After being an iPhone fan from 2008 to 2013, I decided that I was bored of using the same graphical interface and that I needed to see something new and refreshing. To give you an overview of my iPhone mania, from 2008 to now I’ve updated my phone every year: I’ve had the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and now I use the iPhone 5. And to tell you the truth, I loved them all and I especially love how easy it is to use and how amazingly fluid everything is on them: apps, navigation, web pages, games.
But like anything in life, novelty wears off and you want something new and different so I started looking at other options, like the Android operating system. Since I had just bought my new iPhone 5 a couple months ago, I wasn’t ready to jump with my 2 feet in the Android phone bandwagon so I took the next best step and I ordered a Google Nexus 7 tablet from the Google Play store. The reason I opted for a Google-bred device is that, having been a PC user for so many years, I know how bad it is when you buy a particular PC brand (ex: an HP laptop) and how much trash they preinstall because it’s a service they do to you, so they say. Yeah right. So I though that since everyone adapts their Android OS to their brand of phones, it would be the same experience on Android. I therefore opted for the original and the best, the Google Nexus 7 directly from Google.
Now some clever people will say “But wait! This is not an Android phone, but rather a tablet!”, and I fully agree. But the difference between a tablet & phone is nil, apart from not being able to call and for my review of the Android OS, it doesn’t matter.
Moving on. Receiving the box via UPS was like receiving a Christmas gift, I was really happy of finally putting my hand on the Android ecosystem. So I opened the box, configured the Nexus 7, and started using some basic apps. Overall it was OK even though I felt it was lagging a bit (more than enough to annoy me) and I enjoyed it nonetheless. So after playing a bit with it, I left it on my desk and went to sleep.
That’s where the fun starts. At 3:30 AM I hear a “bing!” noise. Since it doesn’t keep ringing, I go back to sleep thinking I’ll check that in the morning. 30 minutes later, I hear another “bing!”. So I get up to investigate. I check my 3 cellphones, laptops and finally my new Nexus 7 tablet. Low and behold, someone is trying to “talk” to me via the tablet. It’s 4 am. I instantly have cold sweat: “How the hell did…. how they… what the… how?”
First of all, I have no clue which app is trying to talk to me so I look around for a bit but it’s pretty complicated. Then I find it: it’s Google Talk, which I have never used before, nor configured. Considering I’m a technophile, I wonder how a Baby Boomer would have solved the issue? So anyway, I start deactivating all notifications from the app. After 10 minutes of looking around on the tablet in the settings I give up, boot my laptop and check online how to deactivate that beautiful activated-by-default feature (probably “for our own good”). I finally find out how, and do so, and go back to bed.
This was the beginning of the end for Android, but it’s about to get better. First things first: how does someone in the Philippines (my guess) finds out that 1) I have a tablet, 2) I just activated it, 3) find my email address used to communicate with me? That is one scary mystery, and more than enough on its own to scare me away from Android. I feel that as we get more and more connected 24/7 with all the electronic devices around us, starting with phones and tablet and now coming to the always on laptops (Apple OSX) and soon the always on gaming console, shoes, refrigerator and so on, our private life will just be given away to the highest bidder with all the complications this could bring.
I remember Steve Job saying that he took privacy very seriously and I fully believed he did. Now has this changed with Tim Cook? I don’t think so. As I started to really doubt the integrity of Google with this shady move, I tried installing the apps that I usually use and then some games. That’s when things really went “Big Brother”. When clicking on the apps, they started asking for the most outrageous and ridiculous permissions like “use my camera with or without my permission, even when device is not in use”, “run at startup” (even if it’s a basic game that doesn’t need to be running in the background) and “Can access your contacts, even when the device is offline”. The beauty behind this is that I’m sure most people either don’t care or don’t bother reading the permission settings before clicking on that “Accept and install” button. No wonder 98% of hackers and malware is on Android devices!
After this bad experience I started wondering if Apple did the same thing, but without telling me. So I picked up my iPhone 5 and checked my setting. 10 seconds in and I was absolutely reassured about Apple: you can allow any app to use or not any service. It’s absolutely unbelievable that Google just doesn’t give a damn and that almost nobody ever talk about this as an issue. I’ll stick with Apple for many years to come for sure.
In conclusion, unless Google fix their mediocre Android operating system, their privacy settings and stop giving away all of our private life to anyone who wants it, I must tell you to stay away from all Android devices. There is no reason or feature that is a bit better on Android vs the iPhone that is worth giving away your personal data for. Would you give away your contact list to a perfect stranger on the street? Of course not! So there’s no reason to do so online.