Thursday, August 12, 2010

iPhone vs Android - As a user

I have a few friends with iPhone think they have the best device made since the printing press. There has been at least one effort I know of, where Ed Clark picks the top iPhone apps and tells you how to do the same tasks in Android.

I decided that there were things I like doing on Android that I don't know how to do on iPhone - tasks that don't necessarily require me to jailbreak my phone/run CyanogenMod (although some do).

So, without further ado, here is my list. If some iPhone user actually knows how to do this on the iPhone, do let me know:

Set my phone to automatically dial a calling card number before actually calling an international number
    I call people in India quite often. Sometimes they are people I call quite infrequently. To make the calls more cheaply, I like to use RelianceGlobalCall, a service that lets me call all numbers in India at < 2 cents per minute. However, I don't want to copy the number I wish to call, dial RelianceGlobalCall and then punch in the Indian number. I want to choose the contact and let the phone do the grunt work of calling through the calling service....
This is exactly what CallingCard lets me do. There is also another app - PhoneCard Express, which has similar functionality.
A sister app is Contacts Clean-up, that allows me to clean up my contacts in my address book. It reformats all numbers, so that a number I enter as "408 555 1212" gets stored as "+1.408.555.1212". Now all my numbers have the + in front of them - makes it easier for Calling Card to do its job!


Easily Find Phone Numbers and Applications
Yes, Android has a similar way to find people as iPhone - you can swipe your way through a list. But I find that painfully slow - since I have a few hundred contacts on my phone. I used to use a program called StarContact, which allowed me to find people using a virtual numeric keypad and that was quite nice. However, once I found Gesture Search from Google, I stopped using such archaic ways of finding people. Now, I just trace out the name the first few letters of the persons first OR last name and find the person immediately! Because Gesture Search also indexes applications, I have stopped arranging too many apps on my home screen.


Free Navigation
I don't use Google Navigation as much as I normally would, since I have a nav system on my Prius, but it is useful when I am travelling.

Keeping Track of My Running Speed
While I hate running, it has been drummed into my head that I better do it for health reasons. Anyway, one app that I love to use while running is called My Tracks. Not only does it keep track of the total distance I have run, average speed, etc, it also tracks elevation. One very cool feature that got added recently is the ability to have it announce periodically (ever 5-10 mins) what your total distance covered was, average speed, etc. Future versions will be able to keep track of your heart rate as you run/exercise! It also lets me upload my tracks to Google, to save it for future use.


Making sure my phone doesn't ring in the middle of the night
I live in the US. My brother lives in India. For some complicated reason I can't quite understand, he never knows what the current time is in California. Anyway, he has called me a few times between 3-7 am, which really kills my sleep. So I was delighted to find this program - Timeriffic, which I have set up to automatically put my phone in silent mode between 11pm and 7am.

Save Costs While Roaming
I am currently in Bangalore, India. Have an Indian SIM card, which allows unlimited data as long as I am in Mumbai. Love the Google Power widget that let's me turn off automatic data syncing of my chatty applications to reduce my data usage while roaming. Still get Google Maps, mail when I want it, but don't automatically check for market updates etc. while roaming. The Power Management widget also lets me quickly turn on/off things like Bluetooth, WiFi, etc. If only I didn't have to unlock my phone to access it :-)

Gas Miser
Okay, I admit it. I am a gas miser and a Prius bigot! Love my Prius and want to track the mileage I am getting very precisely. This is where Mileage comes in. Allows me to enter the amount of gas I fill into my mobile. Then shows me nice charts about my average mileage, cost of gas, etc.

Geeky Delights
Some apps I love that I can't justify to non-Geeky folks, but that I didn't want to ignore are ConnectBot, GPS Status, WiFi Analyzer and Antennas. ConnectBot let's me get a terminal window either onto my mobile, or any remote machine I might be using (as long as it supports ssh/telnet). I can then enter command line commands to manage the remote machine, start stop services, etc. GPS Status tells me why I haven't got my position data on Google Maps and/or what my current GPS coordinates are, where the GPS satellites exactly are, etc. WiFi Analyzer let's me walk around the house and see how strong my WiFi router signal is in different rooms. Antennas tells me where my carriers antenna towers are - not that there is much I can do about their location, but curious minds want to know :-)

Ok. That is it for tasks I find I do quite often on my Android phone that I am not sure I can do on iPhone. I am not stating the obvious list like changing my SIM chip when travelling and not being locking into a particular carrier....

I promise to do another post soon about "Cools Apps that I don't really use, but are great to Wow a crowd". Just for my information (or, if you are impatient), the name of those apps are:
- Google Sky Map
- Bubble
- Chrome to Phone
- Talk to Me
- Talk to enter text