How to Use Ulysses for Bible Study

Chris Bowler over at The Sweet Setup is blowing my everloving mind. What he's done is exactly what I'd like to do - have my own notes and my own database all in one place, locally accessed by my app of choice, in this case - Ulysses.

It would be a lot of work to get all the Biblical text into one app (it's over 800,000 words, but it is just plain text, after all), but I think to have everything in one place would be amazing.

How to use Ulysses for long-term research - The Sweet Setup >

Highlights from the Apple Keynote

If you'd like to know what Apple said and announced today in one succinct list, look no further. Looks like a lot of great improvements coming to all four platforms. 

watchOS 3

  • 7X faster
  • Apps launch instantly, info is updated in the background
  • Swipe from left to right to switch watch faces
  • New watch faces - Simplicity and Activity
  • Activity sharing with other watch users
  • New app: Breathe - helps with breathing exercises to combat stress
  • Free upgrade in the Fall

tvOS

  • Sling TV app announced today
  • New Apple TV Remote app, also functions as a controller
  • Siri on TV: search by topics now (i.e. "Find high school comedies from the 80's)
  • Also: "Search YouTube for ---" 
  • Launch apps for Live TV: "Watch ESPN 2"
  • Install apps with Siri as well: "Install MLB app"
  • Single sign-on for app authorization to watch TV
  • Dark mode

macOS

  • Renamed from Mac OS X
  • New version named macOS Sierra
  • Auto Unlock - authenticate from you Apple Watch
  • Universal Clipboard - images, video, text pasted from your iOS device
  • iCloud Drive - all your files available everywhere
  • Optimized Storage - older files compressed to free up space on your Mac
  • Apple Pay - now on the web, securely authorize using Touch ID on your iPhone
  • Tabs - in multiple-windowed apps like Maps
  • Picture-in-Picture - video inlay on top of apps
  • Siri - find files, follow-up commands, play music, search the web, message
  • Available in the Fall as a free upgrade

iOS 10

  • Biggest iOS release ever
  • User Experience: redesigned lock screen with 3D Touch support
  • Clear All with 3D Touch (finally!)
  • Control Center also redesigned
  • Slide from the right to access Camera instantly, slide left for Widgets
  • More info on 3D Touch app widgets
  • Siri API for developers - devs can now write apps for Siri
  • QuickType - now with Siri intelligence 
  • Photos - advanced computer vision on the phone such as facial recognition
  • Advances AI to analyze content of photos, on the device
  • Maps - new design, open to developers
  • Music - all new Apple Music app designed from the ground up
  • News - all new design, clear sections
  • HomeKit - new app called Home, control your home, integrated with Siri
  • Phone - voicemail transcripts 
  • VoIP API so Slack, Facebook, Skype can be taken like regular phone calls
  • Messages - rich links, play videos right inline, bigger emojis, bubble effects

As A Minister: Why You Should Care About What Apple Said This Week

Monday in San Francisco, Apple kicked off WWDC, their Worldwide Developers Conference. As a minister, why should you care about such things? I'll give you few reasons why. 

The iPad is Changing. There may be some new products on the horizon, i.e. the rumored 12-inch iPad Pro, but even without that announcement yesterday (Apple has since stopped making major product announcements at WWDC and stuck to developer stuff), the iPad is changing. 

There was some stuff demoed that we will see with iOS 9 in the Fall that is amazing - it's what the iPad should have been all along. If you're a minister and you use the iPad on a daily basis, you're going to be impressed with what Apple is doing. 

Two of the biggest things on the iPad - working with text and multitasking - have been completely redone. Now you can have two apps running side-by-side in tandem and resize the windows. This isn't a revolutionary thing - Samsung has been doing it with tablets and even phones for a while now - but it's wonderful to have on the iPad. Now you can have two Bible apps open at the same time, or an internet site open in Safari on the left and a writing app on the right. Pretty sweet stuff. 

The other is text selection. We preachers live in text. At least I do. And Apple has designed an intuitive form of text selection that nearly looks like a trackpad. You can depress two fingers on the keyboard and zip around to highlight text and move your cursor. Very cool. Much faster than dragging your finger in just the right spot and getting frustrated when it goes below the line you wanted it to. 

The Mac isn't changing. I say that because Yosemite was a complete redesign of OSX, and yes, it has more bugs than an abandoned hotel. But this release, named OSX El Capitan (named for a rock face in Yosemite National Park...Leopard > Snow Leopard, Lion > Mountain Lion, Yosemite > El Capitan). El Capitan is focusing on performance and stablity, so in effect, Apple is slowing down the on new features in order to make the current ones work much better. 

Search on iOS is getting better. Universal search on iOS is going to be much better thanks to deeper integration. What does this mean? It means you can find more stuff that you need quicker. Siri will be lots more useful, a la Google Now on Android devices. Siri is more intelligent too - you can say "Show me photos from Florida last October" and it can fetch those photos, provided you have them synced in the new Photos app. 

The new Notes app. 

The new Notes app. 

Notes I can now finally recommend. The built-in Notes is an app that lots of ministers I know use a lot just to jot down things they come across. Notes wasn't very functional or useful in my opinio. You couldn't style text or insert pictures. Now you can. Not only that, the app has been redesigned for all platforms - iPhone, iPad, and the Mac. And it syncs via iCloud so you don't have to worry about it. I still think there are better note-taking apps for your phone and tablet - Drafts, Editorial, and Simplenote to name a few - but Apple is really making strides with the app that 75% of their users use because it's just there

This was only a few things that Apple announced of many, but these things will continue to improve my experience on iOS and the Mac and I know as ministers it will benefit you as well. 

Spark by Readdle Wins the Battle for iOS Email

Let's just face it: email stinks. But Spark by Readdle hopes to make you like your email again. 

Ever since Apple opened up iOS a few years ago to include third-party email clients, there have been no shortage of good and sometimes great email apps. Mailbox was pretty great and promised to help you blaze through your email. Dispatch offered nerd and customization options and hoped to triage your email. Entirely new email services like Google Inbox took a slightly different approach to email - categorizing by type and offering a super-simplified interface. Other email clients such as Cloudmagic offered to help you manage many email accounts easily while offering an outstanding UI. 

Spark by Readdle offers all that, and more. 

This is not Readdle's first rodeo into productivity on iOS, not by a long shot. Readdle is one of the first (if not the first) with productivity apps for iOS. They were making productivity apps for iOS before it was even called iOS. They have an impressive catalog of apps that help you manage notes, documents and calendars. In fact, if you follow me you'll know that Calendars 5 has been my default calendar app of choice for over a year now on iOS. 

So when Merlin Mann began talking about "an impressive email app by Readdle" in some of his recent podcasts, I immediately contacted Readdle PR to see if I could get a sneak peek. And to my pleasant surprise, they obliged. 

I've only had a few extra days with Spark, now publicly available as of this morning, but it is a truly great iOS email app. Here's some reasons why. 

Swipe to delete, snooze, and pin for quick email triage. If you do email of any kind, you probably get a lot of stuff you don't want and just a few things a day that you do. Spark doesn't vary much from other clients like Cloudmagic, Inbox, or Mailbox in that it lets you swipe quickly to get through your email in a flash. Other mail clients offer this, sure, but Spark has implemented lessons learned from other apps very well. 

Most important stuff at the top. New emails, emails you've deemed important by pinning them stay at the top until you move them. Read emails automatically go to another section once you've tapped out of them. 

Multiple inbox support is wonderful. Managing multiple email accounts, even getting them to display inline in your inbox is no problem for Spark. Adding new accounts is easy, and you can set individual settings and notifications for each account. 

Nicely formatted message threads. Hate getting those emails back and forth from the same person and seeing all that nasty formatting? Me too. That's a thing of the past with Spark. The app is very innovative by cleaning up all the junk and letting you see your message thread in a nicely formatted way. 

Game-changing searching. I'm a big Gmail archiver, and I want to be able to get info from an email anytime I want. Spark's search is really great. But here's the kicker - it's not just search, it's smart search, based on your natural language. For instance, if I wanted to find all the attachments from grayer.com email addresses, that's what I would type - "all emails with attachments from grayer.com emails" - and Spark finds it. This is incredible to me and a game-changer. I'm always needing to find what I need but don't know exactly where to find it, so this natural language and fuzzy search is fantastic. 

These are just a few of the reasons why Spark by Readdle will be my default email app for the forseeable future. This was, by no means, a comprehensive review - for that, you need to hit up Federico Viticci's review at MacStories - but I hope I've given you enough to just go try this free email app on the iPhone. It's a fantastic 1.0 product, and with Readdle's track record, it will only get better and better. 

 

Daily Devotionals with Remind + Day One [VIDEO]

Apps these days, man. It's amazing what they can do. Now you can do a daily devotional that people can subscribe to with nothing more than your iPhone. 

We started a Daily Devotional called 15for15 - we take the first 15 minutes of every day of 2015 and spend it with the Word. I wanted to think of a super-simple way to get kids in the Word every single day. Something where they could just pick up their phone and a message was waiting right there for them. 

That's when I started to use Remind for this. Remind was originally a service designed for teachers to communicate with classes but has evolved into so much more. And the best part is that anyone with a phone that sends and receives text messages can subscribe - they don't have to have a smartphone with Remind installed. Day One is a simple journaling app for OSX/iOS that lets you publish entries as nicely-formatted web pages. 

I've made a screencast below that I think you'll enjoy. If you would like to start a daily devotional for your ministry or congregation and you have an iOS device, this would be the way to do it. 

Note: the Publish feature is currently only available on iOS from Day One. No idea why you can't do it yet from the desktop version, but you can't. You can, however, compose your devos in the desktop app and then pull them up on your phone and publish them there. 

The Big Switch

All right, I've been hinting at this for a while, but I did it. I finally did it. I switched over to Android. 

Now, I'm not Android-exclusive by any means (I still have my iPad mini), and I'll never give up my precious Mac, but I've decided to go to Android for my daily driver smartphone. 

Some of you who know me being a hardcore Apple guy will (jokingly) call this a betrayal. You will call me a traitor to iOS. So this is to give you my primary reasons for switching. 

1) I just needed a change. I've been on iOS since before it was called iOS. I'm just bored. I needed a new experience. I love changing my tech and doing different things, and it seemed like things just hadn't changed all that much since I used the first iPhone back in 2007. It was nothing against iOS or Apple - I still love the OS and the company - I just wanted to have a different experience. And for that reason this was a very personal and not technical decision. Both Android and iOS are pretty equal now in quality. Some may argue that fact because they are biased either way, but the fact is that both operating systems are now on the same bar. They're neck and neck. One platform has advantages over the other, and vice versa. I tend to think that Android has the upper hand right now, but not by much. 

2) The variety of devices. Some Apple purists would argue that this is a major downside to Android, that device fragmentation would dilute the experience, but Google has done a good job the past year of reeling in manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and the like to make Android on these devices with much less "skinning" and bloatware. I'll have a more in-depth review later, but the reason I chose the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, among other reasons, was that TouchWiz (Samsung's take on "skinning" Android) is much much better than when I used it on a Galaxy S3 two years ago and tons better than when I used it on the first Galaxy Tab three years ago. If I wanted a pure Google experience, I could have went with a Nexus device. My options were limited with Verizon though, and the more I looked at the Note the better I liked it. 

3) The size. Android devices come in a variety of sizes now and I can get something even bigger that Apple's 4.7- and 5.5-inch variations. I personally wanted to get as close to a tablet as I could without going over the 6-inch mark. I wanted to replace my tablet and my phone with a big phone, and the Galaxy Note 4 lets me do that. It's big enough to preach and teach from but yet not too big to carry around. 

4) Customization. This to me is huge. iOS never really allowed you to customize anything before iOS 8, and even with that it's still limited. I can change my keyboard, my lock screen, add widgets, place my icons anywhere on the screen I want them, change my pictures viewer, change my default camera, and many many more things. I am a true geek and customizing the phone to my liking is wonderful. One of the big things is being able to choose and change your own Launcher. This is a foreign concept to anyone who has never used an Android device, but basically you can change the whole look and feel by downloading a new Launcher for your device. Want a Nexus feel to your Samsung TouchWiz phone? Download the Google Now Launcher. Want a completely different "looks-like-the-movies" look? Download my personal favorite: Atom Launcher. These Launchers don't mess up your whole phone either - Settings and apps still look the same, just the look and feel of your home screen and app drawers. It's really fantastic. 

5) Google's new apps and designs. I got an Android device just in time for great material design updates to apps like Gmail, Inbox, Keep, Messenger, and Calendar, among others. All these apps are fantastic and simply redesigned to get the most done in the least amount of time, which is exactly what I need. The new material design adapted for Android 5.0 Lollipop is what Steve Jobs would have called "lickable," to say the least. It is a very flat design aesthetic, but I look at it and it seems more functional than the flattening and translucency of the iOS 7 redesign a year ago. Animations are quick and subtle. The UI is bright and colorful but not offendingly so. Buttons and interactivity is easy to figure out. 

6) Expansion. One of the reasons I chose to go with Samsung was the ability to expand my space. I now have a 32GB phone with a 64GB micro SD card at the back. I also have access to that card and can switch it out any time I want. When shooting 4K video with this thing (which it does beautifully) you average about 200MB for just 30 seconds of video, so if intend to shoot any of that UHD video, I'll need extra storage. Android lets you change you camera settings at will though - I can record 720P regular 'ol HD, or I can go crazy with 4K UHD. I also have four options to shoot stills: 16, 12, 8, and 6 megapixels respectively. I can switch many apps to store my photos, videos, games and other files on my SD card instead of my device. And with Android File Transfer for Mac, I can upload things like ripped movies directly onto my device, much like you would just drag and drop to an external hard drive. 

I've probably stepped over my own toes by partially reviewing the Note 4 already, but look for a full review in the next week, where I intend to count in all the advantages and disadvantages of using an Android device exclusively now. 

I'm not 100% sure I'll stick with it for the long term (1 year or longer), but I will stick with it for now. If you're due for an upgrade and have been looking hard at some Android devices, the lines between Apple and Android are way more blurry now. Do your homework and figure out what device is best for you, regardless of what your friends might tell you. 

The Moment You Realize It's Deleted

Four times. Four times in the past few weeks a young person or college student has come up to me at church and said something like, "I think my computer crashed."

"Well, do you have a backup?" 

"Umm...no." 

"Why not?" I ask. 

What follows is a look of I know I should be doing that but I don't.

Why don't people back up their stuff?

My wife and I were attending Polishing the Pulpit two years ago and my wife was trying to clear up some space on the hard drive on her computer when she accidentally deleted the photo library. 

This was the photo library that contained nearly every photo from the first ten months of our firstborn son's life. 

My wife was obviously completely distraught, and so was I. Fortunately, I was able to procure a sketchy program to retrieve deleted files and was able to salvage about 80% of those photos. 

But you won't be so lucky, especially if you hard drive stopped working. Or if you had a fire. Or you dropped your phone in the toilet that had 6 months of pictures on it because you don't ever plug your phone up to a computer. 

Here's what you can do today. 

Start making regular backups. If you can't remember, set a calendar alert. Plug your phone into iTunes and let it do its thing and backup once a week. Make sure Auto Backup is enabled on your Android device - all your files, photos and settings will be backed up to the cloud. That way you're only out the last 7 days of photos or files if you're making regular backups. Conversely, you need to make a backup of your computer. This requires an external hard drive. I recommend the Seagate Slim 2TB - just about a hundred bucks. This is easy to do if you have a Mac - just plug your Time Machine drive in every ten days when it reminds you to. Then you can also use an app called SuperDuper to make a literal bootable copy of your hard drive in case something bad happens. Do that every month at least.  

For the Windows people, Windows' built-in Backup and Restore [video] is actually pretty good. First of all it's free and built-in, so all you have to do is search in the Windows Menu to find it. You can set timed backups, which files to backup, and how often to do it. You can also use the lightweight DriveImage XML to make a full bootable backup of your PC. 

This all sounds complex, but it really isn't. Just a few minutes a week and a few more a month could really save you a lot of trouble if your hard drive fails, you have a accident with your computer or you get a virus and your files are corrupted. 

Making a big image copy of your hard drive? Just set it before bed, plug in the external HD, and it'll be done when you wake up. 

Making a weekly backup? Set your reminder alarm to remind you to do it just before you go to lunch. Incremental backups (like Time Machine) only take a really long time the first time they back up. Then they are done in minutes on every sequential backup. 

Get an external HD and keep it in a safe place when not using it. I wouldn't recommend using your backup drive to store other files on, by the way. Only use that drive for backups. 

Backing up isn't for the paranoid, it's for people who don't want to lose their stuff. 

I Had An HTC One M8 For Two Days and Loved It

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I love Android so much. I love the customization, the widgets, and the different phone and tablet designs. I love the fact that Google has phenomenally improved the OS since I used it first over three years ago. I love the leaps and bounds that Google has made to connect Android and make their services available very easily on the platform. 

I didn't love it enough, apparently, for it to be on my everyday phone though. 

I had another flirtation with Android last week. My almost 2 year old iPhone 5 was biting the dust. After the things I've put it through, I'm surprised it lasted that long. So I went looking for another phone and thought (again) that I could finally make the big move to Android. I got the new HTC One M8

And I chickened out. 

Oh, it wasn't because I didn't love it. Because I did, as I stated before. I blame three reasons for me not being able to have anything but an iPhone as my device:

1) I'm finally old and don't like change. Even if that change is good, I still want what I'm familiar with. I've been an iOS user since before it was called iOS. I bought the 1st-gen iPhone 4 months after it was released. At this point, I don't think I can change. If that sounds like I'm being a crotchety old man, then so be it. 

2) It just doesn't feel right. I know, I know, what the heck does that mean? This reason closely ties with number 1. The texting app, moving back and forth between apps, the design of the OS - it just doesn't feel right for someone who uses their phone all day. It's not as fluid. It's not as quick. And I need quick. 

3) I'm really tied to a few apps. Drafts is the prime example. (If you haven't discovered Drafts, I'm going to spotlight it in an upcoming episode of Ministry Bits later this month.) Long story short, Drafts allows me to do everything on my phone. It is one app that replaces or prevents me from having to open 20 others. It makes me think less about what I have to do, and lets me put my text (whether that's an idea or a calendar appointment) wherever I want it to go. It's fantastic. It takes a while to set up and you kinda have to be a geek to do it, but once you get your workflow going on Drafts, there's no stopping what you can do just from your iPhone. 

Another app I love is Tweetbot. There's really nothing like it on Android. If you're a Twitter user and you use it, you know what I'm talking about. Instacast and Paper are ones you can't find on Android either. 

There were plenty of things to love about the HTC One (M8). It has a phenomenal camera, the design is top-notch, and the screen is great. If it were running iOS I would have bought it yesterday. With iOS 7, the HTC One M8 would be the 

If you're an Android user, I highly recommend the new HTC One, dubbed the M8. Check out MKBHD's review on Youtube and you'll want to buy this thing today (video below). 

Rant: What's Wrong With This Picture, Microsoft?

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First I want to confess that no, I am not a user of anything Microsoft. I have a Mac and I use Mac-equivalent programs for such things as word processing and spreadsheets. Before you write me off as an "Apple Fanboy" who just hates everything Microsoft, hear me out. 

I know lots of people who depend of Microsoft programs and apps (like Outlook, Exchange, and Office) every single day. I know people who write everything in MS Word, and just because this is what they like to use should not mean that I should judge them. 

What got me thinking about this was a few articles posted this week about MS Office finally coming to the iPad. My question is: why wasn't this done years ago? What's wrong with this picture, Microsoft? 

I don't depend on Office, but I know lots of people who do. The iPad is an undeniable success when it comes to content creation. It's been a force in the tablet market nearly since the day it was released. So why didn't Microsoft rush in and get Office done for the iPad? 

1) Because Microsoft doesn't care about customers. They haven't for a while. They care about profit margins and making money. They care about maintaining domination in the PC market. The customer has become the casualty here.

2) They have a bunch of engineers writing their systems and programs, not designers designing user interfaces that people can actually use. 

3) They want, at the expense and convenience of the customer, to push their own OS and tablets like Windows 8 and the Surface. Don't get me wrong - these are great machines and I even like Windows 8, but it's too late to the game. Lifelong PC users hate Windows 8. Everyone who owns a tablet has an iPad or an Android device. 

It's time for Microsoft to stop ignoring what's happening in the real world. It's time for them to admit that Office needs to be on all platforms, not just theirs. Because, based upon the latest impressions of Windows 8 and Windows 8 PC and Tablet sales, customers have spoken. Loudly. 

The Long Road With iOS

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Ask anyone that knows me and they'll say I'm an Apple fanboy. For those of you not familiar with the term, Apple fanboy refers to an individual who thinks, most of the time, that Apple can do no wrong. That they make the best computers and devices. That their OS versions both on the Mac and iOS are the best you can get.

People that think of me as an Apple fanboy are thinking of me the wrong way. You see, I'm not a blind Apple fan. I'm a fan of the best. And up to this point, Apple has been the best. You can't argue with their hardware design. You can't argue with the customer experience that they give in their stores. You can't argue against OSX, small in marketshare but incredibly meaningful desktop operating system that surpasses Windows in design, usability, stability and performance. Not in compatibility, mind you, especially with Office, but you get the point. 

So it may come as a surprise to you that I would be writing an article that's critical of Apple today. 

Because, in my opinion, Apple no longer has the best mobile operating system. 

It has been a long road with iOS. One that didn't have many curves and dips, but it certainly has had its detours. I had the original iPhone in 2007, sans App Store. That's right - no multitasking, no copy and paste, and no App Store. The App Store, released a year after the original iPhone with the iPhone 3G, was revolutionary and set the precedent for all impostors to follow. 

While iOS (then called iPhone OS) looked revolutionary in 2007, and it certainly was, now it just looks dated. The grid of icons is old. The lack of widgets and other dynamic icons is just wrong. While I understand the reasons why Apple has stayed with the same basic design (the only redesign coming with last year's iOS 7), I don't agree with them. Apple wants the pure, simple experience for customers, and if you look at some of the Android fragmentation out there, you might say they're definitely doing the right thing. But now I'm not so sure. 

I had my yearly flirt with Android a couple of weeks ago. This time I decided to take a dive off the deep end and get a mobile phone instead of just another 7-inch tablet. I wanted to know how long it would last, and if I would stick with the device in pocket being on Android or if I would crawl my way back to my iPhone in shame. I decided on the Moto X. 

Let's back up before I talk about my latest Android experience and talk about my first. In early 2011, I actually won a Samsung Galaxy Tab (7-inch, 1st-gen model) in a contest. The experience was terrible. It was running Android 2.2. It was still called the Android Market back then. App purchases were clunky and had to be routed through Paypal. The UI on the device itself was abysmal. It wasn't a bad form factor though, and I sincerely hoped Apple would have a 7-inch tablet soon. I sold it only after a few months. 

My second foray into Android lasted only 12 hours. My cell contract was up, it was time to upgrade from my iPhone 4 where the Home button no longer worked, and I was in love with the Galaxy S3. So I got one. The next day I took it back and ordered an iPhone 5. There wasn't anything neccessarily bad about the S3, it was just not iOS. And that bothered me severely, because I had purchased apps that were iOS-exclusive that I loved. 

So back to a few weeks ago, I found out that you can, in fact, purchase any phone you wanted to provided it worked on your specific network and activate it with no charge. So I found a great price on a Moto X and met the guy and bought it. And I loved it. 

I loved the active notifications on the screen. I loved the fact that all I had to do was take it out of my pocket and it would show me the timw without pushing buttons. I loved the bigger screen, even though it wasn't 1080p. I loved the curved back on the phone, so unlike the designs of the iPhone in recent years. Most of all, I loved the fact that almost every single app I used on iOS now had a Android counterpart. 

There was only one problem: nearly everyone I know is on iOS. 

And that causes problems. iMessage for one. iMessage never worked correctly while I was using the Moto X. It would still forward Messages sent to me to my iPhone if it was on WiFi. Even after deactivating my devices on Apple.com, disconnecting each of them in Settings, it still didn't solve the problem. 

Ordinarily, I would tell people to just get over it and get used to me being off iMessage and on Android. But that's complex when you're a youth minister and all your kids are on iOS. And their parents. 

And, oddly enough, I found that working with text on the Moto X (and in turn, Android) was frustrating. I work with lots of text. I transfer lots of text. I take lots of notes on everything. So being able to copy and paste and place words in sentences was really important. And it was just clunky on Android, even running 4.4 KItKat. 

So the tension mounted, and I crawled back to my iPhone. And I'm not happy. 

If you look at how far Android has come since its introduction in 2008 (let alone just the last few years), you'll be astounded. It's like you're not looking at the same OS. iOS, on the other hand, looks almost the same. Sure, there's under-the-hood changes, and iOS 7 introduced some useful new features, but it isn't stable. It crashes with me, on average, twice a day. The UI choices in iOS 7 (like text-borderless buttons) leave something to be desired. And some of the icons look awful. 

What I would love is a fusion of the two. The cleaness of iOS (which Android has really nicely gotten clean on Nexus devices), and the flexibility and openness of Android to run things like widgets, skins, and other stuff. 

Maybe this is just me lamenting a first-world problem with a mobile phone OS that I use every day. Maybe it's time for Apple to change direction and introduce some really snazzy stuff in the next iteration of iOS. Because right now, I think Android has a leg up in choice, overall usability, and customization. If those things are important to you, you might want to take a long look at Android before you stay on the road with iOS.