Updates from December, 2015 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Andrew T Schwab 7:00 am on December 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    App Wars (Migrating from iOS to Android) 

    One of the bigMy Android Appsgest concerns for me with switching to Android from iOS was the Apps. Over the years I have invested a lot in iOS Apps (a lot). I easily have several hundred and I wasn’t sure if I’d miss any of them by moving to Android. What I discovered is that I was suffering from App bloat. I had dozens of Apps on my iPhone that I downloaded once and never used again. Thankfully, I’ve been able to find all of the iOS apps I (and more importantly, my wife) were using on a regular basis on Android. After the great app cleansing of 2015, we now have the apps we need and use and no more. It’s a rather liberating experience.

    While app compatibility is nearly complete, there have been a few apps that have been harder to replace than others.

    Twitter

    I tried to use the native twitter app. I really did. But the promoted tweets were just too annoying. And I really missed Echofon’s interface. I’d been using it as long as I’d been on twitter (essentially forever). On to Talon, it was ok but I couldn’t figure out the push notification thing. Then to Echofon for Android. I thought I had it, but it was just different enough on Android to be off putting. A quick Google Search got me to Tweetings. Tweetings has push notification and Material Design. With a week of use under my belt, it is by far my favorite Android twitter app. I’ll be keeping it.

    iMessage

    I was just getting used to the ability to sync SMS and iMessages between my iPhone and MacBook. Looking to replicate the experience, I installed Pushbullet and setup the sync. It worked for a while but at one point it stopped syncing from my phone to my computer and I basically gave up. I really miss this feature (so much so, I had a moment of weakness and was drawn back to the iOS side for a bit)

    Keyboard

    This one both my wife and I noticed. The Android keyboard is taking some getting used to for us. After over six years on iOS, we’ve both become accustomed to the keyboard layout and QuickType (all joking aside). The keyboard layout and figuring out Cut and Paste have probably been the two UI transitions that are proving the most difficult. And yes, we did try SwiftKey, but that’s more Blackberry than iOS like. We’ve taken a step back in typing speed and accuracy. I’m hoping that improves over time. Why can’t we have a universal keyboard across smartphones?

    What else? I’m still getting to know the Camera App. Off all the apps, Camera and iMessage were probably the two I used the most in iOS without thinking and Camera on Android is definitely different. I’ve barely begun to explore the native Nexus app but I have been told there are better Camera apps out there. I’m a big fan of native (ie. simple) unless there are a ton of promoted (ie Ad) messages popping up all over.

    Now that I have an Android phone, I really want to dig into the photosphere possibilities.

    Screenshots

    I figured it out! (well, Google helped) Odd how much I used this feature in iOS. It’s a bit clumsy in Android but supposedly it’s going to get easier soon. The point is, it can be done.

    Google Apps

    What can I say? They just work better on Android than in iOS (duh!). Under iOS, I felt hamstrung when using Google apps. The integration was almost there, but not quite. On Android, all my Google accounts work seamlessly (switching between two accounts in gmail, hangouts and keep is subtly better) and Google Now is on all the time. Add to that the fact that notifications in Android works much more straight forward than in iOS and the overall Google App experience is worth the price of admission.

    To sum up, in making the jump from iOS to Android, finding a Twitter app was the hardest challenge for me, otherwise, all the apps I want or need (so far) have been available on Android. Installation is straight forward, oh and the 2-hour return option for Apps in the Play Store is pretty awesome. Helps when trying to find the right twitter app :). A few more months on the keyboard and I think the keyboard thing will be a moot issue.

    If only there was a killer SMS/Message desktop integration option (Save me Project Fi, you’re my only hope…)

     

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    • Kyle B 8:40 am on December 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      One of the best parts of Android is setting default apps and the ease of sharing content with other apps.

    • Josh B 6:53 pm on December 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Have you looked at SimplyText? It’s my default texting app and there is a a a Chrome extension that lets you recieve/send texts from your computer. There’s even a gmail extension so you can send/receive from within your gmail. Awesome app, works great,

    • Josh B 6:56 pm on December 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Have you tried SimplyText? It is my default texting app. It has a Chrome extension that lets you send/receive emails from your computer and a gmail extension that lets you do same from within gmail.

    • Roberta 9:28 am on December 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for your update. Sounds like being a bilingual systems user has advantages for those using androids and iOS. I wonder if the same is true for the other systems out there available with Asian and other Cyrillic alphabets. As always you are a super excellent resource for neophytes like me. Thanks for sharing. Still appreciate my Google workshop attendance you encouraged. Happy 2016!

  • Andrew T Schwab 9:23 am on December 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    The Giant Phone Awakens 

    My Nexus 6P

    My conversion to the Android side continues…

    The Nexus 6P arrived last week. I’ve been using it (mostly) since the day I took it out of it’s very thoughtfully designed packaging. The first thing I noticed when comparing it to the Nexus 5X was how much more substantial the 6P felt. The reviews are right, the 5X feels toy like by comparison. The 6P is larger compared to the 5X, but deceptively so. Side by side, the 6P is only slightly stretched out on all sides. Initial setup was a breeze thanks to the ability to copy settings and apps from one Android phone to the other. I swapped the SIM card and then, the comparisons started:

    • The AMOLED screen on the 6P is gorgeous. The 6P’s 5.7″ screen hasn’t made anything better or easier to read however.
    • The 6P is noticeably snappier, where the 5X had a few instances of lag, the 6P has had none. It’s fast.
    • The weight, I definitely notice the weight difference. Where I can easily hold the 5X one handed for ever because it’s light as a feather, after a few minutes of one handed 6P use my wrist starts to feel it.
    • And it’s slightly top heavy, thanks to the camera.
    • It’s only slightly bigger but whereas I could just barely one hand the 5X, my thumb can’t get to the other side on the 6P. The 6P is also big enough to be noticeable in my pocket where the 5X blissfully disappeared to the point of me forgetting the phone was there.
    • The 6P won’t fit in my car’s cup holder, the 5X fit perfectly. Car manufacturers take note.
    • The speakers. The 5X on speaker phone was Ok, the 6P is awesome. Playing music or video on the 6P (sans headphones) is a delightfully loud experience.
    • The battery on the 6P is insane. Like “I will never worry about running out of battery at a conference again” insane.

    I’m a few weeks in with Android now and the journey has certainly been interesting. App Wars, a pull back to the iOS side and Google (Project Fi) Strikes Back to follow.

     
    • Ryan OD 11:40 pm on January 31, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Glad to see you’ve come over to join us Andrew!
      I’ve been an Android guy since my Motorola Droid and now on the Nexus 6. I dig the customizing and seamless integration with all the Google tools. Plus now with Google photos and Music, there’s is nothing “on ” my device anymore.. All on the Google cloud

  • Andrew T Schwab 9:05 am on December 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    My Thoughts On Star Wars The Force Awakens [Spoilers] 

    Ok, I saw the movie yesterday. We took the team to a 9am showing. Teambuilding! We saw it in IMAX 3D (or what I would call mini-IMAX). I’m not really a fan of 3D so I will be taking my kids to see it in good old fashioned 2D. If I could find a 70mm projector theater, that would be my preference too, but I digress.

    Now that I’ve seen the movie, people want to know what I thought. Before I answer here, some background. You see, I’m of the generation that saw Star Wars (none of this Episode IV New Hope nonsense) in the theater when I was 4. It was my first theater experience. I have probably seen Star Wars at least 100 times since, in various formats from Laser Disc to VHS to TV Movie of the week. I could watch it a hundred more times and never get tired of it. It’s that good.

    The Force Awakens, “It’s OK”. Certainly no where near as horrible as the Episode I-III disasters but not quite in the same league as the originals (at least Star Wars and Empire). What I’ve (sadly) come to realize is that somewhere along the way, Star Wars stopped being movies for adults and started to be movies for kids (the transition is subtle in Return of The Jedi, but it’s there). And there in lies the problem for me.

    In Star Wars, Han shoots first. problematic for kids, perfectly grey for adults. Empire is dark and depressing. Great for adults, a bit scary for kids. Jedi has Ewoks. As an adult, I so wish it had Wookies instead. But kids love Ewoks and kids buy toys (or get their parents to). Episodes I-III, Jar Jar for the kids.

    [SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT]

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Force Awakens is a more kid friendly mashup of Star Wars and Empire story lines. It has elements from both that fans will defiantly recognize. Rey is Luke, BB-8 is R2D2, Han is Obi-Wan, Po is Han, Finn is C3PO (think about it!), Kylo Ren is Vader, Snoke is the Emperor, and Luke is Yoda. There are lots of opportunities for Toys with secondary characters that didn’t add much to the movie and a less “official” tone to the battle planning scenes. In the Resistance command scenes, the good guys basically say, “been there, done that. We know how to fly x-wings at a big space station and blow it up. Let’s do this!”

    And what’s up with that name “The Resistance”? Didn’t the Rebels win? Did the Senate reform and decide to call their new Army, The Resistance? And “The First Order” too. They are the Empire! Who cares if the emperor is dead, the Empire lives on! Sorry, I was a huge fan of the Admiral Thrawn trilogy and would have loved to see that story line come to life on the big screen. Perhaps better that it lives on unadulterated in the books though, too many bad book to screen adaptations exist out there already.

    On a side note, what happened to Y-Wings? I mean, come on, budget cuts? Did the CGI guys lose the model? If you are going to bomb something, Y-Wings!

    Personally, I would have preferred it if they had ended Episode VII with R2D2 waking up from his deep thinking and saved the big reveal for Episode VIII. But fans would have probably revolted at that (and there would have been one less action figure to sell this christmas).

    Overall, The Force Awakens for me falls somewhere between the original trilogy and the trilogy which shall not be named. As a bridge to a new Star Wars generation and Universe, I am hopeful for the next two movies. As a father of two girls, I look forward to seeing Rey come into her own as a powerful Jedi (great role model for them) and wonder if Kylo Ren will ever become anything more than a tantrum spewing little Vader wanna be. I guess I will have to wait until 2017 to find out. For now, it’s back to the theater with the kids to see the movie as movies should be seen, in 2D!

     
  • Andrew T Schwab 8:39 am on December 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    To Android or not to Android 

    Nexus 5X

    Ever since I upgraded my iPhone 5 to iOS 9, I’ve been frustrated by my daily phone experience. The situation had been deteriorating for a while, with daily Google Account access becoming so frustrating, I actually installed Outlook on iOS in an attempt to make email work on my phone. For me, my phone is where I do the majority of my work and it had literally become painful to make it all play nice under iOS. My old iPhone 5 also took a performance hit with iOS 9 and the tiny 4″ screen was causing feelings of inadequacy at meetings where everyone was touting their 5.7″ monster phones.

    I’d seriously considered making the switch to Android when the Nexus 5 came out. With people like Mike Vollmert and Jim Klein egging me on, it seemed like a sensible thing to do. But family iMessage, battery life and the camera all held me back. All of that and the comfort of knowing iOS worked well for our family (with iPads and AppleTVs being abundant in the house). So for the past two years I made it work for me. But this time around I decided it was time to look at Android again.

    The three main sticking points last time are mostly gone with the camera being on par with the iPhone, the battery being better in Android (although I don’t think as good as in iOS) and iMessage no longer being an issue now that we have an SMS plan (yes, welcome us into the 21st century, thank you).

    On black friday, I took advantage of the $80 off deals at the Google store and bought a Nexus 5X 32GB. Of course it arrived while I was down at the CETPA2015 conference. As soon as I got back, I unboxed it, set it up and have been using it since. Yesterday, I took it to #edcampsalinas and put it through the paces. Using it for a solid 4 hours of active use, I made it home around 3pm with 5% battery left. Running Google Maps to and from and installing and updating apps while following the edcamp action on twitter all morning was a torture test and the Nexus 5X held up well. I’m a huge fan of the Finger Print sensor on the back and the notifications in Android have already simplified my work flow. What’s really apparent is the seamless integration of both my personal and work Google accounts into the OS. They both just work. I’m still working through possible twitter apps, being a long time Echofon user on the iPhone but the native app works well and Jim recommended Talon which I’m also trying out.

    The big win is Google Now. The Cards are really cool and I look forward to getting to know all the things it can do for me (or is that Google getting to know me more?). Google Keep is also something I need to explore, having lost the integrated Notes app in iOS and MacBook.

    Based on my 24 hours with the Nexus 5X, I have now ordered myself a Nexus 6P and as soon as it arrives, the 5X will be replacing my wife’s iPhone 5 . I really like the size and form factor of the Nexus 5X but I realize since the phone is my primary computing device, I’m going to need the extra battery and the extra CPU horsepower of the 6P.

    Things I thought I would miss but haven’t yet:

    • AirPlay mirroring. I realized that most of my mirroring happens from my iPad. What I share from my phone is YouTube videos and photos, which I use Chromecast to push to the TV, especially now that I’m storing our photos in Google Photo. Thankfully I never fully bought into iCloud and iPhoto on the iOS/Mac side. (Along with the Nexus 6P, I also bought two of the new Chromecast)
    • Apps. I have yet to miss an App on Android that I was using daily in iOS. In fact, after years on iOS and downloading every new free app on the market, my App life had become seriously cluttered. Now, I’m still early days on Android, but for my daily web browsing, social media, news and communication needs, Android has me covered.

    There are things I will miss:

    • I had just discovered the joy of AirDrop to move files between my MacBook and mine and my wife’s iPhones.
    • “Forever” Standby Battery Life. I don’t know if Android users realize this but with my iPhone, I could leave it uncharged overnight and barely lose a few percent in battery life through to the morning. I once left an iPad for a week and came back to find it still had over 1/3 of a charge left. With Android, I’m not seeing that kind of standby conservation. Maybe Doze is just too new to have that kind of effect yet. It just means I have to remember to charge every night. Luckily the Nexus 5X charges wicked fast.
    • Quick camera focus. The Nexus camera app feels a little sluggish on the 5X and what is most noticeable is how long it takes to focus before it will snap the picture. I think there is a setting I am missing that will force it to snap a pic even if it isn’t in focus, but by default, the delay between pressing the button and taking the picture is a bit jarring right out of the box. The iPhone seemed to snap the picture pretty much instantaneously (which might explain all mu blurry pics).

    More to follow…

     
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