In a fit of masochism, I decided that Iâ€™d carry only an iPhone 5 for some undefined period of time, to see how the other half lives. (Iâ€™ve previously done this with Windows Phone 7.5, and found the experience to be interesting and enjoyable.)
After 5 days with just iOS 6 on an iPhone 5, I have a few positive observations:
iPhone 5 is a magnificent piece of hardware. It is easily the nicest phone I have ever held. Iâ€™ve used faster phones, phones with bigger screens, and phones with better operating systems, but from a whole package perspective, iPhone 5 is very, very nice.
iOS6 is very nice. Iâ€™ve been mostly away from iOS for several years, and am pleased to say that the notification changes that iOS5 made are a huge improvement in usability.
As one who is pretty firmly ensconced in Googleâ€™s ecosystem, I have to say that life with an iPhone is pretty significantly better these days with regards to getting done all the things I need to. Chrome, GMail, Calendar, Contacts, Drive, Voice and even Latitude â€œjust work.â€ Hats off to Google for doing this work, and hats off to Apple for not being a dick about letting them do it.
I can say unquestionably that iOSâ€™s approach to multitasking here is far superior to Androidâ€™s in about 95% of cases. For nearly every app I use, having the state suspend and then wake back up on demand is sufficient, and battery life is indeed quite a bit better for normal usage as a result. (Of course there are some classes of app that just have to run in the background, in which case Androidâ€™s mechanism is better, but Iâ€™ve yet to feel like I needed to have an app like that here in iOS Land.)
Webapps on iOS are fantastic. This is easily the best platform Iâ€™ve encountered for making web applications seamlessly integrate into the â€œnativeâ€ experience.
As expected, I do have some negative observations, but even I am surprised at how few they are:
Inter-app communication is effectively impossible. If you want to, for instance, open a link a friend sent you in Chrome, it requires copy/paste gymnastics. If after seeing the link, you want to share it on Google+ or LinkedIn or myspace or Friendster, it also requires complicated copy/paste gymnastics. Androidâ€™s approach here is to allow any app to send content to any other app, fostering a much more interaction between users. iOSâ€™s seems to be focused more on making deals with Facebook and Twitter to foster more money changing hands.
The app update cycle, while fostering the idea that developers release more polished functional apps in the first place, makes rapid iteration pretty impossible. Googleâ€™s iOS apps are some of the best around, but the fact that their Google+ client is at least 3 functionality releases behind Androidâ€™s seems pretty squarely to blame on the hassle of getting updates approved.
All in all, Iâ€™m pretty pleasantly surprised at how easily this die-hard Android (and Google experience) user has been able to transition into using iOS, and how little pain the transition has actually caused.
Hey Internet. Sorry to disturb you, but it's been quite a while, hasn't it. Sorry I haven't written, but there's been a lot keeping me busy.
How about a recap by way of quick reviews of a few of the gadgets I've acquired since last we spoke?
HTC EVO: Pretty nice Android phone, but too darn big for my tastes. The 4.3-inch display made for a device that was just too cumbersome to use as a phone, but not quite large enough to be a tablet. If you have big pockets, it's a nice choice.
Samsung Galaxy S Captivate: really nice hardware, but it's a shame that Samsung screwed up the software so badly. Android 2.3 is just about out and Samsung still hasn't managed to release Android 2.2 for it yet. (It's a good thing some nice Samsung engineer leaked an early build of 2.2 about 3 months ago, or I'd be having serious 'behind-the-curve' withdrawals.) The 4.0-inch screen is a much nicer size than the HTC EVO's, making for a much more comfortable pocket phone, and easily my favorite of the various phone form factors I've used.
Sony Blu-ray GoogleTV box: really nice hardware, but it's a shame that Sony screwed up the software so badly. The Blu-ray player application feels like it was made by a completely different team than the rest of the system, which makes sense, since Google didn't make that part. The one area that this device shines, incidentally, is actually the one everyone made fun of when it was first released: the remote control. People laughed, but I can honestly say it's the single greates remote control I've ever used. I really miss it after returning the whole package to the Sony store. If you don't care about Blu-ray, I say save $100 and get the Logitech.
Logitech GoogleTV box: hardware's cheaper than the Sony, but some of the software is better. The built in Harmony universal remote system is really slick, and being $100 cheaper than the sony is a nice perk. The bundled Bluetooth keyboard is way too big to make for a comfortable control device, but as we've been using a vintage SGI Indy keyboard on our various computer-television-hybrid devices for a number of years (have you ever seen then length of the cord on those SGI Indy keyboards?? Not sure why SGI thought they needed that long of a cord, but I for one am glad they made that decision.) it is a step up. GoogleTV has some pretty neat potential, but it's a real shame Google hasn't released the SDK for it yet, or, at the very least, just allowed access to the existing wealth of Android apps in the Android Market. Apps will be where the platform shines, so it seems kind of crazy that they're trying to sell them prior to that. I guess it has Twitter, so what more could people really want, right? Also, it's a shame all the TV networks have blocked the damn thing.
Samsung Galaxy Tab: really nice hardware, but it's a shame that US carriers have the phone functionality disabled. (The one I've been using is unlocked and has full phone functionality, which is awesome. However, being a prototype, it's also got a really rickety housing that feels very fragile.) Darn fine device; great form factor. Goes great in my cargo pants, and after using it for a few minutes, using an iPad now feels like driving a boat. I'm not, however, completely sold on Android as a tablet OS just yet. This hasn't stopped me from using it all the damn time, I'm suspect that a web-based platform might make for a better experience.
ChromeOS: nice hardware but -- wait. I haven't actually seen hardware yet. But I've been running ChromeOS on one of my netbooks for a few months and really, really like it. I tend to use web-based services unless I absolutely have to use a native application, so a web-based OS is a natural fit for me. Combine that with yesterday's Chrome Webstore launch, and it's now an attractive platform for people who are far, far less nerdy than me. If you're having trouble imagining a web-based OS, take a look at the Chrome Webstore and install a few apps. Then imagine your computer is faster with longer battery life and not encumbered by nonsense like virus checkers and printer drivers; now you can start to imagine what ChromeOS is like.
Apple 13" Macbook Pro: really nice hardware, but it's a shame Apple screwed up the software. OS bitching aside, the Macbook Pro is easily the finest piece of computer hardware I've ever owned, and nearly a year of living with Windows 7 made making the switch to OSX far less painful than it would have been going straight from Linux. I'm not completely sold on OSX, but for my usage, it's pretty shocking how much more productive I am than I was on Windows. Having a real UNIX system under all that shiny bounciness is something I didn't realize I missed until I had it back. I think I may write a post about my (most recent) Mac switch instead of going into detail here, as this quick little post has gotten kind of out of hand.
Hopefully it won't be several months before we speak again. Don't be a stranger.