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Evaluating technosystems, or why I chose Apple over Android

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#1 OFFLINE   Jeber

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 04:13 PM

Let me say this right at the start.

This is a purely personal evaluation of the merits of the Apple and Android technosystems, what they offer and how they meet my needs. I'm not attempting to fan the flames of the larger Apple/Android conflict among users. Each environment has its advantages and disadvantages. I believe the only meaningful method for determining which is best for us is to examine our particular needs and experiment to find out which system provides us the best user experience.



My time online is pretty evenly split between content creation and consumption. While some evenings may be spent doing nothing better than keeping up with my friends on Google+, FriendFeed or forums I'm a member of, other times I'm writing for my blogs, responding to email messages or doing maintenance work on a website. I expect my tablet and desktop computers to allow me to both consume and create. My phone on the other hand, besides being a basic communications device, is primarily used for consumption. I tried blogging from my HTC EVO once and it was a frustrating experience I don't intend to repeat. Both the screen and keyboard are too small to allow any serious work to be done.

I love the tablet as a mobile device. I've had a variety of laptops over the years, and while I thought my Acer netbook was an ideal size and offered just the functionality I desired, I've found that tablets are even more ideal for my purposes. Until recently my experience with tablets was limited to iPads. The on-screen keyboard is comfortable and with practice almost as easy to use as the keyboard on my desktop. Cut and paste along with drag and drop aren't as simple as with a laptop or desktop, but for basic writing and editing the iPad has been adequate.

Lately though I've been thinking about the advantages of having a unified environment for all my computing devices; smartphone, tablet and desktop. Synchronization of notes, schedules, calendars and apps is very useful and makes my daily life much more organized.

My desktop computer and my current tablet are both Apple products, while my phone is an Android. Only a few of my apps, like Dropbox, Google calendar and Kindle, can synch between all three devices. So if I wanted to unify all my devices into one environment I had to decide if I wanted to go with Apple or Android.

Since I really enjoy my Android phone I decided to look into getting an Android tablet and accepting that my desktop would be the outlier. I had a little extra money last week from a combination of extra hours and overtime at work and, based on the recommendations of my friends on Google+, purchased a Nexus 7 16GB tablet and listed my iPad for sale on Craigslist at what I felt was a fair price. If I decided to keep the Android tablet I wouldn't need the iPad, and the money I got for it would offset the purchase of the Nexus.


The Nexus 7 livd up to the hype I've read online. It's a solid device and the Jelly Bean version of the operating system makes using an Android tablet a joy. Synchronization with my Google applications and my phone was effortless. Where the Nexus failed to impress me was in the size of the screen and the available apps that would allow me to use the tablet as I needed.

Likely because I'm nearly 60 and my eyesight isn't what it used to be, the 7" form factor is a bit too small for comfortably reading text. I was constantly having to expand the view even on sites optimized for mobile viewing, which then would push some of the content off the screen, forcing me to scroll left and right as well as up and down. That makes reading almost any blog or website a real PITA.  I also found very few apps that allowed me to post to blogs or create webpages. After three days of doing my best to make the Nexus fill my needs I returned it and cancelled the ad for my iPad.

It so happens that my current two-year contract with Sprint comes to an end in October and I'm eligible for a discount on another phone. While I really like my EVO it's too old to qualify for an upgrade to its OS, so selecting another model is necessary if I want to take advantage of a modern mobile OS. Since I've decided the iPad meets my needs for a mobile computer better than the Android alternative, perhaps it is time to consider an iPhone. This would make my desktop Mac, my iPad and phone all able to work together. It so happens that Sprint is offering a remanufactured iPhone 4S with my current plan for no cost when factoring in the credit I'll get for sending them my EVO in exchange (I'm a big fan of remanufactured hardware and recommend it as a low cost option when my friends are considering a major electronics purchase. Most remanufactured units are in better condition than those fresh off the assembly line). That's the option I've decided to go with, and as an added bonus Sprint is sending my phone overnight via UPS at no additional charge.

So I'm going from a less-than-satisfactory mixed OS environment to a completely Apple experience. I still like the Android system. In fact I strongly suspect that in two more years when I'm ready for a new phone or tablet I might just choose to change over to Android. By then there might even be a Linux based phone and tablet available to complicate my decision. On a philosophical level I support the open source Linux and Android system over the closed Apple one. But philosophy doesn't help me accomplish what I need to do on the computer. And that's the bottom line for me; not what's popular at the moment or what I wish I could afford but rather what I can afford that meets my computing needs.

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#2 OFFLINE   ross549

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 07:16 PM

I think the 4S is a better phone than the 5.... but that's my opinion, and worth about as much as you paid for it. :D

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#3 OFFLINE   LilBambi

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 12:06 PM

I love my new iPhone 4S! It is IMHO the best Apple iPhone. And I am so glad I got that one!

BTW: Apple Maps when it works (which I have had only a single weirdness with it), but overall, it does 'just work' and gets me where I am going and home again. I often make spur of the moment changes to the 'course' and Siri is right there with me. I have only seen it say something like rerouting one time. Otherwise, it already gives updated info immediately. I am really liking it.
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#4 OFFLINE   LilBambi

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 12:14 PM

Great read there Jeber! I haven't used a 7" tablet as yet, but I do use a Nook to read books and have the size very large on it so I am comfortable reading it, so I know what you mean.

I do surf with my new iPhone and just make it as big as I need and scroll around as needed. It's a pita but it's better than having to open a laptop to surf when I am out and about. But I know exactly what you mean! It does get to be a pita regardless.
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#5 OFFLINE   goretsky

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 04:35 AM

Hello,

It would be interesting to hear what you think of Windows 8 slates/Windows RT tablets.

As I think many of use have vision that is not as... acute as it once was, devices that display a legible interface for both content consumption and content creation become more important.  Perhaps when it becomes time to select your replacement phone, you can tell us about what sorts of things you did to ensure the device was usable.

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky
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#6 OFFLINE   LilBambi

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 01:31 PM

Well, Windows 8 slates and RT tablets are mainly iPad sized, not iPad mini or Nexus 7 size. Would be better to compare head to head on ones with given sizes.

Wish I had a tablet from Google Android like Nexus 7, iPad mini and a 7-8 inch tablet/slate with Windows RT to compare! :D
Bambi
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#7 OFFLINE   ross549

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 01:54 PM

First impressions of Surface have been fairly positive. It seems like Windows RT works really well on it.

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#8 OFFLINE   Jeber

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 10:36 PM

<Ahem...if anyone knows anyone who knows anyone who can send me some units to test, I'd be glad to write about my impressions.> :whistling:

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#9 OFFLINE   LilBambi

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 06:00 PM

View PostJeber, on 29 October 2012 - 10:36 PM, said:

<Ahem...if anyone knows anyone who knows anyone who can send me some units to test, I'd be glad to write about my impressions.> :whistling:

Me too! I will dutifully give it a work over and give a review in response! :D
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