Archive for August 2014

Moving from Android to iPhone/iOS

My last iPhone was in 2009, and I switched after around a year when I got sick of AT@T, which used to be the sole carrier for iPhones. Since then I used and loved the Motorola Droid and its Motorola successors. Yesterday, I took the plunge and got an iPhone 5S. Despite the iPhone 6 coming out next month, the feeling of nostalgia was too overbearing to make me want to wait.

Being a long term Linux on the desktop user, I jumped on the apple band wagon for computers around a year ago. Switched my primary desktop from Debian Unstable/sid on home-built hardware to a Mac Mini running OS  X. Later on, bought a macbook air. My day job provides me with a macbook pro and a RHEL desktop, which I choose to use headless via ssh/mosh. I’ve taken to the “Linux/BSD on servers and OS X on desktops” paradigm.

I don’t have any major complaints with OS X, mainly because most of the open source apps I used on Linux work just as well (Firefox, Thunderbird, Filezilla, Chrome, others) and my favorite CLI apps either come bundled (vim, screen, bash, ssh) or are easily installable with brew or compilable from source. You get the ability to use the best of open source, as well as apps which don’t run on Linux such as MS Office and the Adobe suite, without the headache of tweaking Wine. Setting up netatalk/AFP is also nicer and more integrated than using plain NFS to share files from my Debian NAS.

However, there are several complaints and gripes I have about iOS, and I felt like making a blog post to list them:

Things I don’t like about iOS:

– Can’t play OGG/FLAC. My music collection is a hodgepodge of mp3/wma/flac/m4a/ogg/flac, all of which Nightingale (and Rhythmbox) play without issue. That Python script I wrote to convert a ton of music files to low quality MP3 may finally come in handy.

– Can’t save non-picture files to the device, such as PDFs or tarballs or anything else you may want to occasionally save.

– Can’t browse filesystem. No external storage like an SD card or similar.

– No SwiftKey alternative. I hear that a SwiftKey iOS port is in development, and I’m looking forward to it.

– No app privilege limitation or ability to see what functionality of your phone is given to apps. I don’t particularly care that much though.

– Can’t transfer files/pictures via Bluetooth. I had gotten accustomed to taking a picture and using the bluetooth file transfer app in OS X to get them off my phone. Emailing pictures I take to myself is a bit of an inconvenience.

– Airdrop can’t copy files between OS X and iPhones. I had guessed there would be some form of nice integration between the two platforms, aside from iTunes. Luckily FaceTime is immune to this limitation.

– No 4chan browser apps in appstore. Mimi for android is fantastic but apparently apple kicked off all equivalent apps years ago. It’s a little tempting to make a 4chan browser in Swift and see my luck for getting it added.

– I don’t think you can install arbitrary apps in same way you can on android by copying over a .APK package and accepting the security warnings.

– No floating chat heads in Facebook Messenger. I assume this is due to less functionality being given to apps.

– NSA is probably watching everything I do, but this con likely applies to Android devices as well.

The pros:

– Finger print unlock. I didn’t know it came with this so it was a bit of a pleasant surprise when the setup wizard prompted for my thumb print. Makes waking it from sleep and authorizing purchases very convenient.

– Higher quality apps. The apps that have their Android equivalents are more polished. I attribute this more to app devs feeling that there may be more iPhone users than android users, or that they’re just more likely to pay for apps. Examples: Uber, Yelp, Facebook, Wayze, Kindle, others.

– The device (iPhone 5S) itself is beautifully made. Metal case + glass screen. The two android models I’ve had were just plastic, and I feel that’s how most of them are. This is also a con as it’s more likely to crack and break whereas I put my droids through hell without their screens getting cracked.

– Lightning connector is better than micro USB. Akin to the new power connectors for macbooks, it doesn’t have a “right side up” way of connecting.

– Camera/photo app offers cropping and adding filters to pictures. I imagine that newer android versions have this built in but I haven’t looked.

– FaceTime is awesome.

– GoogleHangout app provides good enough access and integration to gchat, and the ability to add google accounts to the phone’s internal account system provides easy access to my google contacts.

Conclusion

The restrictions and missing features are likely all “by design.” It’d really suck if Apple applied this approach to the same extent to OS X.

I’m likely going to use the iPhone 5S for a year or so and then go back to an android device made by Motorola.