iOS < Android – Part 1: first impressions of the One Mini

Hello again

Yes, I’m not so quick with the updates. I haven’t found the time to sit down and just write the damn thing. But here it is. The post will cover my first impressions and some tweaks I’ve found so far to ease the transition between iOS and Android. If you wonder why I choose the One Mini over, let’s say the One or the S4 you can have a look at my first post on the matter: About what’s coming up on christian-jensen.se

First of all I’d like to talk about the build quality of the phone. It’s as sturdy as I hoped. But not as sturdy as an iPhone 5, the plastic rim brings that feeling down a bit. But with a slim case it feels really good in your palm.

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For those who are interested, here’s a rundown of the specs:

  • Type: Phone
  • Version: Android 4.2.2
  • Released: 2013-08-01
  • Processor: 1.40GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB ROM
  • LTE
  • Screen: 4.30″ – 720×1280
  • 1800mAh battery
  • Weight: 122 grams

As you can see, it’s a bit less processing power and half as much RAM as an HTC One.


The replacement apps for shitty implemented features

First I will talk about what feature I don’t like and then I’ll present you with the solution I have found. After that I will show you some screenshots of before and after. And at the end I will provide you with the links which I made into big buttons so that you can follow them on your phone.
Sounds nice? Then let’s go!

The Launcher

I mean, look at it. Would you use this thing? The whole thing just screams bloatware. It’s not that particularly useful either, it never presented anything of value to me. I know that you can customize it so that it displays stuff you’d find interesting. But I expected it to work well out of the box. So this was the first thing I just had to get rid of. The cure was to install a custom launcher. My weapon of choice was Apex.

It has the default Android launcher look. You get a lot of customization features such as changing the transitions and applying custom themes. I like that matte and unglossified look so I went with a theme called MOND and another called Click UI. And there’s lots of other themes in the Play store.

The widget you see in the first picture is DashClock. Notifications doesn’t work as well and centralized as in iOS. Sure they keep it a ‘notification center’ but there’s no simple way of displaying notification on the lockscreen. Every developer has their own way of displaying stuff on the lockscreen. For instance, WhatsApp displays a popup which you can reply to. DashClock lets me keep the most important notifications in one place through the widgets’ extensions.

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The keyboard

Since I’ve got used to the keyboard of iOS which in my opinion is near perfection. Let me give you an example: I could reply to text messages while I was riding my bike, just tapping away with one hand while I was focusing on the road and the traffic. My thumbs knew where the keys where and the autocorrect would fix 90% of the misses. So what’s wrong with HTC’s Sense keyboard? The main problem is that HTC went with looks rather than function. They have no spacing between keys which means you are going to miss the key you where going for a lot.

Solution? Google Keyboard. Google has developed a keyboard that behaves much like the iOS keyboard. “How” you say? Well, have a look at the screenshots below and you will notice that there is some significant similarities. The spacing and the layout is just right. If you look at a screenshot of an iOS6 keyboard there’s even more similarities. Unfortunately, you can’t install this if you live in Sweden. But that’s not a big problem, you can just download the .apk file off of XDA-Dev. Link to the thread is in one of the big fat button below. Make sure to stop by the thread every once in a while since Android is not going to notify you when Google releases a new version.

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The messages app

Since iOS and iCloud is so easy to restore when you get a new phone or re-jailbreak I never got around to reset the messages inbox. I’ve kept message threads dating back to as long as 2011, back when I had the 3GS. HTC Sync Manager told me that that’s 90K worth of messages. Luckily iOS uses SQLite to store it’s messages so exporting them is rather easy. HTC’s Sync Manager application promised to fix this, but even though I left it running for a whole night it wasn’t even near the finish-line. Instead I used iSMS2Droid to convert the messages and then transfered them to the phone. To import the messages I used SMS Backup & Restore. But I discovered that process is really slow as well. Fortunately you could pause the import by just quitting the app and then reopening it when you where ready again. But after a week or so when I was at 70% and I accidentally aborted the import. To fix this, I’m currently working on a windows application that will be able to manage these backups. Have a look at the Github widget to the right of this post for more info (or below it if you’r on mobile).

The thing is, HTC’s own messages app couldn’t cope with such a large database of messages. So it would just not open the threads. Solution? Custom app. I found an app called Textra which does a pretty good job. It got all features I need: quick reply, sleek minimalistic ui and Emoji-support so that I can send and receive Emojis from my iOS-friends.

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What’s next?

I’m currently waiting for the most popular custom ROM to be released for the Mini. I’m talking about Cyanogenmod. Currently there is a developer at XDA-Dev that is working on it. At the moment we are here:

have most of the prep work completed for cm-10.2….so sit tight while I work out some kinks. I will make a thread in the original android dev forums once its ready for alpha testing.

H8rift

The next post will probably be published after I’ve flashed the ROM. So stay tuned!