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.

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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!


September 28, 2015 | 10:05 AM - Posted by gerard (not verified)

The live images thing was already done on the lumia 920/930, was useless then and is useless now.

September 28, 2015 | 10:34 AM - Posted by Esa (not verified)

Yeah, it was called HTC Zoe also and yes, useless. Literally never used it and I've had my M7 for 2½ years now...

September 28, 2015 | 12:17 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I thought that feature was to allow you to pick the best photo from several at the same time frame. If that is t the case, then it is just a gimmick, I guess.

September 28, 2015 | 10:37 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

A lot of the design discussion and fingerprint functionality reads like a review of a recent Galaxy phone. Note 5 or S6 reviews say basically the same thing.

I hate the lack of back button whenever I use somebody else's iPhone. Absolutely drives me insane.

September 28, 2015 | 10:58 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I use the "Tasker" app on android to automate many daily functions. I was wondering if the iphone has any app or capability of this.

Some of the things I automate are silencing my phone when my phone connects to a specific wifi (really handy at work and at church) as well as silencing it at night. I toggle the screen rotation when specific apps are opened such as youtube or twitch otherwise I keep it off. I toggle my bluetooth just before 5 and turn it back off at 6 for my drive home. It can launch reminders as on screen text, notifications in the notification section or launch apps at certain times which I use once in a while. You can also lock down any apps or settings and use it as a parental control mechanism when letting your kids play with your phone.

September 28, 2015 | 11:13 AM - Posted by quest4glory

You have to enable location services Settings -> Privacy (and add Always to Weather), otherwise the weather app won't function as expected.

September 28, 2015 | 11:14 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Several tech sites are doing this exact same story where they swap their Android phone for an iPhone 6. They all seem to follow the same journaling day by day pattern. Is this something PCPER is getting paid for as a part of guerrilla advertising? Im sure the NDA wont let you answer yes to that anyway.

September 28, 2015 | 12:12 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

I am definitely not getting paid for this. In fact, I paid money out of my own pocket for the 6s and 6s Plus phones.

September 28, 2015 | 12:38 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It is a good test to try. It is kind of like the OS debate (Windows vs. OSX vs. Linux). People coming from different operating systems often don't have that much experience with the other options, so they may not know how to use them or what features are available. You can't really judge between them without some extended use.

I am on an iPhone 5 at the moment, and the screen seems way to small. The page reloading issue is really annoying also. It seems like they could come up with a way to save the page state even if they are not going to keep it in DRAM. The move to more than 1 GB of memory is long overdue; This should have been done before they switched to 64-bit. I guess it gives them a way to obsolete all of the 1 GB devices. I think my next device might be a larger android phone. I want a good camera and a larger, high-quality screen. I don't necessarily want an all metal and glass device. My iPhone 5 would have had a cracked screen shortly after I got it if it had not been in a heavy duty plastic case. A little water proofing would be nice, but I don't know if that is too useful. My previous phone died after a trip through a clothes washer on heavy duty cycle. I don't know if even a water resistant phone would have survived that.

September 28, 2015 | 11:17 AM - Posted by adogg23

why does everyone think iphone cameras are sooo good? I have used them and i dont see anything special. The pics i see and the ones i have taken ( iphone 5, iphone 4s , iphone 3 and iphone 6 ) all look good but far from the best pics in the world that people claim. Why do i not see this greatness?

October 2, 2015 | 06:31 AM - Posted by taisser (not verified)

look at the phones he has used, they don't have good cameras, a sony phone is soo much nicer in terms of camera quality

September 28, 2015 | 11:42 AM - Posted by sheady (not verified)

Ryan have you heard of the podcast app Pocketcasts? I use it and love it for being on both iOS and Android + a web player. It has a great design and syncs podcasts across all of your devices.

Also cool to see you are a fellow listener of the Bombcast.

September 28, 2015 | 12:13 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

This is the second recommendation for this app I've had now - I'll be sure to try it out!

September 28, 2015 | 01:10 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

An iPhone 6 and 6s will charge faster with an iPad charger.

September 28, 2015 | 02:07 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Here are the real technical specifications for the Apple A7 Cyclone SOC's CPU core/s!

CPU Codename Cyclone,
ARM ISA ARMv8-A(32/64),
Issue Width 6 micro-ops,
Reorder Buffer Size 192 micro-ops,
Branch Mispredict Penalty 16 cycles (14 – 19),
Integer ALUs 4,
Load/Store Units 2,
Load Latency 4 Cycles,
Branch Units 2,
Indirect Branch Units 1,
FP/NEON ALUs 3,
L1 Cache 64KB I$ + 64KB D$,
L2 Cache 1MB,
L3 Cache 4MB,

Now where are the same specifications for the Apple A8/A8X, and now the A9, and A9X(iPad Pro)! What's that "Technology Press"! Anand Lal Shimpi is no longer in the reporting businaess to spoon feed you proper CPU core technology specifications and change your diapers. Are there any technology writers remaining outside of a Pay Wall that can do a proper hardware workup, or the research needed to get at the proper information.

September 28, 2015 | 02:41 PM - Posted by ChangWang

"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."

Remember this in a year when iOS 10 comes out. Planned obsolescence at it's finest. Feels good at launch, just alright after the first OS update and sluggish as hell after the second.

September 28, 2015 | 02:49 PM - Posted by Mooseknuckle (not verified)

But that's just it. You will upgrade in a year. So it really doesn't matter.

September 28, 2015 | 03:24 PM - Posted by ChangWang

More like, the true apple fans and gadget geeks will upgrade in a year

September 28, 2015 | 04:37 PM - Posted by Polycrastinator (not verified)

This mostly matches my experience thus far, although I've been surprised by the occasional lockup and lag on the phone. I'm used to iOS folks complaining about that aspect on Android, and so I was really surprised that it's a problem (although less often) on iOS too.
Another vote for Pocket Casts here, although the iOS app seems less sophisticated than the Android one. I'm also really annoyed that when I use Navigation (Waze, in my case) I can't set it to pause music or podcasts while I get voice directions. I miss stuff that way, and it's really annoying.
So far, I feel like it's a good phone. But it's no better than a good Android phone, and significantly more expensive.

September 28, 2015 | 05:43 PM - Posted by pdjblum

Beautifully and succinctly stated without all the hyperbole and ridiculous comparisons, ie expensive iphones compared to much less expensive android phones in build quality. Nice to know that people choosing Android aren't all complete losers.

September 28, 2015 | 08:16 PM - Posted by StephanS

For some reason, I'm allergic to IOS and OSX...

In small doses my nervous system can take the abuse,
but in large amount I show sign of tourette.

And its difficult because I LOVE Apple HW, but my allergic reaction is so sever that I have to cross the street if I'm about to walk by an apple store.

Its a medical mystery, because in test I'm actually able to hold apple devices , but only when they are turned off.
Sadly by body reject, violently, it when its powered on.

Maybe one day a cure will be found for people like me...

September 29, 2015 | 12:44 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Their hardware sucks. Its cheap Foxconn trash.

September 29, 2015 | 12:42 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Make sure you put Lookout on it since Apples app store is full of malware!

September 29, 2015 | 09:14 AM - Posted by A Nexus Warrior (not verified)

I'm sorry about your descent into madness, Ryan, but your article needs to be purified.

I will be praying for you.

OK Google,
Who ART in Mountain View,
DuARTe be thy name.
Thy system come,
Thy code be done
On web as it is on mobile.
Give us this day our daily search,
And forgive us our poor syntax
As we have also forgiven iShills.
And lead us not in to walled gardens,
But deliver us from TouchWiz.
For thine is the HOLO, the Material, and the Roboto
Forever and ever,
AOSP-M

September 29, 2015 | 12:50 PM - Posted by collie

PUPPIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! gozza soooooooo cutes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MORE PUPPY PHOTOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love how every pic of the dogs, no mater how good the camera, the tail(s) is always blurry

September 29, 2015 | 05:52 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

99.9% of the time these are very happy puppies. :)

October 2, 2015 | 01:38 PM - Posted by Bruce Knack (not verified)

I have also just switched back to iPhone. One of the biggest things I miss is Google's Voice Search.

I just realized I could add Google Chrome to the 'Today' pull down screen. One button is labelled 'Voice Search' and provides quick access to the Google microphone.

I've found this the easiest and fastest way to use Google in place of Siri.

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