Tech and Gadgets update

Its been a while since I’ve posted anything about my miscellaneous devices and gadgets so here’s an update for anyone interested.

• Mobile: Since parting ways with my Galaxy Note 3 in exchange for an iPhone 5S I haven’t really looked back and the iPhone has been my daily driver ever since. I think I’m getting past the point of caring about customising my device and flashing roms every other day. While you don’t have to do this with Android phones there’s something to be said for a mobile that does everything very well - and the 5S does that. Decent battery life, great build quality, good screen with superb resolution, excellent and very consistent camera, great performance, useful features and an unparalleled catalogue of optimised and polished applications. I don’t even mind the size of the screen that much, the device is far more practical than the Note 3 or Z2 ever was. I’m also finding that I quite like the iOS-specific features like iMessage and Facetime. The fact that both my girlfriend and best mate have iPhones goes some way towards influencing this. While you have very similar functionality within Android via Hangouts its nowhere near as well implemented and seamless. I’ve been testing the new iOS 8 betas and really like some of the features Apple are bringing to the iPhone. Do they steal ideas from Android? Yes. Do I care? No.
• PS4: It never gets used, I’m thinking about selling it as it’s just sitting there as a rarely-used expensive Netflix and iPlayer box. Apple TV or any other decent device can do that at a fraction of the price. Any takers?
• Tablet: Need to start using my Nexus 7 (2nd Gen) device otherwise I might as well sell that too. It’s got the Android L developer preview on there but I’m not blown away with it (there’s still a long way for it to go yet). I’d quite like an iPad Air but can’t ever justify one.
• Laptop: I’m using a first-generation Surface Pro for work. It’s alright. The screen resolution is superb but the screen is that little bit too small. The device is too heavy. The hinge is crap. Battery life is hit and miss. All these things are fixed in the Surface Pro 3 and I wouldn’t turn one down but there’s one very big thing that is still a problem - its running Windows. I’d much sooner have a 13in Macbook Pro with a retina display. In fact I’m bloody tempted to pick one up for myself when I’m in LA should I have the cash left over… Which I probably won’t. I’m running Mac OSX on my i7 desktop machine at home and it rarely gets booted into Windows (except to play games). Yosemite is bringing some awesome new iOS integration features too which tempts me even further.
I’m sure there’s more to add but I’m too damn tired to think.

The iPhone experiment

So having used the iPhone solely as my only mobile device while in London for the last few days, here are my thoughts.

• Small screen - having gotten to used to the Note 3 it was a bit of a change. It’s the smallest smartphone screen I’ve used for some time now and it took some getting used to. Truth be told it isn’t big enough.
• Fingerprint scanner - I really like it. I think it’s really convenient to just hold my thumb on the home button to unlock the phone. It’ll be even more useful now they’re opening up the API.
• Battery life - standby time is pretty good but in-use time could be a lot better. Playing any sort of game mashes the battery considerably. Still, for the size of the phone it’s acceptable I think. Average joe will make it through the day.
• Multitasking - in short it doesn’t come close to that of Android. Faux-multitasking is still present here even with background app capabilities. In honesty it does work ok but could be better. There’s still no way to close all background running apps at the same time that I can see so that needs sorting.
• Build quality - it’s great, being an Apple product it was designed with captain shinytrinket in mind. The device feels somewhat fragile though so a case is probably a must, which isn’t a problem with a phone this compact.
• Camera - it takes consistently very good photos. The slow motion video feature is implemented very well and works nicely. Unlike Samsung the camera UI gives you what you need rather than 62 different gimmicks that you won’t.
• Notifications - push notifications can be hit and miss (as they are occasionally with Android). The quick reply feature coming in the next version of iOS is a very welcome addition and is much needed. Notification center needs a revamp because it’s a bit shit. I like the today screen, it’s useful.
• Default apps and file types - this is still my biggest gripe with iOS. It’s crap. You still can’t set default apps for things like email and you still can’t open things in other apps easily. For example, if I want to open a photo with an image editor I should be able to go into photos, choose the image and send it to the photo editing application. Can’t do that. I have to load the photo editing app first. Stupid. That’s not how I work. Sort it out Apple.
• Keyboard - it’s fast and works well except for the fact that there’s no ‘comma’ key on the main layout. I don’t want to have to go into the numbers and symbols page to put a comma. Thankfully 3rd party keyboard support in the next iOS should sort that out.
• Apps - generally speaking a lot of apps still get released first on iOS and tend to be more polished than on Android. The margins are narrower now though and the Google suite of apps are far better on Android. As you’d expect really. Oh, and using Google Maps on the small screen kinda sucks.
• Responsiveness - this used to be iOS’ strong point. Quite honestly, compared to the latest Android handsets it’s no longer top dog. I’d even go so far as to say that my HTC One M7 is more responsive in the majority of situations that matter (app loading for one). That’s not to say the iPhone 5S isn’t fast - it is. But it ain’t the quickest device out there.
• Motion coprocessor - it’s pretty cool having a device that always records movement. It’s interesting to know how many steps I’ve done each day. I like.
• Bluetooth - it works better with my car than any Android device does. Probably because Audi decided they’d test the MMI with an iPhone.

I’m sure there’s more but that’s all I can think of right now.

No doubt this will be to the utter dismay of my Android-loving, iPhone hating friends. I’ve let go of the Galaxy Note 3 in exchange for an iPhone 5S. 

I fully expect that I’ll be called crazy but I have my reasons. Much as the Note 3 is awesome it does have that one major flaw: Samsung TouchWiz. As I’ve said previously it does it’s best to turn Android into a Fisher-Price crayonfest. 

There’s something to be said about a phone that ‘just works’. Apple make a massive fuss about how their products do just that so let’s see if the latest iteration of iOS can win me over (and the new version coming soon). 

Let’s not forget that I still have both the Nexus 4 and the HTC One so I haven’t abandoned Android in any capacity. Consider this as something of an experiment. 

I’m off to London and Wimbledon from tomorrow for a few days and I’ll be taking just the iPhone as my daily driver. Let’s see how it performs.

No doubt this will be to the utter dismay of my Android-loving, iPhone hating friends. I’ve let go of the Galaxy Note 3 in exchange for an iPhone 5S.

I fully expect that I’ll be called crazy but I have my reasons. Much as the Note 3 is awesome it does have that one major flaw: Samsung TouchWiz. As I’ve said previously it does it’s best to turn Android into a Fisher-Price crayonfest.

There’s something to be said about a phone that ‘just works’. Apple make a massive fuss about how their products do just that so let’s see if the latest iteration of iOS can win me over (and the new version coming soon).

Let’s not forget that I still have both the Nexus 4 and the HTC One so I haven’t abandoned Android in any capacity. Consider this as something of an experiment.

I’m off to London and Wimbledon from tomorrow for a few days and I’ll be taking just the iPhone as my daily driver. Let’s see how it performs.

8sms for Android - SMS done properly

There are many replacement SMS apps available for Android and I’ve tried most of them. Some work alright, some are bloated and others are just rubbish. The best SMS app is that bundled with CyanogenMod - mainly because of the wonderful quick-reply functionality you get and the speed of the app.
Thankfully someone has finally decided to take all that lovely CyanogenMod functionality and bundle it as an app and put it on the Play Store. I’ve been testing it on my HTC One running Android 4.4 with Sense 5 and it works beautifully.
You can get the app from here and read more on the 8sms website here.