My dad upgraded his iPhone 3GS to an iPhone 5 (white, AT&T, 32GB) this past week. I helped him transfer over his data to the new phone, and briefly (a couple of hours) played with it. I was deeply impressed and pleased with how easy my dad was able to move his data from the 3GS to the 5.
It Simply Worked
If anyone is curious, my dad’s iPhone 3GS was running iOS5 and backing up to iCloud. I also then backed it up to iTunes. I was worried that when restoring to iPhone 5 (which is running iOS6), there’d be a problem given the different versions of the operating system. My dad did not want to upgrade his iPhone 3GS to iOS6 as he wants to retain Google Maps (he plans to use this phone internationally, as he can now unlock it and use a regular ol’ SIM). But the restore process, even if the backed up data was under iOS5, was PAINLESS. I simply turned the new iPhone 5 on (which was already charged), clicked on “Restore …” from a previous iPhone, and plugged the iPhone 5 into iTunes and the restore process began. The basic data took no more than 5 minutes, and the 140+ apps my dad has on his iPhone 3GS (yes, I know, he is a hoarder) took a while longer, but also went smoothly. (EDIT: Disappointingly the backup did not include any of the WiFi passwords my dad had saved including his home, his work and his place of worship; this is something that Android does backup into your cloud).
Not everyone I know had this experience. Some people lost their contacts, etc. Some of those people used iCloud, but I don’t know if that is why it happened. Why didn’t I just use the iCloud backup? I still don’t trust Apple knows how to do the cloud well *cough* .Mac, MobileMe *cough*) and also I did not want to download nearly 4GB of data in the restore process.
Now, what about the phone? What follows is a die hard Android fan’s impression of Apple’s new phone.
Quite simply, the iPhone 5’s hardware is unparalleled.
- the A6 processor is extremely fast and efficient, all the more remarkable when you consider it is NOT a Cortex-A15
- the camera is the best (if not one of the best) on a smart phone
- the display is arguably one of the best on a smart phone (even if it is not technically 720p, something that ultimately does not matter)
- it’s extremely well designed (I prefer black but my dad insisted on the white)
- it is extremely sturdy
- impressive battery life
- excellent call quality (my dad has never sounded so clear at work)
- it is sturdy and has impressive battery life, yet it is very light (some complain it is too light, but when you throw a case on, the weight will balance out)
As impressed as I am by the iPhone 5, I was quickly bored after a couple of hours. The hardware is amazing, but iOS 6 is still iOS, and that is a deal breaker. I love to recommend the iPhone 5 to my dad and other select friends because it is so easy to use, but after using Android, I can’t stand iOS.
Prior to my Nexus One I had an iPod Touch running iOS 2/3/4, and moving to Android was freeing. I no longer felt chained by my device. The flip side of this has been apps are not as pretty, the experience not as smooth day to day, but for me those are small sacrifices to pay for an operating system that is far more flexible and powerful. In fact, Topolsky at The Verge put it best:
Don’t get me wrong, iOS is a beautiful and well-structured mobile operating system — but it’s begun to show its age. It feels less useful to me today than it did a couple of years ago, especially in the face of increasingly sophisticated competition. I always have this sense now in iOS of not knowing where I am, what my status is — constantly having to load things and reload them. It feels tiring.
Maybe you’ll call me an Android fanboy for saying this, or maybe it’s because much of my business utilizes Google apps and its communication tools, but it didn’t take me very long with the iPhone 5 to start thinking about getting back to the Galaxy Nexus and Jelly Bean (Android 4.1). For what I do, I think it’s a more effective, more elegant, and more powerful OS right now. What it may lack in polish and consistency, it makes up for in power and flexibility.
If you want someone singing the praises of the iPhone 5 (rather inanely), check out Gizmodo’s many reviews (but avoid their posts regarding Maps).
My dad has been concerned regarding iOS 6 and its new Maps app. As you may know, Apple dropped Google in favor of an in house maps app. I will have a separate post detailing the problems of Maps but I wish to summarize the main issues here.
- Inaccurate Maps – Google Maps was inaccurate way back when (and still is, from time to time), and honestly with time Apple’s Maps should improve, and I will show you how legions of iPhone (read: loyal Apple fans) users will correct their maps (in a future post)
- Poor 3D Images – this is a relatively new technology, and things will improve with time I’m sure
- Poor Directions – Google Maps is guilty of this too; the only thing I can imagine is both services will collect data and improve with time
Why Quit Google?
Well aside from all the troubles between Apple and Google, the real reason per reports from tech websites seems to be that Apple wanted turn-by-turn and Google was withholding that feature of Google Maps. In return for bringing turn-by-turn to iOS, Google wanted branding on Maps, and wanted features like Latitude on iOS.
Apple states they did not want Google collecting information on its users, and comes off as if they are looking out for their users. This is ridiculous. Why is this ridiculous? Because Apple essentially created its own Latitude (called “Find My Friends”).
Apple as a Hypocrite
What’s perverse is that Find My Friends actually offers less privacy than Latitude, and is at the same time far more limited than Google Latitude.
In the above image, you can see that the user of this iPad will be notified when little Sean Callahan (with his iPhone 5) leaves school. Sean Callahan had to enable this feature in his iPhone 5, so this is seen as a feature, not as a breach of privacy. You can set it up so that you can temporarily setup location sharing (say if your friends are all getting together in the city one Saturday), and you can lock this Find my Friends features for your children’s iOS devices so they don’t share it with strangers.
Latitude has all these features, more or less. Apple simply wants in on this game, and they did not want a built-in option for iOS users via their Maps program (which is what Google was pushing for), so Apple would not allow Google to include this.
In my opinion, Latitude is the better option. It’s not as pretty looking as Apple’s Find My Friends, but what you lose in beauty you gain in cross-compatibility (as is the general rule with most of Apple’s features). You can use Latitude as a built-in or stand alone app on Android, iOS (it’s a separate app), BlackBerry, Symbian, and the old Windows Mobile OS. It also works on Windows Phone 7.x (not made by Google, but it works), and any modern desktop browser on any desktop operating system (Windows, Mac or Linux running Firefox, Chrome, or Safari). You are not limited to Apple hardware.
Also the service obviously relies on the cloud (read: service provider) to have operating and reliable servers. Apple has been unreliable with this in the past…
Apple’s Data Problems
Apple has had problems in the past, and I would argue Google’s servers are more reliable. See Youtube Link (see at 2m 44 seconds) below.
(EDIT/UPDATE: turns out there was yet another outage, this time with iTunes and the virtual App Store, but it has been resolved.)
This is why the day I originally setup my dad’s iPhone 3GS (more than 2 years ago) was via Google’s servers. I set his contacts up with his Gmail account (via Exchange), and NOT iOS (or later, iCloud). This way I am sure my dad’s data is universally available AND accessible to any device he uses, and the servers rarely fail. (and Google’s even using an open standard now).
I don’t mean the data is easy to export (which iCloud can do, kind of), what I mean is any device can easily PLUG-IN to existing data in Google’s servers and download/upload the data at will. This is not like iCloud, which is designed to be accessible to Apple mobile devices only and any modern web browsers.
It’s why my dad’s iCal uses Google Calendar in the back end. It’s why my dad’s Mail is actually hooked into Google. If at any time he wants to, he can jump ship to WindowsPhone or Android, or whatever, and his data will “move” with him, and it will be reliably accessible.
My next post will focus on the different errors on Apple’s Maps, and how over time it will improve due to Apple’s users.