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
Introduction to the Survey Results
In addition to the technology questions we’ve been asking UVic Law students over the past ten years, we decided for the first year to ask more detailed questions about student use of tablets and e-readers for academic use, along with questions about their usage of “cloud” services for file storage and collaboration. This survey was completed by 126 incoming and transferring law students, which is a strong 90% plus response rate.
- 89% of incoming law students own “Smart Phones” that can browse the internet (up from 84% last year and 50% two years ago), with 48% of the total being iPhones, 29% Android and 11% Blackberry (Blackberry usage down from 27% last year).
- 31% of students own tablet devices or ebook readers, up from 19% last year.
- When it comes to reading school related documents, students report reading those documents in bound books 46% of the time, on laptops 35% of the time, on laser printed pages 16% of the time, and on tablet devices 3% of the time.
- 99% of students own laptops. 49% of laptops are Mac’s, and 48% Windows.
- The students’ average typing speed is 49 wpm.
- 68% of all students bring their laptops to school most days.
- 75% of students use laptops to take class notes, 63% use pen and paper, 6% use tablets and 3% use their cell phones.
- 53% of students use Gmail as their primary email account, 7% use UVic email and 20% Hotmail.
- 33% of students identified Google Drive as their favorite tool for collaborative document editing. 22% favor DropBox, 4% Apple iCloud and 3% Microsoft Sky Drive.
- 95% of students use Facebook (down from 97% last year, but up from 91% two years ago), 34% user Twitter, 21% Linked In, 10% Google+ and 4% no online social networks.
Smart Phone / Cell Phone Ownership
89% of students own “Smart Phones” or phones with built in web browsers that allow them to surf the internet on their cell phones. That is up significantly from 84% last year, and 50% of smart phone owners two years ago. Blackberry ownership dropped significantly from 27% last year to 11% this year.
On the other end of the spectrum, 4% of students do not own a cell phone at all which is up from 2% last year. This is still significantly lower than the 11% of our sample of all law students who reported no cell phone in the spring of 2010. Just as laptop owner ship has been close to 100% since 2007, cell phone is now almost 100% as well.
From the library and faculty’s perspective this is an important area to watch, as there are a number of interesting new technologies (like QR Codes, NFC, Mobile websites and Adaptive websites) that could potentially enhance the services that depend on library patrons having access to the internet on their mobile devices.
How To Instructions for the Conference eBook Seminar
June 21, 2012 – San Diego, CA
If you’re a more visual person, please watch the video tutorial that goes along with this blog post on YouTube.
Step 1: Open “Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.docx” file in Microsoft Word.
Step 2: In Word, “File” -> “Save As…” -> “Other Formats”. In the bottom drop down, select “Web Page Filtered” & save to your desktop. Close Word.
Step 3: Launch Sigil & open the HTML document you just saved.
Step 4: Cut top 4 lines of the document (from “Canadian” to the end of “… March 29,1982”).
Step 5: Select, “Generate Inline HTML TOC” (located at the bottom right of the screen). A TOC.html file will be created.
Step 6: “Edit” -> “Paste” on a new line at the top of the TOC document.
Step 7: “Edit” -> “Meta Data Editor” and add Title and Author information. Select “OK”.
Step 8: “File” -> “Save” to save the ePub file to your desktop.
Step 9: Email the ePub file to yourself, and then open on your eBook reader.
How hard could it be? Those are usually the last words I utter before descending into a quagmire of technical pain as I work through how to use and master a new technology. Fortunately this time, making an eBook and related hard copy book turned out to be a straightforward and fairly easy process to master… once all the appropriate tools were identified and lined up, that is. An added bonus is that all the software is free to download and use on both Windows, Mac and Linux computers.
This project started a couple of months ago when a coworker kindly suggested that I write a paper based on a presentation I give to classes of law students on software tools for research and collaboration: Research & Collaboration Tools for Students, Staff & Faculty: Creating a Modern Memex. With that encouragement I started writing with my current favourite writing tool, Google Docs.
Related YouTube Video: eBook Publishing Made Easy
Step 1 Google Docs: Google Docs is particularly good for collaborative document editing but it is also capable enough for academic writing. This means that it supports footnotes, endnotes, bibliographies, tables of contents, inline images, and style sheets among other things. For the purposes of this project, it also does a great job of exporting all of these features and formatting into a HTML document, which is exactly what we need for the next step of our project… creating an ePub file in Sigil. If you use Microsoft Word or OpenOffice instead of Google Docs, you can still save your document as an HTML file and then import it into Sigil. Note, you should not proceed to the next step until you have completed writing, editing and revising your document. This is because if there are any changes you need to make after this point, you’ll need to redo steps 2 and 3 every time you “edit” your document.
I’ve just finished creating eBook and paper book versions of a paper that I recently wrote called, “Research & Collaboration Tools for Students, Staff & Faculty: Creating a Modern Memex“. It should be helpful for anyone doing research, but especially for high school students, university students, teachers and faculty. At 55 pages in paper book format, it is a short but informative read.
As a personal learning project, I’ve made the book available in multiple formats, so that it is accessible to everyone who is interested in reading it. Feel free to send a link to this page to anyone who you think might find this short book helpful. I’ve published it using the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
If you have an iPad, be sure to download the “iBooks for iPad only” version, as it is a multi-media edition, that includes embedded videos that unfortunately the other formats do not yet support.
Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions for the book. If you read a free version of the book, please leave a review in the Kindle Store, as I suspect this will help others discover the book.
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”.
I have been an advocate for eBooks for a couple of years now, but in spite of the the flexibility and features that eBooks provide, my relationship with them is not always as loving is it could be. Let me start by listing all the things I love about eBooks:
- Portability: Being able to take a dozen books with me when I go on trips is wonderful (and taking them without breaking my back). Being able to have my book with me whenever I have my iPhone with me is great, especially when I’m stuck in a doctor’s office, or on a bus.
- Ease of Purchase: No need to travel across town to go to the book store. I can buy books on my iPhone or computer, and then have instant delivery to all my devices.
- Instant Dictionary Access: With some books in particular, being able to simply click on a word and instantly get a dictionary definition has made a high difference in my reading comprehension and enjoyment. Last summer I read the 20 book Master and Commander series, and found the dictionary feature to be invaluable as I was introduced into all sorts of archaic English and old nautical terms.
- Ability to see where other’s have highlighted parts of the book (in the Kindle app): This is a great flag to let me know when I should slow down and really pay attention when I’m reading. This would be particularly helpful when reading text books.
- Syncing bookmarks between devices. As a person with multiple reading devices (and iPad and iPhone) being able to switch back and forth between the two, and have them both keep track of where I am in the book is an extremely handy feature.
- Lastly as a person who’s eyes are starting to grow older, I can envision a day when I will appreciate the ability to increase the font size of the books I’m reading, without have to purchase a large text book.
In summary, eBooks have a lot of great things going for them. What is there not to like? Unfortunately a few things… Now for my list of complaints that turn my relationship with eBooks rocky from time to time:
- DRM is Evil! Most of my complaints below would go away if Digital Rights Management (DRM) software was not used when publishing eBooks.
- Cannot copy and past a paragraph into an email or to Facebook.
- I cannot choose the eBook reader I want to read my eBooks in. If I buy an eBook from Amazon, I have to read it in the Kindle reader. If I buy a eBook from Apple, I can only read it in the Apple iBook reader. I should be able to choose which app I want to read my books in no matter what store I’ve purchased it in.
- I can’t put my eBooks on my bookshelf at home to show off to visitors what books I’ve read, and what some of my interests are for (I guess that is what GoodReads.com is for).
- Apocalypse protection: If I’m away from civilization for some reason, and cannot charge me electronic devices, my beautiful eBook readers turn into pretty paper weights.
- For some people the color screens on tablets are hard on their eyes. For them, color eBook readers are a no go.
So yes, I do love my eBooks, but as in most relationships there is definitely room for growth and improvement. While I’m waiting for eBook vendors to improve I’ll enjoy reading books on my iPad and iPhone and try to ignore the shortcomings.
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.