Using technology to help with weight loss

Noom Weight lossThere is nothing like technology to get me into the swing of things. Whatever that might be! I have been using an application called Noom Coach which I found out about because I have been using the application called Noom which is a pedometer, step counter. This application Noom Coach/ Noom Weight Loss is basically a sort of weight loss program and it has you doing things like recording what you eat and the exercise that you take. It also gives you a number of articles with information designed to help you and encourage you to lose some weight. There Are Android and also iOS applications available. I certainly do need to lose a little bit of weight and I found this out by stepping on some weighing scale while visiting my son in Ireland. This is where the other bit of technology comes in, in the form of analysing weighing scales. These fancy, wonderful and weird weighing scales measure not only your weight, but also your body mass index BMI, your body water percentage and your body fat percentage. Fantastic or what?

Once a week on the scales

Without having any scales and not knowing how much I weigh, it was going to be difficult to get some control over my weight. Now the plan is to use the scales I have bought, once a week and to record the results. I have already set up a Google docs spreadsheet and hopefully after a month or two I will start seeing some evidence of results. As it stands at the moment I am overweight, although not by a huge amount and fortunately I don’t get anywhere near to the category of obese. It must be all of the dog walking that I do every day of the week.

Beating the steep hill

Not only do I expect to be taking more exercise with going out on my electric bike. The electric bike is there for encouragement so that I will use it on a daily basis. It is better than having a bike that sits in the garage not getting used at all, because I can’t face the very steep hill which is the last part of the journey to get back home. I have cycled up this steep hill with the electric bike a couple of times and even with the assistance of the electric bicycle it is still steep enough to require me pedalling a fair bit to get to the top.

Getting some exercise with an electric bike

The other thing about having electric bike is the fact that during the summertime I expect to use this bicycle on a daily basis to get to and from work. I have worked out that it takes me half an hour to use this bicycle to get to work instead of the 15/20 minutes that it takes by car. With the assistance of electric power I will be able to get there and not be all sweaty and still be there on time. After a day working at the campsite being on my feet for most of the time it is not going to be too bad cycling the 15 km back home again. In fact during the summertime when it is the busiest period in the holiday town where I work by the beach, it will be a definite advantage to be on a bicycle. I could even be able to get home quicker if I have to travel back home on a Sunday evening during the peak period.

Dealing with the intake of food

Noom CoachI have already cut by half the number of biscuits that I eat. I could cut them out altogether but you do have to have some fun in your life. Wherever possible I try and cut down the amount I have on my plate with my other meals also. By using the application Noom Coach and recording what I eat, it also works out the calorie intake approximately; this is quite helpful. The application gives me a recommended intake of calories per day and it also gives me some indication of the qualities of the foods I am eatting. So fried foods would be on the calorie indicator in red, some foods will be showing up with an orange marker and the better foods show as green.

Going pro costs money

There is a pro version of this application Noom Coach, but I don’t expect I will be paying the $9.99 as a monthly fee to get it. The free part of the application is more than enough for me at the present time and I have to say that I quite like the application. I might have a look and see if there are other applications which do a similar thing to see if I can make a comparison with regards the features that they offer. Do you have a favourite application that you use for checking up on your health?

I couldn't wait for the OTA update to Kit Kat 4.4 Android

Updating to KitKat 4.4

It has been a couple of weeks since the new version of Android known as KitKat 4.4 was announced as being available. It was announced at the same time as they told us about the latest Nexus 4 phone and to be honest I would have thought that the over the air update would have been shoved out fairly quickly following that. After changing from iOS to Android I kind of had expectations that with my Nexus 7 being a Google device that it would get updated pretty quickly. I had been hearing of some of the details available in the new version of the software on some of the Android podcasts and of course I wanted to have the latest and greatest, the newest and shiniest. It seems though that Google are not that organised when it comes to putting out updates to their operating system.

Going a different route to Kit Kat

In the end on Google+ I asked a question of the people on the community for the Nexus 7 and it was suggested there that instead of waiting for the pushed out, over the air update that I should load it onto the device manually. The file that was required to be able to do this had been made available over the last couple of days and there was a link in the community answers to the website, I think it was the website for Android Police. I wouldn’t want to download a file from any old place, but I had been listening to the podcast associated with this website and so I trusted it. Well, in fact the file was made available from Google, but there was a link to it from Android Police.

Kit Kat Android update 2

There were instructions from the site also on how to do this upgrade and it turned out to be quite simple. I downloaded the file directly onto the device and then I had to switch off my Nexus 7 and restart it while holding down the volume down key. This takes you into a different mode which gives you access into applications you can use to update your device. You can also go to this website yourself and follow the instructions to update your Nexus 7 and you will probably be just as surprised as I was with regards how easy it is to complete the task. There were also instructions on the same site on how to root the device following the update and as yet I haven’t been able to get that done. I do need to have my Nexus 7 rooted so that I can run certain applications and I need to update something called TWRP and flash something else to get it done. I am sure that I will work it out in time!

Learning how to do things with Android

I do have to admit that some of this still baffles me and I’m still learning some of the terminology that the techno boys used to describe how to do some of these things. But I am getting their bit by bit. one of the applications that I need to use with a device that has been rooted is a screen recording application called SCR Pro and it is much better than the facility that Android now has to do screen recordings. The new screen recording tool in KitKat will only let you record for three minutes and you have two get down to terminal type commands in order to make it work. I don’t think I will be bothering with it.

The Range Tool in Audio Evolution Mobile

Home, home on the range tool

I have got quite fond of the application called Audio Evolution Mobile to use on my android devices, both the Samsung Galaxy S3 and also the Nexus 7. The application is a multitrack digital audio workstation for mobile and is extremely useful for creating audio files. In the previous video we looked at the basic uses of the application and in this one we are moving on to look at what you can do with the Range Tool.

Selecting with the range tool

You can select parts of audio clips of just one track or across multiple tracks so it is possible for you to choose complete sections in your timeline. Once you have selected the audio that you require then you can copy it and pasted into other sections of your audio. This is particular useful when you have spent time setting up the exact positioning of one audio clip next to another on different tracks. When you use the range tool you can take this audio and pasted so that none of those timings change when you put it in at a different point in the song or podcast or whatever.

 

Best markdown editor for Android – LightPaper

Read Part One of this article

When I first started using it, I did manage to lose some work a couple of times by not saving it before I did something else with it. Also occasionally I find that there is some weird behaviour going on that I still have to get to the bottom of. For example at the moment I have added an extra paragraph of some text and when I swipe across from the right to the left on the screen to see the HTML preview version of the text, the text and I’ve just put in is not there?

Going back to other things that I like about this, there are keys that I can use to move through the text either one letter or one word at a time. I am finding this extra functionality to be very useful as sometimes with the Android text I do find it difficult on the small screen to place the cursor exactly where I want it.

There is also what they call a “Distraction Free Mode” and what this does is to only show the paragraph that you are working on. There is an option within the settings which will allow you to go full screen while in this mode. This mode could be useful if you are a person who is easily distracted like dogs can be when you throw a ball.

 

So what is the application like when in use

By tapping on the icon in the top left-hand corner you get to the area where you can get to files you have already worked on. Files can be held locally or they can be synchronised with Dropbox. The Dropbox synchronisation is very useful as it is quite likely that you will be wanting to get at files that you have created while out and about and you will want to do further work on back at the desktop computer.

When you tap on the plus icon he will have an option to create a new document or to create a new folder. Let’s start by creating a new document by typing in the name of the document, tap on the button with a checkmark to say okay and the document is created. We can start working on the document by tapping on the bit of the empty space that we can see over on the right-hand side. Most likely when you begin a document you will create a header and I have started by putting in the two # hash symbols for the header. I can then start typing or dictating the text.

Lightpaper android markdown editor
I am finding that this application works best when used in portrait mode. This is because when I put it into landscape mode and I am typing or dictating, I don’t get to see the actual words appearing on the screen. This could possibly be due to the fact on using the Swiftkey keyboard and it may be different when using a standard Android keyboard. Another possibility is that the application is designed for a larger tablet such as the Nexus 7. In any case, there is no way that I’m going to give up the Swiftkey keyboard, it is far too useful. In Portrait mode you get to see all you need to see.

Let’s put in a link with the button that gives you the link syntax, what this does is to give you the square brackets followed by a set of round brackets and is for a standard type of link in markdown. My preferred way of doing links with markdown is to use reference markdown and there are also keys as I can use to easily let me do this.

If I want to put images into a document using the markdown syntax because perhaps I want to send it directly to a blog then there is a button in the extra row of keys at the top of the screen for this purpose. It is possible to connect up this application to any of your WordPress blogs, Scriptogr.am and Tumbler so this could be very useful if you want to do some blogging on the go.

We have got other useful facilities in there, such as a spellchecker which can be enabled or disabled. There is a style chooser and you can choose between a few different fonts, some different themes and a number of different font sizes. I quite like the solarised light theme that is available.

Best android markdown editor

The NoStylus verdict on Lightpaper Android markdown text editor

When I first started looking for markdown text editors for Android I was not too impressed with what I found. Now that I have Lightpaper and also the application draft has been improved I am quite happy with what I can do writing with Android on my Galaxy S3. I really would like to try this application on a larger Android device such as the Nexus 7 so that I could see how the keyboard works as in whether I would get all of the extra rows of buttons and keys available. In any case when I’m using this in portrait mode I can do what I need to do whether I am typing in using the Swiftkey keyboard or dictating. I have also looked at an application called Markdrop, which is far simpler in terms of what it can do but it is also quite useful to have available.

Read Part One of this article

Playing video with a Twonky Beam

Twonky Beam is quite amazing and connects easily with the Apple TV

Apple tv and twonky beamThis application was suggested to me by a Twitter friend called Ross Craig who goes by the name of Pirate Jim. He suggested it to me because of the fact I was trying an application called BBQ Screen that I wanted to use to send video from the Galaxy S3 to my Mac. I was able to do that successfully with BBQ Screen and this application Twonky Beam does something similar, but going from the Android device to a number of possible devices that you could have connected to your television. Included in the list of devices is the Apple TV and I own one of these. So I sat down on my couch with my Android device, the television turned on and of course also the Apple TV also in operation.

Getting Twonky Beam up and running

As always when you start working with a new application that you have never seen before, it can be a little confusing when you are working out how it does what it does. I didn’t know what to expect, so I didn’t know if I needed to change some settings in the Apple TV or do some special magic which required waving around a rubber chicken in the air.

Twonky beam 1All you need to do is to start up the application and when you do, you do get some information on how to make it all work. Basically, all you need to do is to go to a website which can be one of your own or any other website on the Internet that has video. There are a list of icons that you can choose directly to go to video websites such as Vimeo or YouTube and various others including Funny or Die. Get searching for videos to look at and you are in business pretty soon. An obvious one to start with would be YouTube and when you get to a video page you will see an icon in the top right corner of the video – Beam. The icon is of a decent size and quite easy to tap, to get the video playing and beaming to your Apple TV. At first I thought I must have been doing something wrong or that it didn’t work, but I found that if I slid the screen from right to left I got to a control page in the application where I was able to choose the device I wanted to send the video to. You also get the controls for play, stop, preview and volume. It is also possible to create a beam queue of videos lined up to be played one after the other. I haven’t tried this one yet, I will let you know how I get on.

Twonky Beam works a treat

Overall I am very impressed with this application and the ability to use it to send video from my Android device to my Apple TV. I can certainly see that I will get a lot of use out of this application in my living room. I also tested this Twonky Beam application with a website of my own as I wondered if it was just going to work with just the video server websites like YouTube and so on. I went to a site of my own, Mac20Q and I found a page where I had a video embedded. Sure enough the beam icon was available in the top right-hand corner of the video, I tapped on it and the video was soon playing on my television.

2013 08 12 12 15 34You can also create bookmarks so that you can easily get back to a video that you want to watch later or just watch again. It is quite easy to get to the bookmarks page and it all seemed to work just like a webpage in a web browser. It is just that you also have the ability to send any videos off to the big screen.

Not all plain sailing

I did find on a couple of occasions that I had the video playing on my Galaxy S3 and it was also playing on the Apple TV. After a little bit of experimentation I found that it was easy to just take the webpage back by using the back button to stop the video on the Galaxy. So then I just had the video playing on the Apple TV fullscreen with me on the sofa and my feet up, relaxing. I can already do video from websites to a certain extent directly with the Apple TV such as with the YouTube video site and a couple of others, but there is infinitely more videos available this way as I can go to any old website.

free applications

 

All of the things I have tried so far with the Twonky Beam application has been available to me for free. There are some in app purchases that you can make, but as yet I haven’t found the need to do so. Twonky Beam gets a big thumbs up from NoStylus.

Sliding between Apple OS’s and Android

A Mac user and an Android slider

Due to these of increased use of mobile computing devices such as the iPhone, iPad and also Android devices, it is not surprising that many computer users are finding themselves computing on the move. This could be a good thing that you are spending less time sitting at a desk and getting out and about enjoying the world. During the summertime here in Catalonia I work at a campsite and because of this I do spend less time sitting in front of my iMac anyway. I still want to do some computer-based work such as posting to social networks, recording audio and video and where possible also do some writing. I am still incredibly fond of my iPad and I find that I carry it around the house most of the time. There are so many things that I can still do with a mobile device while I’m sitting down on the sofa or even when I am standing in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil for a cup of tea.

free applications

 

For the last four years or so I have been using the iPhone as my always on my person, carry around computer and the latest one was the iPhone 4. I would have liked to have bought the iPhone 5 but it was way out of my price range and so for one year I had to opt for something that was less than the latest and greatest of the smart phones. I use dictation of the lot on my iMac and it is only natural therefore that I want to use dictation also as much as possible on my mobile computers. It was possible to a certain extent to do dictation with the iPhone 4 using the DragonDictate application and it actually worked quite well. It did seem to be a little bit of a hassle to have to swap from one application to another doing the copy and paste of any text I created. So this year I decided that it was time to upgrade to something more suited to my needs and the Galaxy S3 by Samsung was the one that I chose.

I did an Andy Inhatko

The well-known writer for the Chicago Sun Times recently ditched his iPhone for the Samsung Galaxy S3. He is generally a very intelligent writer and commentator on the Apple side of things and so was quite a surprise for a lot of people. He even wrote a three-part article on his website detailing all of the reasons why he made the change. My own reasons for going with the S3 are quite simple, in that I wanted a phone with a larger screen. I wanted a phone that would do Siri like functionality, a phone that I could talk to and interact with in that way. It was time to have something more modern than the iPhone 4 and to be honest the iPhone 5 didn’t really make the grade. I could have waited until the autumn of this year and gone for the next Apple iPhone, but I seriously doubt that there is going to be anything that is will be a big step up from what is available already.

SwiftKeyI find now that when I go back to the iPad to do things while I’m in the house there are one of two things that I miss from the Android system. Most missed item from Android when I use my iPad is the keyboard, I use the Android Swift Key alternative keyboard which is absolutely amazing and quite phenomenal in its ability to predict not just the word that I am presently typing, but also the word that follows. I can often type in one whole complete word with just one tap. I’m also finding that the dictation service is better than the dictation service that comes with Siri. If it makes a guess at a word and it is incorrect then I get more options to change it to make it the word that I wanted.

I do find that I am often tempted to carry the Android phone around the house to use rather than the iPad, but that is mostly due to weight considerations. On the other hand, I do think that I could also be tempted by the new Nexus 7 when it arrives. I don’t think that I would want to get rid of my iPad there are still some applications on there that I would really miss. The video editing applications such as iMovie and Pinnacle for iPad would be sorely missed, as would the text entry application Drafts.

Sliding between the two systems

I have found that the easiest way to slide between the two is for me to use a Google email address as my main email address whereas before I was using and iCloud one. I do it this way because on the iPad I can get to my Google email and Google plus just as easy as if I was using it on the Android. I haven’t found it so easy to connect up to the iCloud email through the Android Galaxy S3.

By using Dropbox I have access to all of my files and I have found an app which is called Draft which has some similar capabilities to the similarly named Drafts that I use on iOS. Draft isn’t as good as Drafts, but it is at least workable for the things as I do most often, such as posting to the social networks. So any writing that I do on the iPad I can get to on the S3 and continue working and because I’m using markdown it is quite simple for me to send work in the other direction also.

Whatever application I’m in when using Android, I have excellent sharing facilities which are better than on iOS. I get the option to make a temporary or permanent choice of which application I want to use when doing a particular type of share.

I have been a big user of Audioboo for the last few months and the application on the Galaxy S3 is not anywhere near as good as the one on iOS. This is a big disappointment but considering the Android app is a beta application there are good possibility is that it will improve considerably over time. I have found an audio editing application Audio Evolution Mobile which isn’t quite as good as Twisted Wave on iOS, but is a multitrack editing solution which does the job.

In search of best audio editor for Android

With my iPhone I have been able to record audio really well using an application called Twisted Wave, which is still my preferred audio editor for use on my iPad. I like to be able to record audio while I am walking with my dog and it is even better still if I can use that audio to post an Audioboo. Unfortunately, the Audioboo application for Android isn’t up to the same standard as the Audioboo application for iOS. It is only a beta version, so we can hope that it will get better in time. Therefore I had the need to look for an application to use to record audio and hopefully get something as good as Twisted Wave. It is fairly easy to search through the Google Play Store and find a few candidates for the job. There is even a voice recorder included in the software on the Samsung Galaxy S3 as standard.

Audioboo Android

Voice Recorder

This is the standard audio voice recorder application that comes with the phone and it has a visual representation of your audio wave as you are talking to the phone. There is a level meter which looks quite analog and also gives you good feedback regarding the level of your voice as you’re speaking. The recording from this when using the standard microphone in the phone is very clear and seems to be very little hiss or hum.

When you’re ready to get your recording off the phone it is very easy using the share menu. There are a huge number of shares available with SoundCloud, Evernote, email, Google Drive and of course Dropbox. There are other possibilities for sharing out of the voice recording application, in fact you are spoilt for choice. Sending it out through dropbox was very easy and I soon had it on my Mac, the only problem is that it was in a strange .3GA format. I haven’t yet worked out which application I can use, either to convert it or to open it.

Easy voice recorder

Easy Voice Recorder Free

This is a simple application which is just a recorder and player, although it does give you a number of options of the technical settings for the recording such as sample rate, output format and you can use the PCM which is the highest quality. If you choose AAC then you lose the ability to pause your recording, but you do still get a good quality format to use. In the free version you don’t get access to the choice of sound input source for recording, or stereo. You also don’t get the ability to alter the gain, the noise gate or the noise cut off. I don’t think that the price of the application is too high so worth trying out for size.

Pocket WavePad

Initially when I chose this application to give a try as a Android audio editor, I quite liked it. There is something about him though that didn’t suit me, which is why I looked elsewhere to look for something that worked better. I think I wasn’t too impressed with the audio editing capabilities and for the price it didn’t seem as good as I initially thought.

Audio Evolution Mobile

Out of all of the applications that I tried on my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone for recording audio and editing the audio that I had recorded, I found that Audio Evolution Mobile is the best of the bunch. It gives me a good quality recording, although I do have to do a little bit of twiddling to get the gain set right, depending on which microphone I’m using. If I am using the microphone that is part of the phone then I have to turn the gain down because otherwise it comes in too hot and I get some clipping of the audio wave. When I use the microphone that is part of the headset, then I need to turn up the gain otherwise the sound is too low.

Audio Evolution Mobile
This application gives me a good view of the audio wave so that I can see what it is I have recorded. It is a multitrack DAW type of application and it is also suitable for musicians as well as someone like myself who just wants to do a podcast. There is a view mode which lets you scroll through the project and also to zoom in and out. With the edit mode you can move samples and also you can trim them by moving the beginning or end edges of the sound. Then there is a split mode which allows you to tap anywhere within your sample to split it into multiple parts. This mode is quite useful as it allows you to select a part of the sound in the middle and to delete it. There is also a delete button. Then one of the buttons I haven’t yet worked out is the automation mode, for this I think I need to read the manual to find out exactly what I can do with it. Obviously I haven’t really needed it so far, whatever it does.

There is also a channel mixer screen and I can use that with a long Tap to add tracks. This is another part of the application that I haven’t really used much yet. Within this part it is possible to tap on the button to ‘arm’ and that makes it ready to be recorded into. If you’re working with multiple tracks then you can also choose to solo the track you’re working with or to mute one or more of the tracks. There are also controls in this Android audio editor there to pan the track left or right.

Recording audio with the Android Audio Evolution Mobile Application

It is very easy to start recording audio by pressing the usual red button that you find in audio applications and when you have finished recording just press the white stop button. When you press the recording button a second time the next bit of recording goes on to the next track. Most times I only want to record onto one track, but if I do start again then I can easily see the separate recordings that I have made. Using the editing available within the application I can move a recording on one track onto another. I could otherwise just leave the tracks where they are because when I do the mixdown to get it ready to export out of the application, all of the track information is taken care of.

Exporting out of Audio Evolution Mobile For Android

Projects can be saved and reloaded later if you want to and you can also choose the sample rate that you want to use for your project in the project settings. Tapping on the menu button brings up the options for loading, saving or deleting the project. It is necessary to scroll down to get to some of the options and the one at the bottom of the list is the one that I use to mixdown the project. It is here that I can give the file name to the exported audio. I can choose the resolution 16-bit, 24-bit, 32-bit or 32-bit float. For what I am doing using 16-bit is good enough and then I can choose which file type I want to use. All of the file types are uncompressed high quality audio file types with WAV, AIFF, FLAC or OGG. I can then export out to the project folder or to the music folder. I prefer to send the exported AIFF files that I make, to the music folder as I know where to find them when I want to get those files onto my iMac. All in all it is working out well going from iPhone to Galaxy S3

A Sliding Mac User – I’ve Swapped the iPhone for a Galaxy S3

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.

free applications

 

What do you think of the show so far?

Android and Mac userWell 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?

audioboo on androidThere 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.

Draft app

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.

An iPhone users first days with an Android device

Running full speed through fog with eyes closed

It was all a bit of a blur, my first day with my Samsung Galaxy S3 with so much to do to set up applications that I had little time to really use the device. My first impression has to be that there is a lot more to it than there is to an iPhone. As well as having apps you also have widgets. There are some applications which can be loaded from a sidebar and there is an area where there are just applications. When you’re not used to this, it does feel awfully strange to be seeing icons for applications in numerous places. Not only that, but there is an extensive feedback section in the form of the notifications. I also added a launcher app which lets me swipe to apps by running my finger for the upper right side of the screen. Very cool!

free applications

 

As I said, on my first day I spent most of it loading up applications to do the things that I do with my smart phone. There were one or two applications that were already installed and I just had to provide my login credentials to get them going, Dropbox being one of those. Some of the applications that were already on the phone needed to be updated and I was happy to be able to find a setting which allows for automatic updates of apps. I have just woken up the Galaxy S3 and I see that there have been one or two applications that have updated themselves. On the other hand there was a notification also to say that there are a number of applications that still need to be updated. Tapping on that notification brought me to a screen and all I need to do is to tap on Update All, press the Accept button a few times and the updating process is underway.

My essential first to install apps on the Galaxy S3

The first app to be installed was the 1Password reader which also required me to get Dropbox started so that I could synchronise my passwords from my Apple system. It did seem to take a long time to get the synchronisation finished and it wasn’t just me being impatient. I then was able to login to my Google mail account, which was also my Google login to the device. Next I was able to set up my access to Apple email which took me two attempts, but with a little bit of Google foo, ended up being quite easy. It did take me some time to work out how to swap between the running applications, it is a press and hold down on the main button, bottom centre.

I have since worked out that the best Mail client for me is the Google app for Gmail. SO I set up a new gmail account and I am forwarding everything from everywhere else to this account and it keeps it all tidy.

It is possible to push applications out to the iPhone from Google Play from wherever. So I was doing some searching for applications on my iMac and clicking on the install button. It did take 30 to 40 minutes before the Google Play system saw the Samsung Galaxy S3 as being available for this. During this period I had numerous applications being installed on the device including Audioboo, CamScanner, Evernote, Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, Pinterest, Skype, Snapseed, SoundCloud, WhatsApp, Wunderlist. My son had told me to try out a podcast player application called Podkicker, I tried it and I didn’t like it so I installed I paid for application called Pocket Casts, which I am quite pleased with.

Draft app

Text and speech input on the Galaxy S3

There is Siri like thing called S-Voice which took me a while to find, but once I found it I had it set up fairly quickly. There was even a list of helpful suggestions on how the voice control can work. It can be used to start or switch to applications and I get a pleasant female voice giving me feedback on what is happening. I asked it to open up 1Password and it got confused with another application with a similar name, otherwise it seems quite helpful. If I say the complete app name including the word reader at the end it works fine. It is also supposed to work when you give it a voice keyword and that is not really working out for me yet. I think I may have to do some more setting up with that Galaxy S3 functionality. For now I can do the double click on the home button.

Changing to a different keyboard – Swipe

As part of my research before getting the phone I had decided upon the application/keyboard Swype for Android. Another keyboard that was suggested to me was called Swiftkey which has similar functionality for entering text. What I like about Swype is the fact that it is owned by Nuance whose product DragonDictate I use daily on my Mac for dictating all of my articles. I have also been using the Dragon Dictation application regularly on my iPhone. So while I was actually using the phone when I was out walking with the dog and doing Foursquare check ins and also for when I was writing the description for an Audioboo, I was able to dictate rather than type.

Since writing the first draft of this article I have taken advice of my son and got my hands on the application called Swift Keys and I actually like it better. It does seem to do a better job of the voice dictation for when I’m entering text and it is almost creepy hand uncanny the way that it is able to predict the words I’m going to come up with next when I am using the keyboard. When I am writing a whole sentence it is quite likely that I will only need to hit the keyboard for all five times as often it will guess the next word and save me much typing. It is possibly almost as fast to use the keyboard like this as it is for me to dictate. If it does get a word wrong, which is bound to happen sometimes, if I select the word sometimes it gives me options for other words. On occasions is served giving me options for other words it will just give me the chance to delete that word, which is okay too.

Not quite a UK keyboard

There is one thing which is quite annoying with the Swift Keys is that even though I have set it up to use the UK keyboard language option, it doesn’t let me put in the full stop using those words. I object to having to do it the American way with saying the word period.
Dictation with Swift Keys

It has not been a completely smooth ride

Three times so far I have had to enter the pin code for the phone even though the phone had not been turned off. Somehow or other the Galaxy S3 did a half a reboot so in effect was not actually working as a phone. I only saw that this had happened when I opened the case to use the phone and saw that it was looking for the PIN. This could be a little bit of a nuisance if I am expecting a call to come in and the phone capabilities have been turned off by the phone. I will be keeping an eye on this and I may have to make a visit to the shop where I bought the phone in order to get it sorted out.

Missing one or two apps that I would like

Obviously I’m not going to be able to run OmniFocus, as that is a Mac and iOS only application. That is not a huge problem though, I didn’t run OmniFocus on my iPhone anyway. At least I do have the facility to create a new OmniFocus action from the Android by sending an email to the special OmniFocus email address. This works quite well and is good enough. It is still quite handy to have some sort of GTD application on the phone and I did load up Wunderlist, but I have also loaded up others such as the very nice Any.do application. I have loaded up another one also, haven’t tried it yet as I have been too busy with everything else.

My Galaxy S3 Home screen

Messing about with the widgets!

When the phone came to into my sticky fingers there were one or two widgets already set up on the screens. There was a music player and a video player as well as a widget that gives the time, date and temperature, plus weather information. Then there is also the Google search widget as you might expect on an Android phone. This makes it much quicker to be able to do a Google search without having to actually open up any applications. When using this, there is also voice feedback in the form of the Siri like capabilities that is called S-Voice. I can also open up the Google application which has recently been updated to offer extra information on cards, based upon places you have been, searches that you have made and so on. Some people might think that this is a little bit weird or creepy, but it is actually quite functional and works a treat.

What’s the verdict after three days with the Galaxy S3?

Even though there are one or two things that don’t work quite as well as I would like, I have to say that I am delighted with the overall experience. It is a great looking phone with the big-screen. More importantly, the functionality that is offered, makes what I do quicker, faster and easier. I like it, in fact I think it is almost love.

Making the change from iPhone to Galaxy S3

Has hell frozen over? Making the change from iPhone to Galaxy S3

This has been something that I have been wondering about for the last couple of months and it has come about for a number of reasons. Yes it is true I have pulled the trigger on buying a Samsung Galaxy S3 and I am actually looking forward to it. My NoStylus website will be getting an injection of Android-based videos and articles. So why have I done it?

The need for a bigger screen

I have honestly been finding that the iPhone screen is a little bit too small and I don’t think that the upgrade to an iPhone five which is only slightly bigger is going to be a large enough increase for me. I have been using the iPhone 4 and the size of it, certainly is quite a constraint especially when you have the keyboard displayed. Often it doesn’t leave much room left for actually seeing what you’re typing. I am also hoping that with the larger screen I shall be able to see it easier without having to go and run for my spectacles. Could just be though that the larger screen will just fit more things due to the resolution of it. Text could be just as small and I could still need to find spectacles to be able a read the small stuff.

Change to Galaxy S3

More storage space to do things

The iPhone 4 I have is a later version iPhone 4 with only 8 GB of storage memory available and because of the number of applications that I have available, I have to manage them carefully. I am often having to delete applications from the iPhone in order to be able to do the usual things that I would like to do with a smart phone. It really is a complete pain having to remove functionality from my phone just so that I am able to record a little bit of video or take a few photos and be able to store them. With the Samsung Galaxy S3 I will have 16 GB available initially, but I will also buy a mini SD card with another 16 GB that I can use for storage. Maybe this one will do – SanDisk 32 GB Mobile microSDHC Flash Memory Card
. It seems that the initial 16 GB is where the applications have to go, as it is not possible to put them onto the extra storage space. I think that will work perfectly though.

Talking to my phone

I do have the Dragon dictation application on my iPhone which lets me dictate. It actually works quite well and I can tweet directly from it, sending to SMS, email and Facebook. Usually what I do is to copy what I have into the clipboard in order to paste it in the application where I need it. The usual place that I need to put the text is into Audioboo. With the Samsung Galaxy S3 I will be able to speak directly into any application that has a keyboard. It is also possible for me to get an extra keyboard, for instance I might like to try out the Swype keyboard which also has a different way of entering text as well as having the integration with the Nuance Dragon dictation. The need to be able to talk to my phone is not as big as the need for the storage space and for the larger screen, but still quite an influence on the decision to get the new phone.

It is going to be a little bit weird and strange not to have an iPhone

I have been using the iPhone 4, probably for nearly 4 years and I dare say there will be one or two things that I will miss. The Drafts application will undoubtedly be one of them and I will do a great deal of searching to find something that gives me similar functionality. If you know something that will do this job, then please let me know in the comments below.

I do have a large number of iPhone applications, which are not going to go to waste because of the fact that I still have and still intend to run, on my iPad. So I will not be going completely over to the dark side. May the force be with you! I will miss the application Moves which I have been using extensively lately to record the number of steps that I take each day. I did find a webpage with a number of Android applications that suggested an application that might be similar although it was specifically for pet owners, dog walkers. I expect that there are other applications that will record distances walked or cycled even if they don’t count the number of steps. In any case it will be quite a bit of fun searching and trying a few applications out.

One of the main things that I do with my iPhone is to use an application called Downcast. I am constantly listening to podcasts and I’m sure that I will not have a problem finding an Android application that does the job also.

I will need to get myself an application for expanding text, even though probably with using the voice to text facilities available on the Samsung, I will not need it quite so much. It will be interesting to see if there are applications like Text Expander that have an API that allow you to use that facility in other Android applications.

Samsung S3I have seen that there are some audio editing applications available and if I need to I will purchase the Android version of Twisted Wave. Certainly at the beginning of this new smart phone usage, I will be trying to stick with as many free applications as possible. So for notetaking I will use Evernote, but I will be looking for a writing application that specifically is good for writing in markdown.

BitCoin wallet for Android

None of the BitCoin wallets that are available for the iPhone let you do any actual exchange of the cyber currency, whereas with Android I will be able to use it for transactions, should the need arise. So for example if somebody wanted to pay me something, then I would be able to scan a QR Code displayed on another phone and then actually get the crypto currency in my own Android BitCoin wallet. It may also even be possible for using the NFC facilities on the Samsung Galaxy S3 to make transfers.

Using NFC will be another thing to play with

Just as an example, it would be possible for me to get an NFC tag that I could put beside my bed and use that to inform the NFC on the Android device to go to silent mode and set the alarm. Or I could put a tag in the car that would set the mode of the Galaxy S3 just the way that it needs to be for in car use. I don’t think it is very expensive in order to buy a number of these NFC tags and it is definitely something that I would like to try. I see I can buy a set of 10 NFC tags from Amazon for $15. Samsung TecTilesfor NFC

The Samsung Galaxy S3 has a better camera

An application that I will be downloading to the phone in with the first wave of Android apps that I will install, is going to be Snapseed. As this is owned now by Google it is not surprising that there is an Android version of the app. I will be experimenting also with various applications that enhance the photo taking experience and I will be looking to see how it works with panoramic photos and also seeing if there’s something that does HDR photos.

I can’t wait to get the new toy and have a play

I have three or four days to wait before I can get my hands on my new Samsung Galaxy S3 and it is lovely to have this something new and different to look forward to. I will almost be counting the hours, but at the same time do my best to enjoy the last few days using the iPhone. I could keep my hands on the iPhone and not sell it straightaway and I haven’t really decided yet, if I’m going to keep it for a week or two.

With the Apple event of WWDC coming up in just over a week’s time and the probability that they will be announcing the next version of the iOS, there may be some goodies coming that would be nice to see on an iPhone. It is also quite possible that with the fact that I have the iPhone 4 I would be missing out on some of the new things coming in any case. Just the same as I have already been missing out on, the use of Siri on the iPhone. With all of the new things that I will have to use and abuse, I don’t think I am going to be too bothered. I have been experimenting lately with the use of the Google Now on iOS and of course within the Samsung Galaxy S3 it will be built in and I will certainly be able to get even better use out of it there. Already I think that the Google Now is very good and extremely useful. So there you go – Hell did freeze over and I am ready to leave the iPhone behind me for the moment.

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