Android update 2013

In 2012 I made the switch from iPhone to the Galaxy S3, and from iOS to Android. I posted my impressions at 1 day, 5 days and a couple of months later with a custom rom.

I am still using android—Kit Kat on the LG/google Nexus 5. This is the phone I wanted! It looks good, feels good and runs fast. The battery can run down quick though so that needs watching. Android continues to impress: Kit Kat is fantastic (I’m not a fan of iOS 7, but it does the job). I still use my iPad and haven’t entirely left the apple ecosystem behind. It’s interesting using both.

So how have my initial gripes changed?

  • I still love the larger screen. The screen on the nexus is fantastic, and better in more lighting conditions than the S3
  • Widgets—I don’t use these as often as I did at first, but they are still a nice option to have
  • App ecosystems are highly competitive and apps that are cross platform are excellent (Windows needs to catch up)
  • Integrated stores are still better on android: iOS still forces purchases through iTunes and some apps don’t support that
  • Account integration is pretty good on both
  • Keyboards have improved: I’m using the google keyboard with swiping now (although I think swype may be a bit better). I find it a little more hit and miss than iPhone, but it might be swiping vs tapping. I like that on android the keys switch when you press shift. I thought iOS7 had regressed on that, but it turns out the letters are always uppercase—a hangover from Apple’s skeuomorphic approach?
  • google play gift cards have appeared in Australia. iTunes gift cards still have better deals, but I think that will change. It’s good to have both platforms and buy where cheapest
  • headphones: I am happy with my M80s, though I do miss volume control on the cable
  • syncing music is still painful but doubletwist airsync is doing a good job (finally, it was updated a couple of months ago)
  • google music has been released in Australia and is excellent (and sometimes cheaper than iTunes)… keeping both in sync is a little tricky but it’s mostly good. I love the online backup and would love the cloud play feature if it respected the volume adjustments I’ve made with MP3 gain—I don’t like having to adjust the volume for every song while listening!
  • iBooks is still not available outside apple but did make it onto the Mac at least. I haven’t missed it at all: kindle, kobo, google play books and aldiko are all great (and comixology for comics!)

All good. Some recent surprises:

Kit Kat lock screen widget for music playback

There’s no reason not to be happy if you prefer iPhones (or plain ol’ non-smart phones), but if you’re into android it’s going great. My one piece of advice is to check carefully before buying a non-google device. It really bugged me that Samsung loaded extra UI gimmicks and delayed android updates, and the custom roms were brilliant but had some niggling bugs (hats off to the devs for making them available though, some impressive work!) So if you’re buying a branded device from Samsung, HTC, Sony, etc. check that you like what they offer first. Otherwise, I highly recommend the nexus 5. Awesome bit of kit (kat)!