I have been involved in the smartphone scene since the HTC Dash and Windows Mobile way back in 2006. I spent a good amount of time hacking it and running custom software just to get it to run on AT&T (as the Dash I owned was the T-Mobile variant). It wasn’t long after that I decided that I wanted to try Blackberry on for a change and dumped the Dash for the Blackberry 8700. I didn’t do much hacking to the Blackberry and, frankly, the software and UX was even less impressive than Windows Mobile on the HTC Dash. I jumped to a PALM (I don’t even know the name of the device anymore) for a brief moment in 2007.
Then came the iPhone in mid-2007 followed soon after by the first Android phone, the G1. I took the plunge with the iPhone and instantly fell in love with the UX, look and feel of the device. When the jailbreak community came on the scene, I was on board faster than you could say free bacon. Those were the days of slim pickins. Cydia was available, but everything was just emerging and the scene was growing. I jailbroke every iPhone I ever used all the way up to the iPhone 4. I had the iPhone 4 for less than a month when I happened upon Android’s new look and feel. I did some research and went and tested some devices at the local big box.
I sold my iPhone 4, for a mighty good penny I’d say, and bought myself my first-ever Android phone, the Samsung Galaxy S Captivate. I didn’t even have the phone warmed up and I was already exploring xda for rooting methods and custom ROMs. I poured myself into the rooting and ROMing scene much like I did with the jailbreak scene on the iPhone. I was fortunate enough to get to know some great ROM developers like Nunhugger and Johnsondr80, both of whom took me under their wings and helped me understand custom ROMs and, more importantly, themeing. I joined Team Phoenix, which later split up and became The Collective and The Family. I did graphics work for everyone and even made a theme of my own with the help of robm1911.
I spent the rest of the years, up until now, on Android. I used many different devices; I probably got a new device every six months. I rooted and ROMed and themed, and I had tons of fun doing it, too. I met some great people and got to give my graphics work away to many grateful and thankful people (there were a fair share of moochers and ungrateful ones, too, but let’s not talk about them). However, I’ve spent the past eight to ten months reevaluating my cell phone use. What do I use my phone for? What is my primary reason for using Android? More importantly I decided that I need to take a deep look inside myself and see what I was becoming. Why did I love Android? Why did I dislike iOS? So many questions take time to answer.
So the time went by and I started getting answers. I use my phone for email, social networks, some web browsing, and a few apps that work great on both platforms. My primary reason I was using Android was the plethora of customization options it offers even without rooting. I spent hours designing my phone screens. I bought countless apps , themes, icons and launchers to make my screen stand out and be something special and different. Then I took that look inside and noticed I was becoming the same thing I made fun of others of becoming, a fanboy. Not an iPhone fanboy (or as some call them, iSheep). I was becoming an Android fanboy. And frankly, I did not like what I was becoming. I love technology, always have. For me to align myself with one faction and not consider the other was a slap in the face of technology. So I started to ponder if I should switch platforms, I even posted on Google+ about it. Most people dismissed it as a joke or just a silly thought I was having. But I was dead serious.
So the wheels turned and I started to try and figure out what platform I should jump to. I researched Windows Phones extensively (I already knew what iPhones could do). But they just don’t have the app ecosystem I would like to see at the moment. That is not to say they will not, I think they are heading in the right direction and can seriously make a run in the mobile arena. So after rejecting the idea of Windows Phone, the only option left for me was iOS. I made preparations for sale of my HTC One and purchase of an iPhone 5. The gears popped in place and the transactions were done in a mere week. I am now firmly back in place among the iOS ecosystem.
So many have asked why I did this. Why such a drastic jump? You were such an Android evangelist, why turn your back on Android? What does iOS have to offer? iOS is so closed and locked down, why use it? All valid questions and inquires I suppose. But the reality is, my answers will never be completely satisfactory to those asking the questions. So I’ll simply just say, after stepping back and looking at myself, I found that I am a technophile. I enjoy all technology, all platforms, and I can appreciate each one for what it brings to each user’s experience. So I made the jump to be true to how I started out, a tinkerer, a hacker, a curious mind. Stuffing myself into one platform basically stifled my creativity and dried out my vision. So jumping to iOS was my way of imposing change in my tech life again. Who knows, I may just find myself on Windows Phone in a year, or maybe even Blackberry or Ubuntu. I now know one thing…it is not healthy for me to tether myself into a cage and block out the rest of the tech world.
I write this knowing that there will be comments made, ridicule dished out and feelings hurt. But I do hope people realize that none of what I am saying means that any of it is the path for anyone but me. This is simply my journey, my self-discovery, and my fix for the problem I believe I was having. None of this is written to tell others that they should be doing the same. We all have to make our choices, and we should be able to make those choices without being made to feel as if we made a poor choice. At the end of the day, having choices is what makes our chosen product that much better. Imagine if we only had one choice, there wouldn’t be much need to innovate very quickly and we would likely be worse off.
Stay tuned next week for my impressions of the HTC One and Android versus the iPhone 5 and iOS. Should be a good read and one I hope everyone can take something good away from.
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