Thoughts from an android phone/tablet owner who moved to iOS

First, some background info. I have an iphone 5 and an ipad 4th gen (tried the mini, couldn't stand the display and I actually like the form factor of the 4th gen) and I also own a galaxy nexus and owned a nexus 7 for about 6 months (sold it bc they were selling for near retail on ebay around xmas). I owned a xoom at one point and I also used a nexus 4 for about 3 weeks before I sold it (wasn't happy with the build quality AT ALL, but that's for another thread). I am still a fan of android, and I still play around with my galaxy nexus, but aside from the nexus 4, there were no other android phones that really compelled me, and I wasn't really happy with the tablet experience on a 10 inch tablet (it was passable on the nexus 7, but performance was awful after the 4.2 update, even after trying all the suggested fixes. I had used ios before, and I was curious to see how it has evolved, but what really drew me to the platform was the iphone 5's hardware. That black model is damn sexy. I liked my iphone so I got an ipad to go along with it (I know a lot of you guys say it's nice to have a different OS on your phone/tablet so you can have the "best of both worlds" but the transition between the two is just too jarring for me. They use completely different interface paradigms.

The difference between iOS and android in the phone space was night and day in terms of usability. Android has finally caught up in terms of ui smoothness, but it is sorely lacking in any sort of ui innovation. It seems people are just trying to ape google's own apps and not doing anything new on the platform because almost every app I used consisted of a hidden sidebar (whether or not it was swipable was hit or miss) and some sort of action bar at the top of the app. No other gestures. No other cool little touches that made the app stand out. (These are of course generalizations, there were a few exceptions.) On the iphone, on the other hand, every new app I downloaded made me say "wow, that's really clever." For example, in yelp, at the top of a restaurant's page there is a faded photo (user uploaded). If you pull down, on top of the overscroll effect, the image fades in and it says "release to view." Another cool little touch was in the facebook app. When you have an image up, swiping up or down closes the image, rather than having to hit the back button or done. This sounds like a little thing but it makes navigating the FB app really quick compared to android. Another one that is in flipboard (and a few other apps, like sparrow) is swiping left to go back. Also really handy.

What I have found is that there are fewer of these cool little ui innovations on the ipad. There certainly are some, but not nearly as many as on the iphone. The most prevalent one I see is pinch to maximize/minimize, such as in the gallery or flipboard. While going from an android phone to the iphone felt like a huge jump in usability, going from an android tablet to the ipad only felt like a marginal upgrade, barring the obvious speed increase and overall smoothness of the platform. I think this is partly because the platform is younger. It seems these innovations come out of dissatisfaction of users and developers with the paradigms apple presents in their own apps. The apple ipad apps are still relatively modern feeling compared to their iphone counterparts (mail, for example) .I believe that the ipad will eventually begin to see more of these cool little innovations in the years to come.

I had always heard that iOS had better apps than android, but always chalked it up to them just being smoother (since android has been lacking in this category for years). I was really surprised by the amount of ui innovation going on on this platform, it's seriously an impressive thing. I hope apple can maintain such a talented developer base in the future, because it is the platform's biggest strength in my opinion.