Android to iPhone X Conversion Diary

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WHAT?!?!  A unix neckbeard sysadmin geek switched from Android to iPhone?  That’s just stupid and unheard of.  Well I just did it, so I’m going to keep some of the things I’d have loved to know in advance on this page in case it helps anyone else.  I’m sure it will be full of my complaints too.

I’ve been an android user since the T-Mobile G1, in what historical web pages tell me must have been late 2008, so I guess the relationship lasted nine years.  I just took ownership of a new Apple iPhone X on its first day of availability, Nov 3, 2017.  Phones I’ve gone through in the middle have been that old G1, various Galaxies, a Droid Turbo as my longest running phone of three years, and Moto Z Force Droid as the last.

While the Z Force was newer and much snappier, in addition to having an excellent finger print reader (speed-wise), unbreakable screen, and okay battery life, the Droid Turbo was my favorite.  Droid Turbo had a massive 3900 mAh battery and I’d easily get 1.5 days out of it before really needing to get it on a charger.  Both phones had nice high resolution 1440 x 2560 screens as well, and that comes in fairly handy when you’re ssh’ing into something that you want a realistic amount of content on the screen for.  Seems kind of lame that a phone that’s nearly the same size, three years later, only has 1126 x 2436, and you lose a bit more with the notch at the top, but it is what it is, and was close enough that I was willing to overlook it.

So why the switch?  A few reasons:

  • I’ve reached the point where I find Apple more trustworthy than Google.  Google’s business is primarily mining your personal data and selling supposedly anonymized versions of it to the highest bidder, or their own business units; they do not make most of their money off of you buying things from them, they give you things for free because they’re such an admirable “Don’t be evil” company; oh wait, they dropped that part of their corporate credo with the transition to Alphabet…Apple’s business is at least still primarily wanting you to continue buying their products and services; they don’t have a monopoly outside of their excellent work herding their Apple sheep into annual upgrades of nearly anything they sell.  If Apple were found to be doing something particularly nefarious, it could harm them severely, while Google would probably weather that fairly well; it’s not like you’re going to stop using them for search or delete your gmail account.
  • Backups – backing up, ensuring you’re really backing up, restoring, and moving between phones is simply a cluster fuck on Android.  It is such a massive time suck that most people simply don’t do it, or think they’re doing it and really aren’t until it comes time to restore.  Yeah, you may be backing up something like your photos, or maybe you aren’t if your version of Android took away the option to mount your internal storage over USB, but chances are something you value is being left behind, whether it be text messages, Downloads, ssh host fingerprints stored in a weird folder, so on and so forth.  The last time I migrated between phones, it took perhaps four attentive hours, and many more unattended hours, 4+ apps, some data having to go to cloud services because there was no other means to move it between devices due to the proprietary apps required, so on and so forth.  This is simply insane; is it really realistic to expect a corporate user to invoke several apps and spend hours of time on a regular basis to truly back their phone and its data up?  Since Android’s flexibility and filesystem access don’t enforce any rules, data ends up everywhere, and everywhere often equals no backup.  I’m no fan of how stupidly restrictive iOS 11 is, but at least I know about five minutes after I plug my phone into my computer that chances are everything on it would be recoverable.
  • Often the best hardware is not available unlocked, and if not unlocked, you end up with carrier bloat forced upon you.  Apple fortunately has the power to stop that, so now I have a phone that doesn’t have 10 dumb apps from Verizon that I don’t want there, and gets updates when Apple releases them, not a year later.  My Droid Turbo was stuck vulnerable to stagefright with MMS messaging disabled for almost a year past when fixes were available because that’s how long it took for Verizon to give a fuck.
  • File security.  Getting back to file access / management that is either hyper-restrictive vs unrestricted that I touched on in the backups point.  With iOS 11, you get a stupidly named “Files” app which is really just a “Manage all your clouds from one place” app, because iOS has taken away nearly all access to local file storage.  This can be fairly obnoxious when you have no way to save a PDF from email, mark it up, send it somewhere else, as one instance of the file, since iOS requires you send the file to the next app, so on and so forth, so you end up with multiple copies and versions in each app’s local storage, and tons of points and clicks to get there.However, in contrast, I kind of like the fact that my Facebook app can’t read my SSH private keys stored in my “Prompt” and “Transmit” apps.  On Android, once you’ve granted file system access, hey, it’s a party over here, you might be literally tweeting out the keys to the kingdom.  I’m willing to put up with the hassle for the security.

 

First things first, a complaint from the start.  The big one was the Move to iOS app for Android.  There was simply no way whatsoever that I could get it to complete successfully.  The closest I got to success was to put android in airplane mode, set the screen timeout to 30 minutes (max I could go), choose to not move photos, and then tap periodically while it ran to ensure the Android phone didn’t sleep; that finally let it complete after perhaps 40+ minutes.  I’ll have to move my photos the hard way.  There’s no way to run it again after initial iOS setup, so you basically can’t use your new phone until you find a way to get this app to work to your liking, or give up and use a bunch of third party crap.

So let’s touch on some first few days settings changes I’ve made to my iPhone X to make me happier:

  • Battery percentage indicator – oops, appears that the iPhone X notch bites yet another feature in the ass.  In iOS 11 on my iPad, I can go to Settings -> Battery and move a slider for “Battery Percentage” so I can see percentage in the top right; iPhone X, not there.  Thanks Apple; I’d rather have a useless bar than an actual percentage.  Why can’t I at least choose to have the number instead of the green bar?  It would be far more useful.
  • Saved a 1×1 black GIF from google images and set it as my background, since Apple only wants you to have happy pictures or dynamic information as your background, chewing up some amount of battery life in the process.
  • “Hey Siri,” stop listening to me.  I’m not too lazy to press the button on the side, so under Settings -> Siri & Search, I disabled the listen for Hey Siri and just left it as an option for when the side button is pressed.
  • Settings -> Cellular -> Turned calls on other devices off; by default this is on and other devices that are part of your iCloud account can be wasting battery talking to your phone about phone calls.
  • Settings -> General -> AirDrop – this seems to like turning itself to your contacts from a status of off for some reason; not sure what triggers that but I’ve had to switch it back to off more than once.
  • Settings -> General -> Handoff – set to off; don’t need iCloud knowing what I’m working on.
  • Settings -> General -> Reachability – cool setting that can make getting back to the top of long scrolled content easier.  You turn this on and can then swipe down at the bottom of the screen to slide the whole app down and let you see the top of the app again, which in some apps permits you to press to fast forward back to the top.Same page, ‘tap to wake’ off; don’t need the phone listening for me to tap on the screen.
  • Settings -> General -> Background App Refresh – I spent some time digging through this page to turn off all but what I really thought needed to be communicating while not directly active.  Hopefully it helps with battery life.
  • Settings -> Display & Brightness – turned off Raise to Wake.  I don’t want the phone turning the screen on every time I move it, I can push the button when I’m ready to use it.  Again, yet another option I turned off in what I hope will give me maximum battery life.
  • I enabled location services for Reminders at all times so that it can do location-based reminders; pretty cool feature.

Initial impression:

  • Here’s a weird complaint; I don’t know what it is, but the iPhone X yanks on short head and facial hair.  I shave my head, and there’s a one day window of time where the hair has grown out just long enough, but not long enough to shave, that the iPhone X yanks on it just above my ear.  At first I was thinking it was the vibrate/ring switch doing it, but then my facial hair grew a bit and it started doing it occasionally on my cheek too, so now I think it’s either something related to the bezel where the glass meets the metal, or the four little separators that are at each of the four corners.
  • So far, I’m pretty happy with this device.  One thing I do miss is my Handcent app for Android.  It gave me two features over Apple’s Messages app; 1) I have great control over font selection and size, as well as what is and isn’t highlighted, 2) it has the ability to set a reminder on unread text messages that run indefinitely.  I receive critical alerts for work, and having it keep vibrating until I wake up was a very nice option in Handcent.  Messages simply lets you set I think at most a 10x repeat, so it’s just one vibrate / chime per minute for ten minutes and hope you wake up.  I could set an obnoxious ring tone and leave it in audio at night I guess, but that would make my wife not particularly happy.
  • The screen looks fantastic.  I’m sure Galaxy S8 owners will say yes, we know it looks fantastic, how do you like having a lower res version of what we’ve already had for a while… lol.  I get it, ‘new’ to Apple != new, but it still looks fantastic either way.
  • This phone is super slippery.  I’m going to definitely need a case for it, I have absolutely no comfort level that it won’t shatter to bits while I’m getting it out of my pocket in a parking lot when it goes flying.
  • Please Apple, why can’t I decide where my fucking folders and app icons go?  Do they really have to be all up at the top?
  • I LOVE the 3D touch features.  My favorite is type type type, oh, I want the cursor somewhere else, no need to try to tap and tap and tap to get it right, you just hard press on the keyboard and then you can slide the cursor exactly where you want it.
  • As stupid as it sounds, I love the physical ringer/silent switch.  I can put my phone on silent without taking it out of my pocket.  Would never have expected to care about such a thing, then I started using it…
  • IF the facial recognition IS actually more secure than TouchID, then I like it, but TouchID is definitely more convenient (I have it on my iPad).  I can have my tablet unlocked before it’s even in front of me, my phone I now have to look at.  It seems to work very smoothly though; off-angle, dark or light, I haven’t had it take an amount of time to activate where I felt it caused me any undue delay, it’s just almost effortless versus actually effortless like touchID.

Some sysadmin complaints:

  • You can install client certificates in iOS, you just can’t access them from any third party app.  Possibly one of the stupidest things ever.
  • With all the file restrictions, it can be very difficult to get files onto the device where you want them.  Need to get a client certificate installed, even knowing third party apps can’t use it?  Well, you can’t email it to yourself anymore like you could in prior iOS releases, the email clients can no longer share it with ‘system’.  You can’t drop it in via iTunes because iTunes can only drop files to apps.  If you’re using Mobile Device Management you can get it on, but I’m not.  What you end up having to do is put your cert on a cloud drive and then you can install it; yes, Apple makes you move something that is important to security off your devices to a cloud just to install it back onto your devices.
  • Safari on iOS doesn’t support client certificates over websocket connections.  There’s a bug ID open for this in the high 9-million range; at the time of this writing, bugs are in the 35-million range, so it clearly isn’t getting any attention.  So if you need to access a websocket-enabled piece of content, AND it requires a client certificate, you’re screwed since third party apps can’t access client certificates in iOS.
  • Have not yet found a good app for doing ping, traceroute, DNS that allows selective use of ipv4/ipv6 when going by name.
  • If you have hotspot enabled, and forget to turn it off, then plug into your Mac, the stupid Mac will start routing traffic through your phone instead of its hardwired connection.  How is that logical in any way?  Default to routing over a cell device instead of a gigE cable?
  • There seems to be no way to copy a part of a text message.  For example, if you use two factor auth and the additional factor is a long string of text that gets sent to you with surrounding text, how can I simply copy the part I care about?  Oh, I can’t.  Thanks Apple; apparently it was available prior to iOS 10 and now a long press gets you the option to send Ha Ha and other dumb shit, exactly what a power user doesn’t want.  F’ing stupid.

Some sysadmin compliments:

  • OpenVPN on iOS seems to be dramatically less susceptible to disconnects when switching between cellular and wifi, or between wifi networks.  On Android, this nearly always results in an unrecoverable VPN disconnect where you have to manually go back in and connect.  On iOS, it seems to rarely result in a disconnect.

Open issues I’d love comments/feedback on:

  • Is there a third party keyboard that displays symbols, AND doesn’t share everything you type with the third party?  For example, I hate having to remember that backtick can be found via a long press to apostrophe, why can’t I have that visible?

General Experience

  • “Files” – this app is poorly named and simply stupid.  They should just call it Cloud Drives because that’s mostly all it’s good for.
  • I ordered two Spigen cases, as well as a UAG case; will update this page with reviews once received and installed.
  • More coming soon
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