switching from Android to iPhone: first impressions

Well, 4 years after switching from Windows Phone to Android, I switched from my Samsung Galaxy S20 to an iPhone 13 Pro. I’ve had it for a week, and here are my thoughts so far!

  • For biometrics, my Pixel 2 just had a fingerprint sensor on the back. It was pretty reliable and very fast. I liked it a lot! When I switched to the Samsung Galaxy S20, it had a fingerprint sensor on the front (embedded in the screen) and facial recognition. The fingerprint sensor was harder to find (the Pixel 2’s had a raised circle in the body of the phone which made it effortless), but even when I got used to it, it was kinda slow and just didn’t work that well. The facial recognition was also not very reliable, and had the irritating side effect of turning the screen to full brightness when the power button is pressed presumably so your face would be bright enough to recognize. (this is really annoying when I was trying to read on my phone while comforting one of the kids in their room at night…)

    So I was a little skeptical that the iPhone only has Face ID. But it is very reliable, amazingly fast, and doesn’t have to light up the screen to work. Kudos to Apple!

    (the older I get the more I realize that performance is a feature, and a pretty important one…)
  • The lack of a system back gesture is annoying. I know that Android’s back gesture doesn’t always do what I expect it to, but it does most of the time, and it’s so useful I think it’s a good tradeoff. Most but not all iOS apps seem to have a similar gesture but I get irrationally angry when I run into one that doesn’t have it.
  • Battery life has been great so far, like it is for all my phones for the first month. (although Pikmin Bloom is quite the battery drainer) We’ll see how it does a few months from now!
  • I really miss double-tapping the power button to launch the camera. Pressing the button then swiping to the left isn’t bad, I guess.
  • One thing that annoyed me about my Samsung phone was having two versions of lots of system apps – the Samsung version, and the stock Google one that I installed because I preferred that one better. And that led to some weirdness like the Google Clock app getting preempted somehow so if a timer went off while the app wasn’t in the foreground it wouldn’t make noise or anything. Anyway, I thought I’d be free of that on iOS, but I still have three mail apps (builtin, Gmail, Outlook), two calendar apps, two photo apps, and so on. I dunno, maybe I could set things up better, but everything seems to work pretty well the way it is now.
  • The notification system is…interesting. I guess by default the lock screen just shows notifications that have come in since the last time you actually unlocked the phone? That’s kinda nice once I get used to it.
  • The notch is a little weird to me, but fine. What’s extremely weird is that swiping down on the left and right of the notch does different things! I hope I get used to this.
  • I haven’t used Apple Pay in a store but it’s still pretty nice. I like that it tells me whenever my card is used (even outside of Apple Pay), which Google Pay used to do but I guess the new one doesn’t.
  • There’s a focus mode for Do Not Disturb and also a ringer switch, which is one of those things that I’ll probably figure out a good system for but now I just forget to turn the ringer switch on when I get up in the morning…
  • Not a big deal, but it’s really bizarre that you have to hold two different buttons to turn the phone off! (pressing and holding the power button launches Siri)
  • So happy to be able to get Dark Sky again, my favorite weather app! (it used to be on Android before Apple bought it…)
  • When you set an alarm, the Android clock app tells you how long until the alarm goes off, which is a nice little feature and would have saved me from sleeping through my iPhone alarm one time already…

Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident review

Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass IncidentDead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Pretty interesting look at a real mystery. The author did a lot of research (including retracing some of the doomed hiking party’s route!) and proposes his own solution that seems pretty plausible given what we know.

I’m really into books that try to explain mysteries from the past, although not as much as, say, airplane crashes. (which are both mysteries and usually have very interesting causal chains!) But boy, after this and Into Thin Air doing anything outside in the winter sounds very unpleasant!

In 1959 a group of experienced hikers died on a winter expedition in the Ural Mountains. This by itself isn’t terribly unusual (there was a winter storm and the route was a tough one), but there were some weird evidence afterwards – it seems like they left the safety of their tent in a hurry without proper clothing (which led to some of them freezing to death), some of their clothes had higher than normal levels of radiation, and the last photograph taken was odd. The Wikipedia page has a list of possible theories.

Eichar did a lot of research, including traveling to Russia twice and hiking part of the route, and proposes his own theory.

(SPOILERS here, if that even makes sense in this context?)

He says that the storm at the time could have interacted with the nearby mounted to cause infrasound (sound at frequencies below what the human ear can hear), which may have caused enough discomfort/uneasiness that the hikers left the tent in a hurry in an attempt to get away from it. (although they probably had no idea what was actually going on) That would explain why they left without proper clothing and that led to them freezing to death. Eichar ran this theory by some people at NOAA and given the shape of the nearby mountain they agreed it was possible. The other leading theory is that there was an avalanche, although Eichar claims that the slope they were on wasn’t steep enough for an avalanche.

Fun(?) fact: infrasound has been used for crowd control, and it was even used to stir up crowds at some of Hitler’s speeches!



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The Age of Living Machines: How Biology Will Build the Next Technology Revolution review

The Age of Living Machines: How Biology Will Build the Next Technology RevolutionThe Age of Living Machines: How Biology Will Build the Next Technology Revolution by Susan Hockfield

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Interesting look at some cross-discipline projects between biology and other fields that MIT has pioneered. It’s nice to read an optimistic book about science and technology and such!



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