Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Android and Galaxy S3 Loves and Woes

There's only so much research you can do on a certain topic. Eventually, you will need to get your feet wet and try it out...whatever "it" turns out to be. Well, I did it. I jumped to Android by getting the Samsung Galaxy SIII on AT&T. It's a great phone, and at the same's terrible.

Disclaimer: I came from an iPhone 4. I need my Apple ecosystem intact. My blog (The Great iPhone to Android Migration) details how I could meet those food groups by switching to Android and the Galaxy S3. In ways, The S3 was excellent at meeting my requirements. In others, it failed miserably. Allow me to share my month-long relation with the latest Android super phone.

  • Sharing content to anything
    • Open a document, video, photo, webpage...pretty much any piece of media...and share it via Facebook, Twitter, text, email, Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Fi Direct, Google+, Dropbox, Evernote, KakaoTalk, Skype...basically any sharing app or service on the device.
    • This is one of those cool features that you just can't get with the iPhone. Share the current photo/video/song/contact/etc via any sharing app you have installed on your phone.
  • Expandable storage via microSD card
    • Currently expanded to a 32GB microSDHC. Could go up to a 64GB microSDXC. Tons of storage for music, photos, apps, backups, and videos.
  • Display
    • The Super AMOLED colors are deeply saturated, which is beautiful. For photos and videos, at times the colors may seem a little unrealistic, but it is so pretty it doesn't matter. The excellent contrast and deep black level that you get from turning each pixel completely off is nothing short of amazing.
    • Large screen - Shows a lot of information in a web page, when reading, or when managing notes, and I love that the back button and menu buttons don't take up any screen real estate, allowing for max screen usage. However, see "Woes" below for cons...
    • The bezel is very thin, but thick enough to avoid accidental screen and capacitive button presses.
    • The display is very high resolution. Text is crisp and videos look awesome.
    • The screen is amazingly oleophobic. You might even say that oil and finger prints are afraid of the screen because they run and hide screaming. The display is very slick to the touch and grime is rarely visible unless you just put on some girly greasy lotion...and even then it is pretty. 
  • Phone app
    • I really like how the phone app is laid out. Swipe right on a contact to call. Swipe left to send a text. Photos of your contacts are displayed by default (this is possible on iPhone but requires jailbreak).
  • Voice dictation input
    • Displays as you dictate, not just when you are complete with the phrase. However, sometimes dictation fails when the web service dies. When Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) is released, dictation can be done offline.
  • Titanium backups (Root required)
    • Great backup/restore tool that can backup all your apps and app settings, and then restore them if you wish. This is great when installing new ROMs. I kind of equate this tool to PkgBackup for a jailbroken iPhone. I used PkgBackup and loved it on the iPhone. It was essential when installing Apple updates, then re-jailbreaking and restoring all jailbreak apps and settings. Titanium is used when installing a new ROM but then being able to keep apps you loved on other ROMs, although restoring settings from ROM A to ROM B is ill-advised because it my crash your current ROM. Nobody likes a brick for a phone here people.
  • Nandroid backups (Root required)
    • Unlike Titanium, Nandroid is used to make a complete image of your current ROM. It makes a complete copy of all data, apps, settings, boot loader...everything that has anything to do with the ROM's current state. Nandroid then allows the ability to restore to the backup of that exact point in time.
  • Very Thin
    • Phone is overall extremely thin, light, and solid feeling.
  • Camera
    • The camera takes great photos, especially for a cell phone. The wide angle lens lets you get a lot of content in the photo. The video is also very good, although the audio is a bit muffled. 

Neat, but less of a big deal
  • Back button and Menu button -  I like how screen real estate is not taken up by menu and back buttons that are needed in almost all apps. When hitting a link to another app, tapping the back button in the current app brings you back to the previous app. This is handy for multitasking, as it closes the current app and brings you back to the previous app. If you launched this one from the home screen, then tapping back kills the current app and brings you back to the home screen. However, sometimes this is annoying...when you think hitting the back button will bring you to a previous screen, and accidentally you close the app.
  • Keyboard choice - The stock Android keyboard (I got mine from flashing the Cyanogenmod 9 ROM) is actually very good! It is reminiscent of the iPhone keyboard, which allows me to type very quickly with two thumbs and very rarely have to go back and correct a mistake. No Swype in this keyboard, but I find Swype to be a gimmick that actually slows me down quite a bit. Others swear by Swype so your mileage may vary. I love the double tap a word to select potential replacements. I think this keyboard is MUCH more elegant than the stock Samsung one. 
  • Android Beam sharing via NFC and S-Beam sharing via NFC and Wi-Fi Direct - probably cool, haven't tried it - These are a little more gimmicky to me, as sharing a photo/contact/video via email and mms is still pretty darn convenient.
  • Maps/Navigation - I love the seamless integration between Google Maps and Navigation. Get directions from Maps, then hit the Navigation button to switch to turn-by-turn directions, and vice versa. I also like the feature of clicking on a destination or point of interest and getting general info about it (e.g., phone number, address, hours of operation, short description, link to website).
  • Quick data access - Was in LA and got a taste of what AT&T 4GLTE would be like. 40Mbit download speeds are nothing short of amazing. Even the "faux" G (4G) coverage is very reliable and quick enough for normal use.
  • Overall speed - the device is just plain fast. Switching apps, loading apps, refreshing web pages, etc happen almost instantaneously. I'm not even sure this speed comparison is worth mentioning, though because the iPhone 4S is very quick in its tasks, and I can only imagine how quick the iPhone 5 will be in its daily grind. EDIT: As my month went on, the device has seemed to lag a little since day 1. I have killed apps and ran Antivirus scans...nothing seems to make it faster. Touchwiz's fault?
  • I Like how your Google account is present throughout the OS. Open an app for the first time and you can usually login with your Google account automatically.
  • Google Play store - on the phone
    • Easy search
    • Nice graphics
    • Video previews
    • Screenshots
    • User reviews
    • Shows similar apps
    • No need to enter password when installing new free apps and updates
  • Google Play store - web version
    • Access to Google Play from any web browser (e.g., desktop PC, tablet, laptop PC)
    • Download and install to device straight from the browser
  • Phone case
    • This really has nothing to do with the phone itself, the Body Glove case I have is pretty great! It is anti-microbial (so it doesn't get all grimy with use), is slim, provides great grip, and good protection despite its slim profile.
  • Customizability
    • The home screen is ridiculously customizable with launchers with different row/column layouts, fonts, themes, folders, Widgets, etc. 


Honestly if you want to mess with that stuff, go right ahead because you can spend days...literally days customizing your home screen. It's cool I must admit. However, after spending 4 hours trying to find a launcher I like and realizing my favorite features are across 3 different paid-for launchers and 2 separate ROMs (granted you can install separate .apk packages for some features), I'm less than happy with the amount of customization you can do. "Look at the 1000 different ways I can ALMOST get my phone to do what I want it to!" I must admit that a lot of the features I want enabled on Android were ones I enjoyed on my iPhone (albeit jail broken). This is only natural. It is also a testament to how many things that Apple has done very well. I will stand by the opinion that Android can do A LOT of things. But sometimes they take 1000 different camera settings to do what Apple camera does without the user having to do anything. And when Apple has that certain feature, you can bet that it will be done in a more elegant, not half-baked fashion. I feel like I'm comparing apples to Apples here because some of the features I enabled on the Galaxy S3 are only available by rooting and/or ROMing the device. Very similar to jail breaking the iPhone. Which leads me to the woes...



  • Apple Integration
    • AirPlay
      • Photos - works, but need to send each photo individually to AppleTV. On the iPhone 4, simply view a pic on your phone, hit the Airplay button, then swipe through your phone's library to view everything on the TV. On the Galaxy S3, hit share and then AirTwist to beam the pic to the AppleTV. Then if you swipe on your phone, you must hit share and AirTwist again for each photo. Imagine doing this for the 100 photos you took on your vacation.
      • Music - works, but no song data is displayed on the TV, just a blank black screen. A little less than elegant. iPhone displays artist, title, album, album art, and a progress bar for time lapsed.
      • Video - Started to queue up, but never actually played on the TV. There may be other apps out there that may do this, but after already spending hours trying to get this to work, I was too frustrated to keep at it.
    • iTunes Match iCloud
      • Through iTunes Match and iCloud, I have access to every single one of my 8,700 songs in my library. All 44GB worth. I can still store all my most-listened to tracks on local storage, but this allows me to stream any others via iCloud. This integrates seamlessly in the iPhone's music player. Not present at all on Android.
    • Bose StereoDock Portable
      • When the iPhone is docked, with the Bose remote I can play, pause, skip tracks, go to previous track, fast forward, rewind, change playlists, and adjust the volume up and down. With the Galaxy S3 connected to the Bose via Aux-in port, I can only control the volume. Plus the music app sometimes stops working and a force close is necessary. I can't think of a time the iPhone music app EVER crashed.
  • Apps close for no reason.
    • Why does "Early Bird," one of my favorite games from the iPhone constantly crash on Android? It's a great game, and it loads really quickly when it works. But why do these apps randomly crash? Instability is a very un-fun feature, especially when all you want to do is turn your brain off and play a quick game.
    • I love DoubleTwist's functionality for what it tries to iTunes replacement, but it just doesn't perform or stay open. It also sometimes lags when navigating between screens.
    • DoubleTwist is the only solution right now that will sync play counts, ratings, etc from the phone back to iTunes. (EDIT: I have not tried iSyncr. That very well may work, but once again I expect it to just not be as elegant, which is very annoying.) If I used the stock player or some other player, those stats would not sync back. I need that to keep my whole house of music in sync. And I love to rate songs as I listen to them on the phone. Apple just does this better.
  • WiFi
    • WiFi receiver has weaker reception than iPhone 4's. I'm not sure why, but it is definitely noticeable that I can't be as far away from the WiFi router as I can with the iPhone 4.
  • Browser
    • Bookmarks
      • Firefox bookmarks do not sync correctly with chrome android app. Sure I could use the Firefox app, but that thing is so buggy, it crashes on me all the time, and there is no copy/paste in it. Seriously Firefox?! No copy/paste!? Sad sad. Further, (going with the "there's so much choice" theme), I tried Chrome, Dolphin browser, and the stock Samsung browser. Bookmarks don't sync properly even in Chrome. Now, I use Chrome at work and at home. Why don't they sync? Why does it take so much work to get it to the way I want it, and then it STILL doesn't work properly? With iPhone, use iTunes to sync your Xmarks bookmarks to your Safari bookmarks. Done.
    • Lag
      • Also in Chrome, it takes a second or two for it to open to be able to tap the URL bar to search for something. Not sure why. Am I impatient or just used to Safari opening on an iPhone and working without issue?
  • Video chat sucks
    • Sure you can fire up Google+, Tango, or Skype, but nothing is anywhere near as good as Apple's Facetime. Once you've tried it, no other video chat seems relevant. The picture is clearer, the motion is near real time, and the audio is crystal clear. Plus, with iOS 6 (or now with jailbreak), this will be doable over your cellular data.
  • The 4.8 inch screen is also a con
    • It's difficult to navigate the phone with just one hand. Try to hold it like you normally do; now try to reach 4 inches straight up and slide down the notification bar. Yeah I have carpal tunnel just thinking about it. Of course if you have large hands, this may actually be a pro for you.
  • Addeth features and taketh them away
    • I hate that when I install a new ROM (e.g., Cyanogenmod 9) all of the Samsung features go away. S voice? Gone. Accuweather widget? Gone. Granted, you can find some of them on the web as installable .apk files, but not all. Jailbreaking never took functionality away. It only ADDED it.
  • Display Brightness
    • Auto
      • Auto brightness is strange. In sunlight, it does not get as bright as possible. In darkness, it does not get as dim as possible. In other words, take off auto, and you can manually adjust the display to dimmer than the dimmest that auto will make it. Likewise, you can manually adjust to brighter than the brightest that auto will make it. This becomes annoying...come from a brightly lit room into a dim room, and you have to adjust it accordingly.
    • In the Dark
      • Overall, the brightness just can't seem to get down to a reasonably low level when viewing in the dark. I believe this is to be a limitation of the OLED display tech.
    • In Daylight
      • The Super AMOLED screen also cannot seem to get bright enough in sunlight to be as readable as an IPS LCD display.
  •  Battery management is terrible (sometimes)
    • Week 1 and 2:
      • Even in standby, it seems to just kill the battery, even with Juice Defender enabled (battery saving app).
      • Requires too much manual intervention. Turn off WiFi, Bluetooth, 4G, mobile data, and GPS when not in use. On iPhone, just leave them all on and the phone manages the service automatically.
      • Disable push on Exchange email accounts. Some recommend setting my 3 email accounts to only check every 30 minutes or once an hour instead of pushing the notification as it comes in to the server. I say pish posh. I want it pushed to me the second the server gets it. Especially for work emails, you need to get these ASAP, or your customer is gone. On the iPhone, all of my email accounts were set to push, and battery life didn't suffer because of it. I should say...battery life wasn't horrendous (looking at you Galaxy S3) because of it. I want to use my phone, not have to baby sit it and disable useful functions.
    • Week 3:
      • Day 1 and 2 - After I flashed the CyanogenMod 9 ROM (and realized that S-Voice and camera functionality was gone), I re-flashed the Nandroid backup of my Samsung ROM. The two days following I achieved awesome battery life! After HEAVY usage (using navigation, google searches, music playing, texting, calls, etc.), I still had 13% battery life after 16 hours of up time. I did have Juice Defender enabled, but I even had all radios enabled (WiFi, GPS, 4G, NFC). I was very impressed.
      • Day 3 - Back to "normal." Battery seems decent, but needs to be babied from time to time.
    • Week 4:
      • Battery seems decent. Under normal use, it will last a day. Nothing much more. Looking at the battery logger, most of the power is consumed by standby and the display. Some might say "you get used to managing it." That's like saying you get used to sneezing with allergies. iPhone was my Claritin.
  • Keyboard choice isn't always a good thing - Keyboard correction is awful. Prediction sometimes works. Fixing an error is annoying. This is strictly speaking about the stock Samsung, Slide-it, and TouchPal keyboards. The stock android ice cream sandwich one seems actually pretty decent, but it does not support the "swyping" feature that some prefer. Once again, this is comparing these keyboard features that of the iPhone's. iPhone users may not be given a choice in keyboards, but the stock one works very well.
  • No Visual voicemail -  so I thought! On AT&T it exists as a free downloadable app (AT&T Messages) on Google Play. T-Mobile also has one. I wish it were built in to the phone app like the iPhone has it, but this is a small gripe. However, having this enabled gives me duplicate text messages...extremely annoying. I since disabled this.
  • Lag
    • Some apps run with a lot of lag. When playing Super Stick man Golf, why does the screen freeze/lag every time I hit a super shot? Didn't do that on the iPhone. In any game where the screen pans, why does it lag and skip? Didn't do that on the iPhone. It's just part of the seamless experience throughout the use of the device that I've come to know and expect.
    • Even going to the homescreen after hitting the home button seems to take too long, sometimes a full second. This may be Samsung's ROM or Touchwiz launcher, as I do not notice the lag as much with Go Launcher. I also found this more responsive in the Cyanogenmod 9 ROM, but that ROM wasn't quite fully baked yet (e.g., camera doesn't work).


It was a great "1 month stand" with Android's greatest. I loved trying something new and exciting. However, it has made me realize that the Galaxy S3 is very flashy, but it's not classy. The screen is pretty, and it has a lot of features, but the features that Apple implements are just done more elegantly. Too many of Android's features felt half cooked to me. So where does this leave me? I think I'll be waiting for the new iPhone. In the meantime...I wonder what Windows Phone 7.5 Mango is like...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Great iPhone to Android Migration

It's been a wondrous 2 years with my lovely iPhone 4. I don't necessarily want to part ways with my iPhone, it has been a great phone. The problem (good problem) is that the devil is calling me; I'm up for upgrade, and I cannot ignore the urge. All reports point to the iPhone 5/6/4ss/4GLTE/4xqzy releasing in October 2012. Can I really wait 3 months to upgrade? Simple answer is no. That Samsung Galaxy S3 is looking mighty tempting. Let's look at why I want the Galaxy S3. Then we'll look at the biggest Apple features I simply cannot live without and see if the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich toting Samsung Galaxy S3 can meet all my food groups.

Why go to the Galaxy S3?

The Samsung Galaxy S3 is an amazing device. Here are the upgrades I would receive by making the switch:
Android has come a long way:  Android 4 has much improved battery life and task management than previous releases, has a more unified user experience across the OS, and it looks so pretty.
iOS 6 doesn't sound interesting: iOS 6 is definitely an upgrade from iOS 5, but it still sounds lacking when compared to Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich, especially 4.1 Jelly Bean which will be released shortly.
Highly customizable User Interface: Widgets, smooth Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich, and the ability to root and install custom ROMs with many customizable features (e.g., overclock processor, kill processes [daemons], custom gestures, change hardware button mapping)
Fast 4GLTE support: AT&T doesn't even have LTE in the Twin Cities yet, but it's coming, and the Galaxy S3 will support it when it does. We don't even know if the next iPhone will support LTE.
4.8" Super AMOLED 720p display: Even though it uses the pentile arrangement of pixels vs the Galaxy S2's RGB arrangement, the 720p display on the S3 is very pixel dense and nothing short of amazing. It's like having a tablet in your pocket without the bulk. The screen is perfect for reading, web browsing, watching videos, and just plain looking beautiful.
Upgrade now: This is two-fold...
  1. I can get my new device now! I don't have to wait 3 months for the next iPhone. By the way it won't be only 3 months. The next iPhone will be announced, then it will be released, and no one will be able to get one for the following month because they will instantly sell out. It's just the way of Apple products. 
  2. I will be able to sell my iPhone 4 for more money right now. I have an AppleCare warranty on the iPhone still valid through September. This is a huge selling point. The new owner can replace headphones/AC adapter/USB cable and check to see it they can get a battery or screen replace (both in excellent condition by the way). Also, before the next iPhone is released, my iPhone is only 1 generation older than the latest. I may be able to squeak out a few more 10's of dollars selling it before the next one is available.

Things I'm not concerned about

Let's be clear about one thing. I'm in no way concerned with the amount of apps available on either platform. For example, I have a great Calendar app (Week Cal), Grocery list app (ShopShop), and Alarm app (Alarmed); I'm pretty sure I can find an equivalent on Android for those. I'm more concerned with the killer features that I use almost day to day...namely features tied to the Apple ecosystem. Ahem...allow me to elaborate.

My Most-used Apple features:

Airplay to AppleTV

Airplay ability is absolutely essential in my quest for conversion. Take photos on your phone, then display them on the AppleTV to the biggest screen in the house...your TV. This is one of the most-used features I use on my iPhone 4.
Start playing a video stored on your phone, then press a button to play it on the AppleTV over WiFi.
Start playing music stored on your phone, then press a button to play it on the AppleTV over WiFi.
View a photo stored on your phone, then press a button to view it on the AppleTV over WiFi.
Youtube, Pandora, Vevo

How to Satisfy the foodgroup

The DoubleTwist app ($4.99 on Google Play) has the ability to Airplay all the Video, Music, and Photos stored on your Android phone. However, there currently isn't any way to Airplay apps' video/audio to least that I have discovered. I can live without that app streaming. My AppleTV has Youtube, my Roku 2 XD has Pandora, and Vevo is used pretty rarely. If I absolutely had to have these connected to my TV/stereo, then I can get an MHL adapter from MonoPrice for less than $11 to mirror the phone's screen and audio onto the TV.

iTunes Remote

I use my iPhone as a remote for the music playing on my AppleTV through iCloud. Through my phone anywhere in the house I can play, pause, rewind, skip any song in my iTunes library including any playlist created.
Similiarly, I use my iPhone as a remote for iTunes on any PC in the house.

How to Satisfy the foodgroup

The Remote for iTunes app ($4.99 on Google Play) arguably is an even better solution than the Apple version. It connects to your WiFi much quicker, and has a cleaner interface.

iTunes Stream

I use my PC as a music server. With iTunes HomeSharing, my iPhone can stream my iTunes library from my PC to be played on the Bose SoundDock Portable in or outside the house.

How to Satisfy the foodgroup

The $1.99 AirBubble app from Google Play allows using your Android device as an AirPlay destination. The only catch is that each time you want to do this, you have to enable it in iTunes on the PC first. However, this feature probably wouldn't be used very much, since I would be able to store every song I actually listen to locally on my phone. So, the extra step is probably ok.

Music Syncing

Playlist Syncing
I have a ridiculous amount of playlists created in in almost 50. Some of those are Smart Playlists where I choose the list to intelligently select tracks that I have rated 3 stars or above and have not been listened to in the last 3 months (yes I'm meticulous). I need to be able to sync these to my phone!

How to Satisfy the foodgroup

DoubleTwist (mentioned above) will do all of the above.

Access to entire Music Library

On my iPhone, I have iTunes Match. So, I have iCloud access to my entire music library [44GB] even if the track is not synced to the phone.

How to Satisfy the foodgroup

Buy a 32GB MicroSDHC flash card from Newegg for less than $30 to be able to store 48GB of data on the S3. I may not be able to sync my entire music library, but I will be able to sync my most played songs and a very good chunk of my library and still have room to store plenty of photos and videos. If I wanted to get a larger iPhone (32GB total), the device would cost $299 on contract. The 16GB Galaxy S3 costs $199 on contract. To get a 48GB Galaxy S3, I just need to pay $230. Alternatively, I could get a 64GB microSDXC card from Amazon for less than $60 to be able to store 80GB of data on the S3 ($259 total with phone). The 64GB iPhone 4S is $399!


    Workout Test

    Carry in pocket when working out
     The Samsung Galaxy S3 has a 4.8" screen. The device is thin, but very wide and long. In the pocket it may seem a little large, but doable. The iPhone 4 is very compact and fits comfortably in the pocket with me feeling like I'm going to smash a weight against it. I could probably get by just fine with a big S3 in the pocket.

    Mount on my arm when running

    Even if they make an arm band for Galaxy S3, would I want to wear it? It would look like a big rat on my arm. Oh my goodness it's possible! They make an arm band for the S3!! The Belkin EaseFit Plus Armband does not only exist for less than $24, but dare I say it is rather stylish. (Please don't judge my style.)


    Bose SoundDock Portable compatibility

    I have a Bose SoundDock Portable with iPhone dock that sounds very good for its size. It has a great remote and an average 8hr battery life.

    How to Satisfy the food group

    CableJive makes the $36 dockBoss+ cable that allows the connection of a phone with a microUSB charge port and headphone jack. It even charges the phone while you use it.

    Hold Volume to Skip Tracks

    As trivial as this sounds, this is probably the biggest thing I absolutely have to have with my phone. I play music in the car through my phone. I have to be able to skip tracks without looking. Normally, you have to press a soft button. Therefore, you have to take your eyes off the road just to skip tracks. On my iPhone, I simply press and hold the volume-up button for a short time to skip the track, and i press and hold the volume-down button for a short time to go to the previous track. Of course, I had to jailbreak my phone to allow this feature, but if I could ask for only one feature from a jailbreak this would be it.

    How to Satisfy the foodgroup

    Looks like an app called "Button Remapper" would satisfy this and more. Not to mention the amazing amount of customizable ROMs you can install after rooting the device that would easily allow the remapping of hardware buttons.


    Apple has a very decent service plan, AppleCare+. For $99, it covers the charger, headphones, battery, display, and covers 2 accidental damage repairs at a possible $49 each. So, 2 accidental damage reports would bring the 2-year total to $198.

    How to Satisfy the foodgroup

    AT&T's insurance is $10/mo, and requires a $199 deductible, but they also cover loss and theft.
    Best Buy's plan is $170 for infinite repairs for free (also covering included charger and offers a battery replacement), but no loss and theft coverage. Will Best Buy still be around in 2 years? I sure hope so.


    NOTE: I'm going to leave the cost of a case and workout armband out of this section because I would probably need a new case and armband for the new iPhone anyway.

    New iPhone Cost

    I would most likely want at least a 32GB iPhone 5/6/whatever. This would most assuredly be $299, and I would get the $99 AppleCare+ for a total of $398 (with a potential 2-year cost of $496 if I used 2 accidental damage claims at $49ea).

    Galaxy S3 Cost

    For a 16GB Galaxy S3 it is $199 on contract. Throw in a $60 64GB microSDHC, $36 CableJive dockBoss+ cable to bring the total to $295. Add in a $170 Best Buy service contract with 2-years of unlimited accidental damage claims and "free" battery replacement for a total of $465.

    Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner?

    Even with the added cost of getting a dockBoss+ cable and Best Buy service contract, I'm getting a 4.8" 720p Super AMOLED display, 80GB, 4GLTE, dual-core, insanely customizable super Android phone with unlimited accidental damage claims for $30 less than the 32GB 2-year, 2-accident claim new iPhone that no one has any clue what the actual "amazing" specs will be! I think I'll be making the jump.

      Tuesday, January 31, 2012

      Sync PC bookmarks with Safari on iPhone

      File this one under "Things I should have done a long time ago."
      I have been using Firefox Sync to sync my bookmarks across multiple PCs using the Firefox browser. That works great if you only have PCs running Firefox to your name, but we have smart phones and iPads in our lives.

      Are you tired of having all of your bookmarks synced across your computers, but not your iPhone? Sure you can get the Firefox home app for free, which contains all of your Firefox bookmarks, but how about something that's integrated into your Safari browser on your iPhone? Enter Xmarks.

      What's that? You don't sync your bookmarks on your multiple PCs? You should, when you add a bookmark on your laptop, it automatically shows up on your desktop and on your PC at work. Xmarks add-on for Firefox will sync your bookmarks not only across multiple PCs running Firefox, but the add-on is also available for Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Safari (on Macs).

      Now I admit, this method is a little convoluted and there should really be a more elegant solution, but trust that at least it works.

      1. Are you using iCloud to backup your bookmarks on your iPhone? The first step would be to go into Settings > iCloud and turn off bookmark backup to iCloud.
      2. Next, for your main browser where you keep all of your updated bookmarks, download the Xmarks add-on. Sync all local bookmarks to Xmarks.
      3. If you are on Windows, download and install the Xmarks add-on for Internet Explorer. (If you are on Mac, download and install the Xmarks add-on for Safari.) Sync your local bookmarks to your Xmarks bookmarks.
      4. Connect your iPhone to your computer via USB cable.
      5. Open iTunes. Select your iPhone in the Devices menu on the left.
      6. Select the Info tab at the top. Scroll down to the Other field. Check the "Sync bookmarks with" checkbox. Click the pulldown box next to this checkbox, and select Internet Explorer (or Safari if you are on Mac).
      7. Click apply at the bottom of the screen to accept these changes. You will be warned that you will be changing the bookmarks on your device. Opt to replace all bookmarks on your iPhone.
      8. On the Summary tab, make sure you have the check box “Sync with this iPhone over Wi-Fi” checked. This will ensure that your bookmarks will be synced with Xmarks every time you charge your phone at home.

      Now every time you update a bookmark on your iPhone, or any PC with Xmarks, all other devices will be updated with the same bookmark. This goes for creating, updating, and deleting.

      Enjoy your synced bookmarks across all devices!