Changing ecosystems and optimizing my life

June 20th, 2013

iPhone has been my primary smartphone since the launch of the original iPhone back in 2007. I've since followed the upgrades (with the exception of the 3G and 5) and have owned every iPhone. I was well burrowed into the Apple ecosystem.

Using iTunes for my music management, iPhoto for photos and iMessage for texting and day-to-day messaging. It felt comfortable and friendly. I knew where my things were and how to access them quickly. Items, lists and files were synced across devices and services.

After so many years of using and for the most part enjoying iOS, I felt the tug of using something new. My eyes have always been on Android for a while. Fast release cycle, innovative additions and above all, the freedom given to users to make their phone theirs. Sure the iPhone has been Jailbroken again and again, but I wish Apple gave us a bit more freedom without having to go too far.

I never actually made the switch though. I felt too invested into Apple to go away from what I'm comfortable with using. But the urge stuck with me.

A while ago I noticed HTC's new Android device, the HTC One. It wasn't only a gorgeous looking device, but it had the specs to stand out. A fast 1.7ghz Snapdragon CPU and 2gb of ram, and packaged with standard 32gb of memory. It'll be tough to beat.

A week ago I noticed an ad on my Best Buy email. "Upgrade to the HTC One for $99." And that's when I bit the proverbial bullet. I went to Best Buy, and used my upgrade. I don't regret it.

HTC bundles their phones with HTC Sense, a heavily customized android os. Although it has some nice features, I wanted something a little closer to the Android home. I searched and found Nova Launcher. Installed and customized.

Next up the lock screen. I initially used Holo Locker but found WidgetLocker to be a little more useful. Android 4.2.2 supports lock widgets, but since HTC hasn't released 4.2.2 update to their phones yet, WidgetLocker was the next best thing.

And lastly I customized the icons. Currently sporting Hexacon icon pack. It's simplistic and stylish.

I got the phone exactly the way I like it. Layout is perfect, apps are where they should be. Home screen is simple, clean. I switched to using Hangouts to replace iMessage. Google Keep for note taking. And Spotify for music.

All was then taken to the next level with NFC tags. NFC (Near Field Communications) are pretty much a standard in most Android powered phones. It gives you the ability of tapping your phone to a support NFC chip and interact with it. This is where some home automation stepped in.

I purchased a few NFC tags on Amazon and decided to have them at various places.

  • Tag 1: Nightstand. This little tag will activate my alarm for the morning and set my phone on silent.
  • Tag 2: Car. Turn on bluetooth and open up Spotify.
  • Tag 3: Office. Set phone to silent, check in with Foursquare.

This is only the beginning of what I could do with NFC tags. And coupled with the NFC Task Launcher, it's extremely powerful. I may just replace Tag 3 with NFC Task Launcher's wifi capabilities. It takes small tasks away from my daily activity and I can focus on more important matters.

I'm excited to be part of the Android community and I'm excited to see what Google does with the platform.