Andrew Travers Andrew Travers is an interaction designer and researcher. He’s the author of Interviewing for research.

Andrew Travers

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Mobile Stockholm syndrome

On six months with Android.

I’ve been meaning to write a follow-up to my blog post on my initial experience with an Android phone, the Nexus S for some time now. I’ve been struggling to position it without it becoming a dull comparison-with-iOS piece and I really don’t want to cover that well-trodden ground. But, let’s cut to the chase.

I really like iOS. I really like Android. They are different, and this is good. While I’m enjoying using the Nexus S way more than I’d anticipated, if you’re a ‘normal’ person I don’t think there’s a particularly compelling case for choosing Android over an iPhone. If you’re a user experience designer, however, then if you haven’t used anything other an iOS, I’d suggest you owe it to your work to give Android or WP7 a go. And by ‘a go’, I mean using it as an every day phone.

The way Android handles its app preferences and menus, sharing across apps, its scope for customisation and personalisation, and the variation in design patterns (for good or ill) makes it well worth exploring and getting to know. And happily, this is being combined with the discernible improvement in the design of apps themselves (ironically, the consequence of more iOS apps belatedly making their way to Android, and a gradual loosening of dependency on iOS ‘native’ design patterns). My Nexus S is a significantly better experience than it was six months ago as a result.

The main point I want to make, however, is simply this. In the context of my design work, I no longer think about mobile design instinctively through the prism of iOS and that’s making me better at what I do. More than this, though - and I think this is the thing that I hadn’t expected - is that I think I’ve become both more critical in my assessment of both iOS and Android, and, I hope, a little more objective too.

The extraordinary pace of mobile technology is such that, whatever platform you invest in, there’s a tendency to become somewhat emotionally attached to it - a sort of mobile Stockholm syndrome. One side effect of the evolution of mobile-as-platform, is that the cost and effort of moving between platforms is becoming increasingly prohibitive. Having a stake in both iOS and Android feels like its helping me keep perspective - and I’m very glad I’ve done it.

Now, if only I could lay my hands on a Nokia N9

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Published in Articles on 19 December 2011