iPhone to Android – One week in

(The post title alone should guarantee enough SPAM for the rest of the year ;) )


OK, so I guess it will still take a while until Apple comes up with an iPhone with a significantly bigger screen, and my bifocals upgrade much faster. I’m heavily invested in the iOS ecosystem, and I’m also pretty happy with it, but the small screen is just getting too painful for me to bear. So I caved in and got a Galaxy S3.

Ironically what made this move possible is Apple’s move away from iTunes, mostly. I REALLY loved the way iTunes use to handle Podcasts. I listen to podcasts daily on my commute, and the iTunes way was just a “plug in and forget” mode that never failed me. Now everything gets its own app, everything is iCloud, and nothing works as predictably as before. Mail and everything else is in the cloud anyway (GMail, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr), MP3 and podcast handling was really what held me back so far.

OK, so how do I like it?

The Hardware

The screen is gorgeous. The resolution doesn’t really matter, but size and quality does. I can read it much easier, and that was the main reason for switching.

The case dimensions – not so much. It’s just the right size to be used with one hand, but it’s way too slippery: I liked the iPhone’s metal corners and edges a lot more.

The Micro USB connector? Don’t get me started… And as much as we all hate Apple’s proprietary connectors, at least you can buy AUX car kits for them, which you can’t for Android devices. Yes, I do get the concept of bluetooth and A2DP, but as long as car companies don’t provide more than one bluetooth connection the current one is reserved for my work phone. I use a cheap (…) bluetooth to AUX dongle, but it’s a PITA.

Android OS

Fascinating. Of course I immediately installed CyanogenMod, but I’m still puzzled about so many inconsistencies.

There is the home screen with all the nifty widgets (clock and weather for me, that’s more than enough), and you put your favourite programs on it. Every time I want to use something that’s not there I swipe to an empty homescreen page before I remember I need to use the middle icon – but that may be iOS muscle memory.

Notifications is the biggest piece of crap ever – I can’t understand why iPhone users asked for it so much. The phone beeps in sleep mode, then I need to press a button (which is at least a hardware button on the S3, in contrast to the side power button on the Nexus 4) and all I see is an icon at the top. Then I need to unlock, and _still_ I only see the icon. I pull down from the top, only then do I get to the App.
I have now installed a different launcher and an app that adds a counter to stuff like GMail. Seriously, that’s a productivity killer.

What I really like is the backup to my Google account, I just wish I could manage that easier. It should also be possible for non-Google apps to store their credentials there, for example. Also, like on iOS, you can add accounts to Twitter and Facebook in setting, but still some apps will open native web login pages.

For podcasts I’m using Pocket Casts which works quite well. The one advantage of Android is that it will download new episodes in the background. Skipping a defined amount of time by tapping on the right side of the screen is also very helpful. (I’m still waiting for a community driven service that defines markers that players can use to skip the ad segments in podcasts – anyone? ;) ).

Android file/memory management is outright weird. Some devices have SD cards, others don’t, which means you have to tell each app to use it. There should at least be a central settings screen to define that.

Then there’s apps like Google Music which are not even interested in SD cards – 16GB of music has to be enough for everyone! I mean, give me a break…
The app itself is confusing as hell – I never know where I am, or which music is on my device or in the cloud, or what I need to do to change that – aaarghhh!

I may eventually get used to all that – but as soon as Apple brings us a bigger iPhone I’ll switch back…

Apple’s iOS podcasts app SUCKS – here’s why

So Apple has finally come out with a dedicated iOS podcasts app, something that iOS users have been asking for a long time. The problem is: it sucks.

Let me tell you why I think that:

I’m anything but a casual podcast listener – I have a two to three hour commute every day, so I get a lot of listening time. I spent money to buy an iPhone cable that connects to my car stereo so that I can operate my iTunes Media from the car stereo, which works just perfectly, including podcasts and audiobooks. This goes as far as syncing the time codes for podcasts and audiobooks, i.e. I can continue listening where I left off on the iPhone after I take it out of the car, or even on my Mac after syncing the iPhone.

My usual routine in the morning was to press “update all” on my podcasts in iTunes, then connect the iPhone and carry the new podcasts to my car.

The supposed advantage of the dedicated app is that it allows you to update podcasts over the air, i.e. without the need to invoke iTunes. I see why you’d want to do that, but the way that Apple implemented the app breaks existing functionality:

I’m not exactly sure how they do that, but it seems Apple will store podcasts in a new directory, no longer in the iTunes Media folder.

In my car stereo scenario this means that my car will start playing music once I connect the dock cable. If I want to listen to a podcast I need to start the app and select one on the iPhone. This is really bad in the car…
If I start a podcast, the song that played will fade away and the podcast will start. Sometimes. Most of the time I’ll have to go back and forth a couple of times before I hear the podcast.

For the first few days I used to start the podcast from the car stereo, and when I started the podcast on the iPhone it would start from the beginning. That was when I realized there are two different databases for the files. I then instructed iTunes to no longer sync podcasts, so that I would rely on the App entirely.

As you can see on the image above, my car stereo and the iPhone don’t really agree which podcast they’re currently playing ;)

Android users keep complaining that iPhones NEED iTunes, and Android phones can work autonomously. That sounds like a great idea until you start downloading a 1GB video podcast, which is when you’ll realize that your desktop can do that quite a bit faster…

But back to the podcasts App: It imported all my iTunes subscriptions, and I began setting up the individual podcasts for automatic downloads and retention. It’s nice that you can set retention by podcast now, instead of globally as in iTunes.

There are two more downsides to in-iPhone downloads for podcasts:

  • They don’t work when the iPhone is off. Even though my iPhone spent the night 2 feet away from the router, I started my commute and realized that it hadn’t downloaded any new podcasts. Bummer
  • The UI doesn’t make it easy to see that – when you open the app it will start syncing, i.e. it will show you the blue bullet in front of an episode to indicate it’s an unlistened one. You’ll barely realize the tiny grey arrow on the right side for downloads – when you start playing the podcast it will download it immediately (and probably start syncing the others). Unfortunately it will happily do that via 3G, which I realized when my operator sent an SMS this morning telling me I had spent this month’s download limit. BIG bummer.

Plus, of course, iTunes no longer acts as an archive for your old podcasts.

I deleted the app today – I seriously hope Apple fixes some of those issues, or keeps the iTunes podcasting functionality in parallel. Which works just fine for me…

iBooks Author

Das angekündigte Apple Education Event ist vorbei, und es gab die erwarteten Ergebnisse. Apple war auch schonmal geheimnisvoller…

Anyway, ich finde iBooks 2 und iBooks Author ist durchaus ein Hammer. Warum? Weil damit der Markt für Selbst-Publishing für alle die schreiben können geöffnet wird!
Du willst ein gutes Fachbuch schreiben und bist mit den komplizierten Prozessen der Verlage nicht einverstanden, und schon gar nicht mit Deiner Vergütung dort? Go for it! Nebenbei erlaubt das auch das Publizieren von Titeln für die man ggf. keinen Verlag findet.

Mir ist klar daß der ‘klassische’ Weg auch Vorteile hat, wie z.B. einen kompetenten Lektor oder Redakteur, aber ich schätze die Chancen größer als die Risiken ein. Was spannend wird ist wie Apple das Thema Urheberrechte angeht – bei selbst publizierten Büchern ist die Gefahr schon recht groß, daß Text oder Bilder ‘geguttenbergt’ werden, was ein Risiko für Apple wie auch für den Autor darstellt.

Interesting times.

iTunes Match ist hier!

Und hier kommt das erste Weihnachtsgeschenk für dieses Jahr – iTunes Match funktioniert (offiziell!) in Deutschland!

Wenn ihr iTunes startet sollte links das Icon zu sehen sein, nach Abschluß des Abos (25 Euro pro Jahr) “reinigt” Apple eure iTunes-Bibliothek und macht alle erkannten Lieder “legal” bzw. erlaubt das Ersetzen durch Versionen mit höherer Qualität.

Kann’s kaum erwarten das heute Abend zu testen – berichtet mal wie es bei euch funktioniert!

Wieviel gebt ihr für iPhone/iPad Apps aus?

Ich hatte ja schon einen Verdacht, aber jetzt könnt ihr auch nachsehen. Die App “AppDump” liest eure iTunes Apps ein und ermittelt den Preis pro App, und gesamt für alle gekauften Apps (ich weiss allerdings nicht ob die derzeitigen Preise herangezogen werden, oder ob die ggf. beim Kauf gültigen discounts berücksichtigt werden, ich kann mir nicht vprstellen dass das in den Apps gespeichert ist…).

Erschreckend. ;)

Ach ja – der (deutsche) Entwickler freut sich über eine Spende per Flattr! (ich übrigens auch, aber das nur nebenbei)

iTunes Ping – Finding people, adding friends

There’s a lot to write about Ping, but before I get to that I need to play with it for a while. iTunes 10 was only available for download late late last night, so I haven’t done a lot. I have created an account (yet another network to maintain – ), and like many other people I have been unsuccessful in adding a picture. People have hinted that Apple may review pictures. If that is the case, new Apps in the store will probably be delayed even longer ;)

Anyway, after I created the account I started looking for friends I knew had also created accounts, but I couldn’t find any. Again, somebody said that you probably only appear in the directory after your image has been approved (not that this is available as a status message somewhere).

But I have found a way to add people nonetheless: go to your profile and right-cllick on your name:

Click on “Copy Link” and send it to your friends, tweet it or post it on Facebook. Friends can then find you and connect to you easily.

Can’t Stand Sultans Of Swing

Just stumbled upon another fine mashup (thanks Caschy!):

Whenever I see something like that I quickly fire up EVOM and download a copy – these videos disappear as quickly as they appear.

EVOM makes it really easy to download a copy to iTunes. You can even chose to get ‘just’ the audio of the track (which I did here).

Now all I need is a Chrome extension “Send to EVOM” ;)