Good product integration is important

My iPhone 6 arrived in the mail, a few calls later it was activated and my old Note II became a paperweight. It’s not that I dislike Android or Samsung products, it’s just that my latent Phone Curse™ kicked in. After 2 years it was time to retire the old one.

The old phone was getting long in the tooth. It’s been months since the camera could focus (that’s important, right? For a camera to focus?) I routinely lost my playlists and the built in keyboard code would crash all the time. Even after I factory reset the phone and formatted the storage. CRASH! Instant phone grief.

It’s not the phone. It’s me and it’s always been me. Any electronic device that is near me for too long loses it’s mind.

What I like about Apple products

Apple does something really well that is evil, persuasive and disruptive. Did I mention how EVIL they are?

Their phones work well by themselves or with other things such as Bluetooth equipped cars.

See what I mean about evil? With my Galaxy Note II I had problems getting music to play in my car. I would need to start the music app on my phone and cross my fingers. To sync my music (I use both iTunes and Google Play Music) I would try different applications such as doubleTwist’s AirSync but that was always hit or miss. Occasionally the sync would go spa and I’d have to use harsh language on it.

Using the Google Play Music app always worked provided I had good cell coverage. Listening to music while driving where it pauses is enough to make anyone start drinking. If the music is in the phone’s cache cool but if not it could be a long ride.

With my new iPhone I get into the car, wait for the Bluetooth to connect and hit play. If the car was set to the phone player already then music would just begin by itself. No muss, no fuss it just works.

Text messaging? Oh yeah, iPhones do that but they extend it into iMessage. When you log into Facetime or iMessage and you have a Mac you can continue to message via the Mac. It’s a smooth transition and I can pickup messaging without my phone. Same with Facetime and it’s not limited iPhones. I can use my phone to message or Facetime my daughter on her iPhone (she got Lily’s old phone with no service) from my phone or Mac.

With my old phone I never used a lock screen. The Note II is huge and typing the code was like walking across the room. On the iPhone the fingerprint reader is almost transparent in its use. Press the home button to awake the screen. Leave your thumb there a little longer and the phone unlocks.

While on the topic, iPhone apps can use the fingerprint reader too just like your iTunes account. I use 1Password and unlocking with just my thumb is amazingly cool. I’ve been playing with Clef and I authenticate to that service in the same way.

Again it all just works, the integration is seamless.

Yes, I can do most of that in Android with 3rd party apps

That’s where Apple extends their EVILNESS. It’s built in. The messaging and Facetime like experience on Android? Skype on your phone and Skype on your PC or Mac. There is no Facetime or iMessage for the PC that I am aware of and that’s not a mistake. Apple is in the business of selling their products, not PCs.

Same with the music sync and car integration. Apple works closely with car manufacturers so when I play music I see the cover art, time passed, time left, can select from playlists, scroll through songs, etc. With my built in Samsung music player I can see the song before, playing and next song. That’s it. The doubleTwist music player has even less functionality.

The Note II does not have a fingerprint reader but current models do. I’ll assume that they can be unlocked in similar ways but I don’t think the 3rd party app support is there.

I am not an Android hater

I like well designed products. And I did look at HTC phones and the current generation of Samsung phones. They’re really good but the integration problems I’m having are inherent to  the Android operating system. With the new Lollipop version that may have improved. With the Motorola line of phones running a “pure” version of Google’s OS maybe the integration with cars has improved.

There’s also the “change is good” factor for me. IOS and Android apps really are not the different anymore. With IOS you get less built in buttons (my old phone had a “go back” soft button, IOS has a home button) and once you change gears to IOS it’s all the same.

In another 2 years or so I expect my curse to kick in again. Maybe at that time I will switch back to a Google phone. Apple has a huge market and support but future Android phones might get the seamless experience I am looking for.

My subconscious at work?

I’m beginning to believe my subconscious has developed super powers. I am jonesing for a new smart phone that works better than my antiquated iPhone 3G. Given the age of my phone that’s not a tall order.

To help me in that direction, my subconscious has disabled the ability of my phone to vibrate when someone calls me. I don’t know how I managed to do it but the phone does not shake anymore.

I dislike my phone ringing but (obviously) don’t wish to miss calls. I’m going to do the factory reset of the phone to see if that fixes it. I remain hopeful since I’m not quite ready to get a replacement.

This is not a new ability for me. I’ve been jinxing electronic equipment since my Dad had a TRS-80 Model I. But I now work in a field where this is not a desirable trait so it must be I am doing it subconsciously again.

Since I’m looking for a new phone I’ve been gathering information. Did you know that you cannot surf the web while speaking on Verizon’s network using an Android phone? I had heard that but thought that was just a rumor. Apparently it’s a CDMA limitation, but more information is needed. I’ve also read that while using LTE that limitation is gone.

I’ll take another look at T-Mobile and Sprint just to see if their networks are up to par. In the meanwhile I will continue to be impressed with my latent super powers.

P.S. No, I have not lost my mind, and yes I am kidding about the super powers. The phone is still broken though.

Hello? AT&T? Can you hear me now?

Any consumer subscription service is about getting what you pay for. 4 bars, a 3G icon, and no Internet connectivity is not acceptable.

What good is it to have a grandfathered-in data plan from AT&T if their data network is unavailable half the time?

I usually can’t use my phone in Penn Station at all. The phone does work consistently in the same areas (just not Manhattan) so while the iPhone 3G is dated, I hold that AT&T’s network is just sub-standard.

I’ve had my Apple iPhone 3G for over 2 years now and am well out of my contract time. I could get a Verizon iPhone 4 after next month but I’m not going to for two reasons.

First, I think I want to try something new and another iPhone is not it. Before the iPhone I had the Blackberry Pearl. It worked well but I wanted to combine my music player and phone. The 3G was part of my decision process because I do like to connect to the Internet during my commute.

My second reason is that the iPhone 4 does have antenna issues. It’s a 2010 phone and in June the next iteration of iPhone will be announced. Why get dated technology?

The model that I am looking at is the HTC Thunderbolt. This is essentially an updated EVO phone but for Verizon. Sadly, Verizon has not bothered to publish an availability date but I’ve read that it will be sold in March.

I can wait till March.

Android or iPhone 4?

Do I get an Android phone or an iPhone 4? I’m in no rush to get a new phone but I do periodically suffer from phone envy.

I am a fan of easy-to-use technology. I currently own an iPhone 3G with iOS 4.0.1 installed. My phone has been jailbroken not because I have a “SOFTWARE MUST BE FREE!!!1!” itch, but because I wanted to tweek my phone in ways that Apple doesn’t support for my hardware.

Cool Applications, not so cool app store

One of my favorite apps on my iPhone is Camera+. It lets me take photos, make adjustments, and share those photos online. All within the app and very easily.

The Camera+ developers came up with the idea of modifying the volume up button to be used as a shutter button. This re-mapping of the button would only be done while the user is in the app. It’s a great idea and makes using Camera+ easier.  But the idea was rejected by the app store, so the developers created a back door to enable that setting.

That’s a sensible work around because the app store was apparently afraid that re-mapping the volume up key while in the Camera+ app would create confusion. Since the end-user would have to access a specific application URL, they would have to know what they were doing.

But as expected the Camera+ app has been removed from the app store. Rules are rules, especially when they are arbitrary, imaginary, mostly made up, and not published.

Do I really want to continue using a product that fosters an environment like this? I know that the Android Market Place has it’s pitfalls too but the Apple App store is driven by incompetence.

Android is becoming more cool

I know two people who have Android phones from Verizon.  The first phone I’ve seen is the HTC Incredible.  The UI is easy to use and makes the experience fun.

The other phone is the Droid X.  The display portion alone feels like it’s bigger than my iPhone 3G.  It’s not a small phone in comparison but the display is fantastic. It’s not as slick as an HTC phone but it is close.

How would a Gorilla design a better Gorilla?

I’ve also seen the iPhone 4.  The display is phenomenal but it’s essentially a better iPhone 3GS. It’s more resolution, more memory, faster CPU.  But it’s still an iPhone and I already have an inferior version right now.

Why just get a better version of the iPhone 3G? Why not get a new phone and try out the other guys? If Camera+ existed for the Android phone, that would go a long way to hastening my decision.

iPhone 3G slowness

Within days of my putting on iOS 4.0.1 onto my iPhone 3G, the phone started to crawl. Playing music was painful and using applications became a joke. For example doing anything with Camera+ (a very cool photo app BTW) would take minutes when it used to take seconds. Downgrading to 3.1.3 caused my apps to become responsive.

Last Wednesday I installed iOS 4.0.1 and did not restore my backup. I factory defaulted the phone and when it was plugged into my PC, I treated it like a new phone. This meant I had to copy my song library, apps, etc. from scratch. I recovered my contacts easily enough because I use Google Sync.

Next up I went into my iPhone’s settings app and turned off all Spotlight searches. If I could disable Spotlight 100% I would do it; this is one feature that Apple should have left on design table.

I also jailbreak’ed my iPhone and made the following changes:

  1. I turned on SpringBoard’s image backgrounds.
  2. I enabled Multitasking.
  3. I turned on the percentage battery meter option.

Why not? I ended up turning off multitasking because while everything ran acceptably, when you are out of memory, apps would not start properly. The background image is not as fast as a 3GS but still usable and makes the phone more attractive.

To make my modifications, I installed iPhone Explorer on my PC to copy and modify a .plist file manually. This is not not the safest way to do it. In the Cydia app store is an application called Features (for iPhone 3G) that installs in WinterBoard.

So far the performance has been alright. If/when I get an iPhone 4 the display and speed will probably startle me.

No iPhone 4 for me yet?

Not really news, but nice to see that Consumer Reports can send people the straight scoop.

This seems to put to rest the myth of this being a software glitch. I still plan on getting one. I was going to get the bumper anyways and it’s still an awesome phone despite the antenna flaw.

Google Voice on the iPhone is slick

After I read this article on Gizmodo  (helpfully called “How To: Jailbreak Any iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad”) I figured what the heck and did the deed.

The Spirit Jailbreak Tool is as fire and forget as it gets. I backed up my iPhone, made sure I could restore it to its pristine Apple condition and pushed the button. It was so easy that I wonder what the catch is. A few minutes later and GV Mobile was installed on my phone.

I can see why Apple and/or AT&T blocked this app in the iTunes store. The integration is so flawless that I’m not sure why I would go back and use the Apple dialer. It’s like the Apple phone app but integrated with Google Voice. I get my downloaded voicemail as well as the transcribed email.

It’s a shame that Apple does not let Google get this onto the app store, it’s a good quality program.

The iPad is announced! I just don’t don’t get it

With some fanfare the iPad was announced today. And if I am reading it right, it’s like an iPhone but big and fat.

I don’t get it.

It’s an iPhone without the phone. It does not multitask.  So while you are using it as a ebook reader, you can’t keep any instant messenger sessions in the background.  You can probably play music, but no streaming music via the wifi.  You can probably still cut and paste, but no switching ssh sessions ’cause that will make the ssh app to exit.

What’s the appeal again? Seriously, who will step up with a really useful little tablet? I’m hoping ASUS or MSI will deliver something that I actually want. I already have an iPhone.