Flirting with iOS After a Three Years with Android

Recently I've been thinking about giving the iPhone 5 a whirl when it comes out later this fall.

I had an iPhone 3G back in the day and loved it.  But I switched to Android when I started working on apps and now I've owned the G1, the Nexus One, the Nexus S and currently the Galaxy Nexus.

Since I'm noodling on a move back to iOS I thought I'd gather a list of things that I'll miss about Android and/or might make my shiny new iPhone 5 end up on Ebay.

Better yet, there might be folks out there who have work arounds for some of my iOS complaints.

BTW, I'm not too interested in jail-braking my phone to get access to some of these things in iOS.  I don't want the tech support headaches.

Android allows 3rd party keyboards and I absolutely love Swype.  I find tracing my finger across the keys vastly superior to all hunt-and-peck keyboards including the one in iOS.    Swype feels just "magical" when the correct word pops up on the screen.

Settings Automation
Locale is hands down my favorite app for Android and there's nothing comparable on iOS.   I use it to change phone settings like 3G data, volume, ringtone, etc., based on conditions like location, time, wifi, plugging in headphones and more.  It's fantastic.  

I used to hate when my phone went off in a meeting, now I don't even think about it.

I do a lot of online reading on my phone and often I want to save, share or post my current browser url to a different app.  Android apps can register themselves for "sharing" and then they appear in the list of options to share a url from the browser.

I can send urls to Pocket, Dropbox, Evernote, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook and a whole host of other app providers with one click.

On iOS the options are basically email, sms, Twitter and Facebook.  That's going to suck.

My Share via screen in Chrome

I cringe every time I open iTunes on my MacBook to copy a song or movie onto my iPad.

It's so much simpler on Android.  I just connect my phone via micro usb cable and drag-and-drop files directly onto my phone in the Finder.

The same goes for photos.  It's a ton better for me to drag-and-drop photos onto my computer vs. opening up iPhoto and "importing them."

Wifi Hotspot
I really love being able to spin up a hotspot on my phone when I'm out and about.  I'm not a heavy user, but when I need it I'm really psyched to have it.

With iOS I'll end up using Tether or one of the other paid options for iPhone.

Google Maps
Google Maps has been a killer feature for Android over the past few years.  Especially w/r/t turn-by-turn driving directions.

From the iOS 6 beta versions I've been playing with it looks like Apple maps is a reasonable replacement.  But they don't have transit directions (yet) so I'll need a second app for that.

I'm also a big fan of the +/- buttons in Google Maps on Android.  I use pinch/zoom too, but I like the option to just hit the on-screen button.  Especially when I have something else in my second hand.

If you're an iOS user and can point me to apps or tweaks that'll help me make the switch I'd love to hear 'em.

Full disclosure: I used to be a product manager at Google but I'm agnostic when it comes to phones.

Children's Apps, the new gold rush

In my travels as an entrepreneur and advisor to start ups I talk with a lot of people about app ideas.

Recently I've noticed a big increase in the number of startups doing children's app development.  Both creating interactive books, as well as developing general entertainment apps.

The rise of Angry Birds in the last year and half created a new mobile app gold rush focusing on kids. Entrepreneurs watched kids play with their parents iPads and discarded iPhone 3Gs and think there's gold in the hills.  There might be, but it won't be easy to dig out.

Angry Birds suits itself nicely to the kids because the game mechanics are simple, the character development is great and most importantly (for parents) it takes a long time to play.  Those are the same reasons that adults like it.

But just because lots of kids like it, doesn't mean they'll like any app on a touch screen.

Developing apps for kids is just as hard as developing them for a wider audience.  You have to spend time marketing (to parents as well as the kids themselves).  You have to figure out monetization (paid vs. ad supported vs. virtual goods).  And you have to create a good, sticky product.

So while I suspect there will be a few winners, there are going to be lots of folks languishing at the bottom of the app store not making any $$$.  Are you going to be one of them?