Just over two weeks ago I switched from Android to iPhone. It’s been an interesting transition, to say the least. Overall, things are pretty similar, and the functionality overlaps. You can easily take photos on both devices, talk, text, and download the vast majority of apps on both platforms. The differences then come down to the Apple Way and the Other Way.

The Apple Way is that engineers at Apple know what you want better than you know. So they design the interface and the functionality their way. If you want to do something differently, you simply cannot. There is no option, there is no extensibility with external apps. If Apple doesn’t think it should be built into the phone, then you likely won’t be able to do it. There are many examples of core parts of the phone that only internal Apple apps are allowed to use. A few examples Ive noticed are integrating with Siri and changing keyboards.

But there is one thing that annoys me endlessly: notifications. I think Android’s notification system is awesome (you can even send pictures along with the push notifications). Unfortunately, Apple’s system is not only worse, it’s terrible.

Both systems work very similar. You get a push notification and you get a banner that drops down along the top of your screen with the first line of text of the notification. Then you can click the banner or pull down the top drawer to see all your notifications. This is mostly the same on both devices. Once you see the list of notifications you can simply click on one to open the related app. However, here is where I begin to be frustratingly annoyed: clearing these notifications. Android’s system is so much better!

On Android when you click on a notification it is “seen” and then goes away. On iPhone, when you click on a notification it opens the app, but it doesn’t clear the officiation from you list. So then you want to clear out a specific notification. Let’s say you get ten emails. On Android these notifications can be compacted into one notification. So for Gmail if I have one item that will say the specific email’s subject. Once I get a second message this notification transforms into a message that says: “You have 2 unread messages”. On iPhone this just stack up. So if you are not consistently checking your phone you’ll get a long list of emails. And worst of all, even when you click the notification on iPhone it doesn’t go away. You need to manually clear the notification. However, you can only clear all notifications for an app, so I can’t swipe away a few emails and leave the one email that I actually want to be reminded of.

This is a clear example of a simpler system that Apple decides is the only way to interact with these notifications. The Android system is more powerful, but more complex too. However, I think it’s very easy to learn and I miss it dearly. This will likely be the thing that draws me back to Android sometime in the future.

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