Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Welcome back...

After a brief 14-month hiatus, I'm going to come back. Too much on my mind. And for my first post back, I'm starting with the main thing on my mind: my new phone, and how it has fixed my life.

Previously, my life was empty. With the exception of my wife, daughter, and a new daughter on the way. The most important thing was that I had an iPhone, and it was extremely too small for humans. I needed something bigger.

So I bought the Samsung Galaxy Note-the largest phone commercially available on the planet. However, it's an Android phone, and that's a much different operating system than IOS (the Apple mobile operating system). It took a LOT of customization to get it the way I wanted it, but now it is perfect, and life is good again. There are some interesting pros and cons, though.

1. The phone is the appropriate size for humans now.
2. The phone still allows you to hit the volume button down and it will change to vibrate mode. This is a very important feature at work, and is improved from the previous Android version.
3. You can customize absolutely every single thing on the phone. Everything. Every THING. E.V.E.R.Y thingggggg. Everything.
4. Awesome screen transitions/animations (which can be, again, customized)
5. Live wallpapers. Awesome.
6. Much better camera than iPhone.
7. Has 95% of the iPhone apps.
8. Has a great feature where you can have 'text this contact' or 'call this contact' be an app/shortcut on your phone screen.
9. You can customize the # of apps on the screen. You can go from a 3x3 grid up to about a 9x9 grid.
10. It has cool 'widgets' which are apps that do things. Like, you can have an app that is a flashlight, and it lights up when you click it. You can have other buttons that do things, like mute the phone, or reduce the memory cache to speed it up, or display live weather, or count down to a date. The list goes on and on.
11. You don't have to install all your apps on the screen. The apps 'live' in an app tray and you can decide which ones you want to put into folders.
12. Folders can, again, be customized. Mine are these cool circle ones.
13. Icons can, again, be customized. I've found really cool replacements for the standard ones.
14. Yes, the phone fits comfortably in any human sized pocket that is above the age of 5 or so.
15. The stylus pen is handy. Haven't used it for much but when I use it it's handy.
16. The lock screen is awesome. You can slide your finger anywhere on it to unlock it.
17. The live wallpapers are awesome. It can snow. It can rain. You can have fish swimming. You can have planets whirring by. Or you can mix live wallpapers w/ the widgets and have like a scene that displays the live weather.
18. There are two app stores: An Amazon Android store and a Google Play Android store. The Google Play one has free (good) music a lot and has great sales on apps sometimes (like $.25 cent apps).
19. Android phones come with free turn by turn navigation on the map app.
20. No need for a phone case. Just put a screen protector on the screen. The rest of the phone is durable grippy metal and rubbery plastic.
21. 4G.
22. There are cool buttons in the notification tray. You can toggle off various things like bluetooth, screen rotation, GPS, etc.
23. When you charge the phone, it shows you what % of charge it is at.
24. You can replace the battery and expand the memory by 32 GB.
25. The audio player has a nice feature where it shows you what songs are coming up next on the shuffle. It can also find album art and give you a choice of which one you want to use. It does this right from the app.
26. The apps auto-update! No having to go in and tell it to update everything!
27. There are some good Android-exclusive apps too. Many are better than their Apple counterparts (i.e. there are some good photo editing ones that are better than Instagram).
28. I really like the buttons on the phone. Instead of a physical 'home' button, it has 4 'virtual'-ish buttons. One goes to the home screen, one opens up settings, one searches for things, and one goes back. It's amazing how often I use the back button. My iPhone home buttons always had problems, to the point where I'd have to put a ton of pressure on it to get it to work. These are just touch-sensitive, and they light up when you touch them.
29. There's a good speaker dock for the phone that was 1/2 the price of the iHome. It works well at my job.

1. The battery goes down relatively fast. I'm at about 20% by the end of the day. This is probably due to the live wallpaper, but if it is, it's totally worth it so I don't care.
2. No iTunes for Android and the alternates are worse. The best one is DoubleTwist, and it's not that great. It's very slow, has a very limited interface, and doesn't work very well. The audio players don't let you drill down to the artist if you like the song that's playing.

For many, including almost me, the no iTunes thing is a big issue. Android's main music thing is Google Play, which is a cloud-based music player. Handy, and a pretty good web interface. However, I don't have an unlimited data plan, so that won't work. The good thing, though, is that Android is a total open source operating system. I have faith that they'll figure this out. And really, the gigantic screen is at least 90% of what I want out of a phone. A good music system is 9%, with 'cool other stuff' at 1%.

Nuff said. Go buy yours today!

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