Jumping ship to Android (Google's S4) and need a Mailbox equivalent
May 18, 2013 9:25 AM   Subscribe

I think the time has come for me to jump the iPhone ship. The announcement of the Google version of the Galaxy S4 at I/O was the clincher. But I am not 100% sold on the idea, mainly because the S4 is an ugly brute, but also because I fear for the apps and innovation I will miss. Help me out, specifically in finding a worthy replacement for my beloved Mailbox app.

I waited. I pondered. I looked longingly at the horizon. Now it's time to go.

I am a concerned jumper for a few reasons:
1. I use an ipad extensively, and don't see this changing anytime soon. Iphone/Ipad integration is pretty solid.
2. My girlfriend and close friends will be sticking with Apple and iMessage will be missed
3. I recently started using Mailbox app and it has revolutionised the way I use email. I don't think I can go back to the old cluttered inbox, BUT, Mailbox's plans to make an app for Android look vague at best.
4. Related to this, it seems that the Apple app store is still the top of the list for developers, even though there are now more Android devices out there than Apple. I like innovation. Will I have to wait around a lot?
I am jumping because I am sick of having to jailbreak my phone to have it do what I want. I am a heavy HEAVY mobile internet user, I use a lot of apps for a variety of things. I reckon most can be replaced, and fed into Dropbox or something to take the place of iCloud, BUT, I'm not sure, and I am worried that once I jump I'll be stranded.

I really wanted Google to announce a new Nexus at I/O this week, but they failed. The current Nexus 4 looks lovely, but the lack of 4G put me off. The HTC One also is a sweet looking device, but with only 4MP of camera to play with it would've felt like a downgrade. Google announced a new partnership with the S4 at I/O, so I am hoping to get one now, and root it when the Google rich version gets released in June.

My contract has been up for renewal since February, so I have already lingered long enough. The battery in my trusty iPhone 4 is pretty crap these days. Time to move on. Please help me out here.
posted by 0bvious to Technology (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like the switch will cause a lot of problems for your use case.

I would encourage you to find a less general reason to switch than “missing out.”
posted by oceanjesse at 10:01 AM on May 18, 2013

As someone who has both Android and iOS devices and prefers Android, I really don't understand why you're switching. What are the things that are holding you back on the iOS side? What do you want to do that requires jailbreaking now but won't on Android?
posted by grouse at 10:06 AM on May 18, 2013

Um. have the battery in your iPhone 4 replaced and shift to a sim-only contract?

Like grouse, I'm not sure what the motivation is to switch here, even though I'm a staunch Android user (Nexus 4 & perfectly happy with it).
posted by pharm at 10:17 AM on May 18, 2013

Response by poster: Main reasons probably are:

- Google ecosystem: I am a staunch Gmail, Calendar etc. user and having a phone built around that makes more sense than "making do" with apps locked out of the main apple system.
- Running out of that, I want the choice to be mine, not apple's, hence the jailbreaks. It's only recently that the android hardware has caught up to apple in tems of quality but i've been looking for a long while at the more open android software platform with envy (just simple things like being able to choose default browser, email client etc)
- The third, and probably most relevant reason, is about timing. I'm ready for a new phone, but it feels like the middle of a cycle for hardware, except galaxy. I could wait around a bit, buy a new battery etc, but I am longing for a bit more screen real estate, a nicer camera and a bigger memory. As I said, if the Nexus 4 had LTE I would've gone that direction without a second thought.

I work with PC on a day to day basis, not Mac, where mobile is I concerned i've always been drawn by innovation rather than an adherence to a particular ethos. Apple had the lead for a while, it's more of a balancing act now.

Does that clarify a bit?

Any thoughts on Mailbox equivalent?
posted by 0bvious at 10:32 AM on May 18, 2013

Well then, I have never used Mailbox as I am an Android (GS3) user and entrenched in the GMail/Google infrastructure and I think the GMail app on Android does a good job with email. I do a lot of sorting before things hit the inbox so to see every email more easily, I added a filter that tags every incoming email "Every" and that is the folder/tag I associated with the widget. I also have an iPad I hardly use (given to me for work for some reason), but I notice no issues with syncing of email, drive, dropbox, etc.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:00 AM on May 18, 2013

Best answer: I had Android because I wanted unlimited internet without paying over $100 every month. Now I have Virgin Mobile, which is a budget service, but I have a pretty good Android phone and I pay $40 per month for as much data and messaging as I want. My job issued my an iPhone that I had to use for work and one of the things I hated most about it was how it handled mail. Granted, I never tried the Mailbox app, but Android just spoiled me with how easy email was to use. I used the iPhone for a while, but realized that even though iPhone had some advantages, like more available quality apps, Android just lets you do so much more. Apple has been pretty clear that they don't like users to customize their own experiences or use products in different ways. I couldn't deal with that restriction shit, and I also generally thought the iPhone Maps app and Email apps were awful. Or, check out this: http://venturebeat.com/2013/03/01/sick-of-waiting-for-mailbox-you-can-use-taskboxs-gesture-based-ios-email-app-right-now/

Have you tried Gmail's default Android app? I have never used Mailbox, but looking at their webpage of features, Gmail's default Android app has at least some of those. On my work iPhone I found support for multiple inboxes to be extremely poor. On Android, I have 8 email addresses synced and it's super easy. I've set it so some inboxes alert me for new mail, some don't, some have one ringtone, some have another, some have signatures, some don't. It's really nice. Really, for me, the nice thing about Android's Gmail app is it works intuitively but it still feels the same as using my inbox on a computer. You don't really have to sacrifice anything for the Android experience.

As a longtime Dropbox user, I would recommend it over anything else. Again, I have never used iCloud, but Dropbox beats the pants off similar services like Box. I have Dropbox on my Android phone and on all my computers. I've never had a syncing issue -- everything is always right where I want it or on Dropbox's website. I do think the stuff you use on iOS totally exists for Android, with the biggest exception for me being touch game apps. iPhone and iPad do have a lot of nice games Android doesn't have. But as far as functionality, I haven't found a gap between Apple and Android at all.

Honestly, I think iPhones are kind of a bad deal. They are way overpriced and at this point, there are Android phones out there that are better. I would do some research on the iMessage issue -- I think Android has workarounds and apps that will work.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:24 AM on May 18, 2013

From what I can tell the mailbox app much like the native gmail so. Also don't be afraid of no 4g on the nexus 4. I went from a 4g device down to the nexus but its easily faster due to not sucking. Might be worth a second look on the nexus.
posted by chasles at 11:43 AM on May 18, 2013

Yeah, Nthing the Android Gmail app. And the Priority Inbox feature in Gmail works pretty well. (The iOS app doesn't really support Priority Inbox, but the Android app does.)
posted by maxim0512 at 1:45 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The GMail app does not have the "remind me later" functionality of Mailbox, and swiping only archives messages.

I have an iPhone 5 and a Nexus 4, and the lack of LTE is noticeable in buildings.

For the time being, iOS is still the preferred app development platform due to its drastically higher monetization rate, Mailbox is an example. Even the apps that are on both are slightly biased towards an iOS-like look and workflow. On the other side, there is more hardware innovation with Android - the Galaxy S 4 has all kinds of interesting eye-based / non-touch interactions (even if they have been mostly panned) and there are oddities like Tasker which can't exist at all on iOS.

If you spent the time jailbreaking your iPhone and switching apps, you will probably prefer Android.
posted by meowzilla at 5:13 PM on May 18, 2013

Best answer: I really wanted Google to announce a new Nexus at I/O this week, but they failed.

Slightly off-topic, but Nexus devices are generally released in Q4. If you can hold off for a few months longer, you'll be able to decide between the Google S4 and the latest Nexus smartphone.
posted by evoque at 8:34 PM on May 18, 2013

Best answer: I was a reluctant jumper about 6 weeks ago - I jumped to the Samsung Note 2 after years of being on the "Apple ecosystem". I still keep and stand by my iPad and MacBook Pro, but changed phones.
After 3 weeks of using both the Note 2 and the iPhone 5, I ultimately decided to use the Samsung exclusively. Here's my report:

Things I LOVE from the switch:

- Amazing camera. Even better than iPhone 5. On the S4 this would be even better.
- Mighty text app which syncs my smses to my laptop and allows me to reply from my laptop
- Larger screen
- Swiftkey / Swype ... going back to the iPhone for typing feels SLOW
- Hated the "back" button but now love it
- Widgets - like a button to just call my husband from the home screen, or a button that turns the flashlight on
- Settings being so easy to toggle from the notifications umbrella
- Google meshing is amazing
- Single sign on for all your services
- Battery life is sooooo phenomenal even with extensive use
- The stylus, and handwriting recognition. Too cool

Things that are/have adequate replacements:

- The native Gmail app is pretty good (also a Mailbox lover here)
- Most "normal" apps (Kindle, evernote, instagram, facebook, etc) are the same, if not better
- I'm told there are good ways to sync Notes from the iPad - I haven't worked it out though

Things I hate / miss:

- Games. I just feel like the iPhone had better games that I can't find replacements for. Lucky I still have my iPad.
- I hated the native messaging app - so use Chomp SMS app now to make it look a little cleaner and iPhone like
- The iPhone is just so EASY to use - the Samsung is a magnificent phone, and better in so many ways. Intuitive user ease is NOT one of those ways it reigns supreme. Totally learnable, but needs learning.
- Too customizable. There, I said it - I don't think I WANT to be able to customize everything, I just want it to work.
- I hate how photos are saved in multiple, random folders in the gallery
- Power button is located opposite the volume buttons - if I try to toggle volume, I invariably "squeeze" the phone and end my call or make the screen sleep

I hope this helps, it's what I could think of right now. As I keep telling people who ask me - the Samsung is a far superior phone, no question. Would I recommend it? Yes, if you're willing to put up with the above. If a future iPhone came out with all the Samsung's abilities though, I would switch back in a heartbeat.
posted by shazzam! at 4:52 AM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Looks like the Mailbox developers are working on an Android version of the app, though there's no ETA as of yet.
posted by evoque at 1:47 PM on May 23, 2013

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