Switch from iOS to Android for a week


apple-vs-android

Hello World.

We came to a point in time where the war and hate between iOS and Android users is mostly at rest. And likely this is due to the fact that there are more similarities between the two than ever before. To a point where you can actually achieve exactly the same on both platforms – albeit in slightly different ways. While (arguably) there was a lack of quality apps on Android for a good while – this is close to a non issue nowadays, if you believe what people say.

So my story is – an iOS user since day 1 it became available (when it was called iPhone OS). I have not been a huge fan of Android in the early days due to security concerns and the horrible interfaces in the early versions. I hated the horrible scrolling delays, and the overall touchscreen unresponsiveness – which I’ve never experienced on iOS. The app design was also an issue as most applications just didn’t seem to be even close to what they were on iOS. I believe strongly that good design contributes to functionality and actually makes users want to use the device more.

As I often like to verify my hate, I’d always test Android to validate my concerns. In the early days it was just using friends phones for a bit to get a feel of it. In 2013 the Moto G was released and I went ahead to buy the phone. The decision came after I lost my iPhone (plus broke my ankle on the same night, yeh it was a good time) and had to wait for a replacement and use a horrible old Samsung phone running Android 2.0. I figured I need a better spare phone in case something ever happens to my iPhone in future. So there came Moto G. I have stuck with the phone for a week to get a feel for the software and while initially impressed I eventually was rather disappointed and came back to iOS with joy.

So I am doing it again – this time around I got a work phone which happens to be a Nexus 5XA phone that will receive timely Google updates and while is not a flagship – is not a bad phone all in all. So I decided to swap the sims around and make my iPhone the work phone for a week, and employ the Nexus 5X as my main smartphone for everything I do in the personal life with a smartphone.

Treat this writing as you like, but I want it to come across as honest as possible and may it help anyone thinking of making a switch from iOS to Android.

nexus

To start with – I logged in with my Google account and the phone magically became personal to my needs. I use Gmail, Google Calendar, and attempting to move to Google Photos so all of that was instantly available with no hassle. All of the apps I needed as essentials were available from the Play Store. I’ve heard good things about the Ok Google business but boy I underestimated its power.

To the locked phone, I say “Ok Google start navigation to home” – the phone recognises my voice (secure) and opens Google Maps / starts the navigation instantly. We’re talking seconds and I’m ready to go. As this is happening – “Ok Google – open spotify and play my “Favourite” Playlist” – Spotify opens and while I have a playlist called Favourite it doesn’t play that but rather searches for “favourite” and plays the first public playlist called “Favourite”. In iOS9 you can do similar stuff but only with an iPhone 6S and Apple Music / Apple Maps. Note I do not use either of the two on my iPhone. And even when I plug my iPhone 6 Plus in the car and try to do the same commands with the Apple services – it takes ages. Siri seems to be absolutely useless in recognising my commands over cars bluetooth stereo while the Nexus 5X seems to happily get it all. The Apple “just works” just doesn’t work in this case while Google’s version does. Google also figures out the basics like setting alarms and reminders just as well as Siri does. This story is due to change with Siri opening up to devs in iOS 10. However at least an iPhone 6S is required to make use of it without a push of the home button, and I don’t know if I am going to be upgrading my phone this year.

The social network apps are as good on Android as they are on iOS. Banking stuff is great, apart from the fact that one of my card issuers doesn’t support Android Pay while they are happy with Apple Pay. Happens to be my main card so it’s a bummer at least for now.

Things are going down hill from here.

The Nexus 5X speaker while is front facing is honestly the worst speaker I had on a phone since Moto G. iPhone 6 Plus has a bottom mounted speaker but hell, who cares where it is when it sounds better.

It is funny but it feels like most Apps on Android today are what they used to be on iOS 1-2 years ago. Honestly even design wise I noticed this to be the case. But in the instance of SleepCycle the Android version still works in the same way it did when I first got it on my iPhone 3G in… 2010 – you have to put the phone into bed with you, while the current iOS version uses mics and the phone can stay where it should be – on the bedside cabinet. It’s not a lie developers prioritise iOS Apps then?

Now then, – the worst of it is battery life. My target was to move to Android for a week but this issue made me have to switch back to iPhone after 2.5 days. An example:

If I drive to work [1hr journey one way] and have Google Maps on for traffic, and spotify playing in the background streaming music [not offline stored] – I come into work with around 87-89% battery left on my iPhone 6 Plus down from 100%.

I did the same on the Nexus 5X and I had 62% battery left down from 100%. So the next day I used the same port in the car – and was charging the Nexus as I was doing the same thing as usual with maps and music. To my surprise when I arrived to work I had 89% – down from 100%. So even when the phone was getting charged it lost charge. On the way back, as I had 7% battery left at the end of that day [watched 30 minutes of Netflix at lunch + 20 minutes of streaming a podcast so that killed it] – I plugged the phone into what one would call a fast charger – 2.4 AMP adapter. Even said “charging rapidly” on the phone. To my disappointment I had 6% when I came home. Meaning that there actually is no way for me to go on a long journey with the Nexus 5X as the phone will die before I reach my destination even if I use the fastest charging method available to me. Mind the fact if I use the car connection and the iPhone [slow charge] – it doesn’t lose battery and I can gain about 15% on the way back when having Google Maps and Spotify running.

The port in the car which should facilitate music playback to the car via the usb cable from the phone doesn’t work at all on Nexus no matter what mode [on the phone] I choose, while it works on the iPhone with no modes to be selected. I used two different USB-C cables, and this made no difference. The car just tells me to check the USB device. For the record I drive a 2013 Honda Civic.

So in a nutshell, – I had to quit early as I cannot go through a day with the Nexus 5X without charging it in the middle of the day. And that to me is unacceptable.

Other annoying things:

  • Car holder pushing the volume buttons on the side – honestly they are just in the wrong place for any car holder
  • USB-C while reversible is not as cool as lightning – it’s a cable / connector that I’d say is fit for purpose in laptops but not phones. It’s harder to plug it in and to unplug it. I cannot do it with one hand, which is not a problem with Lightning.
  • Ambient Display is unpredictable – I’m told Motorola does that well though. When I say unpredictable – it doesn’t work everytime and works when I don’t need it to.
  • I miss the home button as there is no way to check the time on the phone in the middle of the night by just pushing the button on the front, you have to reach the side or hope the ambient display will do the job. But because you don’t lift the phone upright and rather lift it to the side, it doesn’t seem to catch on. Same goes for when your phone is on the desk.
  • Fingerprint sensor on the back is nonsense if you want to unlock the phone while it’s flat on the desk without having to pick it up – I seem to do that a lot when at a desk and it’s just an inconvenience.
  • The step counters on android seem to rely on accelerometer and it means it keeps counting steps even when I’m not walking. The iPhone benefits from the M8 co-processor here and I honestly don’t think it can be beaten with accuracy by the Nexus. To compare – I sat on the couch and moving as far as to and from the kitchen with the Nexus and it counted 3000 steps in the evening. While the iPhone would count about 200.

So at the end of this all – I could label my experience as a “disappointment”. I understand I have been using one particular Android phone, but as it stands there is no iPhone that performs this badly and has such issues. So it’s worrying that one of the “pure android” phones that are sold directly by Google [they make Android, right?] results in such poor experience. If there are people still hating Android and stick with iOS – one would hope they actually tried it. As if they didn’t – maybe they should. And maybe other phones don’t have such bad design / battery life issues. But one I had did. And it will keep serving me well as a work phone, which is where I got it from in the first place.

WWDC Expectations – iOS8 & MAC OSX 10.10 & iPhone 6


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Hi all. I know this place was quiet for a while. And for those 10 that read me I apologise for not giving my fingers an exercise with WordPress. Work kept me busy typing enough on a daily basis.

So! WWDC 2014 kicks off on June 2nd and the web is buzzing with the usual rumours about the new features and expectations. That of course is there with a whole boat of concepts [those where awesome this year so far if you ask me!] and “leaks” of the new iPhone[s].

iPhone 6

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So there’s a talk going on that most likely there’s a new increased screen coming with the iPhone 6 and most seem convinced it will be 4.7″. That sort of makes me think – ok it’s like my Moto G. Which feels a little too large to be able to hold in one hand and use comfortably, and on the other hand it’s not large enough to justify losing the proper one hand use at most of the times. Is it all about hands though? I guess… But point being if 4.7″ is what we get – it will not satisfy me as big enough and will make my wife unhappy as too big. Hmm?

Then there’s the [I don’t f**king believe it] 5.5″ screen size rumour. Honestly – if that came out I’d buy that one. Without thinking too long. I want a big phone! Yes, I am jealous of the HTC ONE M8 size. I don’t care about using it in one hand, I have massive hands and i rarely use the iPhone in one hand. Never did since the first one I had in 2008. Unless I decide to read while I’m walking. If that is so it doesn’t matter how big the screen is as all you do is scroll it down. It would make sense because there’s so much more that I can imagine I would be able to do with it. Might even make me go less to the tablet – not that it’s a bad thing really to do that, but the iPhone just seems to be… always there where I am. Watching videos, browsing the web, pictures, all is better with a bigger screen. I can’t see Apple making it though – and that makes me sad.

iOS8

This is one topic that seems to have more bulls*** rumours this year than anything. There certainly must something better around the corner than just Healthbook. And honestly something tells me if there will be an decent increase in the screen size of the iPhone there may just be a big change in the UI of the iPhone. How dumb will a larger screen will look if all it will have is more icons on it. Seriously! I’ve got a feeling the “just icons” view might be [not fully] on it’s way out to include widgets [please] or something useful along those lines. They could get away with “you get another row of icons!” with the size change from 3.5 to 4 – but I doubt [and hope] it’s not the case this time. Also if this is to be true, we’d probably see the new iPhone sooner rather than later because what’s the point of showing off the new OS [that mainly works best on the new phone and mainly because of the screen size] on the old small phone.

Text Edit? Preview? – Nonsense!

MACOSX 10.10

Another OS, another California location name? I’ll go for that!

I bet on more introduction of iOS language design getting integrated into OSX. Surely this is the new direction for them as Jonny Ive suggested. And frankly it would make sense as OSX and it’s basic interface is just getting old. Not to say that I don’t like it but it now gets out of line and looks very different from iOS. And surely Apple wants a more unified experience across their products!

In terms of features I am still praying for Time Machine in the iCloud! Nobody uses the map app on desktop so maybe they will talk more sense this time instead of introducing useless apps that are available in the cloud. I honestly think the Notes app on both platforms could benefit of a few more features, at least basic editing tools.


Ok, enough expectations! I am definitely excited for 2nd of June and the keynote, I hope at least some of the things I discussed here come true. All of them are purely based on logic and how the tech develops, where it goes. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

 

iPad Air or iPad Mini retina?


retina-ipad-mini-ipad-air

Hello world.

One day after Apples “we’ve got a lot to cover” event, which brought the long rumoured and expected hardware / software updates. I was most definitely expecting new iPads and knew I was going to upgrade this time. Because as it happened last year eBuyer made a great deal on eBay which allowed me to buy an iPad 4, sell my iPad 3, and still walk away with £30. So I thought – I deserve an upgrade this year as the budget is there.

When the iPad mini was released, I was very excited about it, apart from the lack of retina display. When I actually looked at it in the Apple store, the non-retina display stopped me from buying it. Now we’ve got a retina iPad mini! However… We’ve also got an iPad Air. I’m sure I’m not alone on the “weird name” opinion. Are we getting an iPad Pro or something anytime soon? – unlikely. So anyway, the point is that it now starts to seem that the iPad Air is not such a bad option as it’s lighter than 4th gen, and you get the bigger screen. What buys me back to the mini is that it’s got more potential to be used in more places. I would probably take it out more, and actually use it. If I were to get it I am thinking of a 4G version and for a start put the free data sim into it from Ovivo – so that I don’t care about usage and just use it when I need to.

Ehh! I’m going back and forth between the two. I’ve used a full size iPad regularly for nearly two years soon. And I have been tempted by the mini design. I am thinking of getting the mini first. If I REALLY don’t like it, there’s always the 14 days return policy, right?

Any thoughts? I’m sure I’m not alone on this “decisions decisions” topic.

Alex

Trying to make a Hackintosh


Hi all.

Yesterday I decided to try to install MACOSX on the old little PC tower I’ve picked up from my mother in laws. The unit is no screaming beast – a “Stone computers” unit. It’s an Intel Core 2 Duo E7300, running at 2.66Ghz. 3GB of Ram upgraded from 2 (don’t remember the speeds), Intel GMA 3100 GPU (I am guessing it’s a part of the CPU). It has a 250GB HDD on it. As of my experience trying to put OSX on it, it achieved another 1TB drive.

So the problem to be solved, and why would I do this? Well, I still think that windows is not as great as MACOSX for what I need the OS for. Yes, it’s running my Plex Server, and OSX won’t do that much better you’d say. But I foolishly believe it does. And it’s just another interesting thing to try to achieve. I’ve tried it in the past, installed it on a Sony VAIO laptop – it worked, but I had issues with drivers… Now I’ve gone through the KnowHow Guide and expected the situation with the drivers should be resolve-able. Apart from the know how guide, I found a pre-installed image that people were advised to just restore to the HDD.

First obstacle – the PCs BIOS has no ability to boot from USB… This is just a recipe for insanity nowadays. It does have a DVD drive, but not that I have any blank DVDs to burn + the software that is used to create the flash drive doesn’t know how to burn to a disk. Well, what I had to do was shuffle the data around HDDs, I used a 2.5inch 250GB drive that would act as my “flash drive”, or the bootable drive. After waiting for over an hour while the data was moving off that disk to another one, I went down the first route of the two that I picked.

This first route was to use the pre-installed system, you’d think that’s just easier! Well, the image that I downloaded was an .arc, it had all the instructions, you’d need to use R-Drive to restore it to a drive. When trying to do that, all I kept on getting is a message that would say “Image media removed”. That just didn’t make any sense to me. I thought it’d be windows permissions issue, so I moved it to a folder out of the ISO that all the goodness was provided in – still no joy. I tried opening the program as administrator – no difference… I just ended up banning this idea assuming the image file was bogus.

The second route I took was the one that came from Twit and the KnowHow Guide. This guide pretty much is a good explanation how to use the tools at tonymacx86. I used the Unibeast tool to create the flash drive out of my 250GB drive using my sata to usb board that I took out of an enclosure a while ago. It implied downloading mountain lion from the mac app store, which I’ve done, and just going through a process they said would take 30 minutes, but on the Retina Display Macbook Pro I now have it funnily only took about 3 minutes. Away I went to plug my massive flash drive into the sata port of the Stone Desktop, and rebooted. When booting from the “flash drive” it greeted me with a boot loader that allowed me to pick the OSX install, or boot into windows. I picked the OSX install and yes (!) the apple logo has appeared. It followed by the spinning pizza ball, which was all looking good. However soon a crossed circle icon had appeared… Oh another round of troubleshooting. I went through every single available step that was there on the website, I tried all sorts of different modes, but nothing was changing.

At that point I have spent about 5 hours with moving data backwards and forwards, trying not to screw up partitioning, and lose any data. The point was reached – I gave up. Some might say that I just got used to the Apple way of using and doing things (“it just works”), got lazy, and my brain just doesn’t want to think any more. Maybe it’s the Stone Desktop, god knows. But it didn’t work, and the day was coming to an end.

If somebody had better experience with Hackintosh, let me know. I am just disappointed, and unsure if I want to try it again.

New iPad Review (iPad 3 Review)


Hello World.

I have bought the new iPad, and decided to give it sometime before I will write this review. Mainly because you need to spend some time with the device, and use it in different situations, to understand what it’s really like. I went for 16GB WiFi + 4G. I am using it with a Three sim card in UK.

As everybody might guess, the device is amazing, it was given good marks, though hasn’t managed to avoid criticism. This review mainly describes my own personal experience, and as a tradition, my own criticism towards the negative opinions of others. An hey, lets see if I can do it the Apple way, without trying to care too much about the technical aspects.

The screen is AMAZING. Yes it is. I’ve put it next to the iPad 2 and the iPad 2 looks like a thing from the last century. To give you an idea what it feels like try imagining looking at a CRT TV and an LED TV with 1080p from the same couch. That’s how big the difference is. I’ve put the same pages of the same book in iBooks on both iPads and they look absolutely different. Not only the text is sharp on the new iPad, the colours feel alive, they are more vibrant and vivid. I can put more words to appear on the screen and zoom out now as I can still read it ok. When viewing web pages in portrait mode you don’t no longer need to have to go to landscape as such, because you can read it ok without having to zoom in, which was “kind of possible” on the iPad2 / 1, but felt a lot more comfortable and easier to read if you were to zoom in. I am not entirely impressed with the graphics in the games. I have tried RealRacingHD2, and Asphalt6 – yes it’s not pixelated, but it’s not the pixels I’m after. Probably need to invest in this new thing from Infinity Blade (Diablo-like one).

The new iPad is heavier than the old one, and yes you can feel it when you hold them both together and compare. I was actually a little shocked at first, as it really feels heavier and thicker when comparing it to the iPad 2 side by side. But… As I moved away from the iPad2 and just used the new one, it doesn’t feel “too thick / heavy” at all. It’s absolutely positively naturally good.

No, it doesn’t get stupidly hot. Yes, it gets a little bit warm. Not a lot warmer than the old iPad. I have used the new and the old one without a case for periods of time and I cannot say I feel a massive difference. Maybe it’s because I don’t play games for a long time on iOS, maybe it’s because I don’t put it on maximum brightness (WHY? – tried and it makes no difference outside, a little pointless inside as well).

To test the camera, I decided to travel a bit to the beach in Waterloo, Liverpool. I was amazed by the quality. I will insert these pictures unedited, full size, so you can see for yourself, how good they are.

Here are the video samples:

 

So guys and gals. This is definitely an amazing device. It is worth getting. It makes me barely every need to use an actual computer. That’s how good it is. 10/10.

How to resolve Remote Buddy Express Plex Volume Issue


Hello everyone. I have found  a workaround for a major issue there is between Plex and Remote Buddy Express.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who came across the problem. This is when using Remote Buddy Express to control Plex, and hey, your volume doesn’t work. It just sits at -0db. It has worked for me in the past, but it seems that after I’ve reinstalled Lion and put the apps back on it doesn’t. Whether it’s a new version or similar – I have got no clue.

I’ve digged into the forums, came across a few solutions, which didn’t really address the issue, however when combining the information from different forums I came up with a solution. There is two ways you can do it, depending if you want the system volume to change when using plex, or plex volume to change.

But essentially I’ve mapped the keys to act as volume change when holding the up / down (plus / minus) keys, rather than just pressing them. As pressing them in a normal way doesn’t seem to be handled correctly on either side of the apps.

Go into remote buddy express preferences.

Go to the Mapping screen, select Plex on the left hand side, and adjust the settings that way:

By the way we’re only editing the top section – for the apple remote. My settings on the Virtual Receiver page are altered as I was trying suggestions from other places that didn’t seem to help me.

I hope that helps. Any questions – feel free to ask in the comments!

iPad 3 and all the rest


ImageSo 7th of March is our “iPad 3” event. Everybody’s excited. All the blogs are getting noisy. We are counting millimeters between dock icons thinking there’s no home button. iPad 2 8GB? iPad 7inch… Ouch.

There’s so much stuff going round the internet, it’s just unbelievable. What I can’t understand. How people are in their jobs being paid to talk about stuff like that? All these “reports”… Who pays them money for it?

The times between an Apple invitation sent out for an announcement and the announcement itself are when I feel like staying off the Tech blogs. They are just full of speculation. And it seems like you trash your brain with all the expectations, to then potentially get upset, because Apple have not announced something that everybody thought was “logical” for them to come up with…

And the outcome is the blogs are hating the company saying they have not delivered what was “promised”. Some of them do say stuff like that. A lot of people that I speak to in the real world keep on saying “Apple are releasing an iPhone 5” – the talk before 4S launch days. But they never promise or tell us anything like that. So no point to get disappointed because they didn’t do something you expect them to do isn’t it?