I have a love/hate relationship with Android. I like to skip around between the various phone platforms so I can maintain knowledge of them. But, Windows Phone is effectively dead, since nobody makes or maintains apps for it and Microsoft just can’t commit to a consumer strategy, and Apple isn’t impressing me lately. All they seem to care about anymore are iMessages and cameras. And jacking up the price point.
My last phone was the Note 5. At one point, I swore it would be my last Android phone. I found it to be buggy and unreliable, but it never blew up, so it had that going for it. The battery life was terrible. My first phone had to be replaced by warranty because the battery would be dead in 3 hours even if I shut everything down and didn’t touch the phone. My replacement didn’t do much better.
Two factors have me locked into Android, and specifically Samsung. Those are:
- Lastpass integration
- Samsung Pay
We all have so many damned logins and passwords it is impossible to keep track of them all. Everything requires an account. Everything. I have Lastpass pro, which costs $12 a year. On every other device, every time I have to log into an application or website, I have to bring up Lastpass, check my username, copy my password, switch back to the app or website, and paste the password in. On Android (when it works), I just authenticate to Lastpass with my fingerprint and it fills the details in for me. This simplifies life.
I didn’t care much about the mobile payment apps before. Most features the tech companies roll out seem to only matter to people who live in San Francisco or New York. Not so much northern Virginia. I used ApplePay once at Wegman’s when they were running a beta test. Then I found out Samsung pay used a technology called MST, which induces a magnetic field into the credit card reader and works with almost all of them (except gas pumps). So I started using my phone to pay for everything, which is a hell of a lot easier than pulling my wallet out, getting my check card out of its sleeve, swiping, and trying to fit it back into the sleeve. And for now, paying with my phone still blows people’s minds, which is kind of cool.
When it came time to decide what to do about the frustrating and unreliable Note 5, I had a few things to consider. Get an iPhone 6s+ or 7? Wait for the S8? Or get the S7 Edge?
About a month prior to the S8’s release, Samsung started selling the S7 Edge for $200 off to eliminate inventory. I decided to just buy it from them, and did. The S7 Edge had been out for a year and had a proven track record. People I know love them. So I got one.
And when I read things like this, I’m glad I did. I haven’t really heard anything good about the S8. Sure, it’s all pretty and stuff, but like most technology, it’s going backwards. They make a nice design and add a few new features (most of which are pointless), but other than a slightly newer processor, there’s nothing earth-shattering.
The video describes Bixby as a 2012 era Google Now. I’ve never had much use for Google Now. I guess it’s good if you live in San Francisco, take public transportation, care about sports, and can afford to eat at expensive, reservation requiring restaurants.
It supposedly has some feature (powered by Pinterest!) where you can use the camera to get it to show you images similar to what you’re looking at. But it doesn’t look that useful. This is another case of technology going backwards. Back in 2014, I had a Nokia 920. It came with an augmented reality app that was very useful. I don’t remember what it was called, but you could take the phone out, power it up, and scan around. Through the camera, it would give you information about your surroundings, and what was behind them with clickable links that opened in the appropriate app. I haven’t come across anything like it since. I’ve had Google Goggles on my last two phones, and it’s nowhere near as useful as that app on the Nokia 920 was three years ago.
The fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone looks like a serious pain in the ass. I’m fine with scanning my thumb on the front of the phone. It’s convenient, and I don’t have to turn the phone over to do it.
Another backwards feature: say you invite me over. You text me your address. 3 years ago, on the Nokia 920, I could click the address, it would ask me which app to open it in, and I could select Waze. Now, it automatically opens in Google Maps. So I have to manually copy the address, open Waze, and paste it in there so I can navigate over (Google Maps sucks for navigation, and it doesn’t show you where the cops are.)
I’d love to see technology start moving forward again. I’d love to see some truly revolutionary stuff. New ways of rendering the Human/Computer Interface. Augmented reality. But it seems like all we’re getting right now are dual cameras and messaging platforms. And mindless games.
Speaking of which, does anybody remember ICQ from the late 90’s? We had all these IM platforms like AIM, Yahoo, etc., and ICQ tied them all together into a single application. We don’t have that now. iMessages is about the closest thing I’m aware of, but it only works on a complete Apple platform. I’d love to be able to text from my computer and pick the conversation up on my phone, whether I’m using SMS, Signal, Telegram, or whatever.