Just an iPhone guy with a Nexus.
Years ago, I would have scoffed at the thought that I would ever switch to an Android device. I’m an iPhone guy, and I’ve always been an iPhone guy – I bought the original iPhone on the first weekend it came out all the way back in June of 2007, and I’ve been with iOS (then called iPhone OS) ever since. Sure, I’ve had a love affair or two with some competing platforms – I owned and used a Palm Pre 2 as my primary smartphone for a couple of months back in the day, and a couple of years ago I used a Nokia Lumia 800 to get a feel of Windows Phone 7 when it was still fairly new on the block – but I’ve always found my way back to Apple’s platform. It’s felt like home.
Well, a couple of weeks ago I had a realization – not only am I not an Android user, but as Android has continued to evolve and I’ve continued to ignore it, I’ve fallen considerably out of touch with Android, which is now the biggest mobile phone operating system in the world. Around my neck of the woods, I’m known as “the” tech guy, and in recent years I’ve been getting questions about how to do this or how to do that on Android phones. Sometimes I’m able to guess, but most of the time, my answer is simply “I don’t know, try Googling it.”
As a technology writer and fanatic, I consider it my job to know the answer to these questions. To really know what I’m talking about, to have an informed opinion, to be able to help as many people as possible whether that be in my writing or in person, I have to be familiar with what people are using – or else my word means little to nothing.
So today, I put down my iPhone 5s and activated a Nexus 5, effectively switching to Android full time for the first time ever. My Nexus 5 is a Google Play edition running Android 4.4.2 on the Sprint network, with all software updated to their newest versions. I’ve only been using the Nexus 5 for a couple of hours now, so I don’t have too much to say about it just yet, but I do have some early, early impressions. Read on after the break to hear what I think.
First, setting up Android was as pain-free as I could imagine. I just popped in my Sprint-approved SIM card, logged into my Google account, connected to wifi and I was at the Android home screen in a matter of seconds; it definitely is no harder or more annoying to go through than what Apple has on their iOS 7 devices. For the most part, everything on my Nexus is still in the condition I received it in, having only installed a couple of applications and widgets thus far.
My first real annoyance came when I looked everywhere in the settings applications for a way to enable a precise battery percentage count. Actually, before I get on that complaint, can I just say how absolutely nonsensical it is that there’s not one, but two Settings applications installed on the Nexus 5 by default. One, the simple “Settings” application, is home to all the usual array of settings you’d expect.
But then there’s another application I kept accidentally opening first called “Google Settings”, which has even more options regarding connected applications, advertising, Play Games notifications, Location services, Drive settings, and Device Manager settings. Why these aren’t just integrated into the primary Settings app is beyond me, and it was frustrating to have to tap in and out of this to get to where I really wanted to go.
Anyways, back to my battery percentage annoyance. On my iPhone I’ve grown accustomed to being able to see exactly where my battery is throughout the day. I like knowing I’m at 100% in the morning and at 75% by noon – I want to be able to see exactly how close my phone is to dying by the time I grab my bowl of popcorn at the end of a long day. Apparently, there is absolutely no way to get this information on Android out of the box. Android simply doesn’t have this option available, period. That seems like a crazy oversight to me, and was going to impede on my iOS habits pretty hard.
So once I discovered that there’s no way to do this out of the box, I finally turned to the Play Store where I found a solution – kind of. An application called “Battery Percent for KitKat” by Kroegerama works as advertised, giving me an exact count of my smartphone’s battery… as long as my battery is 40% depleted or below. The tweak adds a percentage to the battery indicator in the status bar, but it’s in white with no way to change it – which means before 40%, the text sits on top of the white battery indicator completely hiding it from view. Sigh. You win some, you lose some.
With my iPhone, I’ve become somewhat of an avid casual photographer. There’s hardly a single day that goes by where I don’t take a photo of something, whether it be a photo of the beach as I walk to class in the morning or a photo of my lunch (and yes I know that’s really unhealthy, but old habits die hard). So of course I’ve been keen to take the Nexus 5’s camera for a spin. Turns out Android’s built in camera application just got an update today, and I can say it works pretty well in well lit conditions thus far. Below is probably the best example of the average type of photo I take, taken earlier today on my Nexus 5. There’s a bit of unpleasant blurring when viewed at full 8MP resolution, but colors are vivid enough and accurate and, so far for my purposes, this seems like a perfectly passable camera – if not the best camera in the world. Click to see it in its full, high res glory.
So using the camera is fine and dandy, but here’s where I have a bit of a bone to pick with Android – sharing it on the web. When I want to share a photo without compressing it on Facebook or Twitter or the like, I tend to go to file sharing site GoPut.IT and upload it from there. On iOS, this is incredible easy and straightforward. Tap the “Browse” button, the iOS photo picker instantly pops open, I tap the photo I want and click upload.
On Android, for whatever reason, this same process is best described as unintuitive. Tap Browse, and you’re greeted not with the photo picker I was expecting and used to on iOS, but a “Choose an action” dialogue with three choices – Camera, Camcorder, and “Documents”. Ok, not the worst thing in the world. Thinking “where else would my photos be but in the Camera,” my first thought was to head on over to the Camera app.
Wrong. Turns out, clicking Camera just jumps you to the Camera app where there’s absolutely no way to pick a photo from. So I back out of there and over to the upload page and try again, this time tapping “Documents” – the icon of which is that of a text document. For whatever reason, the “Documents” app – which, again, has an icon representing a text file – houses shortcuts to my photos. But the confusion doesn’t end there. Once in Documents, you can select either “Gallery” or “Photos”… both of which have the same exact photos, only organized in different ways.
First, why in the world do I need to tap “Documents” to get to the photo picker? Why can’t I just tap “Gallery” from the get go? And why does Documents have two different equal but different ways to pick my photos? Which one “should” I be choosing? This is the sort of little thing that has always driven me crazy about non-Apple products to me, and it seems bizarre that Google still hasn’t figured out how to make a process as simple as uploading a photo straightforward on Android 4.4.2.
Obviously, given that I’ve been using Android for a grand total of four hours now, I don’t have the best grasp on any real thoughts other than these rough first impressions. So far, the transition seems like it will be mostly painless, barring the odd difference in behavior or expectations here and there – but nothing crazy. I’m planning on documenting my journey as I use Android on a daily basis and posting my thoughts right here on Haverzine, so be sure to keep an eye out for that. I’ve not got a schedule at the moment that I’ll be writing – when I have something meaningful to say, I’ll say it, like words being spoken to the wind. Let us hope these words are kind.