I was up for a new phone handset and I had been thinking of leaving my very comfortable iPhone 5 for a larger screened, Android based device. From everything I heard the Samsung Galaxy S6 was the phone to have (barring going with a Google Nexus if you wanted to pay out of pocket costs). I knew it would be an adjustment. I had an Android Eris phone a few years ago and it was buggy, underpowered, and generally not a good phone. I had then come over to an iPhone 4 and really have enjoyed the ‘it just works’ aspect of the iPhones. I would still recommend an iPhone to anyone but being a power user and a GEEK I wanted to do more with my phone.
Some of the things I can now do with my Galaxy S6 that I couldn’t do with my iPhone:
Take advantage of being at a computer most of my day
It always bothered me that I had a mini computer sitting next to my computer but when a message or alert came in there was no way to defer that to the computer it’s sitting next to or may have been plugged into. With any good Android phone you can use Airdroid with your PC or MAC. It allows you to use your phone from your computer. Answer texts, upload files, browse contacts, all kinds of stuff. It is hard to overstate how handy this is without trying it for yourself. The good thing is that this is free for the basics and not very expensive to gain more file transfers and more features.
Since my phone is a Samsung, they also offer a tool called SideSync that offers lots of the same options but includes the ability to pull your phone screen directly up on your computer and use it from there. Airdroid does allow this but it’s a paid feature.
Control TVs, DVD, BluRay, etc.. from my phone
The Since Samsung makes TVs and home media devices they have included an IR blaster on the top of the phone. Out of the box it came with a Peel remote control app pre-installed. After a couple minutes I had my TV and DVD/Bluray player setup so I can control them both from my phone.
While you can get wireless charging cases and such for iPhones, the S6, as super thin as it already is, comes with wireless charging built in. For $15 at Microcenter I got a wireless charging pad and, poof. I just set it on the pad and it charges, fast.
For four dollars I was able to buy from the Google Play Store a NES emulator and since I had ‘found’ some NES rom files my phone has over 1,500 classic NES games that I can play on it. I can even connect a Wii remote or external gamepad to complete the experience.
Plug in USB things
The Samsung uses a micro USB plug. That’s one of those ubiquitous little plugs that just about everything uses these days for power charging or connecting to things. (Unless your an iPhone and you have the proprietary lightning cable) With a $3 OTG cable from Microcenter I’m able to plug all kinds of things directly into my phone. I can use a keyboard and mouse, pull and push files directly to a thumb drive or even a card reader. I even plugged my old iPhone directly into my S6 and used Samsung’s SmartSwitch app to pull everything from my iPhone over to my new S6. It pulled in contacts, messages, photos, everything.
Setup all kinds of custom automation
Tasker is the key app here it’s so simple and powerful it’s kind of hard to describe. With tasker you can setup how your phone does things, reacts to things or handles things. Some simple examples you can setup your phone to do:
- When it connects to your car’s Blutooth adapter, automatically show a menu with your audio apps and then bring up your choice of navigation and the current traffic report for your daily commute.
- Plug in your headphones and set it to bring up Spotify or whatever your music app of choice is.
- Have tasker give you custom voice notifications when special people message you. “Excuse me, your wife sent you a message.”
These are just some simple examples. You can set up amazing things with this one app or even export your creations as applications themselves.
Better voice control and search
I’ve been a user of Siri since I had a phone that supported it but it just never seemed to live up to my expectations. Google’s voice control and search is leaps and bounds better and more reliable than Siri. You can still do the normal things like search and launch applications but it all just works better with the Android platform.
So far the only bug or problem I’ve encountered is with group messaging with what used to be three iPhones chatting with each other. Now that I’m on Android sometimes I only see one of the other people’s part of the conversation. I think this is mostly due to iMessage on the iphones. But I’ve started new group conversations and they have worked just fine. All in all I’m very happy a week into the switch and I haven’t even messed with changing my default Launcher application. Now If I can just get the voice to sound like Jarvis from IronMan…