Friday, September 5, 2014

iPhone to Galaxy S5: How Do I Do That On An S5?

If my weapon of choice is going to be the Galaxy S5, then I need to figure out some key capabilities.

Scroll Quickly to the Top of a Screen/Page

With the iPhone, this was achieved by tapping the top of the screen.  It was problematic during a phone call, since tapping the green bar at the top of the screen took you back to the call, but it worked.

The G5 does have this capability of a sort.  Swiping up or down has the usual effect.  Sequential swipes have cause the speed to increase, sort of like hitting fast forward repeatedly on a remote to increase the speed at which it progresses.  So, for a typical page/screen 2-3 swipes may be all that is needed.  If you are digging deep on a Titter feed, however, you might need more to get to the top.  However, it is not an instant snap to the top, like the iPhone.

If you know of a better method, please speak up.

Switching Between and Shutting Down Applications

With the iPhone, I could double-tap the home button and pull up my current applications.  I could only see three at a time, which was a bit tedious.  I could shut them down, one-at-a-time, by swiping the application up; or you can use multiple fingers to swipe up three at a time. Shutting down every open application meant doing that over and over; it was tedious enough that I would often just restart the phone if I wanted to shut off everything.

The S5 has iPhone beat on this one.  There is a button below the bottom left of the screen (it does not consume screen space) that will pull up all of the applications that are running.  It shows you four at a time, which is is not great, but better than the iPhone gives you.  You can swipe to shut down specific ones or shut them all with a single press of a button (which appears along with the program window).  For bonus points, they also provide a button that will take you to a breakdown of the resource consumption of all open applications and the choice to end specific ones from there as well.

For some reason, the S5 approach is significantly more appealing/approachable, because I find myself willing to use the feature far more often than I did on the iPhone.  This has translated into a much greater efficiency at swapping between applications.  It's strange how profound an impact a tiny change like this had.

Removing, Hiding, and Sorting Applications

On the iPhone, I could not delete Apple's default applications; this meant that Apple's default applications cluttered up my screens.  Everything else could be deleted by holding down the home button and then clicking to delete specific applications.  This uninstalled them and wiped out their data.  I could reinstall them, but if you did not want the icon cluttering up your screen (whether in a folder or not), deletion was the only option.  I ended up having so many icons that even with  folders, I ended up with five screen panels.  That said, I did not use many folders with the iPhone.

The Magic of a Third Option - the Apps View

On the S5, I was delighted to find that I had all of the above choices, but I had a third option - I could remove an application from my main screens without deleting it.  The most important thing about this is that all of the default applications that I cannot uninstall *can* be removed from my main screens, but still be readily available.

The S5 distinguishes between the main screens and the complete application list.  They are entirely separate views.  The complete application list sits quietly out of sight until you need it (you can access this view with a single click).  This opens a new world in which you can have:
  1. Main screens - Important apps I want at my fingertips
  2. App list - Apps I still want to be able to use on occasion (or cannot delete) but I do not want cluttering up my home screens
  3. Deleted - Apps I simply do not want, ever
Interestingly, my desire to completely delete apps is much less on the S5 because of this.  I use the default alphabetical sort for the app list, so it's easy to find an app when I need it.

I find folders more appealing with the S5.  I think the primary reasons are:
  1. The small increase in screen size makes it easier to discern which icons are in a given folder
  2. The comprehensive list of applications in the apps view
With the S5, I have everything tidied up to where I have only two main screens, and there are actually some empty spaces on the second screen.

Playing Music With Voice Commands

This is one of my favorite "magical" features of a smartphone, especially when I am driving.

On the iPhone, I used the built-in music application and playing music was not a problem.  I could say "Play album Rage Against the Machine" and it would fire it right up (although it could never process "Play album Vows" correctly).

In a very similar fashion, if you use the built-in music player on the S5, you can call up songs and albums with voice commands.

Sadly, S5's voice commands have just as much trouble as Siri when it comes to processing "play album Vows"; I guess they don't like Kimbra.

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