Moving from iOS to Android, part one of many – moving to Samsung’s Galaxy S8+

As I await my Samsung Galaxy S8+ pre-order to arrive later next month, I have started planning the migration from iPhone’s iOS to the Galaxy’s Android OS.  Setting up a new phone always takes forever and a day, so getting prepared is always a good thing.

One thing that I love what Google have done is that the Play store remembers all previous purchases and downloads.  I had to use a special SMS application on Android (though I believe this is handled natively) to be able to trigger repeat SMS notifications – for when I’m on call.  I couldn’t remember what it was called, but I’ve just gone into my account at the Play store’s web site and found it (Textra, in case you’re interested).  The major advantage of accessing one’s previous accessed apps this way is that you can then install them via the web too!

I had considered switching from Apple Music to Spotify, but then remembered that Apple Music is also available on Android.  So I don’t need to make any changes to my subscription, nor do I need to ditch iTunes completely – which isn’t something I’m prepared to do.  I’m definitely keeping the Mac – it’s merely the phone and watch that are changing.

In terms of photos, I used to keep everything in the iCloud Photo Library.  My biggest worry was something happening at Apple that could have wiped the entire lot – so I’ve disabled the service, downgraded by iCloud storage, and intend to move everything over to Adobe Lightroom (which forms part of my Photoshop subscription) which has its own Android app for accessing photos.   To transfer to the Mac, I just need a USB-C to USB-C cable, and import them directly into Lightroom.  I’m so glad that Samsung have stuck with USB-C .

I don’t think there are specific apps that I use on iOS that aren’t available for Android.  The main issue may be that some apps look a bit odd on the Galaxy S8+’s longer display, but as Google is actively encouraging developers to adapt their apps to this format, we should start to see some truly attractive apps.

What I’m REALLY looking forward to, and what is pushing me most towards the S8+ is that I felt that with the Note 7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge, the cellular performance was far, far better than the iPhone 7 Plus.  It is no exaggeration to say that at times I find connectivity on the iPhone to be sluggish.  But it was never an issue with the Note 7, S7 Edge and even the Google Pixel.  Are Intel’s modems that much worse than Qualcomm’s?  I don’t know, but it sure feels like it.  When you’re out and about, you don’t want sluggish network performance.

Also: wireless charging.  I still have my fast wireless chargers and hope that they will work with the S8+.  They’re incredibly useful to have around.

The only downside, I guess, is that I’ll lose access to iMessage.  This messaging service from Apple allows two iPhone users to directly message each other without utilising the SMS network (or if one user is out of range of internet access, it will revert to SMS).  As most of the family are on WhatsApp, this will make things much easier – but there are still a few people I need to convert.

Other things that I hope to experience with the Galaxy S8+: Virtual Reality.  In the US, Samsung are bundling their VR headgear and controller along with a nice pair of good quality earphones as part of the pre-order deal.  In the UK?  Nope.  Nada.  Diddly squat.  But I’m sure that at some point I’ll get a chance to check it out. VR is the Next Big Thing(tm) and I would like to be a part of it.  The 360 4K video camera is certainly intriguing.  How I’d love to take that with me to Iceland in a few months time.

So lots to look forward to, and lots to do when I do get the kit (including then selling everything else to pay for it!), but I’m somebody who doesn’t stand still when it comes to technology.

The Samsung Galaxy S8+ is the Note 7 I wanted..

.. but, alas, it is too late.

(Update: Having thought about it, plugged in some figures into a spreadsheet, I am able to switch.  I am giving Samsung one more chance.  So I’ve pre-ordered the Samsung Galaxy S8+ and the Gear S3 Frontier smartwatch.  Stand by for a review at a later date.)

I would have absolutely remained on the Note 7 had it not been for the battery issue.  But it forced me back to Apple’s iPhone and Apple Watch ecosystem as I was already familiar with it, and given that I went back to the Mac, it made sense at the time.

The Note 7 was a beautifully designed phone – it felt good in the hands, the display was absolutely gorgeous, and Android felt properly polished.  And looking at what Samsung has done with the Galaxy S8 and S8+, they’ve absolutely taken the best design parts of the Note 7 and put them in the design of their new phone (obviously without the S-Pen).  The display is bigger, and the shape and size of the S8+ feels as though it’ll fit into my hand without any issues.  Well, maybe one.  I’m not entirely convinced that the fingerprint scanner is positioned well.  And I have my doubts about the face and iris scanner recognition – the iris scanner on the Note 7 wasn’t accurate (since I wear glasses).  It’s possible that Samsung may have fixed it for the S8 series, however.

So the S8 series looks to be lovely phones.  But I still cannot switch because I’m still too heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem at this time – which includes any possible upgrade to the iPhone 8.  Of course, if Samsung were feeling generous and felt like giving me an S8+ and a Gear 3 Frontier smartwatch – it may convince me to switch (since no outlay on my part until the next cycle of Samsung devices).  But the chances are so remote that it is highly unlikely I’ll switch back to Android for another 3 years.  By then Google will have had the Pixel 2 out on the market.  Possibly even the Pixel 3.  The Pixel was a lovely Android phone too – let down by flaws in the camera lens (lens flare galore) and wireless issues (Bluetooth).

Anyway, here’s hoping that Samsung turns around the misfortune of the Note 7 with the S8.  There’s certainly much to love with with the S8 for those that loved the Note 7 as much as I did.

BTW, the upgrade to iOS 10.3 is well worth doing.  Apple have switched to a new filesystem called APFS which replaces the 30 year old HPFS+ and the whole system feels a lot more responsive (of course, Apple have also tweaked animations too).

Good job I handed back my Note 7 and got a refund..

.. because there have been at least five reports of replacement Note 7 units exploding within the past two weeks.  And Royal Mail apparently won’t touch any parcels that have a Samsung mobile device in it.

The refund from the Note 7 went on the iPhone 7 instead.  A shame as I really liked the Note 7 – but Samsung’s rush to market has now caused it insufferable damage and it’s going to be extremely difficult trusting them with future mobile devices (and washing machines) going forward.

The Great Apple Break Down

It’s been an absolute pain in the arse this past month for all things tech-related.  We’ve had Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 recall shenanigans, and now Apple’s new IOS release caused temporary bricking as soon as it was released due to a corrupt over the air image.

I was pretty miffed when I updated the 9.7″ iPad Pro OTA (over the air) and found it wanted to be connected to iTunes.  Apple advertises this as a standalone computer.  A standalone computer shouldn’t need another computer to be able to fix update problems.  Does Apple expect us to own two or more computers as a consequence?  Even if you had two iPad Pros, it wouldn’t have fixed the issue – it must be a full on desktop machine (MacOS or Windows) running iTunes.

Except because when I got home, Apple’s iCloud services were in a mess.  In order to perform a manual update/restore of the iPad, iTunes had to download version 9.3.5 of iOS first.  Took well over an hour.  Couldn’t update iTunes via the normal means because Apple’s servers were completely borked.  But thankfully when 9.3.5 downloaded and was applied to the iPad Pro via a USB cable connected to the Dell, the iPad eventually sprung back into life and all settings and data was preserved.  Unlike last time, when the hardware was completely knackered and I had to get entire iPad replaced. So a big phew! there.

As iTunes (with a vastly improved interface for managing Apple Music) wasn’t updating, it was actually quicker to download the installer file from Apple’s web site and update it that way.  I could then update both iPads to version 10 of iOS.

How I do wish Apple would take better care of iOS releases.

To ease the pain somewhat, I discovered that Apple has added practically every single Studio Ghibli soundtrack album to Apple Music, and spent a very happy evening listening to some classic Joe Hisaishi music.

iPhone 7 Unboxing Day

Update: Meanwhile, in Australia, Galaxy Note 7’s are banned on three Australian airlines. For how long is anybody’s guess, but as nobody can be sure that somebody is carrying a non-defective replacement, it’s probably better to be safe than sorry.

After iPhone7-mas, we’ll soon have iPhone Unboxing Day.  That’ll be September 16th.  But will I be trading my Samsung Galaxy Note 7 for a fancy pants iPhone 7 Plus?  Very likely given the very slick presentation, the phone’s telephoto lens, quad-core A10 processor (one pair for performance, another pair for efficiency), cinema colour optimised display, and – for me, this is perhaps the most important – a static force-touch home button with haptic feedback.

Very likely given the very slick presentation, the phone’s telephoto lens, quad-core A10 processor (one pair for performance, another pair for efficiency), cinema colour optimised display, and – for me, this is perhaps the most important – a static force-touch home button with haptic feedback. When I’ve used previous iPhones, I’ve always felt the home button to be something that could just stop working at any moment.  And indeed, this actually did happen (iPhone 5, I think).  So Apple to incorporate from other products (Mac’s touchpad) within its flagship smartphone product is a darn good move IMHO.  The fewer moving parts, the better.

Personally not bothered by the lack of a headphone socket.  Bluetooth has been a regular thing for me for over a year.  Like Apple, I believe the fewer cables the better.  Not interested in AirPods because I can imagine that even with the case they’re going to get lost.  Also, as somebody remarked on Twitter, it looks as though you’ve got tiny dicks in your ear (their words, not mine).

My journey back and forth between iOS and Android has been a very good learning experience.  There are many, many things I like about Android – but there is still the problem of fragmentation.  It’s considerably better than it used to be, and indeed the Galaxy S7 Edge has just received the September security update from Google (but missed out on the August one).  That I can swap out the default SMS/messenger software for a third party one is also commendable – although the Gear smartwatch software will have a right old moan about it.  I think next time I’ll invest in a second, cheaper Android phone (such as the OnePlus Three) as an Android device to ensure that I’m kept up to date with developments (also handy for dating purposes – I get very nervous handing out my phone number, and I’ve changed my number twice over the past three years).

One thing that interests me about going back to iOS, and also one of the thing that makes me the most nervous given my experience with Apple online services – is the use of iCloud to store one’s entire photo archive.  I still think Apple should – maybe as either part of AppleCare+ or similar – a paid SLA that protects the content of anything uploaded to their servers.  And/or allow third parties to be able to use all iCloud services to take backups of data (in the same way I pay a third party a nominal fee to backup my entire Google Apps account – email, Drive contents, etc).  Apple’s Photos app is still one of the strongest photo management tools I’ve come across and it makes it very easy to split photos into separate events.  With Adobe Lightroom, I find it to be a massive PITA organising photos into events.

Then there’s the dual lens system in the iPhone 7 Plus.  One wide angle lens, the other a telephoto lens to offer optical zoom for the first time in an iPhone.  With the promise of superior digital optical zoom thanks to a reworked Apple Image Processor combined with the optical zoom, photography on an iPhone looks to have been taken up quite a significant notch.  But what REALLY caught me eye was the (future) ability to take DLSR quality Bokeh photographs.  Just how well this is going to work in the real world has yet to be seen, but the demonstration photos shown in the presentation were extremely impressive.  I doubt that the iPhone 7 Plus’ camera will have an autofocus system as fast as that implemented by Samsung in its S7/Note 7 series, but I’ve never found it to be a big problem in the past.

The one thing that Apple really needs to work on is wireless charging.

As an aside, but still relevant, the Apple Watch Series 2 looks to be an excellent incentive to get swimming again.  Waterproof up to 50m with built-in GPS, you can now go running (and not get lost, or at least, track where you’ve been) and swimming (where a GPS won’t be much good – unless you’re planning on swimming the English Channel, I suppose) and keep a complete track of your activity.  It also tells the time.  But like the previous generation, the battery life is of similar strength.  You will have to charge the thing every 24 hours.

Meanwhile in Sonyland.. the PS4 Pro was announced.  UHD gaming, but absolutely no UHD Blu-Ray player.  Well done Sony (the creators of the Blu-Ray format).  They’ve said that “the PS4 is a primarily gaming machine”.  My argument to that is that if you’re providing the ability to playback Blu-Ray movies on disc, if you’re going to offer a UHD version, you should have UHD Blu-Ray player as a consequence….