Owning a Google Pixel (or any Android) can be a blessing or a straight up curse for individuals coming from the iPhone lifestyle and use to things just working. We will help you navigate through this mess to feel a bit more comfortable going with one phone or another. I have no favorites here just favorite features of each phone. Let’s start out with the highlights and low-lights before we get crazy with the details.
The AI – Artificial Intelligence for “ok Google” vs “Siri” is hands down, way better for Google. Basic queries are a nightmare with Siri. You will end up hitting another car or worst, a pedestrian if you ever try to perform voice to text conversations, query someone’s name to call, or ask Siri to instruct you to drive to a specific restaurant you had in mind or some place of business while driving. Siri straight up cannot take your Spotify playlist requests or random Google queries. Siri is as functional as a party goer the day after Fat Tuesday in NOLA. OK Google is everything you expect out of a modern personal assistant listening device.
ProTip! Add a shortcut to this page on your Android or Google Pixel to quickly scroll down and grab my favorite default apps.
Why get a Pixel?
- The camera! Evenings pictures are amazing!
- AI – “Ok Google” is five years ahead of “Siri”
- Talking to your phone is actually fun!
- Charging is extremely fast and the battery is efficient***Disclaimer: This statement is thrown out the window for any phone if you are on a bogged down network and you are trying to upload a ton of Snaps all day or you are in a foreign town with Google Maps on all day.
Things that have been Fixed over the past year…
- Emojis! They are very clean looking now. Similar to iPhone.
- The App slow downs… So aggravating but for the most part, they are gone.
- App Updates and Fixes… A lot less bugs that would create moments of rage such as the Bluetooth not working for several weeks until a new update wash pushed
Things that still continue to annoy me to this day…
- App crashes. They still happen with a fair amount of frequency. This never happens with a decent iPhone.
- Photo Albums are cut off and or photos are missing from Google Photo
- Auto Correct sucks!!
- Typing is more difficult
- USB C charging. Be prepared! There are not that many friends or businesses with USB C chargers considering Google sells Pixels in a year is equivalent to what Apple sells in iPhones in a day.
Why get an iPhone 8?
- The transition to an Android can drive people crazy. It’s lighter and cheaper than iPhone X.
- Texting is a breeze. People won’t judge you on your green texts.
- File Management is not confusing.
- Backup is very intuitive until you have exceeded your space. Look into the Synology NAS for space alternatives. Especially for pictures of your children
- It just works. It took six to nine for me to form an emotional bond with my Pixel and even still I want to disown it for the reasons mentioned above.
Phone Apps – iPhone
There are things you must have on the iPhone that I know are better now coming from a Pixel background. Download the “Google” app for iPhone to help alleviate the issues voice interactions on your phone but there’s definite issues on Google app for iPhone too… It’s just not as bad as Siri. Also, download the “TV Cast” app so you easily utilize Chromecast from your iPhone.
The evening photography is absolutely amazing for Google Pixel vs iPhone.
I ended up turning off iMessage on the iPhone so I can receive SMS texts on both phones with my $10 month sevice from T-Mobile called Digits. Again, individuals can text my same personal phone number and I recieve on both Iphone and Pixel if I have iMessage turned off. The lingo for this service is “data paired with Digits” vs “Digits Talk and Text”.
- Data Paired with Digits – Texts received on your virtual sim card or the Pixel in my case come into my default SMS messaging app
- Digits Talk and Text – Text received on my Pixel go to my Tmobile app called Digits. Avoid the app if you can, it sucks. Just request from T-Mobile support (phone #611) to have “data paired with Digits” They can also help with your Google Pixel Phone Support, general inquiries, and bill adjustments.
RSS – The Deal Breaker
The Google Pixel keyboard in particular is really bad for my wrist. This particular keyboard exasperates my RSS symptoms. I was able to keep it at bay for like 9 months until I started talking or texting some lovely girl I met who unfortunately lives on the east coast. Then I found myself texting way too much and the pain of RSS would not go away until a month later after getting an iPhone 8. RSS is no joke, it causes all sorts of nerve pain up and down your body not to mention wrist issues. So, was it the fact the phone is slightly largely or just that typing and the touch sensitivity is a wee bit off from what I am use to with the iPhone? I am not sure but I feel like texting on the iPhone is a breeze but slightly more difficult with all the clutter they now jam into the keyboard interface; especially in horizontal mode. Needless to say, we stopped talking.
Prepping for Android – Google Pixel
Go to http://contacts.google.com and purge all unnecessary contacts and turn off create contact automatically feature in Gmail. Do this and you will avoid a mountain of clutter in your phone’s address book or contacts. Basically, you have accrued random emails that automatically generate Google Contacts in your Gmail since the inception of your Gmail account.
Straight out of the box, Pixel greets with an option to copy your data from an iPhone or fresh new start. My iPhone contacts became an unmanageable nightmare and I opted to start from fresh. I get very OCD during these new setup because I want to fully understand the ramifications of my decisions. Anyway, I was very glad I did this because your phone becomes much more easy to work with after some house keeping of contacts.
Add your Google Account
I did want to include every Gmail account to my phone because that adds more clutter as in contacts. I defaulted to my business account or G Suite account as my primary and only account on the phone.
ProTip! – The Android OS will add the additional Google account whether using Google Chrome, Gmail, Maps, or any Google app for that matter. Use Firefox or some other browser to avoid adding more Google accounts if these issues of excessive accounts and all the clutter that comes with it annoys you. ie You will have two contacts in the phone “contacts” if you add both gmail accounts to a Google application.
I am not a fan of mixing personal and professional. I don’t believe there’s an option to turn off backup of the photos in Google Drive Backp. It’s all being backed up or nothing unlike iPhone Cloud Backup. Recently, I stumbled upon Acronis True Image: Mobile. Apparently, it advertises the same features of Icloud backup but to your Synology NAS.
Notifications – Distractions
Pop up notifications are all or nothing. Like the iPhone, I turn the majority of the notifications off. The great thing is you don’t know how the number of missed messages per app… Like 7 unread texts. You may seem disappointed by this feature at first but being free of distractions to gain some deep thinking time is essential for growth for you as a person. You miss a message? So be it. I’m sure the world won’t end and you can always scroll down later
I use Google Voice to mask my cell number with a Google Voice number for business calls. Installing the app can cause a lot of problems if you are not careful. It’s especially problematic when using Google Fi as your service provider. Google Fi hijacked my business number and would not give it back unless you switched carriers. I was so annoyed I ended up switching back and staying with Tmobile. Plus, Google Fi uses some pretty terrible networks like Sprint.
File Manager – Photo Albums
The damn Pixel phone does not have a very visible file manager. And it’s a pain in the but when you try to access something like your saved SnapChat story. It appears to be a bug that Google won’t fix. The latest claim is the Google Photo Album does not support saved Snaps even though it worked twice before after a wipe of the phone. Anyway, I highly recommend downloading a file manager to get more comfortable with where and where not to store your data. Here’s a view of the file manager before a ton of crap is downloaded to it.
I’ll list some of the important partitions:
- /system – 2.3 GiB (ext4 filesystem): This is the “ROM” of the device. It basically contains the Android OS and is the bulk of what’s updated when you get software updates. It is mounted as read-only and can only be officially written to by an update that is cryptographically signed by Motorola (unless you “unlock” your bootloader).
- /cache – 256 MiB (ext4 filesystem): This, as the name implies, is a partition used to store temporary files. Note that this is different from cache files stored by apps, however. When you look in your storage break down in the settings screen of Android, the cache used by applications is not this partition. That lives in the /data partition. /cache is not even readable by applications. I suspect it’s used by the system for its own purposes. Would appreciate any explanations you guys can offer for this one.
- /data – 11.9 GiB (Flash Friendly filesystem): The is the userdata partition. It’s what the user can mainly manipulate. It contains your user-installed apps (and the updates to the system apps) and almost all your app data. I’ll get to that almost part in a bit. Data that an app stores inside your /data is guaranteed by the OS to remain private, in the sense that no other app or the user can access it on an unmodified device (disregarding the ADB backup/restore feature for apps and data). See appendix I regarding all the stuff inside /data. The part important for this guide is that there is just one folder – /data/media/0 – that is exposed to the user and apps as the “usb storage” or “internal storage” or “internal sd card”. It’s the root of the folders we’ve come to know and love like DCIM, Music, Downloads, etc… Files stored by the system under /data that are not under /data/media are not visible to users. You can only reclaim that space by a factory reset. I’m still looking at what kinds of logs might be stored under /data and how quickly they grow, consuming precious internal storage.
Without root access, Android users only have access to the data partition and that’s what you’ll be looking at when connecting your phone up to your PC or browsing via a file manager. Your microSD card, if applicable, will also appear mounted under this user accessible data partition, which you can also access via PC or a file app.
The Data Folder – /storage/emulated/0
Even if you don’t have many apps installed, by default this user data partition “/storage/emulated/0” will contain a number of folders used for storing your contacts, picture, music, etc. Here’s a breakdown of the most common folders that you’ll find here, which don’t belong to a third party app.
- Android – This is the default location used for app cache and saved data. Not recommended to delete unless you don’t mind losing your app data; doing so might cause some apps to malfunction.
- Alarms, Ringtones, Notifications – This folder stores custom audio files for alarms, ringtones, and notifications that can be used by some default and third party apps.
- Cardboard – This is another self-explanatory folder, which contains data for some virtual reality apps, but will otherwise be empty.
- DCIM – Pictures taken by your main camera app are saved in here. You’ll find this folder created on your microSD card if you opt to save pictures there, too.
- Downloads – Anything that you download from a web browser, such as Chrome or Firefox, will appear here.
- Pictures, Music, Movies, Video – These are all default folders used by various apps for your media needs. Some apps will allow you to specify other locations, but most media players will search these directories by default. Screenshots are often saved in the pictures folder.
- Podcasts – This folder is used by some apps to separate postcast files from the rest of your music. Will be empty if you don’t use a podcast app.
Data or Cloud Syncing
The following apps behave pretty similarly on each phone except for Synology DS Cloud.
- Microsoft One Drive
- Comes with Office 365! It’s pretty nice but they will shake you down for money at some point if you don’t have O365
- A must have cloud data app to work with everyone who is on it. It costs money after 2 gigs.
- Geared for businesses. It again costs money after 2 gigs.
- Synology DS Cloud
- Hybrid Cloud Solution. Gear towards business who don’t want to spend $5 or $10 x amount of users and can hopefully manage their own environment; and want the flexibility of doing so much more with this NAS you purchase. Stay away from this. Synology becomes much more appealing if you buy into their whole eco system of services.
Ear Buds – In Line Controls
Don’t waste your money on Amazon. Go Straight to the source of quality ear buds for avoiding in-line controls issues and terrible audio. Most Amazon items do not have the correct features for you to skip tracks and turn up volume for Android devices. And the iphone ear buds will destroy your hearing. Anyway, Google Urban Ears or use the link above for a quality pair of ear buds.
I am a huge fan of TMobile but I understand it is not for everyone. Sprint is the worst. Verizon is the most expensive. ATT is a terrible corporation. Google Fi needs work but I like where their head is at.
The Google Pixel Apps
The apps crash frequently compared to iphone 8 but here’s my list of apps I use.
ProTip! Make sure you don’t pay for any apps through your phone provider. Try to get the subscription through the app developer’s site. Otherwise, the app will be problematic if you switch from one OS to the other. Also, figure out the best way to sort apps. Activities, Business, News, Travel, Bank, Jive and Jams, Utils, and Social.
- Amazon Shopping
- American Express
- AquaMail (not the best mail app but I need my hotmail and my personal Gmail)
- MLB AtBat
- Google Authenticator
- Bank of Internet
- BART Runner (not too bad)
- Business Week
- Google Calendar (I prefer Outlook)
- Capital One
- Capsule CRM
- Synology Chat (It has potential but needs work)
- Google Chrome
- Credit Karma
- Google Drive
- Synology DS Cloud
- Synology DS File
- Synology DS Get
- Synology DS Photo (great for photo backup – Read More on setup here)
- Synology Drive
- Evernote (I can’t seem to get really good at organizing my thoughts or notes on here)
- Need to try OneNote
- File Manager (Pixel does not have an easily accessible file manager by default. You have to download one.
- First American Bank (Good for HSA)
- Genius Fax
- Genius Scan
- Google Gmail
- Google Home (Great personal assistant… even on an iPhone)
- Inkly (Great for holiday cards and mom cards)
- LA Times
- MapMyRun (still on the fence with this running app)
- Google Maps
- Facebook Messenger
- NPR One
- NY Times
- Google Photos (Glitchy AF on Pixel. Older photos disappear and can only be recover through File Manager. Google won’t fix it)
- Podcast Addict (Sometimes you can’t find all your favorite Podcasts on Sticher)
- QuickPic (Because Google Photos is dumb)
- Roku (I use this app and stick for travel)
- SlingPlayer (Not SlingTV)
- Google Sheets
- Simple Radio (Live local NPR and KNBR)
- Southwest Airlines
- Speed Test
- Stash Invest
- VIP Access
- Google Voice
- Whats App
- White Noise
- Wunderlist (it kinda fell short… I’m back to pen and paper)
- Zoho Books
- Zoho Desk
Where to get phone cases?
iPhone 8, Android, RSS, and Google Pixel Phone Support Adventures Summary
I yelled at the Google Pixel for like the first six months but now having the iPhone I miss the luxuries of OK Google and picture taking. I ended up using both because I really enjoy taking pictures. I tote a little SIM card popper on my key chain and swap the sim card out after I disable iMessage on the Iphone. It’s not the most ideal situation especially since I miss some iMessages along the way but it seems to work for me.