For years, the Android platform has been synonymous with customization. Do you want a phone that you can fully customize? Android phone will be the most suitable. First to support widgets, first with live wallpapers, first with lock screen customization, an always-on display option, and the list goes on. This, along with the open ecosystem, has earned Android a reputation for being the most robust platform for some people.
However, in the past few years, things have slowly but surely begun to change. Some features that were made famous by Android made it to the iPhone, while on Android they were left out or abandoned altogether. Apple has made some basics of customization not only on iOS, but they are very easy to set up and are already used by millions of people.
Android lock screen widgets are not displayed
The lock screen widgets in iOS 16 have proven to be very useful and Android has no answer
Lock screen widgets! Why are they so important? Well, simple: they’re not completely game-changing, but they can be beneficial to absolutely everyone! Not everyone needs a custom home screen with crazy icons, but I imagine everyone would want to be able to see the weather on their lock screen.
Lock screen widgets were the big new feature in iOS 16, which was unveiled nearly half a year ago and launched in October. Since then, we’ve heard nothing but radio silence from the makers of Google and Android phones. Pixel phones don’t support screen lock widgets at all.
One exception here is Samsung, which quickly rolled out what looked like a bad copy of iOS 16 a few months after its release. In theory, Samsung supports lock screen widgets. Realistically, in order to see those widgets you have to tap on the clock, which kind of defeats the purpose of having them in the first place. The whole idea of lock screen widgets is to be easy, lift your phone to see the widgets, put them back down, without having to actually interact with them.
Now of course, Android still has some customization benefits! For starters, you can freely move the icons around on your home screen! Apple has stubbornly refused to enable such an option for its iPhones, and that feels backwards.
And yes, you can still get some pretty cool themes on Android that you just can’t achieve on iPhone. On Android, it’s easy to download a custom launcher, change the icon pack, add some cool widgets, and you’ll get a unique look that can be very different from the default, while iOS is still a bit limited in this regard (but now you can easily change icons and completely transform the look of your iPhone with just an application and a few clicks).
The big problem is with notifications
Xiaomi, OnePlus, and others all restrict notifications so that you can’t be sure if you’ll get them on time
(Image Credit – ArsTechnica, Ron Amadeo) Many Android phone makers aggressively kill background apps
Another area where I feel the Android platform fails to protect its users from bad system behavior is in notifications.
Notifications on Android to this date are still the Wild Wild West! Will your Android phone deliver notifications on time? If you have a Google Pixel, the answer is yes. If you have any other phone, the answer varies from “it depends” to “how do I fix this?!”
The situation is completely out of control and phone makers like Xiaomi and OnePlus are just two of the biggest companies that have failed “don’t kill my app” a test. These companies have implemented strict measures that eliminate apps running in the background, which means that you do not receive notifications from these apps in real time, but only when you unlock your phone. This makes it easy to miss an important message or email.
There are some widgets in the interface on some of these phones “a lock” apps, but these tools don’t really seem to work.
Universal search in Android
It’s broken at best and absolutely nonexistent at its worst
One thing you’d think a search company would get right is Universal Search on Android.
However, system search on Android at present is not only messy, but also confusing.
First of all, do Android phones even have a universal search? Most Android phones have some form of Google search built in. Swipe in from the bottom right or left edge on most Android phones, and Google Assistant will start. On some phones, swiping will bring up a search screen. Is this a comprehensive research? Nope, it’s just a Google search.
Then you have a search bar in the app drawer. Is this a comprehensive research? On some phones like Samsung Galaxy devices it is possible, but on others like Xiaomi phones it is not.
This makes simple searches more difficult on Android. On my iPhone, I can easily type “keyboard” and a suggestion with the third letter appears to go directly to the keyboard settings, which is exactly the expected behavior. Searching for the term “keyboard” even in the Settings app turns up several results with confusing names that are hard to comprehend even for a seasoned smartphone user like myself.
While all of these bits and pieces of the Android ecosystem aren’t deal-breakers alone, together they show how Google has neglected to improve important sections of its platform. This is becoming more apparent as Apple adds long-missing features and fills in the gaps.
At the end of the day, I hope this article is a small nudge towards a brighter future for Android. Let’s hope Android 14 delivers something more substantial than the usual security fixes.
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