Leaving iPhone for Android

Welcome to the blog post that I never thought would exist.  After many years of nothing but iPhone use, I bought a Google Pixel one month ago and can now never imagine going back.

Selfie w/ the Pixel.

Selfie w/ the Pixel.

Let me start off by saying that the iPhone is a fantastic device. I have always loved the O/S, Apple’s attention to detail, and the magic that comes with owning an Apple device. Both the iPhone 7 and the Google Pixel feature fantastic cameras, screens, and other components so hardware wasn’t at all a deciding factor for me. That said, you may be sitting here wondering what in the heck the purpose of this post is other than to praise both of these spectacular platforms, but don’t worry, we’ll get there.

The first point I want to make is that the Google Pixel is not like other Android devices. Typically when you buy an Android phone from manufacturers like Samsung, Motorola, LG, or others, they have their own “flavor” of Android installed.  This often includes changes to the look, feel, and performance of the O/S as well as a plethora of additional software on top of the O/S.  It is for that reason that I have always avoided Android because I felt like I would rather have a “pure” operating system as opposed to something that has a bunch of extra bloat. If you are a long-time geek like myself you know that buying a store bought Windows PC is a nightmare because it will come preloaded with a bunch of garbage that will ultimately degrade performance. As such I have always built my own PC’s and installed “pure” copies of Windows on them. The Google Pixel, like some of their previous models (i.e. Nexus) come with nothing but the latest version of Android installed on them. It’s the phone equivalent of having a fresh copy of Windows on your PC with nothing else installed. Because you are running the latest Android straight from Google you avoid all of the extra bloat while also getting access to the latest updates well ahead of other manufacturers.  This is great for performance, security, and the fact that you will always have the latest and greatest running on your device.

So yeah, that’s neat but why the switch, you say? It’s simple, I am and have been completely in the Google ecosystem for over a decade. I use Gmail, Google Calendar, Hangouts (I almost never send text message), Google Keep, Google Drive, Google Docs, and more. Obviously there are apps for all of these services on iOS but the fact that all of these services are the default for the O/S means that when I say “OK Google, remind me to blog about switching to Android” it automatically goes into my Google Calendar as a “reminder” and also appears in Inbox in the same fashion. Sure, I could have done a similar thing on iOS and it would have shown in the “Reminders” app but who on earth actually opens that thing and furthermore, if you aren’t using iCloud frequently the only visibility you have to those reminders is on the device. I spend the vast majority of my time on a PC and would much prefer to manage all of these things there as opposed to on the phone itself. This is honestly the biggest selling point of the device for me, it does exactly what I want, in the ecosystem where my data lives.

Extremely crisp even with odd lighting.  

I recently blogged about Apple CarPlay as I got a new deck for my car not long ago and really enjoyed that experience so I was admittedly a little worried as to whether or not the Android Auto experience would be as good.  Fortunately it is even better!  The ability to use Google Maps natively in the car is huge and as of a week ago Waze is also supported by Android Auto. The voice integration with Google Assistant is flawless and making calls, requesting directions, finding food/gas has never been easier while driving.

Rather than spending a bunch of time talking about the camera I will let you explore other posts which directly compare the two cameras but what I will say is that I have never been able to take photos that look this good with less than ideal lighting.  I would argue that the iPhone takes slightly crisper photos when the light is just right but in all other cases the Pixel wins, hands down.  The hardware is very similar but the software and post processing the Pixel does is truly something special.

All-in-all we are fortunate to live in a time where there are so many great devices on the market but after trying a few (I even had an iPhone 7 to run side-by-side with my Pixel during testing) I just find the experience on the Pixel to be the perfect combination of functional and magical.  

iPhone 5 Review

iPhone 5 BoxOne year ago today, I posted a review of Apple's iOS 5.0 and now a year later I am back w/ a review of the iPhone 5 running iOS 6.0.

After spending a week with the iPhone 5 I have really grown to love it. I upgraded from an iPhone 4 (not 4S) so the number of things to be excited about are many. There are countless other reviews of this device around the web so rather than recapping all of the features and functionality I am going to talk about the things that I like and use the most.

Since I haven't owned a 4S I was really excited to give Siri a test drive. Ironically my parents just moved to a new part of the state so I have had plenty of opportunities to find new things and get directions. While there are some shortcomings and oddities I am generally impressed with Siri. The functionality and range of things that you can do with it (her?) are really impressive. I have composed text messages, made calls, found hamburgers, launched applications and even asked for movie reviews. I know I am late to the party on this one but Siri is pretty awesome.

I was equally excited for the camera in the iPhone 5 and I am not at all disappointed. It takes amazingly crisp photos and it does so incredibly fast. The iPhone 4 always had a bit of a delay between each shot but that is not the case what-so-ever with the iPhone 5. I am able to take photos at a very rapid pace which is incredibly nice for action shots. One other thing that is greatly improved with the camera is the low-light functionality. Situations in which my iPhone 4 camera would have been worthless, the iPhone 5 camera performs wonderfully. For someone like me who takes A LOT of photos, the iPhone 5 is the ultimate smart phone.

In addition to Siri and the camera, I was really looking forward to LTE functionality on AT&T's network. I know a lot of people say that it is overrated and that the speed differential is not that great but they are wrong. In places where I was pulling down 1Mbps I am now getting upwards of 30Mbps. Where my upstream was previously ~1Mbps, it is now 11Mbps. Sharing to Instagram and refreshing Twitter/Facebook is almost instantaneous. Websites load quicker, streaming services work better and all-in-all the phone is far more attractive as an internet device.

iPhone 5 Incipio Case Aside from the phone I also want to talk about cases. I tried a few of them before settling on the Incipio FREQUENCY impact resistant case (pictured above). While I wouldn't recommend throwing the phone across the room in this case, it still provides enough protection to give me peace of mind without being bulky and getting in the way. I highly recommend this product.

I'd love to hear what others think about the latest incarnation of the iPhone so please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!

Modem Ringtone

US Robotics Modem
Just for some geeky fun I created an iPhone ringtone using the sound that a dialup modem makes. For those of us who are old enough it will take you back to the CompuServ/Prodigy days when every house had to have at least one extra phone line just for dedicated internet. Enjoy!

[audio http://104.236.173.199/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Modem.mp3]

Download Ringtone