In my recent piece on the first two-weeks of being a new iPhone user, I jumped right into the application experience because that seemed to be the logical starting point. Mobile devices are personal and what makes them personal are the apps we eventually come to rely on. It's also the more interesting thing to talk about. Everyone has their favorite apps or apps that drive them crazy, etc.
Yes, Swarna, I really do use Evernote for snapping recipe photos. But, I also use it for snapping receipt images and really anything that I want to save, organize, and be able to search later on. If I come across something that I want to cook, I just dump it into Evernote -- recipe link, image from grandma's cookbook, whatever. Evernote is great for immediately never forgetting anything ever. If that makes sense.
Someone else asked how I define the separation from work and personal apps. The truth? There is none. I just want apps that let me get shit done, organize my life, and help compensate for the things I'm not good at as a person. That's no small task. At the same time, I won't be playing Letterpress at work anytime soon but the notion of work vs. personal is really tricky on a mobile device. It takes a lot of mental energy to unplug the phone and devote that energy to my family and non-work endeavors. Otherwise, I'd probably be "working" in some fashion for the duration of my waking time.
Anyway, I should have began that first post with setting up my iPhone because it's a great lesson to keep in mind that security and ease of use are often at odds with one another, but don't necessarily have to be. The sad thing is the cumbersome nature of setting up my iPhone was my own fault. No one to blame but me. But the point is still relevant for IT admins that if you don't make the mobile devices you support (corporate issued or BYOD, doesn't matter either way) easy for users they'll just find a way around the gate like the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park.
Security vs. Ease of Use
The delicate balance between IT's desire for draconian security and control with the end-user's desire to play Angry Birds at work is one of the most prevalent themes of enterprise mobility and consumerization -- at least according to all the press releases I get. Obviously, it's not that drastic, but there is a consideration to be made with how much security is necessary when it comes to a mobile device. That comfort level is going to be different for every organization, but what isn't different is that users will find a way if the experience you give them is sub-par.
For example, the initial excitement of firing up my iPhone was quickly dashed by the stone-cold reality that I've set up two-factor authentication for every web service that allows it. I also use LastPass to manage my online usernames and passwords. Installing all my shiny new apps was the only easy thing about getting my iPhone up and running.
It is my own fault -- certainly -- for being overly paranoid about my identity and protecting my information by having 150 unique and complex passwords for every website or service that I use. I don't care about my privacy in the least, but there's no way with all the recent hackings into Dropbox or Evernote that I'm going to use the same password for those sites that I'll use for email and my online banking.
I was able to download the LastPass mobile app, pay them $12 for mobile access to my passwords and get access to my services. My inherent laziness finds it ridiculous, however, that I have to log into LastPass, search for my stored Evernote or Dropbox credentials, then copy and paste both my username and password into an entry box, and then enter the two-factor authentication pass code sent to me via SMS just to start using these apps. And in the case of my Google services I would further have to create application specific passwords and enter that once I got past the two-factor authentication. Have you tried setting up an application specific password on a mobile device? It sucks.
Let me rant for a second. You can't set up an application specific password on a mobile device because you have to log into your Google account first, navigate to the user settings section, etc. etc. The easiest way to do this is to sit in front of a laptop to generate the password, and then enter it in manually on the mobile device. It's a user experience nightmare. Sure, I feel more secure about my online accounts, but after spending two or three days copy and pasting usernames and passwords from LastPass into various mobile applications I really contemplated whether I needed to jump through so many security hoops.
There is money to be made from someone like me that wants a certain level of security but also an ease of use to access those accounts. I would gladly pay $5 per month to an enterprise IAM vendor such as Okta, OneLogin, or Ping Identity to make a consumer, single-sign on password manager that automatically recognizes my stored services with the apps installed on my device and logs me in without me having to do anything. This would especially come in handy when I need to change a password for whatever reason.
If my experience is but a microcosm for what IT admins go through to enable enterprise mobility without pissing off the end-user than I'm amazed enterprise mobility makes it past the discussion phases. It's enough to make a person wave a white flag in defeat. At the same time, as a user, I realized that too much security was a pain in my ass. Certainly enough to make me say, "forget it, I'll just figure something else out." I'm glad I inflicted this upon myself because if my IT department was responsible for such a bad experience I would have been really upset.
What about Android?
I don't know if the current version of Android is as good as iOS because I stopped using Android sometime between when my HTC Incredible's screen cracked into a thousand pieces and either HTC or Verizon made the decision for me that my phone's OS would be forever stuck on Android 2.3.
Mostly, I remember Android 2.3 being good enough. It was a serviceable mobile operating system. I liked that I could customize it to my heart's content by adding third-party app launchers, different keyboards, whatever floated my boat. But there was plenty I didn't like about the experience. Android was not necessarily good enough that I was eager to upgrade to another Android phone immediately. Maybe it's different if you are using the 4.0 version and the wrinkly problems I had with it were ironed out. I would consider getting another Android device with some caveats -- the biggest being OS upgrades. Fragmentation isn't just a headache for IT departments, but it's also a hindrance to user-loyalty. If I know my Android device is perpetually stuck on Android 4.0 when version 6.0 has just been released and that's the case for most Android phones, well, that's a recipe for disaster.
As configured, my iPhone feels like a work device first and a personal device second. As it should! This is a nit-picky thing, but I wished that were reversed. I wish it felt like a personal phone that had access to my work stuff rather than a work phone that has access to my personal stuff. For example, the entirety of my personal contacts are managed through Google Contacts. My work contacts are managed through Exchange. When I update a contact on my iPhone it updates and syncs back to Exchange regardless of whether it's a personal contact or not. I don't have the option of choosing to update my contacts synced through Google. This might not be a problem for some, but I don't need or want to store my friends and family's contact information to my work exchange.
I use a Windows laptop with Exchange at work and I live and breathe in Google's web services for my personal life. My iPhone should bridge those two worlds more seamlessly in a bi-directional manner. I should be able to update and sync personal contacts saved on the iPhone back into Google Contacts just as effortlessly as that happens for work.
Is this easier to troubleshoot on Android? Again, I don't know, but it's something I never considered as being a crucial factor until now.
Another reason I would consider switching is Android's notifications are far superior and more user-friendly. I don't need widgets or live tiles, frankly, but I loved that Android made adjusting essential settings such as turning Wi-Fi on or off or controlling the screen brightness so much easier than Apple does. This is low-hanging fruit that Apple should be able to fix in the next version of iOS. The notifications tray was something I came to rely on with Android. With iOS, it's pretty much a feature I would prefer to disable. It just doesn't do anything for me at the moment.
Further, I find it interesting that Android gets a ton of crap for carriers loading bloatware onto the OS, but there's no way I can delete some of Apple's pre-loaded apps I'm not using. I also can't set Chrome as my default browser which can frankly be frustrating when links open in Safari. I get that there are massive differences between the two scenarios, but the point is each mobile platform comes with frustrating liabilities that should be easily correctable for users.
One more thing! It's worth paying a few bucks for apps that are advertising-free. I was okay with it when I had an Android phone because at the time I didn't know any better and there didn't seem to be many apps worth paying for. There are plenty of iOS apps worth paying for and I gladly do on iOS.
In the end, it feels like the debate between iOS and Android is a silly one. They both feel like great platforms that offer something slightly unique for users. Nearly every mobile device article's comment section inevitably devolves into a frothing fanboy contest pitting iOS against Android in the Thunderdome. Mobile platforms all have significant pluses and minuses; it's far more interesting to talk about what each one brings to the table to enable mobile productivity instead of who's arbitrarily winning the market share battle. Anyone ranting about closed vs. open or whatever is missing the boat entirely.
In thinking about my time using both an iPhone and an Android device, factors such as battery life, quality (not quantity) of apps, ease of use, continued feature and OS upgrades all matter. There are also plenty of Android-esque features I wish Apple would offer to let iOS's freak flag fly just a little bit. As it stands, the iPhone itself feels like the dichotomy of someone driving a high-end luxury automobile (the hardware) while wearing a reliable yet unremarkable, off the rack navy suit (iOS).
I'm not sure that's a bad thing, either. I love that I have access to all these incredible applications. I love that I have the best hardware and can go out and find the best software -- whether that's from Google, Apple, or an independent developer -- to power my mobile life. I love that when I'm working on my desktop and my iPhone is right next to it, work emails get pushed to my mobile device quicker. I love that my laptop is a terrible computing device that often spins its wheels because it can't handle having Chrome and Outlook open at the same time, but that never happens on my iPhone. I love that it has the potential to be an amazing communication and productivity device. I love that developers are just figuring out how to build apps that are truly native experiences -- visceral apps, as someone recently put it.
Anyone that says an iPhone or iPad or even an Android device is for consumption-only clearly hasn't been around the block. I can see the unique appeal for either Android or iOS as an end user depending upon a panoply of personal preferences. Maybe one day I'll get to use a Windows Phone or BlackBerry 10 to see what the appeal of those platforms might be. If any at all.