Here’s an obvious statement: Apple makes excellent phones. Here’s an obvious, but somewhat less-often spoken statement: Apple also fills those phones up withcrap.
Since the release of the App Store in the summer of 2008, Apple has ushered in a totally new era of software. Software suddenly had access to new data it had never had before, could do things it could never do before, could be constructed and distributed quickly and cheaply. It also got a cool new name:apps.
Sadly, for the company that started the boom, Apple, with a few exceptions, is pretty bad at making apps. This mattered a bit less in 2008, when apps were mostly games or utilities and needed to be only simple and effective. But now there are big, important categories of smartphone apps that are fantastically complicated; they are interconnected, cross-platform, cloud-based troves of information that need to talk to one another and constantly update and makesense.
Almost all of Apple’s apps of this sort — streaming music, cloud storage, contacts, calendars, documents, maps, web browsers, e-book readers, podcasts, email — are second-tier, at best. But don’t just take it fromme!
From CNET: “Apple Music has a lot of potential, but its iCloud Music Library bugs and confusing interface keep it from edging out Spotify fornow.”
From PCMag: “Most people are better served by either Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive, both Editors’ Choices for cloud storage and file-syncing services that include online productivityapps.”
From the Verge: “Apple’s desktop and mobile mail apps were once superb, but, despite some nice feature additions, I find they’ve become slow andunreliable.”
CNET again, on Apple’s redesigned podcast app: “All this amounts to a podcast manager that is – wait for it –serviceable!”
But the great thing about the App Store is that you don’t need to stick with Apple’s unfortunate defaults. There are many replacements for all of these apps, which are by now essential pieces of your smartphone. It is possible, and I would argue preferable, to take the operating system and hardware of the iPhone, and huck all the apps right in the garbage (or, well, in a “utilities” folder somewhere in a back page of yourhome screen).
Broadly speaking, if you’re already locked in to Gmail and Google Maps, your best bet is to just replace Apple’s defaults with Google’s equivalents: They’re generally better-designed, and, if you use the same services on desktop, much more useful. (The one caveat: If you have major privacy concerns, don’t use Google’s services. But if you have major privacy concerns, I’d suggest not carrying a smartphone around with you at all.) But if you want more specifics, readon.
Apple Maps has improved markedly since its infamous debut. Still: Get Google Maps or Waze. Personally, I find Waze’s interface and insistence on turning white-knuckled drives on the BQE into games with prizes infuriating, but people swear by its constantly updatingdirections.
Still, I’d stick with Google Maps, which is incorporating Waze’s technology and can give drive times and directions as accurately as Waze can, in a somewhat more attractive and less cute package. Even better, when tied into all the other Google stuff you’re probably using, Google Maps can remember your home and work, can update you on public transit, can remember your appointments and guide you there — and if you’ve recently searched for something on Google Maps on your computer? It’ll be right there on yourphone.
Get Chrome. There’s a pretty good chance you already use it (according to NetMarketShare it’s the most popular browser out there), but, if you don’t, download it. If you’re already signed in to Chrome on your desktop, you’ll get all of your history, your auto-filled URLs, your bookmarks and login information, and all kinds of otherstuff.
If you’re still an MP3 kind of person using iTunes, you’re going to have to stick with the Music app. But if you’re into streaming, stay far away from Apple. Spotify is beloved, has more users, your friends are probably on it, and it works with basically any device. But, having tried all the major services, I actually prefer Tidal for ease of use (not to mentionexclusives).
If you want to back up your phone, you’re going to have to use iCloud. But for general storage, stick to Dropbox, which syncs much more reliably between desktop and phone; for editing text, use Google Docs, which is easier to access on both the phone and computer. Both are universally better-reviewed, and generallycheaper.
Oh my God, have you guys tried Google Photos? It’s, like, so good. It automatically backs up everything, for free, and has some pretty incredible search and organizing capabilities. You can search by location or year, or even by person — like, you can say “find me all pictures of my brother” and it’ll doit. It’s evenfree!
Apple controls the Podcast industry, but its app is … not great. You almost can’t go wrong: Basically anything will give you easier search functions and more options for streaming and downloading and subscribing. But both Lifehacker and the Verge recommend Overcast, which is good enough forme.
First, I highly recommend using two different apps for your work and personal email, if possible. It’s easier to prioritize during the week and on the weekends when you’re not worried that the red “4” badge might be your boss freaking out, and it helps separate out your life from your job at a time when so much of both is conducted on yourphone.
For personal mail:Gmail. Most likely you’re already using it, and since Apple’s Mail app treats mail differently than Google does, trying to make them work together is eternally frustrating. Gmail’s app for iPhone is simple, clean, excellent; if you’re feeling advanced and like bright colors, you can try Google’s future-of-mail app, Inbox.
For work mail: Outlook. If you’re used to using Outlook on the desktop, you probably hate it, but Microsoft’s app is a revelation — lightweight, easy to use, and filled with features the desktop app doesn’t have, like scheduling emails to deal withlater.
Even your keyboard can be replaced. Google just recently released GBoard, a keyboard replacement for iOS that’s way better than Apple’s stock keyboard and also, annoyingly, better than the Google keyboard for Android. It predicts emoji when you start typing them, which is nice, but the best part is that it has a built-in search button. From right there in the keyboard, you can search the web, and find info and images andGIFs.
Is iMessage. Apple’s chat service isn’t perfect, but it’s ubiquitous and good enough for what it does, especially in its speed, simplicity, and ability to sync messages among different machines. Google’s Hangouts (formerly GChat), WhatsApp, and the others are perfectly fine and have the benefit of working on any device, but if you’re an iPhone talking to an iPhone, iMessage is the way togo.
In case you were feeling too optimistic about Democrats’ chances of thwarting Trump’s agenda
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has just completed three weeks of radiation treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the U.S. Supreme Court disclosed Friday.
The radiation therapy, conducted on an outpatient basis, began Aug. 5, shortly after a localized cancerous tumor was discovered on Ginsburg’s pancreas. The treatment included the insertion of a stent in Ginsburg’s bile duct, according to a statement issued by the court.
Doctors at Sloan Kettering said further tests showed no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body. The treatment comes just months after Ginsburg was operated on for lung cancer last December. The 86-year-old justice has battled cancer in various forms over the last 20 years.
Bolsonaro may face some serious consequences for his heedless environmental policies
European leaders have reacted with growing fear and anger to the fires ravaging Brazil’s rain forest, calling it a worldwide crisis that is accelerating global warming — and one that Brazil’s leader appears unwilling to combat.
President Emmanuel Macron of France went so far, on Friday, as to accuse President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil of lying about being committed to fighting climate change and protecting the Amazon forest.
As a result, Mr. Macron said, he would try to kill a major trade deal between Europe and South America that has been years in the making.
Our Country has lost, stupidly, Trillions of Dollars with China over many years. They have stolen our Intellectual Property at a rate of Hundreds of Billions of Dollars a year, & they want to continue. I won’t let that happen! We don’t need China and, frankly, would be far….
….better off without them. The vast amounts of money made and stolen by China from the United States, year after year, for decades, will and must STOP. Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing..
….your companies HOME and making your products in the USA. I will be responding to China’s Tariffs this afternoon. This is a GREAT opportunity for the United States. Also, I am ordering all carriers, including Fed Ex, Amazon, UPS and the Post Office, to SEARCH FOR & REFUSE,….
….all deliveries of Fentanyl from China (or anywhere else!). Fentanyl kills 100,000 Americans a year. President Xi said this would stop - it didn’t. Our Economy, because of our gains in the last 2 1/2 years, is MUCH larger than that of China. We will keep it that way!
Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts is dropping out of the presidential race, ending a candidacy that emphasized Mr. Moulton’s centrist politics and military service but gained no traction with Democratic primary voters.
Mr. Moulton, 40, said in an interview that he had no immediate plans to endorse another candidate, but he warmly praised former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Moulton planned to announce the end of his campaign in a formal speech before the Democratic National Committee on Friday.
Mr. Moulton suggested that most of the other Democratic candidates were also laboring in vain at this point, with only a tiny few — Mr. Biden and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — remaining as real competitors for the nomination. He warned in the interview that if Democrats were to embrace an overly liberal platform, it could make it harder for the party to defeat President Trump.
China shows again that it’s willing to fight fire with fire on tariffs
China on Friday announced tariff hikes on $75 billion of U.S. products in retaliation for President Donald Trump’s planned increase, deepening a trade war that threatens to tip the global economy into recession.
The tariffs of 10% and 5% take effect on two batches of goods on Sept. 1 and Dec. 15, the official Xinhua News Agency said. It gave no details of what goods would be affected but the timing matches Trump’s planned duty hikes.
Things are going about as expected since the U.S. withdrew from the INF treaty
The Pentagon said on Monday it had tested a conventionally-configured cruise missile that hit its target after more than 500 km (310 miles) of flight, its first such test since the demise of a landmark nuclear pact this month.
Washington formally withdrew from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) on Aug. 2 after accusing Moscow of violating it, a charge dismissed by the Kremlin.
The pact had prohibited land-based missiles with a range of 310-3,400 miles, reducing the ability of both countries to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.
Putin told his Security Council on Friday that Russia could not stand idly by, and that U.S. talk of deploying new missiles in the Asia-Pacific region “affects our core interests as it is close to Russia’s borders”.
Pompeo gets one of North Korea’s always colorful nicknames
North Korea’s top diplomat said on Friday that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was a “diehard toxin” who only complicates denuclearisation talks and North Korea was ready for both dialogue and standoff.
Buttigieg’s new plan for addressing addiction and mental health issues
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Friday unveiled a $100 billion plan to expand access to mental health and addiction treatment that coincided with a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire — a state hit hard by the opioid crisis.
The wide-ranging plan calls for integrating treatment into primary care settings, increasing the number of available treatment beds, making it easier for patients to get access to medication for opioid addiction, investing in suicide prevention for veterans and addressing disparities in behavioral health care.
“For years, politicians in Washington have claimed to prioritize mental health care while slashing funding for treatment and ignoring America’s growing addiction and mental health crisis,” Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., said in a statement. “That neglect must end. Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal.”