Ten days ago, I was able to get my hands on an unlocked Google Pixel 3a, Google’s newest foray into smartphones, and also their newest budget version of their Pixel 3 and 3XL. Needless to say, I was impressed. At only $400 (half the price of the regular Pixel 3), I had the same great camera as the Pixel 3, a great-feeling plastic two-tone case design, fast fingerprint reader, vibrant OLED screen (although not edge-to-edge) and decent processor that I can’t tell is inferior to the Pixel 3.
By all accounts, this is a great phone. And if you’re an Android person, this is a wonderful deal.
iMessage envy is very real. I didn’t really believe this would be the case, but just hours into my transition, iMessage envy set in. The first reason was, primarily, the painful switch. If I wanted to get any text messages at all on my Pixel 3a I would have to sign out of iMessage on all my devices (in this case: an iPhone, iPad Pro, and Mac). I would then have to De-register iMessage at Apple’s website some reason and then restart my Android phone a couple of times to get messages to come through. One more hurdle: people that had existing conversations with me on blue bubbles would have to delete that conversation and start a new one with my green bubble. It’s maddening. I love the benefits of iMessage, but it must be a nightmare for regular tech reviewers who switch SIM cards very often.
Since my family and most of my friends and coworkers are iPhone (and therefore iMessage) users, things didn’t sync very well. Movies and GIF’s were low-quality or just didn’t come in at all. And then I got the green bubble texts: “Why are you not a blue bubble?!?”
So iMessage envy was definitely real.
Things is THE task manager not on Android. Cultured Code does an incredible job with Things, my go-to task manager on iOS and the Mac. It’s superb, and it basically keeps my life in order. But it’s not on Android.
Sure, there are lots of good task managers on Android. Asana is cross-platform and had great collaboration features. Todoist is also very good and hard been around a long time. Google Keep is even pretty good, and if you’re 100% into the Google system, it’s a fair alternative.
But it’s not Things. Just thinking about moving my entire task management system over gives me cold sweats. Yes, I am old and inflexible.
Overcast is the cherry on top. So admittedly the only other podcast player I’ve really ever used is Pocketcasts, an excellent podcast discovery and player app that’s also cross-platform. I love the Pocketcasts user interface. The podcast list screen and the Now Playing screen are my favorite differences between it and Overcast.
The thing that stops me from it being my replacement for Overcast is when you actually go to play a podcast. Marco Arment, the developer, has probably spent an inordinate amount of time perfecting his podcast playing engine. The Trim Silence and Voice Boost features are both found in Pocketcasts as well, but they’re just not that good. It doesn't take an audio engineer to realize the difference either. Put both side-by-side and Overcast wins every time.
Overcast also launched an incredible new feature for sharing 1-minute snippets to social networks that’s just fantastic. Overcast is just two to three steps ahead of everyone else now, and it shows.
In an ideal smartphone universe, I would be able to find apps to replace these on iOS in a heartbeat and be able to go about my business. But it just seems to me that Android is equal in hardware (or exceeds Apple’s in some cases) but they are only about 95% of the way with certain applications. Unfortunately for me and many others, they are apps that I use multiple times a day, every day.