My Kingdom for a Widget

A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!
William Shakespeare (Richard III)

As cool as it might be to have a horse, I really don’t need one; but a widget on my phone, now that is something I could use. Not being able to put a widget on my home screens, is the one thing I miss the most since switching to an iPhone from an Android phone. I can not for the life of me understand why Apple is so dead set against widgets in iOS. I can understand Apple not wanting 3rd party applications having access to certain parts of the phone’s OS; but at the very least, Apple itself could offer widgets. I know Steve Jobs was against a smaller iPad and a larger iPhone, yet since his passing we have the iPad Mini and the 4 inch iPhone. Would it be so far-fetched for Tim Cook to sign off on widgets or even for Sir Johnathan Ive to give the green light to widgets? I use the “Sir” part of Ive’s name in the hope that by chance he reads this blog and seeing the respect I showed him, orders widgets ASAP on every iOS known. I can dream, can’t I?

I truly believe I’m in widget withdrawal. Just thinking about them, brings a smile to my face. Widgets, those beautiful little mini-windows packed with all kinds of useful information at a glance. I miss not seeing the information I want right away. I should not have to first tap on one of the context menus, then the app, and maybe another menu, to see what I want. A widget is a great tool for smartphones that Apple should embrace and not reject out-rightly.

On my Samsung Galaxy, I had a widget for almost every kind of information I wanted. I had my Google widget for quickly searching the web. Spotlight is close, but there is an extra step in having to tap on “Search the Web”. Not a big deal; but none the less an extra step to get what I want. I had a widget for Facebook, to easily see all of my family/friend’s updates. I had my Twitter widget. I had a widget for my 3G usage. The is is one of two widgets I miss the most. The 3G widget not only kept track of my usage; but estimated how much data I was going to use for the month and let me know if I might go over my quota. The other widget I miss the most was the one that tracked my monthly talk time minutes. I know I can check this information in Settings; but it isn’t nearly the same, as I only get a global total since the last reset. I’m sorry, that is an asinine way of keeping track of your monthly minutes.  In my plan, I have free minutes from certain incoming/outgoing numbers and during certain times of the day. There is no way for me to configure these exceptions within iOS, something I was able to do with my Android widgets. Does Apple expect me to write the length of my calls from my free numbers and free minutes, than do the math? I can connect to my carrier to get the information; but I shouldn’t have to.

Even if Apple doesn’t want to give me some of the above mentioned widgets, at the very least, give me an easier way to turn on/off WiFi/Bluetooth, and please give me an easier way of going into Airplane mode, rather than having to go through Settings each time. The Notification Center seems like the perfect place for these buttons. Why aren’t they there? There should also be a button to instantly kill all open applications in one shot, rather than tapping on each one individually. Closing apps the Apple way is tiresome, time-consuming,  and feels so much like an old school way of doing it. I know these types of changes are possible to iOS, because I am able to do all of this and more on my iPad. The difference between my iPad and iPhone? The iPad is jailbroken and the iPhone isn’t. I’m waiting for a jailbreak to be available for my version of iOS (6.0.2) and then, faster than Superman can leap a tall building, I will have jailbroken (jailbreaken?) my iPhone.

I can’t believe more Apple users haven’t asked for all or some of these innovations. Why haven’t Apple developers tried to push for these changes over the years? Is it because Apple is so blinded by its way of doing things, that it can’t see how useful widgets are? I know widgets have more of wear and tear on the battery; but the iPhone battery is still better than most Android based phones, can’t we just assume that even with the ability to add widgets the phone would still have a better battery life? If having widgets on my screens, cost me 1 hour of battery life, I think I would be fine with it. In the end, I can only hope Apple one day sees the light and allows widgets.

A widget! A widget! My kingdom for a widget!
Pareech (iPhone 5, iOS 6.0.2)

The iPhone is in the House!!

The circle of going Apple is now complete. First came George “The iPad” 2, a little over year later came AL “The MacBook” Pro, and just days later, Yves “The iPhone” 5 completed the circle. Maybe a triangle would be a better analogy, as I only have 3 gadgets. Regardless, my move from Windows/Android is now complete and I am now full on Apple.

I mentioned in an earlier blog, I was going to wait until my contract was up before making the switch to an iPhone. However, fate chose another path for me. I was on my way to the Apple store and passed by a Bell store and went in for a little chat. My landline, internet, and cable are from Bell,. My cell contract was with another company; but I would be adding a 4th service with them so it was only natural to see what kind offer I could get if I signed up for a cellular plan. To quote the Godfather, Bell made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. From start to finish I think the process of getting my number ported having the phone set up and running was about 30 minutes. It took me longer to get my account number from my previous provider than anything else.

Yves the iPhone

Yves the iPhone

One of my first surprises when powering up the iPhone was the lack of or should that be non-existence of bloatware installed on the phone. The MacBook had no bloatware and now the iPhone. Just the lack of not having to fight my phone/laptop to get rid of useless crap made the move worth it.

I have all my music copied over. I did get a little frustrated when I wanted to convert some mp3 files I had on my SG1, I used for ringtones and notifications. I found many sites explaining how to create a ringtone; but not one stated I had to change something in preferences first. It took a 3-year-old post in the Apple forums to find the answer. Once again, iTunes stupidity shines through. Instead of allowing me to choose version x,y, or z, to create a file; I have to change preference settings each time I want to convert a file. Wouldn’t it be simpler to ask what format I want to convert to each time, and not make changes in the preference menu?

Although I did figure out how to do it eventually in iTunes, I did find a web site that converts any file in a few seconds. If anyone reading this wants to quickly, easily, and without having to install anything on their computer create ringtones, have a look at http://makeownringtone.com/. It can convert to/from a multitude of formats, you can choose the length you want, the start and end point for your file, and a host of other options are available. This is the easiest way to make a ringtone/alert file for Apple products. Even though I know how to do it in iTunes now, the above site, will be my go to way of making tones.

As you can guess, ringtones and notifications have already been assigned to those who need them. I’ve already had people test text/call me and each time, the specified tone sounded. This is the opposite of what was happening on the SG1. The SG1 would sound the correct ringtone maybe, just maybe 1 out of 20 times. The only thing the SG1 did correctly was emit the correct sound when receiving a text message.

Everything that needed moving from the SG1 has been. I have factory reset the SG1 and now it sits and waits to be used again. I think the SG1 will become my out-of-town phone. I am not allowed to go carrier free on the iPhone until my contract is up. If I had bought the phone at full price from Apple for 650$ + tax, I could put any SIM card I wanted into the phone. I just couldn’t justify spending all that cash just so I could change SIM cards when I’m out-of-town.

There are a few things I do miss from my Android phone days. I miss the lack of or rather non-existence of widgets. I had widgets setup on the SG1 for just about every task I did multiple times a day and for a couple of my social networks. I still don’t understand Apple’s aversion to widgets. How can something so great be rejected so whole heatedly? I am waiting for a jailbreak to come out for my version of iOS because there are some things I have on my iPad that I want on my iPhone. For example, pushing one button to quickly kill all open applications is a dream or to configure the phone so when connected to certain wifi networks, it should not lock. However, the most important thing missing for me, are the toggles. I used toggles for turning on/off wifi, 3G, Bluetooth, and to quickly enter airplane mode. These are the kind of things the notification center should have. It’s great to have the weather; but how many times a day does someone check the weather? The notification center has so much potential; but Apple for one reason or another has decided to not use it properly. This is the one time, I think Apple should take a page out of Android’s playbook. The Android notification center does kick the iPhone’s ass.

The iPhone may not have toggles and widgets by default; but I couldn’t be happier the SG1 has been laid to rest. I know I’m just a jailbreak away from getting the phone to where I want it. Some of you may think I should have stayed with an Android phone if I wanted such personalization. However, even on the SG1, I rooted the phone to do all that I wanted to. I look at jailbreaking as just another form of rooting on Android.

R.I.P. Sammy “SG1” Samsung

Sammy “SG1” Samsung
Activated: 10 September 2010
Deactivated: 28 December 2012

It was deep regret and sorrow, I inform one and all of the passing of Sammy. His passing did not come as a surprise to those who knew him, as the Smartphone Alzheimer he battled long and hard against, finally beat him. He was a little over 2 years old, but didn’t look a day over 1. Throughout Sammy’s short and tumultuous life-cycle, there were good times and  bad times. There were tears of joy and tears of sorrow. Sammy gave and gave, until all those around him knew he could give no more. His final attempt at relevancy was showing a clock, that was only 4hrs behind the actual time. Poor Sammy, he didn’t even know his time was up.

As one chapter in my smartphone life closes, another has opened up. To replace the void left by the disappearance of Sammy, I have introduced Yves to the family. Yves, is a black iPhone5 with 16GB of memory and is expected to remain with us for the next 3 years, barring some kind of Sammy like meltdown.

So, as a new day opens, I raise my smartphone aloft and offer a toast to the late and not always so great Sammy “SG1” Samsung. May its inner circuitry rest in pieces.