My First Ever Impressions with Android

I’ve been tasked with developing basic troubleshooting tips and tricks for mobile devices by my employer.IMG_1747

Now, outside of two short and awful Android experiences, I’ve had no real world use with one of these devices but clearly I was going to have to become a pro with them very quickly.

So I ordered a Samsung Tab S2 tablet.  Why?  Well first off because it currently runs Android Marshmallow (Android’s 2nd most adopted OS to date), it will have the ability to upgrade to Nougat (Andriod’s latest but not yet adopted OS), and lastly it won’t have much of the garbage software that carriers like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile install on Android devices before being sold.

First Impressions

Where the hell is the back arrow?  Using the back button located on the lower right hand side of the device is taking a lot getting used to.  With iOS when we need to go back we typically look to the top left hand corner of the app or simply swipe backward.

Why do I need multiple user accounts? (Google and Samsung)  One thing I learned at Apple is, people can’t remember their usernames and or passwords to save their lives.  Upon booting up my new tablet I was prompted to enter my gmail account for the Google Play Store (where you get all your apps) PLUS they wanted me to create a Samsung user name and password separate from my Gmail account.  I’m not exactly sure what they use this for but I’ve been getting prompted every so often to do so, so that I can take advantage of some “Samsung Essential Apps”.  This is very annoying and pops up on my screen regularly.

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Live Widgets are Fantastic.  Apple attempted to use live widgets but decided to put them in hidden places like Notification Center.  Android really allows you to customize your home screen for all of your up to date information.  I really hope Apple finds a non battery draining way to do this.

The Vibrance of the Display.  The “Super AMOLED” display is extremely vibrant.  It oddly does seem to be a magnet for dust and fingerprints though.  I find myself cleaning the screen extremely often.  I almost never have to on my iPad Pro.  Also it seems like many of the third party apps aren’t prepared to use such an available color palette.  Most of the third party apps have a very bland look and feel.

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What was that noise?  I’ve got my notifications set to minimum but I find that the device is almost always beeping about something.  You really don’t know what it is until you pull up your notifications.

Oh I get to nerd out?  Unlike iOS, Android gives you a ton of control over the device.  You can see RAM and CPU usage and how the impact battery life.  This is nice if you’re very tech savvy and want to know those things but don’t have a whole lot of real world use.  There are ways to completely customize this open source device which I haven’t really jumped into just yet.

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User accounts. Being able to have multiple user accounts (locally) seems pretty wonderful.  Our computers have been doing this for decades but mobile device haven’t.  If this device were to be shared with anyone that feature is amazing.

Day to Day Experiences

I found the tablet pretty easy to pick up for most day to day things.  Notification management can be a bit tricky and it LOVES to make noises whenever it can but I’ve just found that putting it in Airplane mode when I’m not using it, solves that issue.  Or does it?

One thing that drives me crazy is when it is in Airplane mode, it treats your notifications like water trying to get through a kinked hose.  We all know what happens when you un-kink that hose.  All the notifications come flying in at once making a horrible long lasting noise of notification awareness.  Even if I’ve addressed these notifications, such as email, from another device.

One big surprise was how well Android plays with Apple’s AirPods.  Apple specifically designed them to work optimally with iOS devices.  Now that doesn’t mean that they don’t play nice at all but it’s a different process.

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To recap how they work with Apple devices, any iOS or Mac with the same Apple ID remembers your AirPods even if they’ve never been connected through traditional pairing processes.  This makes it very easy to switch between devices.

With Android you just need to follow the traditional bluetooth pairing procedures and they work just fine.  I was surprised that the AirPods did not have to be re-paired traditionally with my Apple devices after being paired with my tablet.

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I miss the easily addable accessories such as my magnetic cover for my iPad and my keyboard cover that uses Apple’s smart connector.  I never realized how important they were to me and since I’d rather not carry around a separate keyboard this device is basically unusable for any long amounts of typing.  It seems Samsung is attempting to resolve this with the Tab S3.

Overall

I’m surprised how much I enjoy this device.  Being someone who has never ventured outside of iOS I was worried of the potential for culture shock.

The Samsung Tab S2 is extremely thin and light but I’m constantly afraid I’m going to scratch it.  I guess I’ve learned to trust what Apple devices can withstand as far as physical abuse over the years so this might change.

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I haven’t even really scratched the surface as to what this device can do but I’ll certainly get more technical with it as time goes on.  For anyone considering, maybe take a look into the more affordable devices and see for yourself.

Take it from someone who’s never ventured outside the box until now.  You may be pleasantly surprised.

Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

This week my new MacBook Pro finally arrived.  To be specific it’s configured as follows.

Apple 13″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (Space Gray)
2.9Ghz i5 Processor, 16Gb of Ram & 512Gb of Flash Storage.

Size and Weight

It’s noticeably lighter than the non USB-C model.  (.46lbs lighter)  Also the bezel on the screen is much thinner around the edges and the machine is noticeably thinner. (.11″ thinner)

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The Transition

My biggest concern migrating to this machine from my 13″ MacBook Pro with Retina display, was like most people, the transition to solely USB-C ports.  To give you an idea here is what my old setup looked like.

 

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So as you can see there is a LOT going on here.  Most would probably say, “Just buy an iMac or a MacPro.” But the fact is I need to be portable with my photography.  My main obstacle was going to be getting the Belkin Thunderbolt 2 Dock to work with a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 adapter to work sending data, audio, and video flawlessly.  Because remember the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar does not have anything but an Audio Jack and 4 Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports.

I was thrilled to learn that Apple’s adapter worked just as anticipated.  Problem is that was not the only adapter I was going to need to make all of this work.  In fact here is a list of all the adapters I did need.

1 Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter
1 Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter
2 Apple USB-C to USB-A Adapters

This very quickly tacked on another $100 but if it wasn’t for my Belkin dock still working that $100 would have easily turned into almost $300.

As for the USB-C transition it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  My setup now looks like this.

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Not awful.  My biggest concern right now is I don’t have an SD card reading option.  9to5Mac did a poll on which port users use most and surprising only 18%+ people use that SD port regularly.  The photographers of the world might disagree.  Of course for another $30 Apple has the Adapter Available.

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The Speeds

I must also note that the read write speeds of the built in flash storage is ridiculously fast. To give you a comparison here is the read/write speed of an External HD, Flash Drive, and Built in Flash Storage.

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Apple Built In Flash
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USB Hard Drive
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USB Flash Drive

I’m really blown away with these speeds.  Even with the entry level i5 processor tasks like rendering in Final Cut Pro fly.  I maxed out the non-upgradable ram to 16GB.  Most people wish they had a 32GB option even it was exclusive to the 15″ model but 16GB will cover most people outside of creative professionals. If you’re going to do any upgrades at all upgrade the ram from 8-16GB.

As I mentioned the internal flash storage is wicked fast but if you can live with 256GB of storage internally and the rest on externals you’ll save yourself $200.

The Touch Bar

5 days into own thing this machine and the only thing I’ve used the Touch Bar for is changing the screen brightness.  I think the success of this feature is going to depend heavily on how third party apps incorporate their functionality into it.  Apple current uses it for predictive typing, showing my tabs in a safari browser, and your standard function keys and although I’ll admit it’s very fast, I just don’t see a ton of value in it.

Touch ID

This is Apple’s first computer to incorporate a Touch ID sensor similar to their mobile lineup.  They use it for the same functions such as unlocking the machine and approving Apple Pay transactions.  I don’t use it much as I do not use Apple Pay online and my Apple Watch typically unlocks my machine for me.  Interesting fact the Touch ID sensor also acts as a physical power button for force shut downs.

Overall Impression

The size and weight of the machine are easily my favorite part of the update.  Carrying it around in my camera bag the weight makes a huge difference.  If your considering upgrading I would heavily consider the pervious model that Apple is still producing.  You’ll save hundreds of dollars, not have the burden of having to carry so many dongles around, and still have an extremely capable machine.  As time goes on a USB-C becomes more mainstream it’ll make more sense but until now it’s not completely necessary.