I know of a number of Mac and iOS users that have dipped their toe into the Android waters. You have people like the Nosillacast podcaster Alison Sheridan who bought herself a Nexus 7, and had nice things to say about it. Mind you, that was in the first month of being an Android user and since then it has gone a little bit quiet. Then there was the Mac commentator Andy Ihnatko who shocked the Mac tech world by ditching his iPhone for the Samsung Galaxy S3. Then I know two people called Stefaan who have also been using the Galaxy S3, despite being committed Mac users. So it is not that unusual for it to happen, nor is it terribly difficult to be able to slide between the two platforms, Apple and Android. The fact that there were others that had made the jump before me didn’t particularly influence my decision, but what they had to say gave me some useful information.
What do you think of the show so far?
Well the show so far hasn’t been rubbish. Even though it has not been completely plain sailing, the overall experience of using an Android phone in connection with my Mac has worked out pretty well. Something that I do quite often is to take screenshots from a device or other photographs and I have to get them onto my Mac so that I can add them to blog posts that I am writing. With iOS I have PhotoStream available for me to do sharing photos that and I thought that I would have to do go for a manual option to be able to copy the images across. In the end I have used two Dropbox solutions to complete this task. To begin with I was exporting from the photo application on the Android to Dropbox and then I just had to wait for the folder to update on my Mac and it did actually were quite quickly. Then I remembered that there is a service that Dropbox has which will automatically upload any photographs that you take with your smart phone device to your Dropbox account. So I set this up and got some extra free Dropbox storage space for doing so, this works just as well as the PhotoStream service from iOS.
Why make the change to Android?
With only having the iPhone 4 with 8 GB of memory I was constantly having to delete applications and data from the phone in order to have even a minimal amount of space left for taking photographs or shooting video. This was a complete pain in the arse and to a certain extent rendered the iPhone useless for some of the most important tasks I wanted to use it for. With the Samsung Galaxy S3 I have 16 GB available on the phone and I have also been able to add another 32 GB in the form of a microSD card. Now that makes a huge difference!
On account of being an avid user of the dictation services on my Mac with DragonDictate, I also wanted to use dictation on the iPhone. The iPhone 4 does not have this built into the operating system with Siri. It was possible to use the Dragon Dictation application for iOS to get that functionality, but then I had to do the switching between applications and copying and pasting. It was workable, but it is much better to have it built directly into the operating system as it is with the Jellybean Android. I love dictating into all the apps I use, especially the Draft app for Android.
Why wait for iPhone 6?
There is the possibility that I could have waited to get the iPhone 5 which would have given me solutions to some of the problems I needed to get sorted out. To get an iPhone with a similar amount of memory was going to be prohibitively expensive. In any case, after using the Samsung Galaxy S3 for a week, I am inclined to think that the S3 is a better smart phone. For the most part I have been able to get my hands on applications for the Galaxy phone to duplicate the capabilities of the applications I had on my iPhone 4. In most cases these applications have been just as good, or better than the iOS applications. The Audioboo application for Android is a beta version and is not as good. I am hoping that it gets upgraded to something that works better soon. I miss the Moves application which I used to record the number of steps walked during the day. I have tried two other pedometer type applications for Android and neither of them are quite as good as Moves. I will keep looking.
A new direction for the NoStylus weblog
My other main website is the NoStylus.com which up until now has been about iPad, iPhone and iPod and I am delighted that I have an extra string to my bow. Getting the Samsung Galaxy S3 allows me to have another subject area to talk and write about for my website dedicated to touchscreen computers.
Vive la difference
For the first day or two it was weird and odd, it all seemed so strange. For the most part I was completely occupied in searching for applications and installing them, so I didn’t have too much time to properly use and test the phone. Eventually it all started to become clearer and less like wading through molasses.
Launching Apps on the phone
There are a number of different ways that you can launch applications, such as from the home screens which can have a mixture of applications and widgets. Then you get another set of screens which only hold the various applications that you have installed. Once you get to those screens you can also choose from other widgets that have been added along with the applications you have put on. One of the GTD applications I have added to the Galaxy S3 has given me a selection of widgets that I can choose from and it is quite simple to drag and drop them into the home screens.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 camera versus the iPhone camera
The Samsung Galaxy S3 camera is a huge improvement over the iPhone 4. It has more megapixels and more importantly it starts up much faster. The camera also has a burst mode which is good for taking pictures of moving objects. You can then choose the best of the photos from that burst mode set.
Alternate Keyboards to choose from
One of the absolute best features of the Android system is the ability to add alternative keyboards. So far I have tried two of them, the one is called Swype and the other one is called SwiftKey and of the two I prefer the SwiftKey keyboard. With these keyboards you can type your words by putting your finger on the screen and sliding it from one key to another. You don’t even have to be terribly accurate as the system guesses the words that you want to use. If you’re tapping on the keys to get your words out then with SwiftKey you will be amazed at how few keystrokes you need to type out a whole sentence. Not only does it guess the word that you are working on, but it will guess what word is likely to come next. So for that next word you can choose it from the guesses at the top of the keyboard without even having to type in the first letter of the word. It is possible to have a whole sentence typed, with just six or seven taps. The SwiftKey keyboard application learns from the typing that you have done and you can also tell it to look at a website that you have written for, Facebook posts that you have made and Twitter posts too. It is nothing less than absolutely bloody amazing!
An Android Phone user and a Mac Fan
Who is to say that you have to only stay on one side of the fence? I am finding that you can make it work well when using Mac OSX along with iOS on an iPad and Android on a phone. Using Dropbox as the glue to bind it all together is the thing.
There is of course the possibility that I get to love one side more than the other and get it all on one system again. Right now I am finding a few of the things from Android, not only compelling and useful, but also features I don’t want to do without.