A Year Later … iPhone to Android and Back Again

Last year, if any returning readers remember, I lost my iPhone 4S due to a swimming pool mishap. No more needs to be said, we’ll just leave it at that, mmkay? Lost and still shaken without my dear Apple product, I resorted to the quickest, cheapest replacement, which was a Samsung Galaxy S3. That’s right, I went from grieving iPhone widower to new Android owner. I was heart broken, but bound and determined to make my new relationship with this strange smartphone OS work.

The first two months were the roughest, of course. Adjusting to the new interface, learning what the OS could do for me, getting comfortable with the apps, app store and so on. Most importantly, though, I was finding myself falling in love with the large screen on the S3. It felt wrong, yet it felt so right. And so I gave in and let the Android world claim me. Customizable home screens, large displays, smooth and responsive to my touch … I learned to focus on these fantastic features while ignoring the blaring lack of a decent mp3 player for my podcasts. I let myself be lost in the simpler controls of the device and ignored the fact that I couldn’t easily transfer music or other documents to the device without going through a half dozen steps. I got over it because … because … well, to be honest, because it’s what I had.

Enter the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. I got antsy every time a new rumor about the new iPhones would surface online. I counted the months, the weeks, the days and finally the very hours until the Apple conference finally started streaming. Oh, a brand new iPhone … iPhone 6 and the first phablet of the line, the iPhone 6 Plus were finally announced! I was having guilty flashbacks to my love affair with Apple. I would leave my Android smartphone in the other room while I looked up videos and navigated the Apple website to read more, or read articles covering hands-on reports. Could this be it?

Well, if you have any doubt, I did pick up an iPhone 6. I very nearly picked up the 6 Plus, but after holding it and playing around on it, decided it was just too big for my small, fat hands. The iPhone 6, though … we are a match made in heaven. The first thing I did when I got home with my new iPhone 6 was to – of course – go through all my settings and fine tune them to what I expected out of the iOS 8 software. iCloud, Find My iPhone, Siri … oh, how I’d missed them all. And then I began downloading the apps I’d accumulated on my Android … and that’s when I realized what I’d really been missing as an Android user.

You see, Android is the professional smartphone user’s experience, I suppose. They like their customizable screens and all the tiny little controls they believe they have over the Android system. They also enjoy it because owning an Android means you’re taking a stand against mean old Apple and their money-making ways of bleeding the iSheep dry of their hard earned money. But do you know why people pay that money to Apple? All that wonderful hard earned money? Because they get what they pay for. They get the quality, they get the well designed apps, and they get the ease of use when transporting music or downloading podcasts.

Seriously, on the Samsung Galaxy S3, I went through about 6 different podcasting apps. I finally settled on the best one, which isn’t saying much of the apps I’d sorted through, and even then wasn’t truly happy. But Apple’s iPhone? Plug it in once, choose to sync it wirelessly from that point on and you’re good to go with your music, apps, movies, books, etc. Want a podcast? No problem, there’s a whole library of available podcasts, ranked, rated, sorted and just waiting for you to browse it. Having a problem? Ask Siri, she is very good and understanding some crazy stuff you whisper into her speaker.

Other apps I owned also vary greatly between Android and Apple devices. Fitbit, WordPress and others are simply beautiful and full features on the iPhone 6 and iOS 8. On Android, they function at a bare bones minimum and you absolutely love it because, well, what else have you got?

That’s not to say you shouldn’t buy an Android – I’d never be presumptuous enough to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t buy. That’s none of my business. In fact, my mom decided not to upgrade her phone, a 4S, and instead wanted to try my Galaxy S3. She loves it! What does she love? The big screen, and the fact that the speaker you talk into actually comes out to her mouth so she, and I quote, “Feels like I’m talking on a real phone!”

Android may be great for the hipsters that want to make a stand and think they’re changing the world. But for simple folk such as myself, I want something that’s comfortable, knows what I want and how to give it to me … and that just works. Give me my iPhone 6 and I’ll be happy. I’m sorry, Android, but it’s me, not you. I think we should take a break from this relationship. It’s been real. Thanks for the memories, I’ll remember them each day as I pick up my Apple iPhone 6 smart phone and use it my way.

Sideways Into Darkness!

To the right of the blog, over —-> there, I’ve added an RSS Feed to the audio blog I’ve been working on the past couple of weeks. Sideways into Darkness: An Insomniac’s Audio Blog is now available through the links. It isn’t perfect, nor will it be for some time until

The logo used by Apple to represent Podcasting

I work out all the details and kinks currently holding me back from doing a better show. Basically, it’s me talking to you for a few minutes. Nothing long and drawn out, just me jumping around on topics and trying to get the hang of this medium of communication. Work in progress, please stay tuned as it grows and gets better.

Cost of said podcast, to date, is $0.00  Hosting on Archive.org is free. Publishing a feed on Blogger.com is free. If I decide to offer through iTunes, which is turning out to be a pain in the butt, that’s free, too. The recording equipment, Garageband, came with my Mac, so technically I did pay for that through the computer purchase, but that was nearly 2 years prior, so it technically doesn’t count. And finally, my headset mic, a Logitech USB model was $39, but that was purchased last year for our son’s online courses. Again, technically doesn’t count.

It’s not that shabby for a “free” podcast, it just needs fine tuning :)

Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

iPad Mini 1st Step in Killing off the iPod Touch?

The following opinion piece at the blog of Garrick Van Buren offers an interesting take on the place of the new iPad Mini in the Apple Universe. And you know what? It makes sense. My original idea was that it would take the place of the iPad 2 and sell for around $399. Instead, Apple wedged it in between the iPAd 2 and the iPod Touch – an odd predicament, indeed.

If this kind of discussion interests you, head over to Garrick Van Buren and read his thoughts.

The iPad Mini is About Killing the iPod Touch – Garrick Van Buren

photo: gizmag.com

E-Book Refunds A-Comin’

I posted about the lawsuit against several major publishers a few months ago. Well, the outcome is here! It seems that e-book customers will be getting refunds for past purchases. Refunds ranging from .30-cents to $1.32 per e-book purchased from the following publishers: Hachette, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and McMillian (as well as small publications these larger firms publish under.)

If you buy your e-books from Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble or Kobo – great news! You don’t have to do anything. You will be contacted about how you want the refund distributed. The choices seem to be a credit to your account for that particular seller, or a check in the total amount of the refund.

However, if you purchased e-books from Google, Sony or a few other companies not yet available to me, you will have to request in writing a refund for your purchases. The deadline to file that claim request is December 12 of this year. You can access the settlement form to file a claim by clicking here: Ebooks AG Settlements > File a Claim.

The only folks losing out on this settlement are those in Minnesota because their attorney general didn’t participate in the event.

 

OSX Mountain Lion

July 25th, 2012, Apple released the latest upgrade to their operating system (OSX) named Mountain Lion. This update has over 200 new features and/or enhancements to the previous major release, OSX Lion. The upgrade is available via the Mac App Store on Macbooks and desktop systems alike for $19.99. But what does an average user gain from this upgrade? Are there any features we absolutely need or will find useful? I’ll go over a few I find cool, interesting and useful below – and in no particular order.

But first, let me point out that this upgrade has really improved my system performance. I have a mid-2011 13″ Macbook Pro, and since installing Mountain Lion, I can tell a huge difference in the way my laptop runs. Right off the bat, it boots up faster, runs smoother when launching and switching between multiple applications, my internet speed is faster, the Safari browser is lighting fast now and hasn’t hung on me once. Not only that, but shut down and restarts are executed in the blink of an eye. This Macbook wasn’t that fast and smooth when I first took it out of the box. Seriously!

Now as far as all those new features and improvements. I’m not a hardcore computer user. I may on occasion burn a CD, hardly ever mess with DVDs of any sort, play a few games, use word processing and browse the web and a couple of social networking sites. So right off the bat, the first thing I notice is Twitter integration. I now tweet more because it can be done at the click of a button. By clicking your mouse on the Message Center icon on the toolbar, you have instant Twitter access. My tweet productivity has increased, not that that is a good thing.

The Notification Center is pulled from the mobile OS of the iPhone and iPad. Same use – all your messages and notifications show up there with a little toast that pops up when something new arrives. It is accessed  by an icon located on the far right of your status toolbar. Clicking on that slides your screen over to reveal the Notification Center. It would be nice if it automatically pulled messages in like the iPhone and iPad do, but to get Mail alerts, Twitter alerts, etc, those programs have to be running in the background from what experience I’ve had so far to tell.

Airplay Mirroring is a pretty slick trick. Even my wife liked it! Airplay Mirroring is the ability to wirelessly stream the image on my Macbook to another Airplay enabled device. In my case, I can sit on my couch, turn on my Apple TV and activate Airplay Mirroring on my Macbook, and our 47″ television become my monitor. It’s pretty sweet, a cool little gimmick. The only issue I had was when trying to test out graphically intense – by my standards – software, such as games or videos. The streaming gets a little jerky, lags and even freezes at times. Still, that could possibly all fall to how I have my network set up, I suppose, so I’ll accept some blame on that one ;)

iCloud is everywhere you click in Mountain Lion. I clicked on my Pages icon to bring what I was working on to the front window yesterday, and suddenly iCloud was letting me know that all of my Pages documents could be synced to iCloud for access on my other devices. Even Safari has a dedicated Cloud button now that will go as far as to show you open tabs on your other devices that you’ve been browsing. That could be awkward, I suppose, depending on what you like to look at … yeah … Anyways, as I was saying, iCloud is being shoved down your throat in this release, and if the free 5GB is good enough for you, and if you are using more than one Apple device, I guess that isn’t a bad thing at all. Having access to certain files no matter where you are or what you are on is a handy feature. Personally, I sync bookmarks, some photos, notes, address contacts and whatnot. Nothing fancy. I don’t even think I use a total of 1GB of my 5.

Also on the iCloud subject, it has a nice web-interface. Either I was just never aware of this, or it is something new that came along with Mountain Lion, but it is pretty cool. If you sign in to iCloud online, you have a nice graphical desktop-like setting with a few options. Mail, Calendar, Find My Device, Contacts, Work, etc. I’ve never used the Find My Device feature before, but trying it out was pretty nifty. The ability to send a signal to lock and/or erase important data from your iPad, iPhone or even MacBook is an awesome feature to have at hand. And the fact that it can locate the device on a nice detailed map? SWEET!

Notes has been added to this release. I use Notes all the time on my iPhone, so to have them synced and accessible from the Dock on my laptop is extremely handy. I have, at times, had the computer open in front of me and my iPhone in hand trying to copy information. Nice addition. Reminders are here, too. Type it in one place and have access while out and about. This just seems like such a handy, unified release of software to make things flow so much easier whether you are a business person or just a regular Joe.

For the gaming community, Game Center has a presence on the Mac. While there doesn’t seem to be a lot of games that take advantage of the program on the Mac right now (there are some, though) you still have access to your Game Center friends list, game achievements and scores, game suggestions, etc. I’m looking forward to more integration with Mac games, including some – hopefully – bigger name releases.

Safari is also much faster, has the iCloud integration button for picking up browsing tabs from other devices and now features a prominent button for sharing addresses and sites with friends via Facebook, Twitter or email with a couple of clicks.

So, there you go. While not a professional and in-depth review of the operating system, I figured I’d share a regular guy’s opinions on a few of the more stand out features. Overall, OSX Mountain Lion’s release is a welcome one and has somehow tweaked my (still fairly) new Macbook with a breath of fresh air. Faster, cleaner, sleeker and ready to kick a little butt. And at a very reasonable $20, heck, you can’t shake a stick at that – well, you could, but what would be the point? For a more rich exploration of features and improvements, I’ll leave you with some links at the end of this post.

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