After using an Android phone for seven years, I recently made the switch to an iPhone. If you are familiar with this blog, this is newsworthy enough for a two-part post. If you’re not familiar with PaperGirl, it isn’t.
Midway through my thirties, fed up with a bunch of features in Apple’s operating system and because I was already in a bad mood, I flung my iPhone at the wall and hollered “I’m quittin’ you for good, iPhone! I’m your fool no more!” I probably just groaned and set the phone down on the couch. But when my phone plan said I could replace my device for eight-zillion dollars instead of nine-zillion dollars, I marched over to the nearest AT&T store and told the disinterested salesperson with great conviction and bravado that I was there to switch to an Android.
“Okay,” said the salesperson, “they’re back here.”
He led me to a shabbier area of the store, kind of near the bathrooms. I signed my soul over to AT&T for four more years or something and walked out with a Samsung Note 2 or whatever version was out in 2015. Did I know how to use the Android phone in my trembling hands? No, but it was exhilarating. I knew a couple Microsoft/Android people, but they had always played for that team. No Apple users in my life, as far as I knew, had ever quit the cult of Steve Jobs. My boxy device was fresh evidence that you can’t make me. Look, you’re not a rebel if you just rebel every once in awhile. The tree of rebellion must be perpetually refreshed. Refuse to comb your hair, quit your job, change the kind of cell phone you use — this stuff is critical if you want to be a rebel and stay a rebel. I did all three of those things that year just so I could sleep at night.
Insofar as they had an opinion about my cell phone, my family did not like the change I’d made.
The problem had to do with text messages. As many of you know, texts within the Apple iOS are sent and received via the iMessage app. The Android operating system, not surprisingly, prefers not to use iMessage. Phones that run on the Android call their messaging app “Messages” or “Here Are Your Texts”, and the two different messaging apps don’t work well across devices. Many times, texts that came in from my family — iPhone users all — had to be downloaded (downloaded!) on my Samsung device before I could read them, and some never arrived at all. I’d start a thread not knowing that a family text conversation on a given subject had been going on, sometimes for weeks, via iMessage. It appeared I didn’t care enough to participate in their group text party, but a lot of the time I just didn’t know one was happening. I was terrible with text messaging already, so the disjointedness created further text tension.
There were other drawbacks. I loved my phone’s stylus, mainly because I could draw faces in my notes app, but wasn’t possible to “like” an iMessage text or tap one with a little heart. I never figured out how to send a .gif and none of my advanced Android emojis would show up on an iPhone, so for seven years, no one in my life got to feel the love that I wished to communicate to them through an animated bunny hugging an animated bear. And I know it’s silly, but I felt a tiny bit sheepish when I pulled my Samsung out of my purse or got caught drawing faces in my notes app because Android phones are kind of like chinos from Sam’s Club: they cover the lower half of your body, and that’s all you can really say about them. They’re not elegant or sleek like iPhones. Being an Android person in a group of iPhone users feels a little like being the kid in the lunchroom taking off-brand cheese slices out of a sandwich bag while everyone else is unwrapping Kraft singles. iPhones and Kraft singles have a certain glossiness to them. You might be a rebel with a Samsung phone, but you are not glossy.
But I love that off-brand cheese kid! She never combs her hair! She’s awesome! And so, for the next seven years, I stuck to my guns and lived my life as a mostly proud Apple apostate. I figured out how to make texting work better and my family accepted they had to communicate with a weirdo — which was nothing new, let’s be honest — and life went on apace.
Then, about a month ago, there was a family emergency and I finally got the message.
*Stay tuned for Part 2, in which I am sucked into a vortex of nostalgia and pain, thanks to iCloud. Other stuff happens too.