorning of G+ into everything (some of that damage is being undone now, but it’s too late).

I don’t even use YouTube (yes, I’m a dinosaur), and I do most of my searches with DuckDuckGo now. Android Wear? Too basic to draw me back in. My free Google Drive 100gb subscription is running out soon, and won’t be renewed; I’ve already moved everything onto an external HDD anyway, and I get more than my fill of Drive at work everyday.

If someone like me, who has delved into niche topics like UCCW and Android-only clients, can be converted, what does that say about Android’s future? It’ll continue to be immensely popular if only because it’s easily licensed, open, blah blah. But it feels like many of its users will be accidental/incidental rather than willful ones.

Apps will continue to lag their iOS counterparts in their release and speed (I would think the arrival of Swift to replace Objective-C will make the gap even more pronounced). Android will be split between phones that are saddled with carrier bloatware and infrequent updates and, on the other hand, “stock” versions that are bloated with Google’s widening web of services.

Google provides great services for certain groups of people. But since the back-to-back-to-back hits of Gmail/Maps/YouTube in the mid 2000s, they’ve struggled to roll out any breakthrough Web services, notwithstanding Android’s rise on mobile. When I thought about just ditching my Google account for standard IMAP email, DuckDuckGo, etc., it felt…cleansing. The value/ickiness tradeoff (i.e., between how much Google’s offerings are better than their rivals’, versus how much data Google collects) has been skewed to the latter side.

What do my change of course mean for the blog? Not much. All the most-read Android stories are from months/years ago, like my weirdly popular UCCW how-to guide. My enthusiasm flagged after the early months of the Nexus 5. Given the saturation of commentary around iOS and my own status as a novice user of it, I won’t even try to get a foot hold there. Instead I’ll probably just write some essays about apps/services/workflows I like, cultural trends in tech, and my creative writing projects. Excited to blog again, finally; it feels like a weigh has been lifted.

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