I'm ready to ditch the iPhone for Android N (and I want Apple to show me why I shouldn't)
Commentary: The debut of Android N at Google I/O has this longtime iPhone user tempted to switch. Now, Apple's job is to convince users like me to stay.
Ry CristSenior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
ExpertiseSmart home technology and wireless connectivityCredentials
10 years product testing experience with the CNET Home team
You never forget your first. For me, it happened when I was in college.
I fell in love with the iPhone.
Up until then, I'd rely on cheap, ugly, brick-like cell phones. After all, the only thing I needed my phone to do was dial and hold a battery charge. Even upgrading to a slimmed-down flip phone like Motorola's Razr felt like a waste to me.
But then came the iPhone. They started appearing around campus. You'd see a professor playing with one on their lunch break, or a fellow student checking email while strolling to a morning class. My boss bought one and let me try it out. Right away, I knew that this thing was different. It was better.
Before long, I decided it was worth it. In 2008, I bought an iPhone 3G.
I haven't looked back since. I held onto my 3G for a few years, then upgraded to the iPhone 4S. Then the 5S in 2013. Switching to Android was never on the table -- I liked my iPhone, I liked iOS and I liked my apps. None of Android's selling points were ever enough to tempt me into jumping ship. My iPhone was already giving me the user experience I wanted, and it felt more advanced than anything else on the market -- and this is coming from a lifelong PC loyalist.
But then, something happened. It started with the iPhone 6, which, from my perspective, was off-puttingly big. Friends and colleagues seemed to love the larger screen, but whenever I tried holding one, it just felt wrong to me. Pockets are only so big, you know?
So, I held back with my 5S, passing on the new generation altogether. Then came the iPhone SE. Finally -- a Ry-sized iPhone upgrade!
Except, I realized I didn't want that one either.
Somewhere along the way, I got bored. There's nothing I can do with my phone today that I couldn't do when I first bought it, back in 2013. Nothing I really care about, anyway. My user experience hasn't changed, and that's left me looking for an upgrade.
The iPhone SE looks like a great gadget, but I'm not convinced that it's the upgrade I'm looking for. It's just a faster version of a phone I'm already bored with, right down to the form factor -- and I'm reluctant to double down on a device that already feels dated.
Which brings us to this year's Google I/O developers conference, where we saw the debut of Android N. Google walked us through all of the upgrades we can expect from the platform in the coming years, and as I listened to the pitch, I felt something distantly familiar, a feeling I hadn't experienced in years.
I felt phone envy, just like back when I was in college.
Watch this: Meet Daydream, Google's vision for virtual reality
These are the sorts of tangible upgrades that keep today's phones feeling fresh. Android N's focus on VR seems like a smart bet, and Instant Apps looks like the next big step for the mobile web. I was most impressed with what I saw from the new Google Assistant, with conversational intelligence that sits right at the forefront of where we're at with voice-powered AI. Those are all things I want to experience and be a part of.
I haven't felt that from Apple in ages -- not with 3D Touch, not with Apple Music and not with HomeKit (the iOS-based smart home platform Apple has done surprisingly little with).
Instead, all I have for Apple are questions. What are you doing to keep Siri on the cutting edge? What's your plan for VR? Where's your Amazon Echo competitor?
At Google I/O, it was Android that seemed to have all of the answers, as well as a clear vision for the future. That, more than anything, suddenly has me giving the latest Android phones a good, close look.
I'm not jumping ship just yet, though. Apple's own Worldwide Developers Conference is coming up next month -- I'll at least wait until then before making any decisions. I'd be smart to wait even longer, until this fall, when the rumored iPhone 7 is expected to arrive.
But I'm antsy. For the first time since jumping on board with the iPhone almost a decade ago, Android has me feeling like I might be missing out on something better. Four months is a long time to wait when you've got an itch like that.