As I sit at the rink this afternoon, keeping an eye on the final weekend of Arizona youth (non-Tier) playoff hockey, my mind all too easily wanders to the player not on the ice (especially with today’s games being 16u, the group that contains some of Micah’s friends).  So, as a diversion today, I’m going to talk about things tech!  (I would talk about baseball’s forthcoming season and an outlook on my Chicago Cubs, but it’s still way too early in Spring Training to have that be a meaningful discussion–maybe in a week or so…)

Smartphone Shuffle

Most people who know me well know that the average lifespan of a phone in my possession is about five or six months.  I like to consider myself a bleeding edge adopter–at least when the bleeding edge won’t bleed my bank account dry.  I know–it’s an addiction of sorts.  Where some people spend all their extra money on alcohol, tobacco, expensive cars, golfing…I spend mine on technology, which these days equates to cell phones and occasionally tablets.

My usual preference, when it comes to portable electronics, is Android.  So, heading into last Fall, my daily driver was a svelte little OnePlus 3.  If you haven’t heard of OnePlus (oneplus.net) and you are either operating system agnostic or an Android enthusiast, I highly recommend looking into the little Chinese brand.  It’s the little engine that could, broken off from larger Oppo a few years back.  Very solid quality phones, close to flagship-level specs, and VERY reasonable prices (the current model, the OnePlus 3T is only $439 with 6gb RAM/64gb of storage).  I know it sounds expensive, but when you consider that the actual cash price of an iPhone 7 starts at $650 with 32gb of storage ($750 with 128gb, $829 for a 128gb iPhone 7 Plus), and a Samsung S7 is similarly priced over $700…

So, back in late September, I had a moment of uncertainty (yes, I’ve become all too used to those) and decided that Android phones were getting stale.  Not really any new features, no crazy new bells and whistles (aside from a bit more push towards VR–a technology that’s still a ways off), no handsets that were on the horizon (aside from wild, varied rumors)…I thought, well, maybe this is the time to give iPhone another try.  Yes, another.  My iPhone 7 Plus was the third time I’d owned an iPhone–the other two only lasted a couple, maybe three months each.  This time, it lasted about four months.

My thought going in was that maybe iOS had gotten to the point now where I could do many of the same neat tricks and customization on the iPhone that I did on my Android handsets.  My first sign that that wasn’t the case: discovering that my Apple Music songs could not be used to create ringtones or notification sounds.  I followed all the instructions, but the songs just wouldn’t show up properly to be connected as ringtones.  Not REAL serious, I play with ringtones a bit and then get easily bored anyhow.  In fact, one reason why I thought the switch would work well: the basic apps I use 90 percent of the time: Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft Excel or Word, MLB At Bat, video players, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video — they all worked almost exactly the same way on an iPhone that they did on Android.  In the back of my head, I figured that iPhones had a reputation for being more reliable–so that was a plus.  iPhones have a larger stock of accessories specially made for them–a potential plus.  Developers seem to prefer the Apple App Store to the Google Play Store.  Maybe one of the biggest pluses of the move: Apple Messenger.  The ability to get and answer my texts on either my phone or my iPad (yes–I do actually have and like my iPad Pro 9.7) was a cool extra feature — the one that, to this point, Android hasn’t matched.

As I used the iPhone over a few months, I discovered that–as I expected–it worked pretty much the same as my Android phone.  I liked using Apple Messenger.  I even liked the Apple Watch that I bought to go with the phone.  But as time went on, small things started annoying me–lack of flexibility with the home and other screens, difficulty with ringtones, the tight “sandboxing” of apps that wouldn’t give me ‘enough’ freedom to move things from one app to another, cut-and-pasting and the like.  I started to look at the Apple Watch and long to have my Huawei Watch back–it worked just about as well (except I couldn’t answer calls with it), but looked so much nicer.  It was time to move on again–back to Android.

Fortunately for me, Avi really wanted an iPhone.  She had taken really good care of my OnePlus 3, so–for the time being–I decided just to swap phones with Avi.  Now I’m back to the Android-based OnePlus 3, back with my Huawei Watch, and waiting to see what OnePlus has in store in their new OnePlus 5 (they’re rumored to be skipping the “4” because of some kind of bad luck in China relating to the number four) or maybe the forthcoming Google Pixel XL 2.  For the time being, I’m happy with my OnePlus 3.

Android Wear 2.0

Last month, Google introduced the newest version of their Android Wear smartwatch operating system, Android Wear 2.0.  I’m anxious to try it out, but the only watches currently available are the LG Watch Style and LG Watch Sport.  The LG Watch Sport has a nice look to it, built-in GPS, built-in NFC (for Android Pay contact payments), and built-in 4G LTE.  The problem: it’s not an officially supported T-Mobile wearable device, and as such is not eligible for their $5/mo plan.  I would have to add another phone to my plan, and use the new phone SIM for the watch.  As neat as Wear 2.0 might be, I think I’m going to wait until either T-Mobile supports it officially, or until Wear 2.0 comes to my Huawei Watch…

Okay…I’m too cold to keep typing.  (Been sitting in the cold side of the rink for three hours now…)  More techno-thoughts coming soon…

David

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