Google Glass to the Maxx

I’ve been an iPhone fan for several years now, having switched after my old R2D2-themed Android phone started misbehaving regularly. I’ve appreciated the simplicity of Apple’s operating systems and how their hardware and software “just works.” (That’s why I have, and will probably always have, Macs as my personal computers.)

MaxxBut then I got Glass. And now I have an Android phone — the Droid Maxx to be precise.

The MyGlass app is available for Android and iPhone, and recent updates to MyGlass made the Google Glass experience on an iPhone almost as good as with an Android phone. Almost good enough that it’s not worth switching from an iPhone to a Droid if it’s going to cost you a lot of money.

But as fate would have it, my daughter’s mobile phone is dying and we needed to figure out what to do for her next one. So I researched options and discovered a way to shift phones around on our account by adding a couple of new ones to the stable. Thanks to a couple of our family’s older phones being out of contract and eligible for an upgrade, plus Verizon Wireless’ current trade-in offer, three out of four of us are ending up with new phones and it will cost me very little cash to make it happen.

Since the opportunity presented itself, I decided I would research Android phones to see what’s been going on since that long time ago in a cellular galaxy far, far away when I carried R2D2 in my pocket. Things have changed dramatically and the operating system on my new phone is powerful, clean and fast. (The Maxx uses KitKat 4.4 if anyone is wondering.)

I still believe iOS is best for uninitiated techies or people who just want stuff to be simple and work with minimal fuss. But for those who like to customize their system and make it organized the way they want it, then Android is still the way to go. After showing my wife everything my new phone could do and how I had it set up, she said, “there’s just too much going on there” and reached for her iPhone like she would reach for the hand of a trusted friend. (For the record, she’s getting a nearly new iPhone 5S out of my phone-swapping scheme.)

myglassUnless and until Google makes the MyGlass app for the iPhone identical to the app on Android, though, I’m going to stick with taking Google Glass to the Maxx. Besides the Google universe being seamlessly integrated into the Droids instead of just laid on top like on the iPhones, there are three key things I’ve discovered so far that make the whole experience more powerful for Glass users:

  1. I can now send and receive text messages via Glass. I’ve used Hangouts and really liked the functionality, but in my job I receive a lot of text messages and being able to deal with them via Glass with verbal commands and replies is an awesome feature.
  2. Tethering is seamless on the Maxx, whereas I had to use the Personal Hotspot feature on my iPhone. It worked, but it seemed to drain the battery on my phone and Glass faster than the new setup does. Plus, it’s one more layer of connectivity to be wonky from time to time.
  3. Navigation just happens, fast and easy. With the iPhone, I had to be sure the MyGlass app was open before asking Glass for directions. And I mean open. It was never enough to have the app running on the iPhone. I often had to be sure the app was front and center and the phone wasn’t sleeping or the connection couldn’t be established to make the initial directions appear. After that, the app would occasionally forget that it was needed for turn-by-turn directions and Glass navigation became all about navigating the iPhone and not the road ahead.

There may be more features I discover as I spend more time with this new configuration, and I’ll update the blog with them if I find some. I’ve only had the phone a few days and I’m still adapting. One of the key things Motorola (“A Google Company” until last week) touts about the Maxx is its superb battery life. I must say that in the first full day of heavy use it performed wonderfully. I’ll have to see if that continues, but so far, so good.

Making the jump from operating system to operating system on a phone is a bit like traveling to the same planet in an alternate universe: everything is there, and you can see many similarities, but something is definitely awry.

It’s helpful that I’ve owned Android phones before and that I have a Kindle Fire HD, which has a bastardized Android operating system with similar operational features to my new phone. At some point, I’ll probably write a post on KitKat 4.4 vs. iOS 7, but that topic may have already over-saturated the blogging world and most people are diehard one way or the other, regardless of what I write.

My point is that making the leap from iPhone to Android may not be for everyone, even if they do use Glass. And, eventually, I think the MyGlass app for iPhone will improve.

But for now, I saw an opportunity and I seized it. And what’s that old latin saying? “Carpe Droidem,” or something.