Category Archives: Mobile Devices

Comparison of Android and iOS long term software support

I’ve noticed people always brush against Apple’s requirement for iPhones to run relatively recent iOS at all times and claim they drop support for phones too quickly based on that, not factoring in how they actually got to that point. Well, I’ll explain how that’s not actually true and how iOS updates actually work…

With Android, Google allows you to run very old Android versions. Currently you need to run at least Android 5 (Lollipop) or 6 (Marshmallow) to still be able to use most apps and it’s my experience with Android 5.1.1. that I already lost ability to even find some apps on GooglePlay with it. So it’s more Android 6 really… And Android 6 was released in 2015. Phones generally mostly received 1 update back then, more if you were really lucky which meant you were essentially stuck with that version of Android till this day in 2021. Which is roughly 7 years of being allowed to use an old version without much or any restrictions after which support starts to slowly decline. You can use it normally, you’re just stuck with old outdated version all this time.

iOS on the other hand, it uses a bit different approach. It actually requires you to run more recent versions as rather strict requirement. And people always complain with: “But you need iOS 13 today to even use most apps!” Well, iOS is not like Android where you’re basically stuck with old version of OS, but still allowed to use it. With iOS you need to stay up to date which has many security and faster API evolving benefits. But the catch here is, while yes, you are required to use at least iOS 13 today, the difference is, you can install and use iOS 13 on an iPhone 6s which was released back in 2015. Not only that, iPhone 6s is eligible to install iOS 14 too and is planned to receive iOS 15 as well in fall 2021! Notice when was iPhone 6s released? Yeah, quite long time ago…

And if you look that iOS 13 is a requirement today when iOS 15 is almost out, it means Apple gives you a 1-2 year grace period (sometimes even more for popular models) between latest iOS version and required version in which you continue to only receive security updates and no feature updates anymore. And if you sum those times it gives you same 7 years (sometimes even more) of being able to use your device pretty much without limitations. You’re required to use latest versions and you’re also actually kept up to date the entire time.

Let me visualize it in a spreadsheet for easier understanding…

iOSvsANDROID_UPDATES

Android’s state of updating was really sad back in 2015 with most vendors only handing you a single update if at all. Samsung was really the only exception to give Galaxy S6 users 3 years of major OS updates. Which is why single major update was really an average of the industry back then, but Google allows you to use that old version from 2015/2016 version till this day and will probably continue to allow with slow decline in availability of apps when using it. There is no hard date on discontinuation of support for Android 6 Marshmallow, but seeing how Google just dropped Android 2.3 Gingerbread this year, it’s safe to assume Marshmallow will be entirely dropped in 2025 after 10 years of service just like Gingerbread.

iOS on the other hand was actively being updated for iPhone users and is guaranteed to receive major OS update this fall with iOS 15. After that it’s safe to assume it’ll not receive major updates anymore if we consider trends in the past, especially since iOS 15 will be a 6th major update for iPhone 6s which is a bit of an outlier, but this is common to happen with models that are really popular. After this period iPhone 6s will continue to receive only security updates till 2024/2025 when it’ll be entirely dropped and you won’t be able to install new apps or use any Apple services. Phone will still work with apps already on it and all that, but support will effectively cease entirely.

Conclusion

As much as people rave how Apple drops support for devices too quickly, the reality is, they actually don’t. In fact they actively support devices for longer than Android phone makers and when you draw a line and sum all things together, the long term support is about the same with both. It’s just different journey to the final point where they both cease the support entirely. iOS pushes you to run newer versions and after certain period of support is over, they stop supporting you. Android on the other hand doesn’t have much of a support and sort of leaves you with an old version, but is allowed to be used for same period as iOS overall. You need to rely on GooglePlay and app updates to address security issues which has a limited scope of reach when it comes to fixing OS core level security issues that need actual full on security updates and not what GooglePlay services can deliver.

Android’s updating of major OS versions and security updates has gotten better with 2 years being an industry average now with big players like Samsung following lead with 3 major OS updates and additional 1 year of security updates and then same yellow path of no updates, but still being functional. We’ll see how things will change for Android with Google planning to offer 5 years of full major OS and security updates starting with their new Pixel 6 phones. It would be nice if it pushed other phone makers to do better than 2-3 years of major OS updates.

But for now, this is the conclusion under existing observed conditions. Both, Android and iOS have very similar long term support with slightly different experience through this period. And if we’re honest, 7 years is a very respectable period for Android or iOS devices, especially given their “gadgetry” nature which means they are really old, slow and generally outdated devices at this point and people only stick with them because they either don’t have finances to buy new one or they really only use them for basic things for which they are still fine.

Features I’m most excited about in iOS 14

As you might have heard already (or not), Apple has released some information on their software and some hardware in their annual WWDC 2020 conference. You can watch their whole presentation here:

There are some interesting things they are bringing this Fall, but I’ll focus on iOS stuff because that’s what I’m most interested in. Some of them were not mentioned in the keynote and were revealed by users who tried the BETA version of upcoming iOS 14.

Widgets support

Apple announced widgets support that can be added to any page, almost anywhere. They still aren’t full blown widgets like on Android, but more like dynamic tiles from Windows Mobile that can come in various sizes and can be fit into any page, almost anywhere. Apparently you still can’t stick them in the middle of icons so they still kinda align through entire display width, to the left or to the right side of the display, but hey, we’ll finally be able to have them outside of the first page which was dedicated for widgets only till now.

Page hiding

Up till iOS 14, if you didn’t really need some apps, you had to either dump them into a certain folder or certain page just to get them away from your usual apps. In iOS you can simply hide entire pages if you feel like you don’t need apps located on them.

Apps grouping/categories page

Another new thing is the new page located at the end of all the pages which stores all the apps grouped based on their functionality. So all the games will be bunched into one category, all the entertainment apps in another, all the gadgets like calculator and stuff in third one etc. On top you’ll also have Frequently used apps category and “Just added” category where newly installed apps will appear. This panel also include alphabetical listing of all apps so in a way it’s like a launcher on Android, but not quite.

I still have mixed feelings about it and will have to try it myself to really see if it’s useful to me or not. Because even on Android, I was never a fan of app drawer. Especially the grid list was terrible way of finding things quickly. Alphabetical list was always my favorite if I had to use the app drawer. Sliding finger across letters to quickly jump to where app is instead of looking at icons in a grid. Then again I always preferred Huawei’s EMUI and Xiaomi’s MIUI as a phone launcher and those are super similar to how iOS behaves so I kinda felt at home in iOS when moving away from Android.

Technically, you can just have widgets page and this new page with categories and you can hide away ALL the other pages that have apps on them. I’m actually going to try it this way to see how it works for day to day use.

Picture-in-Picture (PiP)

iOS 14 is also bringing more wide PiP support which is petty seamless. You can flick the app to go from full screen mode and then you can move and resize the video popup however you wish. You can even move it outside of the screen where it’ll turn into an arrow on the side of the display. You’ll still hear the audio so you can listen to music or news without watching video. But you can always instantly pull it into view if something interests you during the video. Pretty neat.

Set default browser and e-mail app

One of longest awaited features that is confirmed for iOS 14, but not included in the keynote. And while Android fans are mocking Apple for not including it years ago, it wasn’t that annoying even though I transitioned to iPhone relatively recently (from Android). It was annoyance, but not as big as everyone is making it to be. It’s certainly a nice convenience addition that I welcome.

It’s for now limited to browsers and e-mail clients only, but it’s where you need it the most anyway. Browsers are still limited to use Safari’s rendering engine. Which I’m generally ok with even though I’d like it if browsers could use their own rendering engines so browser developers don’t have to write entirely different browser compared to Android. Which is often a reason why iOS browsers are neglected badly or just don’t exist because developers feel like it’s not even worth their time for some reason…

Smaller Incoming calls and Siri

Not as ground breaking of a change, but a nice addition, they changed incoming calls and Siri pages so they don’t take up entire display anymore. I kinda understand why Apple preferred it whole display so it really catches your attention, but it’s probably more convenient to deal with when it’s not covering entire display. Especially with incoming calls that you can just flick away at the top to dismiss the call without rejecting it.

Back tapping gestures

Another neat addition with iOS 14 are back tapping gestures. You can assign commands to double or triple tap on the back of the phone. And apparently you can even chain Shortcut commands on those tap gestures so you can make iOS launch almost anything using specified gesture. It’s a small feature, but can be hugely convenient as you always have fingers at the back of the phone whether you hold it with one hand or both so you don’t even have to take your hands away to reach physical buttons or virtual buttons on display. You can request Siri this way, launch browser, fire up flash LED or even launch Camera (you need to use Shortcuts to do it as they don’t offer direct Camera selection for some reason). But hey, you can do it and I think it’s pretty neat.

Things I wasn’t so impressed by…

My biggest annoyance is how Europe is treated like a 3rd world region. Sure, I get it that USA is Apple’s primary market and they focus on that the most, but come on, the new Translate app mostly only focuses on few languages and that’s it. Sure, my expectations of Apple supporting Slovenian language are tiny since my country is also tiny and I can see how we aren’t exactly high on Apple’s priority list, but given how big of a company Apple is, they could do better imo. They should at least be on par with Google. Especially since Google is Apple’s main competitor in this segment.

And same goes for Apple Maps. When I can’t do something with HereWeGo maps (which is rare) I resort to checking Apple Maps since I don’t use anything from Google anymore. But it just seems like all the cool functionality is only dropped in for US users and the rest of us just get very cut down and basic maps functionality and it’s quite disappointing to a point I never even think of going to Apple Maps as my first navigation or maps selection.

They really need to step up the game for European region if they want to excite more users to grab iPhone instead of countless Android offerings.

What are you excited about in iOS 14 that I maybe haven’t mentioned here but is a cool feature or function? Let me know 🙂

Ditched Google for good. Entirely this time.

Several months ago I’ve ditched everything Google and avoided it like plague. Only thing still following me was Android. Sure it has several neat features, but user privacy sure as hell isn’t one of them.

And with phones, you really only have 3 options. Dumb phone, Android or iPhone. There is no in-between. Some people say “uh oh, use a different Android ROM without Google Apps. I’ve had a different ROM and my banking app was endlessly protesting because it was unlocked (but not rooted!). Besides, if you don’t use GooglePlay, you’re really using just a better feature phone. What’s even the point then? So, I’ve done something unthinkable. I’ve said in the past I’d NEVER EVER own anything made by Apple. And here we are, in 2019, I ate my own words, spit them out and bought iPhone XR.

I know I’m essentially just trading one big corporation for the other, but Google repeatedly disappointed me with their practices as well as with their MO of hoarding data like mad and not giving a single fuck about it. Where Apple, their efforts in regards to privacy show they actually care and that also shows not only internally, but also externally. Set “Location” to NOT ALLOWED and apps will respect that while still work. Where on GooglePlay, if you set that, most apps will just endlessly bitch about it and just blatantly refuse to work until you do even though they don’t need the damn location info at all to operate. And just having Location enabled reports everything to Google where they pinky promise not to use it in any way. Sure… Besides, Apple is selling products. Expensive ones, but they mostly make money with that. Google hands almost everything out for free. Guess how they make money. From YOU. So, that’s another aspect.

I’ve always protested Apple idiocies and boy iPhone has some of the dumbest things I’ve seen last 2 decades. But it also has quite some really neat things. I’ve had to escape Google and I just took a plunge and said to myself: “I’ll adapt if I’m forced to.” And I have. It’ll still take some time to figure it out entirely, but so far, I like the experience in general. And build quality is indeed premium. It just feels as good as much as I’ve paid for it. A lot. Sure, it’s still expensive, but at least I have a company behind it that at least on the outside gives a damn about user privacy and software support basically guaranteed for the next 5 years. Which is just a wishful thinking with Android, which absolutely sucks in this regard.

We’ll see how things unfold, because a decade ago I wouldn’t buy an Apple product. And back then I also never thought I’d be ditching Google with such joy a decade later…

Firefox for Android finally supports password managers like Bitwarden or LastPass!

For a long time I was basically forced to use Opera for Android because Firefox didn’t support accessibility services, meaning you couldn’t use password managers like LastPass or Bitwarden with it. And that was a huge deal because when you’re using long and complex passwords, you have to rely on these. But today, I tried it again to see if it supports this yet and guess what, Firefox for Android now supports that!

You can finally use Bitwarden or LastPass with Firefox on Android! Fiery Fox, I’m coming back 🙂 I liked Opera, but Firefox being open source and now only browser with own rendering engine, I always liked it more. It was just that lack of support for password managers that was a total showstopper for me. Not anymore 🙂

Enhance Android privacy with Blokada app

Are you privacy conscious, but you realized you don’t actually have any options? You can either use a dumb phone, a ridiculously overpriced iPhone or Google infested Android. There are literally no other options unless you sacrifice everything that makes a smartphone virtually “smart”.

So, you’re stuck with Android with all its Google shit. There is a cure for that. It’s called Blokada and it seems to be so effective Google removed it from GooglePlay because it was “going against their business practices” (which just means it blocked their ads and data hoarding). You can also grab it on F-Droid Android software store and if you still have doubts, you can also check Blokada source code

Blokada

Blokada_3_5.png

How does it work?

In an essence, it works as a local VPN, so you don’t have to root your device. Just install it from its webpage (you’ll have to manually allow installation of a 3rd party app, under Android Oreo it should give you access to controls for this directly with the popup, at least on my Xiaomi Mi5 it does) and fire it up. It’ll connect as VPN service, but it’s not really redirecting traffic anywhere, it’s just a neat trick to filter traffic without having to root the phone.

Blokada is using blacklists just like AdBlock, AdGuard or uBlock. It’ll block ads, trackers and even allow you to change DNS to whatever you like.

It gives you a huge selection of various blacklists as well as DNS servers and also has a whitelist where you can exclude apps from filtering in case they get broken or you want to support the devs of that app specifically by allowing ads.

Potential problems

In general, not many apps have problems with it even though I’ve removed most of predefined whitelist exclusions. Some banking apps may refuse to function when any kind of VPN is enabled and since those apps can’t differentiate from actual VPN or a local VPN like Blokada, you’ll at least know what is causing the problem and you need to turn off Blokada entirely for the time you want to use such apps. Whitelisting doesn’t seem to help since those apps seem to detect VPN of any kind is on and just plain refuse to work properly.

Does it work?

Can’t say for sure other than my battery seems to last for quite a bit longer now, I’m not seeing any ads anywhere, not even on Youtube (could be just that I watch videos without ads), but the notifications do show a lot of trackers being blocked and the number of total blocks is in the thousands after just few days of using Blokada. I guess it’s working alright.

Update Huawei Ascend P7 L10 to Android 5.1.1 !

UDPATE: Because of certain issues with the initial article, I’ve researched the update process thoroughly and updated the article accordingly, to resolve the initial direct B830 update issues.

I was a bit tired of waiting for the stupid Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop) update to show up within the phone updater, so I’ve taken things into my own hands…

Here is what you need:

  • Huawei Ascend P7 (unbranded European P7-L10 only!) smartphone with fully charged battery
  • microSD card inserted in the phone
  • USB cable
  • 7-zip, WinRAR, PeaZip or other archiver capable of unpacking archives with updates

Plus the following updates:

Latest update:

You have to first have B839 installed on your phone before you can upgrade to B852. OTA updates are incrimental and they have to be installed in a correct order! B839 -> B852 !

This update ONLY supports following existing builds:

P7-L10V100R001C00BXXX
P7-L10V100R001C900BXXX

Check Settings -> About Phone -> Build number if numbers match. In my case, the first one was a match, the XXX can be any number, it was 135 in my case followed by SP04. But I don’t think that’s important. BXXX numbers however are very important!

If they don’t match, anything you do in advance is on your own risk! I recommend you don’t update it if the version numbers don’t match.

Updating process for versions lower than B621

I recommend wiping the phone prior updating to avoid potential issues. Backup your internal data and transfer/deactivate your Google Authenticator codes before you perform factory reset!

  1. Download B621 firmware, unpack archive and copy entire dload folder to your Ascend P7 microSD card root using USB cable.
  2. Turn off your phone. Wait for it to fully shut down.
  3. Press VolumeUp+Power buttons and release them when logo appears on screen.
  4. Select Wipe Cache partition and then Wipe data/factory reset.
  5. Restart the phone and skip all the first start settings.
  6. Shut down the phone.
  7. Press VolumeUp+VolumeDown+Power buttons until the phone starts. This will force install B621 update.
  8. Download B621 CUST Hotfix, unpack it and copy entire dload folder to microSD card. This will replace old update files (confirm overwriting the files).
  9. Shut down the phone.
  10. Press VolumeUp+VolumeDown+Power buttons until the phone starts. This will force install B621 CUST Hotfix update.
  11. Download B830, unpack it and copy entire dload folder to microSD card. This will replace old update files (confirm overwriting the files).
  12. Shut down the phone.
  13. Press VolumeUp+VolumeDown+Power buttons until the phone starts. This will force install B830 update.
  14. Download B839, unpack it and copy entire dload folder to microSD card. This will replace old update files (confirm overwriting the files).
  15. Shut down the phone.
  16. Press VolumeUp+VolumeDown+Power buttons until the phone starts. This will force install B839 update.
  17. DONE!
  18. Setup your phone by adding Google Account or simply factory reset it again for first start setup wizard to appear.

It looks complicated, but after step 7, it’s basically a repeating task for each build.

Updating process if you are running a version B609 or newer

If you’re using B609 or later (because your phone arrived with it when new or it updated itself to this version), you should be fine updating directly to B839, but you strictly have to use a full version update which is around 1,5 GB in size (the above link).

Updating process if you have already updated directly to B830 or B839 and you’re experiencing functionality problems

If you have upgraded from lets say B135 directly to B830 or B839, like I have, you have most likely experienced several issues after doing factory reset. Missing keyboard, lockscreen and wallpaper images locked together, missing Motion Control settings etc. In this case you have to first downgarde your phone back to B621. You have to use the same chain of upgrades, just in reverse to downgrade your phone. I had B839 installed, so I had to first downgrade it to B830 and then B621. Made a factory reset and then repeated the above B621 updating process, step by step. Updater may say that firmware upgrade failed in the very end of each downgrade, but don’t worry, it will work anyway. You can check your build version number on each downgrade step if you want to be sure. Going back from B621 to B839 should not show any more FAILED messages. It should successfully update them.

Why all these problems appear?

Apparently the CUST issues happen when manually transitioning from Huawei’s EMUI 2.x custom interface to latest versions that use EMUI 3.x. It somehow conflicts. But if it’s already running EMUI 3.x, there should be no problems updating directly to latest version.

Synopsis

Everything is working perfectly now, no issues, no missing features, just the latest OS and super smooth functionality. From now on, you should receive updates through integrated updater or by new builds (I might update the article with that in the future). Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) is allegedly also planned even for Ascend P7, so it might be interesting. We’ll see…

Enjoy!

PS: If you need any extra info, ask me down below and I’ll check it out for you.