Glad I recorded that Thunder / Nuggets game. Wow.
I need to get back into the groove of shooting more images per day. I think winter and Google Photos has me down.
One other great thing about Android is that all apps, including Phone and Messages and other pillar apps, are updated in between system updates. I like the small iterations rather than huge updates.
Terry Crews at around 45-minutes into his interview with Tim Ferriss:
In order to do, you have to be.
You are what you are now. There is only now. This is all you have.
These quotes from Terry Crews have been burned into my brain ever since I listened to the podcast episode at the beginning of the year. The more you meditate on what he says the more you’ll understand it isn’t simply a clichéd saying, but reality. Go and listen to the entire thing but especially 45-minutes to 49-minutes.
For those that were having issues getting to my site earlier please try again. I had to update my DNS settings this morning. Bad timing.
It looks like I’ll be needing to get off of Google Drive/Photos for my personal account. They simply won’t provide any support. And I don’t know why I would pay monthly for a service that won’t give any support at all.
After 10 years of using iOS as my primary mobile platform I’ve decided to give Android more than just a casual try. This post is my review both of the Google Pixel 2 XL and Android 8.1 as well as a few comparisons I’ve drawn between iOS and Android ecosystems. I’ve been an Apple fan for decades. But I’ve tried to be as unbiased as possible and truly allow my feelings of day-to-day use dictate my review. I’ve owned the Pixel 2 XL for over a month so I’m hoping that my first reactions have subsided.
I love this phone.
I’d been thinking about trying out an Android-powered phone for a few months but I think what pushed me over the edge was how many YouTubers rated the Pixel 2 so highly. Many tech reviewers have the privilege of getting their hands on dozens of phones. Which phone comes out on top (or very close) of most of their lists? The Pixel 2 XL.
I switched to the Pixel 2 XL from an iPhone 7 Plus. The iPhone 7 Plus was a great phone — easily my favorite camera system in an iPhone — but not as comfortable in the hand as the iPhone SE. For a sense of how much I liked the iPhone SE you can read what I wrote here.
By going from an iPhone 7 Plus to a Pixel 2 XL I upgraded the camera system in a number of ways. Front-facing portrait mode is far more important and useful in daily use than I could have imagined. I think Apple has missed an opportunity on the front-facing camera for years. It is likely used more often by younger people and yet the hardware and software driving the forward-facing camera is always superior on iPhones. With the Pixel 2 XL both cameras are fantastic and both offer the same software features.
Photo: A rather terrible photo of the Pixel 2 XL’s ambient display. Notice the icons.
The Pixel 2 XL has a few features that are not available on next-generation iPhones, namely; a lightning fast fingerprint sensor, squeezable sides, screen that wakes with a gentle double-tap, an ambient display with clock and gentle notifications, and “what’s playing” feature (showing you what music is currently playing) that is always on.
My phone is my primary camera. On hikes, walking downtown between meetings, or traveling – I like to be quick so I don’t miss any moments. With the iPhone 7 Plus I was like Bruce Lee with nunchucks. If I spotted a fleet-footed while on a hike I could likely capture it. After a few weeks with the Pixel 2 XL I’m beginning to feel my muscles learning the new gestures and maneuvers to get my groove back. One feature that makes this even better than iPhone 7 Plus is being able to double-tap the power button to invoke the camera app of my choice on the phone.
The Google Assistant is a primary feature of this phone. I’ve always wanted to try a different assistant than Siri but Apple simply does not allow you to do so on iOS. You can download the Google Assistant app but it is a neutered experience. iOS does not give third-party apps the control they need to be useful and there is no way to invoke the assistant easily.
On the Pixel 2 XL I have several ways to invoke the Google Assistant. I can squeeze the sides and nearly instantly I can begin making my request. I can say “OK Google” at any time and, again instantly make my request. And I do mean instant, unlike Siri, there is no pause needed between “OK Google” and my request. With Siri I need to wait for the “ding” sound. And lastly, I can long-press the home button to invoke the assistant.
The Google Assistant’s results are much better than Siri. It gets my query correct the majority of the time. I don’t know what my success rate with Siri is but I would say it is less than 50%. I got so fed up with Siri that I only used it to ask for the weather each morning. With the Pixel 2 XL I’m using the Google Assistant multiple times per day. And, I use it for things that aren’t even possible on iOS like turning down my screen brightness, turning on or off my flashlight, taking a picture, etc.
I charge the Pixel 2 XL at night while I sleep and I routinely plug it in with greater than 50% battery life. I have changed no settings on the phone to extend the battery life. In fact, I’ve turned on the ambient display and “what’s playing” features which warn you that it will use more power. In my use, even with the “always on” features turned on, I have no issue at all with battery life. I also appreciate that it charges with USB-C. I can plug it directly into my MacBook Pro, no dongle.
To sum up, the Pixel 2 XL hardware is as good as the iPhone 7 Plus (and likely the 8) and has a better front-facing camera system, more options, and the squeeze feature.
I bought the Pixel 2 XL within days of Android 8.1 shipping. Coming from 10 years of iOS, and the very limited number of user preferences it affords, using Android has been really fun. If I was a new user I could leave all the defaults as they are and be happy. However, I’ve enjoyed the number of options Android has.
One of the complaints about Apple I’ve heard the most is that they make too many choices for the user. My rebuttal to that has always been “Yes, but they make good choices”. However, two things have changed in recent years.
First, Apple is making worse choices. I know this is subjective but more and more I’m convinced that Apple’s choices are becoming more anti-competitive than they are user-focused. I can understand limiting some of the user preferences in iOS for the first few years to allow the platform to become rock solid, then slowly add more features and settings. But iOS is over 10 years old and there are a few options that Apple has, in my opinion, criminally omitted from iOS like being able to set default browser, email client, maps app, and assistant.
Second, the resources of these mobile devices are beginning to compete with the speed and storage of slim laptops. The devices beg to be used heavily, for work, and for play. I would say for many people their primary “computer” is their phone. So we are entering an era where it becomes a work horse for people. Steve Jobs thought we’d always have pickup trucks (desktops or laptops) while also owning cars (mobile devices). Well, I believe these mobile devices are beginning to become very pickup truck-like for many. And, let’s face it, a huge number of pick-up truck owners don’t even need them. They just like the look. This mean that the mobile OSes must also become work horses. And that means more options, better compatibility, and power user features.
This is a very long winded way of saying that I wanted to take back more control of my OS and Android allows me to do that. I can tweak Android in far more ways than I expected – even down to choosing a different launcher. Microsoft has one, there is another popular one called Lawnchair (cute name), and dozens of others. These change the device in both subtle and dramatic ways to become whatever the user needs. It makes so much sense. Imagine a launcher built specifically for young students?
To sum up, Android gives users far more control over their devices than iOS.
Photo: Notice how app folders appear directly below your tap, not in the center of the screen.
There are a few things that iOS clearly beats Android on and I’d be remiss if I didn’t point them out. Here are a few that I’ve found that I notice in day-to-day use.
So far I’m very happy with my choice to give Android a try. I’ll be using the Pixel 2 XL and Android for the rest of 2018 and plan to reassess where both platforms are at that point.
My Feedbin trial has expired. I didn’t see any reason to use it over Feedly. If I’m missing anything, please let me know.
Every time I abbreviate Micro.blog as M.b I hear Regina George yell “Stop trying to make fetch happen!”
Forgot to post that I finished Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets to Being Productive in Life and Business ⭐⭐⭐ , Vertical: The Follow-up to Sideways ⭐ (didn’t finish), and Intensity by Dean Koontz ⭐⭐⭐⭐. 📚
Finished writing and editing (using paper!) my Google Pixel 2 XL and Android review. I just need to shoot a photo or two and I’ll publish it.
A few photos from Berwick, PA – January 2018
Eliza and I drove to a brewery and a few wineries a few weekends ago. We love to explore new areas and find places that are slightly off the beaten path – especially those somewhat close to home.
Gentle reminder to back up everything as often as you can. And don’t trust automation. Follow-up on it from time-to-time to be sure you have everything. This includes your computer, your mobile devices, music and photo libraries, web sites, uploads to those sites, etc.
Pretty upset with Dreamhost today. The Watercolor Gallery has been nearly unreachable all day today.