Mchimba kisima hungia mwenyewe*

Going by how much iOS4 slowed down the iPhone 2G and 3G, I am still undecided whether I should update iOS 5.1.1 on my iPhone4 to iOS6. I did update the iPad2, though. Just out of curiosity (of course, everyone does it for this reason) and to convince myself of the following situation:

Nokia Maps
Google Maps
OpenStreet Map
Apple Maps with iOS6

Maps are important. You may have a choice of what is to run in a native map app or within the browser, but many apps actually make use of the map system. So chances are that your favourite app will also be forced to use Apple maps.

I also just couldn’t update all apps at once on my iPad2 16GB – because there’s ONLY 2.6GB left. With GarageBand taking up 1.1GB alone, iOS6 refused to update. Now, after manually updating GarageBand, it’s reduced from 1.1 GB to 734 MB. I hope that Apple removed Retina graphics for those devices that don’t come with Retina displays (like my iPad2). In any case, many Apple apps are horrible memory hogs – and it seems that no one really cares about it, which imo is the worst part.

Atm, I don’t really see a benefit in updating iOS 5.1.1 to iOS6 on the iPhone4 (not4S) except for some minor improvements. I may change my mind on this, but would only do it if it really improves performance of the phone. And you?

* Mchimba kisima hungia mwenyewe = He who digs a pit will fall into it himself.

AOB: the first iFixit teardown

iPhone 5 teardown, via iFixit.com

The first iFixit teardown of the iPhone5 comes with a least two good messages: a) the iPhone5 is opened front-to-back and b) the home button appears to be easily replacable. That’s extremely good news, imo. Not so nice is the excessive amount of glue underneath the lightning connector cable – which also tells me that it may be prone to damage. Huh, “Scuff Gate“? Apple fanboyz and their luxury problems.

 

4 days on Android

old vs. new

There’s something about Apple’s iPhone that just won’t go away. I think it’s this “one button to rule them all” philosophy – the home button – that will make things a bit easier for the user.

When you’re already used to an iPhone, it’s hard to switch to any other mobile OS, especially if this includes letting go of a beloved app and a service that made things a bit easier for me:

  1. the app to control my bank account (currently no Android app available)
  2. no push notifications for Android 2.1 & Twitter app

I may be repeating myself here, but such a basic and important service like Twitter push notifications (forget about Facebook) not being available on my Android device is really sad. The only alternative to this is the use of an automatic sync (~ every 15 min.) via TweetDeck, Hootsuite & Co..

Else, my first 4 days on an Android device were less hectic. I received the phone, installed the latest available update (it’s still on Android 2.1!) and downloaded a plethora of interesting apps. Apps that I can even share with the rest of the world via Appbrain. Wow!

You know it’s a bit irritating when you’re already using Google Chrome, have a Gmail account, sync everything via this account and then you are wondering where your bookmarks are. Not synced! Why? No browser on Android supports this. Yes, there’s an extra app for this + I am a LastPass/Xmarks Pro user, so solutions are available, but still – this chaos at Google reminds me of Nokia’s Ovi.

Unfortunately, the Moto Defy also still has some open software issues and tends to “forget” a few settings after each reboot. I will also need to optimize energy consumption on it – my Symbian approach of closing apps which are not in use does not really work with Android.

As for the iOS vs. Android discussions:

  • Need games? => iOS
  • Need your (Google) tasks & calendar on a home screen? => Android
  • You’re fine with iTunes? => iOS
  • Want to backup your phone to a Dropbox account? => Android

To be honest, I am still at this point where I think that an iPhone is the better phone for most consumers – even though I’ve seen a lot of iPhone users who’d even be ok with a simple Nokia S40 phone (as they only need telephony and SMS).

Should I stay or should I go…

The following blog post may be filed under “things I do when I am supposed to do other, much more important stuff instead”, but I just need to write it down and share it here.

I am in the process of buying a new mobile phone, and my switch to the iPhone Classic some month ago made me realize that – in the end – I am no real software hacker (hardware, yes) and prefer a system that’s reliable and just does the job.

P1030474
main screen on my iPhone Classic
(note the Full Body Film coming off on the top right corner)

Meaning, the limited options on an iPhone Classic with a jailbroken iOS 3.1.2 aren’t necessarily negative, because you end up using only a few apps of the 140+ apps I’ve meanwhile installed on the system and also adjust to the user interface. I think we are human enough to accept user interface design flaws as long as we’re getting things done.

From my experience with Symbian and iOS so far, I can tell that iOS is kick ass and only has a few things that I would probably like to change (on 3.1.2, but also 4.x). There’s a plethora of apps available for iOS, there are many good apps also ONLY available for iOS (like the app provided by my bank) and everything is just very straight forward. There’s no doubt that Apple’s / Steve Job’s ZEN approach and the things they DON’T do or offer on their devices isn’t wrong, but instead one of the main reasons for their success – even in Japan, where analysts feared that the somewhat limited iPhones wouldn’t succeed (as stated in this brilliant article).

This week I went to a local Twitter meetup and realized that almost everyone was using an iPhone. Except for two coders who were on Android devices.

JKEs-iPhone-Classic

the back side of my iPhone Classic – with the partly worn out & yellowish Full Body Film (that covers the gaps on the aluminium back).
QR Code = my address for business contacts

Android and iOS. Let me be clear on this: I judge phones on their reliability and what I can do with them. I said it before, Nokia does not interest me anymore despite their awesome (really awesome and unbeaten) hardware. The camera on my Nokia N95 from 2007 is still very good when compared to current devices. And this although it only has an LED flash!

It’s the apps. No apps, no fun.

Hence it’s only iOS or Android to me these days. Likewise, any change of mobile phone operating systems has to be well planned. Seach the now (eventually also via web accessible!) Android app store online and see which app relates to the one you like best on your iPhone. Also, sometimes there’s no extra app necessary on Android as the functionality is also included on the default operating system. I am a bit afraid of software hacking any future phone, but going through the various forums/fora online I realize that a lot of ppl manage to hack their Android devices, so I should also manage to hack it to some extend.

JKE-iphone-Classic-docking
iPhone Classic docking station

Hardware

What you see in the snapshot above is the very nice, small & slim docking station for my iPhone Classic. I have two of them – one on my desk and one on my bed table. This is VERY convenient and also necessary, because they battery on this phone isn’t original and only lasts 8-10 hours maximum. I am using Kirikae multitasking switches and SBStoggles on the iPhone to kill unnecessary apps and free available RAM, there are no constant data connections and I mainly use it for Twitter/FB/Reader & as a phone. The battery and the display are both not original and thus a bit peculiar on energy consumption. Missing 3G speed, a lousy camera, battery life and limitations of iOS 3.1.2 now made me consider an upgrade to:

a) an iPhone 4, paid for in installments @ 25 EUR / month, iOS 4.x (= 649 EUR)
or
b) a Motorola DEFY, Android 2.1 (+ unofficial UK upgrade to 2.2), currently selling for ~ 290 EUR

Now, given that I can get the same things done with a cheaper Android device like the Motorola DEFY, why should I upgrade to an Apple iPhone 4? From a “let’s-be-real” perspective, the DEFY will just do as well. Most of the apps I am using will also be available via Android Market, and since I’ve also already jailbroken my iOS device, I will probably be able to hack an Android device, right?

Right?

Interestingly, one of the main reasons why I still haven’t bought the DEFY is the lack of a docking station. The DEFY also has its connector on the left side, so you’ll either have to modify a Motorola Milestone docking station (with a magnet, so that the display flips 90° to the side) or build your own, but in any case I will always have to remove the plastic/rubber flap that covers the USB port on the DEFY. Do I really want that? And will they be dureable enough?

Another alternative would probably also be an HTC DESIRE on Android 2.2 because it has its docking port at the bottom. This, the availability of many custom firmwares and the camera on the HTC DESIRE are reasons why I would go for an HTC DESIRE. But for the moment, also because of it’s rugged character – the Motorola DEFY is rated as IP67 – the DEFY looks like a current Android device with a very good value for money. The still missing & rather complicated docking station issue and the only average camera (I take a lot of photos for use on my Posterous blog) – sijui… will still have to make up my mind on this.

The recent launch of the Huawei IDEOS U8150 in Kenya triggered my interest in low-cost Android devices. A friend, who is currently programming a scientific app for Android devices, also recently recommended the DEFY (given my budget) as he’s currently using one himself. I had the chance of playing with the DEFY for a few minutes and liked what I saw. Of course, it’s not an iPhone 4, but it costs only half as much and makes me getting things done.

So here’s the question: wait for the iPhone5, buy an Android device like the DEFY or DESIRE, invest into an iPhone 4 or stick with the old one because there’s never “the right time” for buying Android devices?

(pls note that I didn’t even mention the convenient microSD card memory on these Android devices & the lack of iTunes, which is a nightmare on Windows & also reason for the change to Android)

En attendant Android

I’ve been meaning to post this on my blog, even prepared a post in German, but then realized that 50% of the post is a rant on Nokia and decided to rewrite/repost it in English.

So, the following is a list of iPhone Apps which are running on my iPhone 2G (reassembled from scrap), and which should also be available on Android 2.x (and which may already be available). Thought about documenting this private list offline, but then: why shouldn’t I share it with you?

  • Twitter (ex Tweetie, very nice Twitter client)
  • Read It Later
  • ShopShop (shopping list)
  • Alarm :-)
  • AroundMe (shops within the area, location based)
  • Barcooo (Barcodereader)
  • DB Navigator (Deutsche Bahn timetable)
  • DHL (calculator for postal charges & parcel tracking via DHL)
  • Dropbox (sync files between devices)
  • eBay (follow auctions from the phone)
  • Evernote (sync notes between devices)
  • HootSuite (another Twitter client)
  • Instapaper (similar to ReadItLater)
  • iPostbank (online banking, search for nearest atm)
  • Last.FM (streaming music client)
  • MeinProspekt / KaufDA (advertising brochures as PDF, really cool)
  • VNC (virtual network computing)
  • Morse-it (awesome morse code trainer and my initial reason why I switched to the iPhone in the first place)
  • OpenMaps (OpenStreetMap client)
  • OperaMini (alternative browser)
  • Payback (…)
  • PlugPlayer (or any other NAS player)
  • Qype Radar
  • Sipgate (Sipgate (VoIP) client)
  • Skype
  • SPB TV (live TV streams)
  • Stanza (eBook Reader)
  • TeamViewer (remote login tool)

There are about 140 apps currently installed on my iPhone 2G – some really good ones, other just very average – but the ones from the list above are the ones I use on a regular basis.

IMG 0328
JKE’s home screen on the iPhone in May 2010

I also don’t do games (except for Labyrinth2, BiA or NSFU) because most of the time when I am bored and pull out the phone, I rather use Twitter, Facebook or ReadItLater to check out news.

So why Android?

I think my next phone will be an HTC device, running an instance of the Android OS. I also like the iPhone and will keep it for the moment until the functionality of all apps mentioned above is also available on Android. I’ve even accepted iTunes running on my Windows machine, which used to be a no-go for a very long time.

I am thinking about an HTC device because I miss the good camera from my Nokia N95 (& E72) on the iPhone. A flash would also be nice – and since Apple obviously won’t deliver, it’ll be an HTC device next up.

Nokia? Maybe when they’ve returned from the current chaos.

Being a hardware guy, I think it’s interesting to see how I’ve switched my preferences to some extent from good hardware (Nokia) to the availability of various software products (Apple).

This (software > hardware) is so eminent in 2010, isn’t it?