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”.
Being the father of five children under the age of 16 years old, with a home that has three computers, four iPhones and three iPod Touches, I’ve been experimenting with software over the past few years to trying to reduce the likelihood of porn inadvertently showing up on their screens. After trying some commercial software for content filtering a couple of years ago, that ended up slowing down our old computer, I have found something that doesn’t kill our computer, and as an added bonus is FREE – OpenDNS.
OpenDNS allows you to filter web content and block adult websites on the internet by simply changing the DNS servers that your computer or router uses. While not full proof (no solution is), it quite works well. After you’ve setup an account, you can specify the kinds of web sites you want to block or allow. You can also specifically allow web sites that may be grouped in a category you have blocked. You have all the control that you could ask for. If you want you can install on one computer in your home to let OpenDNS know if your IP address changes, so that it can continue to filter based on the criteria you’ve set in their control panel.
If you want, you can also enable logging so that you can keep track of the websites computers in your house are visiting. This all happens transparently, without having to install any software on your computers, iPods or iPads.
The easiest way to protect all the computers and internet devices in hour home is to manually change the DNS servers that your internet router uses to the two OpenDNS servers. If you want to change your DNS settings now just use the following:
If you need help figuring out where to change the DNS settings for your router, OpenDNS has a great tutorial that shows you how on their website.
OpenDNS along with Dropbox and two services that every home should seriously consider using. OpenDNS is completely free, and Dropbox is free up to 2GB of data backed up. Enjoy!
You can’t put a hyper-link on a poster, sheet of paper or bookmark, but you can put on a QR Code. It is a much easier and more accurate way to link to a web page than to type a URL into your smart phone.
How can I use QR Codes?
Using a QR Code reader on your smart phone (like the Google App on an iPhone or Android phone) you simply take a picture of the QR Code and the reader redirects you to a mobile web page or some other resource on theinternet. Depending on what you download, you’ll be able to:
- Read a web page with text and pictures
- Watch a video
- Listen to an audio file
- Download an app
- Register for an event or buy tickets
QR Codes are commonly used on posters, in print ads, on bookmarks, on business cards and even on web pages.
My current favourite QR code reader for the iPhone is the Scan by QR Code City (search for “Scan” in the App store). For all other smart phones, I’d suggest trying the free Neo Reader.
P.S. Here is handout with QR Code information. Here is a bookmark sheet to go along with the handout.
I recently returned from a Law School Technology conference, and while there I learned how easy it is to create ebooks from documents in Microsoft Word or HTML formats. Elmer Masters lead a session called, Creating eBook Version of Your School’s Law Reviews Using Open Source and Free Tools (see the video here).
The ebook creation process was so easy that during the session I download, installed the tools, and created an ebook of my conference notes before Elmer had finished his talk. For anyone interest here is the process:
- Download Sigil, the free and open source ebook editor for your operating system.
- Install Sigil on your computer.
- Open the word document that you’d like to turn into an Ebook.
- Save the document as an html file by going to “File” -> “Save As” and then selecting “Web Page (htm)” in the drop down box. Then press the “Save” button.
- Launch Sigil, and right mouse click on “Text” folder in the left hand column, and select “Add Existing Items…” Add the html file you just “Saved As” from word.
- Now press the “Save” button on the Sigil tool bar, and you are done!
You might want to go to the Sigil “Tool” -> “Meta Data” menu to add a title and author to the book to make it look a little more professional looking, but other than that, you’ve created your first Ebook! Congratulations! If your document is long enough, you can insert chapter breaks to make it easier to navigate.
You might be wondering how you get this ebook on to your iPad or iPhone. All you need to do is either email the ebook to your self and then open it on your mobile device, or if you use Dropbox, move the ebook into Dropbox and then open it from Dropbox on your iPad or iPhone. If you’re a kindle user, you should have an email address than you can send file to in order to add them to your Kindle device.
For your reading pleasure, here are my CALI 2011 Conference Notes in ePub, PDF and Google Doc formats. Happy reading!