Friday, April 26, 2013

iPhone vs Android - Getting Started (Part 1)


This series of articles is meant to provide you with a perspective on Android Smartphones from the perspective of someone who is very familiar with the iPhone. It is intended to be impartial (as best I can) and does provide some comparison of features, although is not a detailed manual or training class. For that, I would suggest attending the TechnoGeek Learning Rally or becoming a member of the Geeks on Tour to access their training videos. It might prove useful if you are considering a Droid or iPhone, or have just bought a Droid and want some help figuring it out. Good luck! By the way, I do not profess to be an expert on Droids. If I say something that is incorrect or misleading, I apologize. Let me know and I will correct it. Promise.

First Day

My first task on my new adventure was to decide which Droid to purchase. You will recall that the term Droid (short for Android) is actually the operating system that these phones run (like iOS that the iPhones run). It is the software that runs the phone and gives it its "look and feel". Android is developed and owned by Google which explains its close integration into all things Google (more on this later).

My choices were quite simple. It came down to the Motorola Razr Max HD or the Samsung Galaxy 3S. I'm not going to compare the hardware, there are other sites that do a better job on that than I could (e.g. TechCrunch). In summary, I preferred the Razr's larger screen and longer battery life.

First Impressions

I was SO excited when I opened up the box. I loved the sexy sleek black look, BUT, it took me 5 minutes just to figure how to turn it on! Once that major hurdle was overcome, it goes through a very cool boot sequence and I was in. Now what? To be honest with you I was completely lost. Now I know how most of my customers feel when they come to our seminars or onto our booth. Luckily I'd sat through enough of Chris Guld's wonderful Smartphone seminars to know what a few of the buttons do.

Already you can see my dilemma. I was used to the iPhone's single center button. Now I had 4 to worry about!

The Home button is similar to the iPhone's Center button so I started there. It takes you back to the Home Page. The Back button is kind of like an undo. It takes you back through all your mistakes to where you were. I use it a lot. It's your friend.

Applications

Now the Apps button is a bit weird for an iPhone user. It takes you to a whole different parallel universe - one where your apps live. This is going to freak you out. Apps live in this parallel universe and can also appear on your Pages, like your Home Screen. However, they don't have to. The icons on your Pages are like links to your Apps "real" home which is in this Apps parallel universe. If you delete an App off your Page, it still lives in your Apps Universe. To completely get rid of an App you have to go and attack it on its home turf by removing it in the Apps Universe. Whew, pretty unnerving stuff. But wait, it gets weirder. Apps can also be Favorites (at least on the Razr) which means they also have a link on a Favorites Page. Again, remember that they can only really live in one place (the Apps home). This is a useful way of quickly finding your favorite apps.

One of the first things you'll want to do with your new phone is get some cool new apps. Even if they are serious apps, you get them at the Google Play Store. Click on the Play Store app and search for your app. When you install it, it will go and live in your Apps Parallel Universe and make an entry on one of your Pages.

Before I leave apps, there's a new app-like thingy on Droids which is called a Widget. It's like a mini-version of the app and is always running, meaning that it can be a quick way of getting information. Examples include a widget showing a traffic light (green or red) with your home commute time showing based on live traffic conditions, another would be a simple clock, or a window to your favorite pictures. Have a play with them, they are fun and don't exist on the iPhone.

Pages


Pages are like screens, or sheets of paper laid out side by side. You can scroll between them by sliding your finger left or right. As I mentioned, Pages are where you can put links to your Apps or Widgets to give you access to information quickly. To put an App on a Page, use the App Button to go to the App Parallel Universe, and hold down the App. You will then see a small version of your Pages where you can drop your App in the right place. You can then move that App around by holding it down, or remove it (and send it back to its parallel universe) by moving it up to Remove.

Settings

Just like on the iPhone, there's an App called Settings which takes you to the phone's settings. This is where you connect to WiFi, set up a hotspot, manage your sounds etc. On the Razr Maxx you can also get here by swiping left (or is it right?). There's a lot in Settings, so here's some pointers:

  • Avoid the Verizon apps (e.g. Backup Assistant Plus). They are crap and try to charge you money
  • Make sure you visit Security / Screen Lock. You can set Face Recognition (cool, but rubbish - much too slow) or Pattern which is excellent (wish it was on the iPhone)
  • Use Sound to select you notification sounds and ring tones
  • Visit Backup and Reset and check Backup my Data. This backs everything up to your Google account and is a VERY good idea, and is free
  • Setup your Voicemail - this is done through the Verizon Voicemail app or by dialing *86


Ring Tones

Street credibility dictates that you HAVE to have a custom ring tone. Having a 10-year old Nokia with the default ring tone says so many things about you, most of which are not complimentary. There are many places you can get them for free, but I got mine from Zedge. "Bad to the Bone" as a ring tone and the "Star Trek Computer" for my notifications. I admit it, I'm a trekkie. There, I'm outed.

Mute

Imagine my disappointment when after all this set up, I kept missing calls. My phone was a mute. It wouldn't emit a sound. I looked everywhere for the mute button but couldn't find it. After a couple of days I noticed when I turned it on there was a speaker icon on the left. I'd never noticed it before as I was always in a state of trepidation when turing on my phone. The little grey circle was in the left position. By sliding it to the right, my phone regained its full faculties (unlike me).

Now that I could actually hear my phone ringing, I then had the issue of trying to answer a call. Gone are the days of pressing the green button, or "Send" (remember that?). Now you have to slide the thingy all the way to the right to answer. This really bugs me. It's hard to do with one hand and if you get it wrong, my phone takes great delight in hanging up the call.

Summary

I was exhausted after my first day, but had achieved a lot. If you're in the same boat, the only real way is to play, curse, throw a tantrum, play some more, threaten the phone with sudden death and then play some more. OR, attend the next TechnoGeek Learning Rally where we spend 3 days talking about Geek stuff, mostly around Smartphones.

So how did my first day experience compare with when I got my iPhone? It's a little hard, as the iPhone was my first true love and so will always have a certain special place in my heart. But seriously, I found the iPhone to be a fun, pleasurable and easy experience. With the Droid, I felt like I was fighting it all the time. Even now after 3 months, I still don't find it as intuitive as the iPhone and I still have to think how to do something or where to find something. Maybe its just me, but I'm not one to give up.

Next up I'll be looking at managing your Contacts, something which really bamboozled me.

Legal disclaimer: TechnoRV does not represent Verizon, Apple or Motorola. All opinions in this and subsequent articles are my own and if you don't like them, well no one forced you to read my article.