Android: A switcher's thoughts after nine months of using an iPhone

Also in today's open source roundup: DistroWatch reviews BunsenLabs Linux, and Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon and MATE betas released

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A switcher's thoughts about Android after nine months of iOS

Choosing between Android and iOS can be a difficult problem for some users. One Android redditor made the jump from Android to iOS, then back to Android, and then back to iOS.

He shared his thoughts and experiences in a long post on the Android subreddit:

Had a Moto X 2013 for two years before getting tired of slow updates, so I switched to an iPhone 6s Plus last September. After nine months of daily use, I've concluded iOS is basically what you'd expect it to be: very polished, very boring, but very overall high quality. But also as you'd expect, Apple's walled garden is way too restrictive and occasionally very backwards, so a couple days ago, full of nostalgia for Android, I bought a Nexus 6p on sale, swapped SIMs and left my iPhone in a drawer. Today I switched the SIM back into my iPhone.

Here's what I did and didn't like about Android after nine months of using an iPhone:

DID LIKE:

Pebble: Honestly the biggest reason I switched. I got so frustrated on iOS not being able to act on notifications or send texts from my Pebble smartwatch. No contest here.

Notifications: It baffles me how terrible notifications are on iOS. The fact that you can't just swipe them away like you can on Android to this day is maybe my least favorite part of iOS. Notification Center on iOS is a disaster area; you can live out of the notification shade on Android.

Default apps: Another thing about iOS I'm seriously so sick and tired of. Apple still refuses to let you set default apps, like Keep instead of Notes, Spotify instead of Music, etc. First thing I did on Android was start messing with defaults and it was great.

Freedom: I just love the freedom on Android to customize your own experience. Home screen, widgets, launcher, texting app, everything. Choose it all. I took somebody's advice from a few days ago and set a double-tap in Nova Launcher to create a note in Keep. Brilliant. Hell, Tasker alone is basically a reason to stay on Android.

Keymonk Keyboard: God I missed Keymonk. It hasn't been updated in ages but honestly it's still the best keyboard out there. Two-finger swiping is so fun. Nintype on iOS is close, but it's bloated and finicky and iOS is still hostile toward third-party keyboards.

DIDN'T LIKE:

Hardware: I love the look of the black Nexus 6p and the fingerprint sensor being on the back, but the screen is just yellowish compared to the iPhone's true whites. It makes everything look a little grimy on the 6p. Similarly, even though the 6p has a bigger screen with a higher resolution and a higher DPI, the 6s Plus just shows more stuff onscreen. It's crazy. It's like using an iOS app that hasn't been updated for the Plus screen so it gets upscaled and looks magnified. I tried messing with accessibility settings to make text smaller but then it just looks crummy. I don't understand.

Speed and smoothness: MKBHD and other prominent Android guys always talk about how "buttery smooth" modern Android is on top-tier devices, but again, seeing it side-by-side makes a world of difference. Android might be smooth, but iOS is smooth, man. It's awesome. Everything from the consistent frame rate to the way the scrolling keeps going for a little while after you let go makes it just feel like a smoother OS, and it's really hard to look at Android the same way after you get used to it. I used both Marshmallow and the Android N beta and neither was as smooth as iOS. Similarly, the iPhone 6s Plus is consistently faster than the 6p. Faster to launch apps, faster within apps, less likely to chunk up or drop frames, etc. I held them side-by-side and tapped things simultaneously and the 6s Plus almost always beat the 6p.

Apps: I'm shocked, but it's true: apps on iOS are just better. It's a huge bummer. Tweetbot is better than Fenix, Flamingo and Falcon 3. Overcast is better than Pocket Casts. iOS versions of big apps like Snapchat and Instagram are better than their Android counterparts. I remember Android having way better reddit apps than iOS but that is not the case anymore because Narwhal on iOS crushes literally everything else, iOS and Android alike. The best iOS calendar apps like Timepage and Fantastical aren't on Android. Again, this point was such a bummer for me to realize. I always heard tech bloggers say that the apps are better on iOS but I didn't believe them until now. And seriously, it cannot be stressed enough, but Google apps are much better on iOS than Android. It blows my fucking mind. Across the board, from Inbox to Google Now to Hangouts to Gboard and beyond, Google does better work on iOS than Android and it's disgusting.

Messaging: In general iMessage is overrated, but it's better than solely SMS texting, and beyond that, Apple's Messages app is just a really polished, clean texting app. I love Textra but it can't compete with iMessage. Ugh. Cannot believe I'm saying that. I was so pissed when Google announced Allo, which looked super cool until it came out that it doesn't have SMS support. It could've been the cross-platform iMessage competitor we've all been waiting for, but nope. Just another tech demo that Google will forget about when nobody switches to it. And it'll probably be better on iOS anyway.

Man, I had such hard nostalgia going for Android. I was so annoyed with the restrictions on iOS and wanted a triumphant return to Android. I was so ready to sell my iPhone. There's a lot of stuff about Android I really miss, but I can't deny that the overall polish of iOS makes a huge difference. Android is much more functional and I really hate how much iOS locks out basic stuff like notification actions on my Pebble, setting default apps, etc but it's way too tough to switch back after getting used to the positives of iOS like a smoother experience and better apps.

I'd love to hear other people's experience using both OSs and where they agree and disagree with my assessment.

More at Reddit

As you might imagine, his comments generated some interesting responses from his fellow Android redditors:

Professionaldiy: "I'll think about switching when as a grown adult, Apple lets me put my icons where I want them."

Impracticable: "I feel like your "DIDN'T LIKE" list is full of stuff that is way less significant than the stuff you didn't like about iOS."

Spacekobra: "Actually, Hangouts is kinda crappy on iOS. I miss notifications all the time on it and messages will sometimes just not send. I mean, great, it has more features but since the messaging doesn't work… It sucks. "

Brucensb: "You've described iOS perfectly there ‘very polished, very boring, but very overall high quality'. Android is fun if you want a phone to be much more than a phone and an expression of you, iOS is good if you want something that gets the job done and done well."

12318532110: "I can't speak for the 6p as I do not own one but I have to say that the whites on an iphone is anything but accurate. It's really blueish which is preferred by most people. If you look at whites on basic mode on any galaxy phones, it is yellowish and is far more color accurate. 6504K white point is the reference and looks nothing like the whites on the iphone.

Also the smoothness and speed on an iphone you experience is probably due to extremely low touch latency and consistent animations, something I've yet to see on any android phones."

Bintasaurus: "Interesting perspective. I also have a 6p and a 6s and find my 6p always quicker. I'm on Android N currently. Not sure why, maybe depends on what you've got installed?"

LootaGood: "I haven't used an iPhone since the 4 which was a terrible phone and right now I'm using the Note 5, I'm going to purchase the iPhone 7 and trial it for 14 days to see if I like it, I personally just want to try something different. Problem is I love my default Google services, if I can make all Google's app default on iOS then I wouldn't have a problem switching."

BabysGotTheBends: "I agree with some of the things you said but Narwhal is 100% not better than Sync for Reddit or Relay on Android. Those are much better than Narwhal."

More at Reddit

DistroWatch reviews BunsenLabs Linux

BunsenLabs Linux offers a lightweight Openbox desktop via Debian Jesse. A writer at DistroWatch did a full review of BunsenLabs Linux and came away with mixed feelings.

Jesse Smith reports for DistroWatch:

When I first started using BunsenLabs Linux I did not enjoy the experience. At first, it felt like installing Debian with a depressing theme and fewer features. The initial installation and configuration steps felt overly long and complicated. The Openbox environment lacked the features of fuller desktop environments while, at the same time, offering unwanted distractions such as Conky and extra virtual desktops. It would be fair to say the first two or three hours with Bunsen were unpleasant for me.

However, there was definitely a turning point during my trial. Around the start of the second day – once I had a more colourful theme in place, the Conky packages had been banished and I had got into the habit of installing software I wanted from the application menu – there was a point where I began to enjoy Bunsen. The distribution's hardware and multimedia support were top notch, performance and the interface's responsiveness were excellent and the applications available all worked properly. Openbox has enough configuration tools to make it flexible without being overwhelming. What really sold me on the distribution though was the way Openbox stayed out of my way, a feature I feel Debian's default desktop does not offer.

At the end of my trial, I still had some mixed feelings. As much as Bunsen grew on me, I couldn't help but feel the experience felt very much like installing Debian and adding the Openbox window manager as a session option. While Bunsen takes care of that step for us, it also adds several extra steps during the initial configuration that made me feel like going with plain Debian and installing Openbox might have been faster and easier.

In the end, I did grow to like Bunsen with its clean, fast user interface. I like the distribution's tweaks to Debian such as adding sudo and providing application menu installers. I think the initial welcome script should probably either be automated or ask all its questions up front and then go to work in the background. It took a while for me to get the interface looking the way I wanted it to and less like the inside of a mine shaft, but once I did the distribution provided a good set of default applications and desktop functionality.

More at DistroWatch

Linux Mint 18 beta released

The Linux Mint developers have been hard at work on version 18 of the popular desktop distribution. You can now download the Linux Mint 18 MATE or Cinnamon betas.

Chris Hoffman reports for PC World:

With Linux Mint 18, the project is upgrading to an Ubuntu 16.04 LTS base. This means a much more modern Linux kernel, newer drivers, and improved hardware support. More hardware should work better, and the software available in the repositories will be much newer.

The shift to an Ubuntu 16.04 base means that Linux Mint 18 now includes the controversial systemd initialization program, as the Mint team had predicted. Both Ubuntu 16.04 and Debian 8, which Ubuntu is based on, use systemd by default.

A non-optional change that you'll notice when downloading the images is that Linux Mint now distributes fewer ISO images. There are no ISO images for multimedia codecs.

To get multimedia codecs, you'll have to click Multimedia Codecs on the welcome screen, head to Menu > Sound and Video > Install Multimedia Codecs, or activate a checkbox during installation. This helps simplify things for the Linux Mint developers, while keeping the codecs easy to install for users.

More at PC World

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