Tag Archive: Android


To be honest, doing an app of the week is difficult. Especially now I have my phone pretty well settled, so it is getting harder for me to come up with something new on a regular basis.

This week, I have had an app that got me in to quite a lot of trouble. So why is it app of the week? Because it also got me out of trouble, and because the trouble it got me into was really my fault!

The app in question is really only for rooted droids, mine being an HTC Desire, and the app in question is Titanium Backup Pro (Paid).

I’m going to write about how I got into trouble in a separate piece, but basically I had to factory reset my phone. I then restored using Titanium Backup Pro, and the whole process of factory reset to fully restored with all my tweaks took only around 1.5 hours.

If you have a rooted droid, I highly recommend this app, because it does a whole lot of other neat tricks too, not just backups.

Go buy it, its well worth it.

I’d heard a rumour that it is possible to sync your iTunes music with your HTC Desire, using the latest and greatest version of HTC Sync.

So, I went off to HTCs website, and downloaded the software and set about installing it. And it turns out to be true!

I was quite surprised, but not only does music I’ve ripped from CD into iTunes, but also music I’ve purchased will sync and play.

Quite handy really, seeing as I now have my phone with me all the time, and the iPod is permanently attached to the car.

I’m very impressed!!

Well, it’s been a while coming, but finally another emulator has arrived that is this weeks ‘App of the week’.

I grew up with 8Bit computers, starting off with a ZX81, the Spectrum, closely followed by Atari XLs and XEs, and various other less well known machines. Though I was never a CBM64 owner, well at least not until later life, friends had them and got to knew them and the games they played.

For me, the Ataris were better, had more interesting games and add ons, and were, if you knew where to look, surprisingly easy to buy things for.

I still have quite a collection of 8Bit hardware these days, and sometimes fondly retrieve them from the loft for a few days of retro gaming.

So, imagine my joy when I found, in amongst all the Atari 2600 emulators in the marketplace, a full blown Atari 400/800/XL/XE emulator!

I dug out all my old files I used with my PC based 8Bit emulator and copied them over to my Desire, and began to relive my Atari glory days!

Ok, it’s not perfect, and the lack of a soft keyboard is a pain, but it’ll do for now! Off for another session of missile command I think!

Download it and enjoy! Its called Droid800.

I am a self confessed Android fan. As an OS, I’m finding it great to use, and far better than Symbian as my main phone OS.

Not that Symbian is bad. No, Symbian in my eyes is one of the best phone platforms I’ve used. It’s just that I think Android is better.

I have another Android device though, an Eken M001 Android tablet. As far as I can tell, it was one of the first in a batch of Droid based tablets, hot on the heels of iPad.

TBH, it isn’t that good. Despite a supposed CPU speed of 900Mhz, it turns out that 600Mhz is closer to the truth. That, and the base OS is just terrible, and like wading through treacle, it’s that sluggish.

However, in the last week or so, I’ve been looking for updated firmware, and came across one called Relax by a coder called LFD. I’ve just installed v 2.0.4, and I’m quite impressed.

Speed is boosted considerably, making it a good deal more smooth, though there is an oddidty that still exists from the original OS, which is that it performs much better in Landscape mode than Portrait.

It isn’t perfect, since the Android Market doesn’t seem to work properly (Nothing Downloads), but I’m sure that given time, this will get resolved, and LFD does provide an alternative marketplace that seems to have quite a lot of apps on it.

You can find LFDs OS here: Relax

If you’re looking for a later version of the original OS, with working Android Marketplace, it can be found here: Eken M001

The later version of the original OS is an improvement, but not quite as nippy as Relax. If I encounter any more options, I’ll post them up here.

To install either OS, simply unpack the zip file and copy the script directory to the root of your SD card and reboot. Be aware this can brick your tablet, and the responsibility is all yours if you do! Make sure you keep the charger plugged in the whole time, just to be on the safe side.

NOTE: I unpacked the script directory, rebooted and nothing happened. Why? the directory structure after the unpack was \script\script. I just had to get rid of the top level directory and all was well. Good luck!

I now have Firefox and Opera installed on my Desire. I thought it would be interesting to run the Acid3 test against them, and the standard Android browser. The result was 97/100 for all three browsers, and whilst not top marks is still pretty good. Overall, Opera was fastest, but the on screen rendering looked a bit odd. Firefox and the standard browser gave very similar results, though I felt the image was slightly better quality in Firefox. So, overall, not much to choose between them, though the Opera rendering speed was impressive.

Try the test for yourself here:   http://acid3.acidtests.org/

A quick post this week as I’ve been a bit preoccupied with looking into task manager usage. However, I’ve decided to go with the app I’ve just used to post this with. It’s an app called WordPress and it lets you quickly and easily manage your WordPress sites via your droid. So if you have a WordPress site of any sort, I wouldn’t hesitate t recommend it.

The app I’ve chosen this week, is a utility called BatterySnap.

If like me, you are constantly watching just what is chewing your battery, then this is a great app.

It keeps all kinds of stats in relation to just what your battery is doing, and can produce some nice graphs of what’s going on.

What’s more, is that is both free and free of ads, so worth every penny!!

Go get it today.

I was away with work on Wednesday and Thursday, and got chatting with some new people at one of the other offices belonging to our company.

One has an HTC Desire, and mentioned he was interested in rooting it, so I said I’d pass on the info of how to do it, having successfully done so and upgraded to Froyo. Those of you who have read my previous blogs know that I ultimately did this because Three were very slow in releasing the offical update,

So I began with the obvious statement ‘Have you got auto backups turned on?’ He wasn’t sure, so I proceded to look on my phone, only to find that I couldn’t find the settings anywhere.

So I began to wonder if this feature had been removed. It’s normally found under ‘Settings/Privacy’, however I no longer have the ‘Privacy’ shortcut.

So, I set about trying to find out just what had happened to my ‘Privacy’ settings, and as it happens, they’re still there, just not generally visible.

To get at them, go into ‘Settings/Search’ and allow ‘Settings’ to be searched. From there, go back to your home screen and press the ‘Search’ button on your phone.

Touch the blue ‘g’ icon, and you’ll get a pick list of where you want to search. Pick settings, type ‘Privacy’ and search. You should get a result back, and when you touch it, lo and behold, the Privacy settings open, and you can turn on automatic backup and restore.

How annoying is that!!

The other annoyance was that I use the SlideIT keyboard replacement, and I had to turn it off and use the standard Android keyboard before the search worked properly!

I hope others find this info useful, as it had me foxed for a little while.

I have been tinkering with Android App Inventor a little recently, and have it set up and running on my main laptop at home.

I often work nights and have a second laptop I sometimes take with me, and thought it would be good to get App Inventor up and running on it too, for those quiet late nights when I have nothing happening at work.

Since I’d already used this laptop to root my phone, I thought ‘No worries, all the drivers I need will be installed’.

How wrong was I!!  No matter how hard I tried, the blocks editor would not connect to the phone.

Ultimately, I had to remove everything that I’d previously installed HTC wise, and re-install just the App Inventor Extras Software. Once I’d done that and reconnected the phone, all was well.

I’d also had the Android SDK installed, which had it’s own copy of adb.exe to further confuse matters.

To be sure you’re using the right one, connect your phone, open a command prompt, and navigate to c:\Program Files\Android\appinventor-extras.

Type adb devices and you should see a list of devices attached. It’ll be something like

HT06SPL00260     device

If you don’t see that, then you’ll need to run through the the process here: App Inventor Setup.

It does work, just be sure to follow it exactly!!

Well, I’m a bit late with this this week on account of being on a night shift, and as a result, not knowing my ass from my elbow…..

However, before I got started with the shift this week I did download the full version of, yes, you guessed it, Angry Birds.

With over 3 million downloads, and with so many attempted downloads that apparently GetJars webservers keeled over, it quite a popular app!

And deservedly so, as it’s simple to play, great fun, and has an addictive quality lacking in so many games today.

My only gripe is the Ads, but lets be honest, this means you get a free game, and they aren’t overly intrusive.

If you don’t have Angry Birds, go get it now!

Well, too late for me since I’ve rooted and flashed my Desire to Froyo,  it seems that Three have finally released Froyo.

I found this article tonight (I’ve been working 10:00 til 19:00, so have only just checked up!): Three updates the HTC Desire with Android 2.2.

This is long after the hinted September release, and a month after I went a hacking….

I hope for those who didn’t want to risk ruining their phone that the wait was worth it. Update now, if you haven’t already done so.

I also hope that the extra time taken avoids some of the less enjoyable experiences other operators have given their customers.

But please, next time Three, just start working on it sooner so your paying customers with branded handsets can get more Android lovelyness sooner.

Well, I was wondering just what app that would be my app of the week, when I was caught off guard by SlideIt, a keyboard replacement that works just like Swype.

Instead of typing each letter, you rub your finger across the keys, and your movements between letters are interpreted and word possibilities are automatically added to whatever text box you are typing in. If more than one possible result comes up then you get to choose from a list of suggestions.

I have to say it’s pretty impressive and despite the odd mis-interpretation, it is quite accurate and has handled some quite large words with ease.

There are both paid and free versions, I’m currently using the free one and I like it very much.

My only complaint would be the fact that it doesn’t have the option to hold keys down for characters and numbers, though it does have a direct link to Google voice search and a nifty little drawing area that you can use to enter numbers, and it also gives you four sets of characters instead of the standard two.
Overall a very nice little app, well worth the space on your phone.

This week was a toss up between two apps. Reloop, a music making tool, and the newly released Tweetdeck for Android.
In the end, I plumped for Tweetdeck, due to a lack of time to play with Reloop.

Despite the fact that the HTC Twitter client is actually quite good, I was always a fan of Tweetdeck on the PC, so trying it on my Desire seemed like a natural progression.

I like the fact that it has a nice compact widget, that allowed me to regain some space for other items, and I like the ease of use, with large friendly obvious icons, plus the configurable columns. It certainly gives the standard client a run for its money.

Overall, a very polished app, with the only real letdown being the slightly odd installer as it is currently a beta product, though you’d struggle to tell.

Since it is beta, you need to register with Tweetdeck to get hold of it, but it only takes a couple of minutes, and it’s well worth it.

So what are you waiting for?

Its only taken me a week to notice that Froyo allows rotation both left and right for apps now, effectively giving 270 degree rotation.

A great addition IMHO, and one of the things that I thought the phone needed.

It is slowly revealing itself to me 🙂

I have to say that one app really impressed me this week, mostly because it saved me money.

The app in question is ShopSavvy. If you’re not familiar with the idea of this app, it lets you scan a products barcode, and it will then go away and find the best deals for you online, and lets you link through to the sites that are selling the product.

A colleague lent me a book, and I decided it would be worthwhile getting my own copy, since it was a technical book that would be very helpful for work.

He tells me its around £50 new, which made me wince a bit, and even shopping around manually, the best price I could find was just over £21.

I then fired up ShopSavvy on my Desire, scanned the barcode on the back of the book. ShopSavvy then came back, literally in seconds with a list of prices for both new and used copies of the book.

The price I paid in the end? The book was just over £10 for a used copy, and with the postage, the total came to just over £13. And it was through Amazon, who I’d previously done a manual search on and came up with the price of just over £21.

So next time you’re shopping, and want to do a price check, think of ShopSavvy, and you may save yourself some money.

It’s also available on Apple devices too, and it’s free. What are you waiting for, go get it now!

Well, having decided to bite the bullet and flash my droid, I thought I’d report back.

As I’ve already mentioned, battery life seems much improved. Prior to upgrading, having charged my Desire in the car on the way to work, I would often find the battery level in the orange, and would need to charge it again on the way home.

Now, even with some wireless usage added in to the mix, the battery is showing only the smallest drop in power, and I could happily get home without a recharge.

Over all, the phone feels snappier thanks to the speed improvements, and the app2sd option is a big memory saver, where it is supported by the apps. Annoyingly, not all do, but given time this should be addressed.

Also, there is now the option to have your apps update automatically by ticking an option. This can be found by going to the Market, selecting Downloads, then clicking on an installed app. At the top of the apps description will be an Updates option. Once ticked your app will update itself as and when a new version becomes available without you having to intervene.

Sadly you have to do it for each app, unless there’s an update all option I’ve not yet found, but it is a step forward.

Flash is now supported, and it works pretty well in the browser. Take that iPhone!!

The other ‘Flash’ item is the inclusion of a pretty good flashlight app that uses the LED flash as a torch. There are 3 brightness levels, a flashing light option, and an emegency option that flashes SOS repeatedly. It’s pretty good.

Other things that are new, which I’ve not had a chance to try yet are wireless tethering, which looks simple to set up and use (I’ll report back on this as soon as I’ve used it in anger), plus 720p video recording, which again looks simple to use, and is integrated into the new camera software.

There are some other tweaks, like a modified SMS message editor and some other bits and bobs like Google search, which offers improved searching throughout  the content on your phone.

So far I’m mighty impressed with Froyo, and I’m hoping Gingerbread (Android 3.0) will make even more improvements.

If you don’t already have Froyo, go get it, even if you have to root your phone to do so!

Just a quick post Froyo note. I’ve now had it for a week, and the standby life of the battery is hugely improved. It was worth doing it just for that, let alone the other features.

Though I would say that I did also flash the radio at the same time as the rooting/Froyo update, so it is possible that has also had a positive effect.

Well, I finally got bored of waiting for Three to get their act together with regards to the Froyo OTA update. IMHO silence is not always golden, and too much can be deafening.

So I took matters into my own hands, and followed the article I found here: Root your 3 branded Desire

Make sure you turn on automatic backup before, so that when you reboot, the handset will automatically restore your settings and data.

I followed it to the letter, and ran it under Windows 7, and only ran in to issues when I set about running Unrevoked3.

The first part went well, however once the phone rebooted, there was a problem with the Android Bootloader Driver not being found. Since I knew the driver was installed, having had it working earlier, I did an Update Drivers from device manager, and chose an existing driver, using the HTC Bootloader one that was listed.

That installed ok, and Unrevoked carried on and installed the custom recovery. once that was sorted, I took out my goldcard, and put my normal SD card back, and rebooted to check the phone was ok, which it was.

I then went over to here: Rooted Official Froyo and downloaded the zip file for both the radio and Froyo to my PC. I then copied them over to the root of my SD card an powered the phone down.

From here on I followed the instructions here: Rooted Official Froyo, first flashing my radio, then flashing with the Froyo update.

Resist the urge to fiddle with your phone, just let it finish each task, then reboot as necessary.

After the Froyo update, I rebooted and it took quite some time, however the Three branding was gone, and the HTC branding was subtly different. It took quite a while, since it was restoring my files from the SD card. Once everything had come up, I rebooted again, and it started normally this time.

All my settings and programs were there, all my messages and email settings too, so quite an impressive restore.

I now have root access too, plus features like move to SD, Wifi hotspot, flashlight etc, plus there’s probably a host of other stuff I’ll find as I go on, not to mention all of the 2.2 performance enchancements.

So far all seems fine, but I’ll report back if I run into any problems.

Remember, you could brick your phone doing this, so only do it if you’re prepared to take the risk.

TTFN

It looks like HTC Desire owners on T-Mobile will be finally getting their Froyo.

In an article here: T-Mobile Launches Froyo it seems that as of today, it will be made available for download, and will be an OTA update.

Lets hope it doesn’t go belly up, as have other updates!!

As for Three, still silence. Bah Humbug

Well, I’ve been having my usual trawl for information about when there might be a serving of Froyo for my Three branded HTC Desire.

Today I found this article: Branded HTC Desire owners still waiting for a serving of Froyo

It is an interesting read, and highlights how it seems to be the networks and their branding which are the problem. Not just Three, but others too.

What is annoying is that Three don’t seem to have added much, aside from a logo during boot and some Three specific shortcuts to their web pages, so why have the loyal customers been left in the lurch? Surely it can’t be that hard, after all, HTC had the update ready in July, after making sure everything worked with the Sense interface.

I have now come to the conclusion that the only way I will be able to get Froyo is to root my phone, de-brand and install it myself.

That is not good, especially for a loyal customer of 6 years, who is paying to own the phone.

The plan is to root and flash on Monday, as I have a day off and can take my time. I’ll report back then……