Android to iPhone Day 3: Widgets and Live Photos

Subject: Editorial, Mobile | September 28, 2015 - 09:57 AM |
Tagged: iphone 6s, iphone, ios, google, apple, Android

PC Perspective’s Android to iPhone series explores the opinions, views and experiences of the site’s Editor in Chief, Ryan Shrout, as he moves from the Android smartphone ecosystem to the world of the iPhone and iOS. Having been entrenched in the Android smartphone market for 7+ years, the editorial series is less of a review of the new iPhone 6s as it is an exploration on how the current smartphone market compares to what each sides’ expectations are.

Full Story Listing:

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Day 1

Opening and setting up a new iPhone is still an impressive experience. The unboxing process makes it feel like you are taking part in the reveal of product worth its cost and the accessories included are organized and presented well. Having never used an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus beyond the cursory “let me hold that”, it was immediately obvious to me that the iPhone build quality exceeded any of the recent Android-based smartphones I have used; including the new OnePlus 2, LG G4 and Droid Turbo. The rounded edges sparked some debate in terms of aesthetics but it definitely makes the phone FEEL slimmer than other smartphone options. The buttons were firm and responsive though I think there is more noise in the click of the home button than I expected.

The setup process for the phone was pretty painless but Ken, our production editor who has been an iPhone user every generation, did comment that the number of steps you have to go through to get to a working phone have increased quite a bit. Setup Siri, setup Touch ID, setup Wi-Fi, have you heard about iCloud? The list goes on. I did attempt to use the “Move to iOS” application from the Android Play Store on my Droid Turbo but I was never able to get it to work – the devices kept complaining about a disconnection of some sort in its peer-to-peer network and after about 8 tries, I gave up. I’m hoping to try it again with the incoming iPhone 6 Plus next week to see if it was a temporary issue.

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After getting to the iPhone 6s home screen I spent the better part of the next hour doing something that I do every time I get a new phone: installing apps. The process is painful – go to the App Store, search for the program, download it, open it, login (and try to remember login information), repeat. With the Android Play Store I do appreciate the ability to “push” application downloads to a phone from the desktop website, making it much faster to search and acquire all the software you need. Apple would definitely benefit from some version of this that doesn’t require installing iTunes.

I am a LastPass user and one of the first changes I had to get used to was the change in how that software works on Android and iOS. With my Droid Turbo I was able to give LastPass access to system levels lower than you can with iOS and when using a third-party app like Twitter, LastPass can insert itself into the process and automatically input the username and/or password for the website or service. With the iPhone you don’t have that ability and there was a lot of password copying and pasting to get everything setup. This is an area where the openness of the Android platform can benefit users.

That being said, the benefits of Touch ID from Apple were immediately apparent.  After going through the setup process using my fingerprint in place of my 15+ digit Apple ID password is a huge benefit and time saver.  Every time I download a new app from the App Store and simply place my thumb on the home button, I grin; knowing this is how it should be for all passwords, everywhere. I was even able to setup my primary LastPass password to utilize Touch ID, removing one of the biggest annoyances of using the password keeping software on Android. Logging into the phone with your finger or thumb print rather than a pattern or PIN is great too. And though I know new phones like the OnePlus 2 uses a fingerprint reader for this purpose, the implementation just isn’t as smooth.

My final step before leaving the office and heading for home was to download my favorite podcasts and get that setup on the phone for the drive. Rather than use the Apple Podcasts app it was recommended that I try out Overcast, which has been solid so far. I setup the Giant Bombcast, My Brother, My Brother and I and a couple of others, let them download on Wi-Fi and set out for home. Pairing the iPhone 6s with my Chevy Volt was as easy as any other phone but I did notice that Bluetooth-based information being passed to the entertainment system (icons, current time stamps, etc.) was more accurate with the iPhone 6s than my Droid Turbo (starting times and time remaining worked when they previously did not). That could be a result of the podcast application itself (I used doubleTwist on Android).

Day 2

On Saturday, with a bit more free time to setup the phone and get applications installed that I had previously forgotten, I did start to miss a couple of Android features. First, the lack of widgets on the iPhone home screens means the mass of icons on the iPhone 6s is much less useful than the customized screens I had on my Droid Turbo. With my Droid I had a page dedicated to social media widgets I could scroll through without opening up any specific applications. Another page included my current to-do list from Google Keep and my most current 15 items from Google Calendar, all at a glance.

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I know that the top drag down menu on iOS with the Today and Notifications tabs is supposed to offer some of that functionality but the apps like Google Keep and Twitter don’t take advantage of it. And though cliché at this point, why in the hell doesn’t the Apple Weather application icon show the current temperature and weather status yet??

The second item I miss is the dedicated “back” button that Android devices have on them that are universal across the entire system. Always knowing that you can move to the previous screen or move from the current app to the home screen or other program that was just recently switched over is a great safety net that is missing in iOS. With only a single “always there” button on the phone, some software has the back button functionality on the top left hand corner and others have it in the form of an X or Close button somewhere else. I found myself constantly looking around each new app on the iPhone 6s to find out how to return to a previous screen and sometimes would hit the home button out of habit, which obviously isn’t going to have the intended function. Swiping from the left of the screen to the middle works with some applications, but not all.

Also, though my Droid Turbo phone was about the same size as the iPhone 6s, the size of the screen makes it hard to reach the top of the screen when only using one hand. With the Android back button along the bottom of the phone that meant it was always within reach. Those iOS apps that put the return functionality in the top left of the screen make it much more difficult to do, often risking dropping the phone by repositioning it in your hand. And double tapping (not clicking) the home button and THEN reaching for the back button on any particular app just seems to take too long.

On Saturday I went camping with my family at an early Halloween event that we have annually. This made for a great chance to test out the iPhone 6s camera, and without a doubt, it was the best phone camera I have used. The images were clear, the shutter speed was fast, and the ability to take high frame rate video or 4K video is a nice touch. I think that enough people have shown the advantages of the iPhone camera systems over almost anything else on the smartphone market and as a user of seemingly slow and laggard Android-based phone cameras, the move to the iPhone 6s is a noticeable change. As a parent of a 3 month old baby girl, these photos are becoming ever more important to me.

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The new Live Photos feature, where essentially a few frames before and a few frames after the picture you actually took are captured (with audio included), is pretty much a gimmick but the effect is definitely eye-catching. When flipping through the camera roll you actually see a little bit of movement (someone’s face for example) which caused me to raise an eyebrow at first. It’s an interesting idea, but I’m not sure what use they will have off of the phone itself – will I be able to “play” these types of photos on my PC? Will I be able to share them to other phone users that don’t have the iPhone 6s?

Day 3

Most of Sunday was spent watching football and using the iPhone 6s to monitor fantasy football and to watch football through our Wi-Fi network when I needed to leave the room for laundry. The phone was able to keep up, as you would expect, with these mostly lightweight tasks without issue. Switching between applications was quick and responsive, and despite the disadvantage that the iPhone 6s has over many Android flagship phones in terms of system memory, I never felt like the system was penalized for it.

Browsing the web through either Safari or Google Chrome did demonstrate a standard complaint about iOS – reloading of webpages when coming back into the browser application even if you didn’t navigate away from the page. With Android you are able to load up a webpage and then just…leave it there, for reference later. With the iPhone 6s, even with the added memory this model ships with, it will reload a page after some amount of time away from the browser app as the operating system decided it needed to utilize that memory for another purpose.

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I haven’t had a battery life crisis with the iPhone yet, but I am worried about the lack of Quick Charging or Turbo Charging support on the iPhone 6s. This was a feature I definitely fell in love with on the Droid Turbo, especially when travelling for work or going on extended outings without access to power. I’ll have to monitor how this issue does or does not pop its head up.

Speaking of power and battery life – so far I have been impressed with how the iPhone 6s has performed. As I write this editorial up at 9:30pm on Sunday night, the battery level sits at 22%. Considering I have been using the phone for frequent speed tests (6 of them today) and just general purpose performance and usability testing, I consider this a good result. I only took one 5 minute phone call but texting and picture taking was plentiful. Again, this is another area where this long-term test is going to tell the real story, but for my first impressions the thinness of the iPhone 6s hasn’t created an instant penalty for battery life.

 

The journey is still beginning – tomorrow is my first full work day with the iPhone 6s and I have the final installment of my summer evening golf league. Will the iPhone 6s act as my golf GPS like my Droid Turbo did? Will it make it through the full day without having to resort to car charging or using an external battery? What other features and capabilities will I love or hate in this transition? More soon!

Android to iPhone Day 0: What to Expect

Subject: Mobile | September 24, 2015 - 10:17 PM |
Tagged: iphone 6s, iphone, ios, google, apple, Android

PC Perspective’s Android to iPhone series explores the opinions, views and experiences of the site’s Editor in Chief, Ryan Shrout, as he moves from the Android smartphone ecosystem to the world of the iPhone and iOS. Having been entrenched in the Android smartphone market for 7+ years, the editorial series is less of a review of the new iPhone 6s as it is an exploration on how the current smartphone market compares to what each sides’ expectations are.

Full Story Listing:

The last time I used an Apple phone as my primary device was with the release of the iPhone 3G. It remained by my side for a full year when it was replaced by the…Palm Pre in mid-2009. Yes, I loved that Pre, but let’s not depress anyone here today. After my time with the Palm device I moved over to the world of Android with the HTC Evo 4G in early 2010. The move wasn’t easy at the time – Android was messy, frequently unstable and the app ecosystem was still getting started.

But I stuck with the Google platform, diving headfirst into a world of Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Photos, etc. I moved through countless Android phones in my never ending quest to find better hardware and, maybe more importantly, better software. I had the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 5 – I had phones from Samsung, LG and Motorola. Even oddball companies like OnePlus found their way into my pocket, so to speak. Most recently the everyday device has been the Motorola Droid Turbo, purchased due to its faster processor and extended battery life.

In the past year or so PC Perspective has put emphasis on the mobile market in terms of phones and tablet reviews. You can find reviews of the ASUS Zenfone 2, Motorola Moto E, and Galaxy Note 4 on pcper.com, in addition to numerous articles that look at the SoC architectures from Qualcomm, ARM, Intel and others. And for every phone review you actually saw, there are 1-2 other phones that are purchased or sampled, used for context and internal testing.

But despite the fact that Ken, Allyn and others on the PC Perspective staff have and use Apple products, I personally had spent no time with any iPhone since the release of the iPhone 3G. With Apple by far the most dominant player in the mobile space, this is just dumb on my part. How can I pretend to offer informed opinions on the selection of smartphones to our readers and viewers without even giving the annually updated Apple iPhone a chance?

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To fix this, I ordered myself an iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

Rather than just get the phone in, run some benchmarks, take some sample photos and write a typical review of the new iPhone 6s, I thought it might be interesting to our readers to take them along on a journey. Starting tomorrow when the iPhone 6s arrives I will be swap out my Verizon SIM card and commit to using it as my only mobile phone for the next 30 days. I think it’s only fair, considering the drastic ecosystem differences between Android and iOS, to engulf myself in the iPhone platform completely rather than simply keep it with me as a secondary device. (That’s something I typically do with Android review units.)

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My new smartphone. I'm not sure I'm ready.

As an Android user for many years, I am familiar with many of the stereotypes associated with the iPhone and its users: closed platform, overpriced hardware, complications with access to data and photos, etc. But is it really that bad? Too many of my friends and family use iPhones for me to believe it’s THAT bad. So I’m going to find out.

I'm honestly nervous about a handful of things already:

  1. How much am I going to miss having Quick Charge capability?
  2. How many Lightning cables am I going to have to buy to replace the locations I have micro USB cables at?
  3. How can I easily access the full resolution photos I take on the phone?
  4. Am I REALLY going to have to use iTunes again?
  5. Will I be able to recreate the workflow I am used to on Android? Apps like Gmail, Calendar, Keep and doubleTwist are essential!
  6. Will this new "Move to iOS" applications on the Play Store actually work?

I plan to write frequent entries to this series, offering up my thoughts on the performance, application ecosystem, camera, battery life, gaming capability, accessory market and more. You'll see some posts that simply discuss my experiences that day and others that show performance data or battery metrics. What is it like to suddenly decide to “change sides” at this point in the Android / iOS war? 

Let’s find out.

A quick overview of the iPhone 6s

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2015 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: apple, iphone 6s

For those interested The Inquirer has a quick breakdown of the specifications of the coming iPhone 6s.  At 138x67x7.1mm, it is a tiny bit thicker than the original iPhone 6 and so it also weighs slightly more at 143g.  The screen is unchanged at 4.7" with a 1334x750 resolution but it will now support 3D Touch that allows the phone to react differently depending on how much force you use while touching it. The Inquirer compares it to the Huawei Mate S's force-sensitive screen, if you have had experiences with that particular phone.  As usual Apple is not saying much about the processor but we do know it will be upgraded to an ARM A9 from the A8 present in the original.  Read on for more details right here.

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"AS EXPECTED, Apple has announced that the next iPhones will be the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, updates to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S Plus."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: The Register

Google giveth with one hand whilst taking with the other

Subject: General Tech | August 28, 2015 - 04:40 PM |
Tagged: google, chrome, flash, apple

The good news from Google is that as of next month, Flash ads will be 'Click to Play' when you are browsing in Chrome.  This will be nice for the moving ads but even better for defeating those sick minded advertisers who think audio ads are acceptable.  However this will hurt websites which depend on ad revenue ... as in all of the ones that are not behind a paywall which have Flash based ads.  The move will make your web browsing somewhat safer as this will prevent the drive-by infections which Flash spreads like a plague infested flea and as long as advertisers switch to HTML 5 their ads will play and revenue will continue to come in.

The news of Chrome's refusal to play Flash ads is tempered somewhat by Google's decision to put advertising ahead of security for Apple devices.  The new iOS 9 uses HTTPS for all connectivity, providing security and making it more difficult for websites to gather personalized data but as anyone who uses HTTPS Everywhere already knows, not all advertisements are compliant and are often completely blocked from displaying.  To ensure that advertisers can display on your iOS9 device Google has provided a tool to get around Apple's App Transport Security thus rendering the protection HTTPS offers inoperative.  Again, while sites do depend on advertisements to exist, sacrificing security to display those ads is hard to justify.

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"The web giant has set September 1, 2015 as the date from which non-important Flash files will be click-to-play in the browser by default – effectively freezing out "many" Flash ads in the process."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

A world without SIMs?

Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2015 - 03:36 PM |
Tagged: SIM, Samsung, apple, Vodafone, AT&T, orange, Deutsche Teleko

If you hate trying to read the numbers off of your SIM card and are sick of their continual shrinking then Apple and Samsung's plan to make the SIM card extinct may be good news.  If you have a phone with dual SIMs or remove the SIM when you travel to ensure no roaming charges will be applied to you then perhaps you are less than happy to hear these companies want to replace the physical SIM with a software one.  It will make changing providers and phones easier but making it a permanent part of the phone could have some drawbacks.  Those of you who have a new iPad Air and iPad Mini may already be familiar with the soft SIMs, if you want to read more you can catch up at The Register.

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"Smartphone goliaths Apple and Samsung are reportedly confabulating at a high level regarding plans for hardware which would replace SIM cards in mobile devices - this technology would be embedded in phones, tablets etc and would not be exchangeable to different devices."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: GameBench

Battle of the Sixes, they call it

GameBench is a low-level application released in 2014 that attempts to bring the technical analysis and benchmarking capability of the PC to the mobile device. You might remember that I showed you some early results and discussed our use of the GameBench testing capability in my Dell Venue 8 7000 review a few months back; my understanding and practice of using the software was just beginning at that time and continues to grow as I spend time with the software.

The idea is simple yet powerful: GameBench allows Android users, and soon iOS users, the ability to monitor frame rates of nearly any game or 3D application that you can run on your phone or tablet to accurately measure real-world performance. This is similar to what we have done for years on the PC with FRAPS and allows us to gather average frames per second data over time. This is something that was previously unavailable to consumers or press for that matter and could be a very powerful tool for device to device comparisons going forward. The ability to utilize actual games and applications and gather benchmark data that is accurate to consumer experiences, rather than simply synthetic graphics tests that we have been forced to use in the past, will fundamentally change how we test and compare mobile hardware.

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Image source: GameBench.net

Today, GameBench itself released a small report meant to showcase some of the kinds of data the software can gather while also revealing early support for Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices. Primary competitors for the comparison include the Apple iPhone 6, the Samsung Galaxy S6, HTC One M9 and Motorola Nexus 6.  I was able to get an early look at the report and offer some feedback, while sharing with our readers my views on the results.

GameBench tested those four devices in a total of 10 games:

  • Asphalt 8: Airborne
  • Real Racing 3
  • Dead Trigger 2
  • Kill Shot
  • Modern Combat 5: Blackout
  • Boom Beach
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  • GTA: San Andreas
  • Marvel: Contest of Champions
  • Monument Valley

These games all vary in price and in play style, but they all are in the top 50 games lists for each platform and are known for their graphically intense settings and look.

Continue reading our story on GameBench's new benchmarking capability for Android and iOS devices!!

Microsoft and Yahoo Want to Be Apple's Default Search

Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2014 - 09:29 PM |
Tagged: apple, safari, google, yahoo, bing, microsoft, mozilla

After Mozilla inked the deal with Yahoo, the eyes turned to Apple and its Safari browser. Currently, the default search engine is Google on both iOS and OSX, although Bing is the primary engine used for other functions, like Siri and Spotlight. Until early 2015, they are tied into a contract with Google for those two browsers, but who will get the new contract?

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Apparently Yahoo and Microsoft have both approached the company for the position, and Apple is not ruling any of the three out. Probably the most interesting part is how Yahoo is genuinely taking the search business seriously. The deal with Mozilla is fairly long-term, and with Yahoo approaching Apple as well, it probably was not just charity on Mozilla's part because no-one else wanted to be Firefox's default. Yahoo would probably need some significant monetary backing for an Apple deal, which suggests the same for their deal with Mozilla.

If both Mozilla and Apple leave Google, it will take a significant chunk out of the search engine. Power users, like those who read this site, will likely be unaffected if they care, because of how low the barrier is to change the default search engine. On the other hand, even the most experienced user will often accept default settings until there is a reason to change. The winning party will need to have a good enough product to overcome that initial shock.

But the money will at least give them a chance when the decision comes into effect. That is, unless the barrier to changing default search engines is less than the barrier to changing default web browsers.

Google will always be default on Google Chrome.

Comparing Apples to Unicorns

Subject: General Tech | November 25, 2014 - 12:19 PM |
Tagged: osx, ubuntu 14.10, linux, apple, OS

Over at Phoronix you can see a comparison between the new Apple OS X 10.10 and the newest release of Ubuntu 14.10.  This offers an interesting comparison in performance as both OSes were tested on the same system, a 2013 Macbook Air with a Haswell i5-4250U with onboard HD 5000, 4GB of DDR3-1600MHz and the Apple branded SSD.  For content creators and those with no interest in running Windows it highlights the contrasts you can expect between the two operating systems in data transfer and graphics applications.  Right from the start you can see that the contest is somewhat one sided, the first benchmark, PostMark, showed the disk with Ubuntu installed performing three times as fast as with OSX.  The results get a little closer in some benchmarks but overall Linux outpaces OSX significantly.

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"While I delivered some OS X 10.10 Yosemite preview benchmarks back in August, here's my first tests of the official release of Apple OS X 10.10.1 compared to Ubuntu 14.10 Linux. Tests were done of OS X 10.9.5 and OS X 10.10.1 against Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn when running the benchmarks under both GCC and LLVM Clang compilers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Phoronix

Don't tell your iObsessed iBuddies but the iPad Air 2 is a bit of an iBore

Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2014 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: iPad Air 2, apple

There were long lineups of people desperate to get their hands on the new iPad Air 2, regardless of the fact that the internals cost a mere $1 more than the initial model.  To be fair that is not the best way to judge the quality of the upgrade, that should rely more on the screen quality ... which is exactly the same in all respects except for a new anti-reflective coating.  Apple is also reducing their markup, from 45-61% down to a paltry 45-57% for this generation so at least that $1.00 extra in materials will not raise your purchase price overly.  The internals such as the TSMC made A8X and camera match the iPhone 6 to a large extent making it a more powerful phablet than the original, so don't disparage it too much.  You can read more on The Register if you are into fruit.

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"New iPad Air 2 components cost Apple just one dollar more than the previous model, according to the teardown bods at IHS."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Apple Announces New Mac Minis with Haswell. What?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | October 17, 2014 - 03:22 PM |
Tagged: Thunderbolt 2, thunderbolt, mac mini, mac, Intel, haswell, apple

I was not planning to report on Apple's announcement but, well, this just struck me as odd.

So Apple has relaunched the Mac Mini with fourth-generation Intel Core processors, after two years of waiting. It is the same height as the Intel NUC, but it also almost twice the length and twice the width (Apple's 20cm x 20cm versus the NUC's ~11cm x 11cm when the case is included). So, after waiting through the entire Haswell architecture launch cycle, right up until the imminent release of Broadwell, they are going with the soon-to-be outdated architecture, to update their two-year-old platform?

((Note: The editorial originally said "two-year-old architecture". I thought that Haswell launched about six months earlier than it did. The mistake was corrected.))

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I wonder if, following the iTunes U2 deal, this device will come bundled with Limp Bizkit's "Nookie"...

The price has been reduced to $499, which is a welcome $100 price reduction especially for PC developers who want a Mac to test cross-platform applications on. It also has Thunderbolt 2. These are welcome additions. I just have two, related questions: why today and why Haswell?

The new Mac Mini started shipping yesterday. 15-watt Broadwell-U is expected to launch at CES in January with 28W parts anticipated a few months later, for the following quarter.

Source: Apple