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.
It still seems up in the air as to whether John Bolton will appear before the Senate
NEWS – McConnell told his members that he did not yet have enough votes to be able to kill the witness vote, expected Friday, according to people familiar. Yet several 2020ers spoke, saying they’re ready to move on to final vote, move on from the trial.
A major figure in digital media switches things up
Ben Smith, editor in chief of BuzzFeed News, who built a respected news organization alongside the website’s lighter content, will leave the company and join The New York Times as the newspaper’s top media columnist, according to sources familiar with the situation who were not authorized to speak publicly.
Smith will serve as the writer of the publication’s “Media Equation” column, which became a must-read for media industry insiders under David Carr, who died in 2015. Jim Rutenberg, the column’s writer for the last four years, moved to the position of writer at large last week.
Smith confirmed the move in a tweet.
“It’s been the privilege of my life to do this job, in its many iterations, for more than eight years,” Smith wrote in a memo he sent to BuzzFeed News staffers. “The notion that BuzzFeed could play a major role in shaping global news, and the news business — from tweets to streaming shows — sounded crazy in 2012. Now it’s just a fact, the product of most of all of your hard work, creativity, aggressiveness, and judgement.”
Add California to the list of places where Bernie is surging
Sen. Bernie Sanders, consolidating support from voters on the left, has taken a clear lead in the race for California’s huge trove of Democratic convention delegates as the presidential campaign moves toward a critical month of primary contests.
Sanders has been propelled to the top in California by growing support from voters who label themselves “very liberal” — a shift that has come largely at the expense of Sen. Elizabeth Warren. That very liberal group makes up about one in three Democratic primary voters in the state.
Along with strong backing among Latinos and young voters, backing on the left is enough to give the Vermont senator support from 26% of voters likely to take part in the state’s March 3 Democratic primary, according to the latest UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies poll, conducted for the Los Angeles Times. His gains in the state come as several polls in Iowa and New Hampshire — the states with the first contests of the primary season — also show Sanders gaining ground.
This is the plan hidden genius Jared Kushner has been working on for several years
President Trump’s Middle East peace plan, to be formally unveiled Tuesday, is a detailed blueprint of more than 50 pages that outlines his administration’s ideas about how to resolve core issues on borders, security and Jerusalem that have bedeviled negotiators for decades.
The plan, they say, envisions Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, including areas Palestinians claim as the capital of a future independent state. The Palestinians would have control over some neighborhoods on outer parts of East Jerusalem.
There would be land swaps between areas controlled by the Israelis and Palestinians. In the end, the Palestinians might control 70% to 80% of the West Bank. That would fall short of Palestinian demands, but the plan isn’t expected to formally rule out a Palestinian state.
Officials have said Israelis and Palestinians won’t be forced to leave their homes as Israel expands its borders. Unlike past efforts, the Trump administration isn’t expected to seek compromises that would allow some Palestinians to return to land they or their families left after Israel’s creation or receive compensation for it.