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.
Intelligence community sources are pushing back a DNI official’s claim that Russia was trying to help Trump get re-elected
The US intelligence community has assessed that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election and has separately assessed that Russia views Trump as a leader they can work with. But the US does not have evidence that Russia’s interference this cycle is aimed at reelecting Trump, the officials said.
“The intelligence doesn’t say that,” one senior national security official told CNN. “A more reasonable interpretation of the intelligence is not that they have a preference, it’s a step short of that. It’s more that they understand the President is someone they can work with, he’s a dealmaker.” …
One intelligence official said that [DNI official Shelby] Pierson’s characterization of the intelligence was “misleading” and a national security official said Pierson failed to provide the “nuance” needed to accurately convey the US intelligence conclusions.
Trump’s NSA is apparently denying Russia’s support for Trump while attacking Sanders
National security adviser Robert O’Brien tells ABC in interview to air tomorrow that he hasn’t seen any evidence of Russia seeking to help Trump. Asked whether Russia might be helping Sanders, he says reports could be credible. “That’s no surprise. He honeymooned in Moscow.”
Concerns linger as some [caucus] volunteers say they haven’t received hands-on training with the iPads the party purchased to help tabulate results. Other volunteers are worried about executing the caucus’ new voting alignment system, which includes the extra complication of adding early-vote totals to day-of results — a step that even Iowa, with all its problems, didn’t have to deal with.
Multiple presidential campaigns are anxious that the state party won’t finish tabulating the enormous number of early votes by Saturday — and they want more transparency on how those votes will be divvied up to individual precincts.
Finally, there are signs the state party is worried about unflattering internal details about the caucus being divulged. On Thursday night, the Nevada Democratic Party sent an email to volunteer precinct chairs in rural areas asking them to sign a non-disclosure agreement and simultaneously offering a stipend.
Well-funded social media campaign, or bot network?
The Bloomberg campaign broke the rules with its paid social media blitz, says Twitter. It just suspended 70 accounts, some belonging to campaign employees who were copy-pasting messages. Scoop from @suhaunah and me. https://t.co/M065RB0Ogm
CNN: The Nevada State Democratic Party is asking site leaders to sign non-disclosure agreements, according to one volunteer who had planned to help with Saturday’s caucuses but quit because he didn’t want to sign the document.