I’ve been a happy iPhone user since 2007, so my recent purchase of an Android phone was not a decision I took lightly. In the end, the lure of a larger high resolution display was enough for me to seriously consider making the switch. Now that 3 weeks has passed since my Nexus 4 arrived in the mail, here is a list of my personal pro’s & con’s on the switch.
Nexus 4 Pros:
- The larger 4.7” screen great for reading; it makes a huge difference. My iPhone 4S screen was 3.5” and the new iPhone 5 screen is 4”. I can get literally twice the amount of text on the screen of my Nexus 4 than I could on my iPhone 4S.
- The Android “Return” navigation button great for getting right back to original app after linking out to the browser or another app. It also returns you to the original tab in Chrome after a link opens a new tab for you.
- The Nexus 4 keyboard larger, haptic feedback is nice, and it suggests 3 different words as you type for auto completion
- Chrome password syncing & tabs from your desktop Chrome browsers.
- I really like Google Now. It does a good job of anticipating what info I’m going to need, and displays it on my “Start Page” for me.
- Notifications are much better with the swipe down and little icons on the top left bar.
- I like how the voice recognition works in real time rather than waiting until I’ve pressed the stop button.
- Apps running button nicer than iOS double press of home button.
- Better collaboration between apps, especially for sharing links.
Nexus 4 Cons:
- I haven’t been able to find a podcast client not as good as Downcast on iOS.
- Some apps are not quite as polished on Android than iOS. Facebook & Navionics for example.
- As a teaching tool in education I miss apple TV screen mirroring. I can always use my iPad for that.
- Scrolling seems slightly less responsive… Not a big deal, but its different. I might get used to it with time.
- I miss the physical mute switch, although I just found an app that asks you how long you’d like to put your phone in vibe mode when you use the volume buttons to mute.
- I miss being able to use the volume control on my Apple headphones, and haven’t been able to find android equivalent headphones with volume control.
- More tinkering with setting required to reign in apps that are using too much power.
I do miss some things from my iPhone, but the larger screen for reading, and the better browser experience in Chrome are the things that will keep me using an Android phone for the foreseeable future. That said, I’d probably still recommend and iPhone for my less tech savvy friends who have the money to spend on a more expensive device… at least the ones who I might end up doing tech support for
Andy Ihnatko from the Chicago Sun wrote an excellent article, on why he made the switch from iOS to Android recently: http://www.techhive.com/article/2030042/why-i-switched-from-iphone-to-android.html
Last week I spoke to 70 members of local women’s group about how they could potentially use iPhone’s and iPad’s in useful ways in their lives as retirees. As I made a list of apps and use cases for my presentation I thought about how much I’d miss my iPhone if I were forced to give it up, and remembered a story that my father used to tell about a Yankee Clock Peddler. The story goes like this…
The Yankee Clock Peddler and his travelling companion start out on a sales tip in a rural area, and they stop for the night at a farmer’s house. In the morning before leaving to make sales call in neighbouring communities, the clock peddler asks the farmer if he’d store a clock for him for a couple of weeks, and that he’ll pick the clock up on his way back home. The farmer agreed to this, so the Peddler wound up the clock and placed it on the farmer’s wall before leaving (the farmer does not yet own a clock). When out of ear shot, the traveling companion asks the clock peddler why he left the clock at the house. Didn’t he want to sell the clock on the trip? To this the Yankee Clock Peddler replied, “don’t worry, by the time I come back in a couple of weeks, the clock will be sold… the farmer will happily buy it from me.”
The moral of the story is: “We can do without any article of luxury we have never had, but when once obtained, it is not in human nature to surrender it voluntarily.”
I’m often asked by people who have just purchased a new iPhone or iPad what apps they should get for their new device. Right now this is what I’m recommending:
- Kindle & iBooks – The Kindle and iBooks readers are the only apps you’ll probably need for reading books, and PDF files that people email to you. Both Do are excellent eBook readers, but books typically cost less in the Kindle store. On the other hand, I’ve found it much easier to get PDF files into the iBooks reader, so you’ll want to have both installed on your device. Don’t waste your time on the Kobo reader.
- Zite & Flipboard - Zite is a free personalized magazine for your iPad that automatically learns what you like and gets smarter every time you use it. Flipboard on the other hand had a little bit slicker interface than Zite, but it does not learn your likes and dislikes as you read over time, but stick with the sites and categories you’ve chosen to read. I’d try both out to see which you like better.
- Facebook & Path - Almost everyone is on Facebook now, and if you are, you should install the Facebook app. The user experience using the app is much more responsive and polished than the mobile web browser interface. You might also want to try out Path. Path allows you to post through to Facebook if you choose, or limit your posts to other Path users. If you try it, I suspect you’ll like it.
- Evernote - An excellent tool for capturing, syncing data between your desktop and cell phone. I love the ability it gives me to take a picture of a white board, and then later do a key word search on the text that Evernote has OCR’ed for me. I like to call it my “external brain”.
No matter what you think of Al Gore’s politics, his latest book, “Our Choice” points toward the direction that authors and publishers should be heading. Text combined with images, video and interactive graphics, make this e-Book a much more compelling product than a the equivalent physical book. I personally enjoy reading on my iPad, but all of the books I read in my Kindle reader are identical to the print copy (except that I can change the font size, and have a built in dictionary). The price is also right: $5 for the e-Book compared to $17 for the a physical copy.
My first reaction to the Our Choice app (for iPad and iPhone only at the moment) was that it reminded me a lot of CD Rom products from the 1990′s. Call me crazy, but I loved the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia because it not only included text and pictures, but added videos and interactive charts. I enjoyed the media rich CD Rom products that came of of the mid 1990 confluence of CD Roms, color monitors and speakers all shipping standard with PC’s.
So what is different this time around? For starters the form factor of the iPad make for a much more pleasant reading experience than sitting in front of a computer screen. In addition, the navigation interface that the iPad’s touch screen makes possible is intuitive and natural. Push Pop Press is the company that wrote the software for the book, and from what they’ve said, they hope to make their tools available so that others can publish media rich tools. Watch the video below to see how the “book” works
It was a wonderful experience reading Our Choice. Not all books, especially novels, need videos and interactive charts, but for some books (like school text books in particular) these bells and whistles make a huge positive difference. I hope to see more book in a similar format in the near future.
David Pogue just wrote a great review in the NY Times for a new app for your iPod Touch, that turns your new iPod Touch into a iPhone (when in a wi-fi zone like your home) complete with a local phone number, unlimited US and Canadian phone calling, along with unlimited US and Canadian text messaging all for $9.99 US ($14.99 CDN). The app is called Line2, and from my perspective up here in Canada, the great news is that it works just as well here as it does in the US, complete with your choice of local Canadian phone numbers (are you listening Google? When will you offer Google Voice in Canada?). For my Canadian friends, here is the Canadian Line2 web page.
As David Pogue points out, this might be just what the doctor ordered for your tween, who wants a cell phone, but you’re not interested in signing a 2 or 3 year contract.
Another option in Canada is Koodo Mobility. Two of our teenage kids have no contract cell phones through Koodo, and the $20 monthly fee they each pay gives them unlimited texting and 50 talk minutes per month (we had to build our own plan to get the monthly fee down to $20). Given that they almost exclusively text, this works just fine for them.
If I did not have a year left on my cell phone contract what I would personally do is buy an unlocked iPhone from the Apple Store for $660 (yes we can buy unlocked iPhone in Canada). Get the smallest Data and Voice Plan I can find from a local carrier (about $25 per month with Koodo including 100MB of data), and then use a service like Line2 for $15 per month. My Monthly phone bill would drop to $40. For 500MB of data the cost would rise to about $55 per month. Lower cost, and unlimited voice in North America.
My first preference would be to use Google Voice, but as I mentioned it is not yet available in Canada yet. In any case this sort of competition should benefit all cell phone users as it will put pressure on them to lower their costs or risk loosing customers as their contracts expire.
A couple of days ago, I ran across an insightful iPad review by Anne Kirschner, a dean at City University of NY. Her iPad experience closely matches mine. Here are some of my thoughts:
- The move from the morning paper to reviewing the news on the iPad, make breakfast a much more pleasant experience, because of the smaller and more easily managed iPad form factor. I actually do a lot of my “newspaper” reading in bed now.
- When used in meetings, it gives you the ability to take electronic notes and consult the web for meeting related material, with out “barricading yourself behind a screen.” For me this has made a huge difference, especially now that the novelty of the iPad is wearing off and more people have them in meetings.
- When traveling, it’s 10 hour battery life makes long flights more endurable as I can watch movies I really want to watch, or play games while in the air.
- The 10 hour battery life means that I don’t need to recharge it during the day, and often I go 3 or 4 days between charging.
- Reading using the Kindle reader is a joy. I especially appreciate being able to go back and forth between my iPad and iPod and the Kindle app knowing where I left off on the other device (this work across all Kindle apps and devices).
What I’m hoping gets fixed in version 4 of the iPad OS:
- One of the main drawbacks is it’s limited ability to multi-task that we’ve become accustomed to on laptops. Copy and pasting text or an image from a web page just takes a lot longer.
- One other drawback is the iPad’s current inability to sync files from your desktop computer, or from some cloud based system. If I could have 2 way syncing of some of my DropBox floders I would be a very happy man.
- This is not a big issue, but I’d love to be able to output the contents of the screen via the Apple VGA dongle, from every application, not just Keynote.
That’s it for know… You should really read Anne’s article for all the interesting details she includes.