A 7 year iPhone user switches to Android

Also in today’s open source roundup: DistroWatch reviews openSUSE 42.2 Leap, and will developers move from Linux to Windows 10?

iphone android
Credit: nrkbeta

A 7 year iPhone user switches to Android

Android versus the iPhone has been a staple topic in many online discussion forums across the Web over the years. But what happens when a 7 year iPhone user suddenly switches to Android?

A recent and very detailed post in the Android subreddit contains many interesting thoughts about Android as seen through the eyes of a long term iPhone user.

Scribblenik shared his impressions about dumping the iPhone and switching to Android:

After 7 years with an iPhone, I finally took the plunge to see what I might be missing with Android. I love iOS but the Apple conference for the iPhone 7 didn’t really inspire me to upgrade yet again.

So, although my wife, kids and parents are still on iOS and I’ve had over 1200 apps come and go through my phone over the years, I decided I wanted to start afresh.

This Reddit thread really helped me with some decision making, and continues to help me learn about new apps, and tips and tricks for ones I have. So here I am, returning the favour, for any other iPhone users who are looking at this thread thinking that they might also want to jump ship.

Out of the Box

Switching on my shiny new Android phone (a Samsung Galaxy S7 - but this article should apply to any Android device running Marshmallow or Nougat) for the first time, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect after 7 years of Apple logos and forced stock apps…

After being greeted by a dull opening screen, and the option to plug my Google credentials in, I was left staring at my empty home screen, a Google search bar, a large clock and a weather widget.

Almost everything else was hidden in the app drawer. It felt like like a place to hide bloatware - but there wasn’t too much guff in there - although I wasn’t about to start using ugly looking Samsung apps when there was a whole app store waiting to be clicked on.

Luckily I’ve been using Google’s services for years (I’ve never liked iCloud), so my contacts, email, calendars and photos were synced, and my credit card was already hooked up. A quick setting change to get my fingerprint into the phone, and I would be ready to start my journey.

So how did day one compare to my old iPhone? Starting up an iPhone for the first time is a much slicker experience - it feels more welcoming (much in the same way a Mac ‘feels’ more friendly than a PC) and there was a familiar collection of icons. These days though, those most of those Apple apps feel like crapware, and I rarely use Apple’s stock apps. In fact my iPhone was gradually becoming a Google phone anyway (Gmail, Google Maps, Google Photos, etc).

So what else was different...

More Buttons

With the single ‘home’ button on the iPhone (not counting the volume, power or mute switch), there isn’t much to think about (double tap for app-switcher, hold for Siri). Suddenly there are 3 buttons, and muscle memory made it hard to not keep launching the camera when switching apps (ok - this is a Samsung feature - double tap home to launch camera - it’s really useful).

However, having a dedicated ‘back’ button has proved really useful - the ‘slide from the left to go back’ that Apple has pushed as the standard for ‘back’, didn’t work with every app, and if you were thrown from one app to another, you had to stretch your fingers to the very top left of the phone to jump back (Note: the Android ‘back’ button has occasionally confused me, and thrown me out of apps).

Switching between apps on Android is also simple (I’m looking forward to Android 7.0 where I can quickly double tap to jump between the previous/current app).

Having a few extra options for navigating around the phone is really quite good.

Voice - Siri vs OK Google

I quite liked Siri - she didn’t do much, but she was quite funny.

However OK-Google is utterly amazing. From being able to ask a song to be played on Spotify (which will likely never be an option on the iPhone), to dictating a reminder, rarely does Google get the speech-to-text wrong (Siri always seemed to write things on a word-by-word basis, but Google seems to look at the whole sentence and change things accordingly). I’m really impressed, and actually use the voice feature now that I feel it is going to be correct more often than not.

The other advantage with the dictation on Android is the ability to click a word and be given the options of other words that you ‘might’ have said - this makes text editing super quick, without feeling like you need to delete stuff and start again.

LEDs

Little flashing lights on my phone. It’s quite handy seeing it blink away at me, without the whole phone springing to life and lighting up the place.

App Equivalents

This was the biggest hurdle for me. I’ve gone through a LOT of apps over the years (1256 according to my AppShopper account). Some have stayed on the phone for one launch, others have survived many cullings. But some of my most used and beloved apps just don’t exist on Android. So after much MUCH research and testing, here is my list of equivalent apps (I should add, that it’s really refreshing to be able to select your stock apps on Android)...

Apps I Miss

Wallet

Great for storing store cards, but most of the individual ‘store card’ apps seem to have a link to their cards anyway.

Messages

Those blue bubbles! You knew you were sending texts and photos without worrying about how they were going to be seen at the other end. WhatsApp is getting close in terms of features though, and the new video calling feature is great.

Erm… that’s about it. I’ve now got apps that shout at me when my battery is charged, or read texts when I’m driving (Shouter Pro), apps that let me jump around to other apps (Swiftly Switch) and folder apps (Sold Explorer File Manager). There are even emulator apps for those old school games.

Widgets

This leads me onto widgets. On iOS they are tucked into notification style boxes, but (for example) having a ToDoIst task list and my calendar widget on a home screen is much more useful. Throwing in shortcuts to a WhatsApp contact or a favourite Dropbox folder, is great (iOS has 3D touch for some shortcuts, but not all apps work with it).

Apps That iOS Will Never Have

Nova

This is the app that has sold me on Android. I can customise my phone to my heart’s content. I’ve been using similar apps for year - do I really need to have their names written on my phone? Just switch the names off!

I have a massive screen, so do I really only want a small grid of apps? Just change the amount of apps you want along the horizontal and vertical! You can even resize widgets. Would I like to position those apps into a more useful layout, change their icons (I’ve even created my own custom designs), change the icon size, change how those icons function if I press or swipe on them? All possible with Nova.

Do I want to double tap the screen to text-message, swipe up to search, pinch to jump to voicemail? Yes… yes I do.

OK, there are a LOT of options and even plugins (for things like adding the red notification dots on apps) - BUT the app is super easy to use, and I can’t imagine using my phone without it (I love to tweak things).

Google Now

Although there is an iOS version that does some of what ‘Goolge Now’ does on Android, it really doesn’t work that well. On Android I’m only a swipe away from seeing info about what’s around me, stocks, news, weather, where my car’s parked etc. When I went on holiday, it even pulled in my info about flights, hotels, and train links.

Google Now On Tap

Hold the home key and you can copy text from anywhere on the screen, or have Google act on what’s on the screen. It feels a little gimmicky, but it can be occasionally useful.

Transferring files

This almost made me take the phone back. I’m used to just sticking a USB into my iPhone and having my Mac suck the photos from it, sync apps and backup. I’d tried a friends Android and plugged it in, and photos and folders where just as easy to deal with. However, my Galaxy S7 just didn’t want to play. After trying numerous apps and getting nowhere, I ended up using Dropbox to sync my photos in the background (which actually turned out great, as they are constantly backed-up now -see my notes on ‘Background Multitasking).

Then I discovered AirMore (I’m now also trying AirDroid) - a couple of clicks, and I can essentially use my phone through my browser. Texting, screenshots, file transfer, folder search, notifications. It’s slick, fast and allows really easy uploading and downloading of anything I throw at it (for example - Android is sensible enough to stick photos in the Gallery just from a quick drag & drop from the computer browser).

App Store

Apple wins here - their AppStore is wonderful. Apps seem to be released first on iOS, and there is a greater proportion of solid, slick looking apps and games (my guess is that piracy rates are high and profits are low on Android).

The Google Play Store is getting better though - there have been quite a few slick upgrades in just the last few weeks. One big advantage is being able to buy and install apps from your browser (so if I read a good review on my laptop, I can have the app on my phone in a couple of clicks). Also, if the app is not what you hoped, you can get a refund if you go back to the store quickly enough (2 hours I think). However, there are a LOT of poor apps on the store - for example, there may be dozens of texting apps that can become your stock app, but most look like they were designed by some tin-pot hacker looking to jump into your phone and suck its data dry.

Background multitasking

The classic battery killer - but I’m not finding any apps that churn away at my battery (I ditched the official Facebook app very early on, and moved to ‘Swipe Pro’ - another recommendation).

There are some big advantages to having things run in the background though - my Dropbox happily uploads photos as soon as I’m on Wifi (Dropbox on iOS would stop as soon as the app was in the background). Apps that I want to sync while I’m not watching them are doing their thing, and the info I want it waiting for me (having apps stop working in the background if I’ve not used them for a few days is great as well - as I have a tendency to get excited by new apps, and then forget to use them).

Fingerprint Sensor

The sensor works just as well on my Galaxy S7 as it did on my iPhone (although the iPhone would recognise my print even if the phone was the upside-down, which the S7 doesn’t ) - and more apps are starting to use it (thankfully my banking app does now, so typing in crazy long passwords isn’t such an issue now).

Throw in 1Password’s keyboard and it only takes a quick fingerprint unlock to put my password into any app or website. Notifications

I’ve never really felt happy with iOS notifications - they weren’t easily dismissed, some had more info than others, and once you’d looked at them, they were gone from your screen (until you hunted around for the little red numbered dots all over the place, reminding you of how many things you’ve missed).

Android gets it right - a quick swipe down and the notifications are there for you to act on. Swipe them back up to see them later , or swipe them to the side to clear them away. I really don’t miss those red dots nagging at me, and I love the more varied way of being able to interact with notifications (my bank app reminds me I’m signed in, and includes a button to sign-out right in the notification bar, Spotify is there with what is playing, or reminders can be snoozed for later). You can also set whether you want the notification to show just the app name, or more info, on an app-by-app basis.

Anything Else?

Pros

I stuck in a 128Gb memory card - so offline music and photos are never an issue anymore.

Cons

Slow updating to the lastest Android OS - it looks like I’m going to have to wait a few more months until Nougat hits my phone. But if you are going to get a Google Pixel, this won’t be a problem.

Conclusion

On the whole, there isn’t really all that much different about my day-to-day using of Android vs iOS. I still use a Mac and an iPad, and everything plays nicely together. But I do love the shortcuts, customisation of look and feel, and all the tweaking of gestures (via Nova). It feels like MY phone, instead of looking like everyone else’s, and has become a good new friend in my pocket.

Would I recommend Android? Well… I still think an average user would get along better with an iPhone - the whole package just works; they back themselves up and never really change much.

However, I love to play with my gadgets and iOS was just starting to bore me. It was a really hard decision to jump platforms, but I’m really pleased I did. I feel equally at home on either platform, but I’m really happy to be on Android.

More at Reddit

Scribblenik’s post caught the attention of Android redditors and they shared their thoughts:

BatteredWalrus: “I'm in the same boat. Just purchased a One Plus 3T and I'm looking forward to giving android a shot.”

KantFTW: “GREAT purchase. IMO, the most exciting thing happening with Android is the rise of affordable "flagship killers." It's easy to compare an iPhone to a $700 GS7. It's a lot harder when you're comparing it to a $400 phone that performs just as well. Then things like "the boot times just don't feel as friendly" seem ridiculous. ”

Dextersgenius: “With regards to Google Now On Tap, one very useful feature it has is the ability to directly share a screenshot. Simply press the share icon and boom! No need to save the file first and then delete it after you're done sharing the screenshot.”

Vooze: “Nice write up. The thing keeping me from using iOS is default apps. I don't want to be forced to using safari, mail etc. if I don't want to.

Macs on the other hand are awesome :)”

B00tl0ader: “Wow great write-up, glad you're liking android! IMO file transferring is one of the reasons I love android because you can just manage files like a normal drive and your device will recognize almost anything usb thing you plug into it (plus Solid Explorer), totally agree with the notification LED though, I can't live without it now. Same with microSD no worries about media storage space.”

BigBirdBigPimpin: “Excellent write up! One point though. The finger print scanner does work upside down for my on my Note 5. So maybe try that again?”

Scribblenik: “Must have been the angle of my thumb. It took me a few goes, but it does work! Thanks.”

TheElderCouncil: “I too switched to an Android after 7 years of using an iPhone. But my case was a little different.

I had switched twice before, and regretted big time, followed by switching back to an iPhone.

I never denied that Android is by far the better and clearly more advanced OS. But there were some things Apple just did smoother and more stable.

My first phone switch was a Samsung Galaxy Nexus (still works to this day). Great phone, but I had tons of issues with messaging. Apparantly if you had an iPhone, and switch to Android, your number gets stuck with iMessage and messages don't go through. It drove me crazy after a while and I switched back. There was no way of deregistering your number from iMessage at the time. Aside from that the iPhone had a more cleaned up notification system and Settings menu. Things are clear and easy to understand with very little frustration. Not to mention that they've always been very fast.

Few years later as always, I got bored with the iPhone again and got a Galaxy S6 Edge. Beautiful phone. Same issues happened! Even after deregistering from iMessage. The phone also lagged after a while. So yet again, I switched back to an iPhone.

Finally this time, when I switched to a Pixel XL, I have to say, it's by far the best phone I've ever had. It's where Android should have been. Fully matured. Everything is working flawlessly. I will never switch to iPhone again, unless they fully open up their dictatorship style of controlling everything. But we all know they never will.”

Evil95: “Great, honest and unbiased review! Nice to see for a change.”

Salacious_Bug: “Looks like I'm not the only one who made the switch after sticking with one brand for a long time. :o

As someone who was basically an Apple iPhone loyalist since the 3G and finally made the shift over to Android with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge just yesterday (coming from the iPhone 6 Plus), I gotta say even though my first day with the S7 Edge was pretty darn overwhelming I can definitely see now why Android is so highly preferred over iOS.

After my first day with Android, I can definitely say that I won't be looking back from now on. The sheer amount of customization and number of available apps compared to the iOS App Store alone has sold this above and beyond for me and I'll definitely be sticking with Android permanently.”

More at Reddit

DistroWatch reviews openSUSE 42.2 Leap

openSUSE is one of the best known and most popular desktop Linux distributions. DistroWatch has a full review of openSUSE 42.2 Leap, which you can download now from the official openSUSE site.

The Leap edition of openSUSE offers three years of security updates and minor point releases approximately once per year.

Jesse Smith reports for DistroWatch:

If you read the approximately 2,400 words of my review which led up to this point, you probably noticed I ran into a number of annoyances with openSUSE 42.2, particularly with regards to the desktop making frequent "bong" sounds, small fonts and getting multimedia support enabled. While these issues did cause a good deal of frustration on my first day with the distribution, things quickly got sorted out thanks to the excellent settings managers provided by openSUSE and the Plasma desktop. Soon, I had a nicer theme, a quieter desktop and my multimedia files were playing. This meant most of my issues were solved on the first day and, after that, I was able to relax and enjoy a pleasantly stable, quite polished experience.

openSUSE succeeded in providing a stable, responsive environment in which to work. The YaST configuration modules made tweaking the underlying operating system much easier than it is on most other distributions and I like that openSUSE Leap users can expect three years of security updates. openSUSE may not have quite as much software in its main repositories as Debian and its children have, but community repositories fill in most of the gaps for openSUSE users.

Generally speaking, I was happy with openSUSE and I especially like how the administration tools automatically create file system snapshots, which protect the operating system against changes we make. This means openSUSE is nearly invincible in the face of bad configurations or package upgrades and it will usually take hardware failure to knock the operating system off-line.

This is not an operating system I would recommend to newcomers. The advanced features of the installer and the pain of setting up media support are likely to put off beginners. And novice Linux users are not as likely to benefit from the powerful features of YaST and Btrfs. However, for people who have been using Linux for a while, openSUSE provides a wonderful collection of very powerful tools which I find appealing.

More at DistroWatch

Will developers move from Linux to Windows 10?

Microsoft has been quite keen recently to woo Linux developers over to its Windows 10 operating system, according to a recent report on Softpedia. However, it remains to be seen if Microsoft will be successful in its efforts to get developers to dump Linux for Windows 10.

Bogdan Popa reports for Softpedia:

Microsoft has finally acknowledged the potential that the open-source world in general, and Linux in particular, boasts, so the company is exploring its options to expand in this area with every occasion.

Most recently, an episode posted on Channel 9 and entitled “Improvements to Bash on Windows and the Windows Console” with senior program manager Rich Turner calls for Linux developers to give up on their platforms for Windows 10.

“Fire up a Windows 10 Insiders' build instance and run your code, run your tools, host your website on Apache, access your MySQL database from your Java code,” he explained.

Turner went on to point out that the Windows subsystem for Linux is there to provide developers with all the necessary tools to code just like they’d do it on Linux, all without losing the advantages of Windows 10.

More at Softpedia

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