Thanks Google, I Hate It

Thanks Google, I Hate It
Image: Getty Images

Android tends to beat iOS in reviews on customisation, app selection, and cloud integration so after five years with an iPhone, I decided to put Android to the test and buy a Google Pixel. A year later, I wish I hadn’t switched.

Every time my brother downloaded a new song or app, it would appear on my iPhone. And every time we got an iOS update, I would start to receive his text messages. We tried everything, but the glitch wouldn’t go away.

At the same time, I had been hearing praise for the Google Pixel’s professional-grade camera. Many tech reviewers had also praised Android’s superiority over iOS for qualities like customisation, cloud services, and app selection.

Sure, the iPhone X had been the most popular smartphone in the world in the first quarter of 2018, but popular didn’t necessarily mean better, right?

So after five years with an iPhone, I decided to give the Google Pixel a go.

User experience

If you choose not to customise your Pixel, you’ll notice its user experience is nearly identical to the iPhone’s. Both smartphones sport a grid layout with rounded icons in bright colours. Getting used to the new system took no longer than getting used to the dashboard and brakes of a new car.

Where the Pixel in particular and Androids in general excel is in their vast capacity for customisation.

Android’s software is built on an open-source platform, which gives developers the ability to create apps that can do more. The potential for customisation is basically limitless.

In theory, this is awesome. Tired of opening the calculator when you meant to open the clock? Download a new family of icons. Play around with the widgets so they’re always where you want them. Explore hundreds of themes on Google Play. If you’re feeling cheeky, you could even give your Pixel an Apple interface.

In reality, however, the only thing I’ve bothered to change is my wallpaper. Turns out that just because you can download a third-party app to customise your phone doesn’t mean you want to. Storage is limited, and not all third-party apps are trustworthy. And to be honest, many themes, such as 3D Ice Wolf and Pink Paris, look gaudy and bring back bad MySpace memories.

Privacy and security

While I never got a virus scare with iOS, using Android reminds me of surfing the web in the early 2000s. I’ve frequently had to exit out of apps like a maniac as pop-ups flooded my screen.

More than 80% of hackers target Android users, while less than 4% target iOS users, as reported in Nokia’s Mobile Threat Intelligence Report. Compared with iOS, Android’s open-source platform is reportedly easier to hack.

Security and privacy go hand in hand, especially when you consider how much sensitive data we make available on your phone, sometimes unintentionally.

If I had fully understood Google’s approach to protecting user privacy, I probably would have never switched.

This hit home for me earlier this year when an Ars Technica report revealed that Facebook had been collecting texting data and call history from users through its Messenger app. Though users technically opt in, the specifics of what Facebook was allowed to collect was hidden in the fine print. This breach of privacy affected only Android users.

Apple distances itself from user information through its “Differential Privacy” policy. According to the policy, the company can add “statistical noise” to any data it collects so personal information can’t be traced back to the individual user.

Google also uses a form of differential privacy, but with a “heavy-duty” approach to data collection that has drawn criticism in opinion articles such as one in Fortune from the University of Pennsylvania communications professor Joseph Turow.

Though Google claims this data collection improves the Pixel’s user experience, I’ve found the personalised suggestions and reminders more creepy than helpful.


If you switch to the Google Pixel, expect to lose some of the amenities that come standard on most phones.

What I missed most was the ability to copy and paste from a text message. Google recently resolved this issue, but at the time it was a huge pain, especially when people sent addresses. You really get used to the ability to simply click an address and have it come up in your maps app.

I also missed being able to set my music to a sleep timer without having to install a new app. Even my Samsung Juke had that feature, and it was as wide as my thumb.

Hypothetically, you could find many of these functionalities on the Google Play store. But the effort of finding something and vetting its quality never seems worth it.

Ultimately, I wish I hadn’t switched. I’m not a coder. I’m not a big gamer. I’m not even that inclined to change my font or background. For this reason, the freedom to customise simply doesn’t outweigh the issues I’ve outlined. While the experience hasn’t been bad enough to get me rummaging around for my old Juke, I definitely won’t go for a Pixel the next time I’m in the market for a phone.

This story has been updated since its original publication.


  • 1. Google Play Music has a sleep timer
    2. What kind of crap apps or sites are you using that flood you with popups anyway?
    3. So you switched because of some issue with your iPhone that you couldn’t be bothered to fix in the first place?
    4. “Tired of opening the calculator when you meant to open the clock?” Who is actually that stupid?

  • “While I never got a virus scare with iOS, using Android reminds me of surfing the web in the early 2000s. ”

    Paranoid much? The reason for people getting malware is using alternative market places or downloading APK files from dodgy websites.

    If you don’t install apps from unknown sources and just stick to the Play Store you will be fine. I have been using Android since Cupcake days and never had a virus or malware on my phone.

    “you could find many of these functionalities on the Google Play store. But the effort of finding something and vetting its quality never seems worth it.”

    I really don’t understand this. So have you installed any apps at all or is there just too much anxiety involved?

  • Sounds like a user who doesn’t actually know what they are doing.

    Apple is for the simple people, you should probably go back.

    • Apple is for people who understand that Android is for people who are happy being the product being sold.

        • Apple have some respect for your data and privacy.

          Google/Android has none.
          With Google, you are the product being sold.

          Thats the different ways.

  • If you gave me the money for a fancy iphone [or even the Pixel] I’d buy a cheap Oppo and pocket the difference.

    It’s amazing how soothing a wad of hundred dollar bills can be.

  • I also switched to Android and while I agree on the unused ability to customise (I’m just not using my phone for anything that requires me to make these kinds of changes), the rest of the arguments seem a bit weak. I’ve certainly never had any problems with apps bombarding me with popups and the unsolicited spam/scam calls, SMS and Emails I get are very easy to blacklist.

  • Me too, boss just bought 3 x Pixel 3 XL, been using it for 3 weeks, damn the hardware is fantastic the OS sucks, it’s so clunky and unintuitive , the 2 apps i use the most suck gmail app suck, outlook app sucks and messages – just purchased an iphone xr , now I need to sell this Pixel !!

  • I feel this review is a little like switching from Word to InDesign just to write a document.

    Yes, you can write a document it both, and it’s going to be a hell of a lot easier in Word, but if you’re switching to InDesign, you should be using it like InDesign.

    Sure, the clothes maketh the man, but the shitty apps you chose to download for your review do not maketh the phone.

  • I feel like I’ve read, and commented on this article before. A few weeks, maybe a month ago…. I hope the iPhone got recycled as well as the article did.

  • So the writer claims that one reason for moving to Android is customisation, then claims she couldn’t be arsed to customise any of it, therefore the phone is shit. Riiiight.

    Articles like this are utterly pointless. Some people like IOS, some people like Android. Some people really don’t give a rat’s arse. I haven’t owned an iPhone for about 8 years and I find them difficult to use when I need to use one now. Does that mean an iPhone is rubbish? No, it just means I’m used to a different interface and way of doing things.

  • So the author complained that the Pixel has limited storage.
    Pixel would actually be the WORST of the Android phones.
    Most Android phones have external_sd_card (great for storing music and e-books) freeing up internal storage.
    Perhaps the author should have tried a different model of Android phone.

    • I see a brain as pretty much an optional extra when using an Android phone: there’s nothing about it that really needs intelligence. But if you want to benefit from customising Android you have to be at least vaguely interested in customisation, and willing to put in a little time learning how to do it properly. The author wasn’t interested or willing, which is fine.

  • Sounds like the author walked in nervous: she’d been fed horror stories from iPhone users that on Android anyone could put up an ad and most of them would eat your bank balance, soul or liver. So she steered clear of apps and missed out on one of the largest advantages of Android over iPhone.

  • None of this person’s opinions are true , I swear Apple pay people to write this garbage.
    I have both iOS and pixel 3 .

  • How can someone with such a basic and limited understanding of tech have an article published in a tech blog. What a world

  • Sponsored by Apple.
    Seriously… I was with iPhone hi Neil the 6s and Apple started to price gouge .. got a Pixel and never looked back. Can’t take this article.seriously as it seems written to stop the sales bleed Apple are now experiencing that people aren’t prepared to pay Apple tax. There is very little differnece between the two noe. With the pixel I get free photo storafe, better pictures, better integration I to google suite which is by far the premier cloud based software and Google assist bests Siri hands down…oh also. Google home is amazing and speakers amd integration is far better on home speakers..only thing better was Apple watch which I hardly used….. See u Apple. I really don’t miss you!

  • Such a flawed review.

    A major problem with most people that make the switch from iOS to Android is that they simply don’t know what they’re doing. Both operating systems have their pros and cons and complement each other. But a very easy way of deciding which OS is the right one for you (results may vary), is if you want a simple and safe phone that has all the necessities or you want the more flexible complex phone that can pretty much do everything you want.

    Both OS have their place in the market, but both are aimed towards different people. So if you’re not taking your time out to learn the intricacies of the opposite platform then your doing that OS a disservice. Android has many more benefits than just “customization”, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to your phones potential. iOS although very useful, easy and quick, that doesn’t replace the many options that come along with Android.

    Both have their flaws but it’s best to at least understand the other side first

  • If you’re getting your brother’s app and music downloads as well as his texts, it’s means you’re using his Apple ID for those services. That’s not a glitch, it’s intended as an ease of use feature allowing to move seamlessly between your devices. If you want to share and Apple ID to save a few dollars on apps and music, that’s on you.

  • A similar article was posted to business insider last week. Same bias as well.

    I have used iOS for years, as well as mass deployment in a fleet and they just haven’t been a good device to support. About a year ago I switched to a pixel 2 (owned a galaxy 3 in the past) and have never been happier with the phone. Overall the experience had been perfect, it’s was like have and extra arm attached, as I did everything thing across our networks that I needed to do on a laptop while in the move. Forgot I how useless the iPhone had been, but the constant “update now, remind me later” messages drove me mad.

    Switch was so pleasant that my wife grabbed the pixel 3 when it came out as she has had no regrets either.

    And yes, Google does what Google does, but I’m sure a lot of the fappening was on iCloud accounts which pretty gross too.

  • Not sure what was funnier to read, the article or the comments. Will say both, just like i like both os systems.

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