Tag Archive: smartphone


So, I just saw that Samsung has released UK pricing for it’s Gear smartwatch, and I have to say, I think they are bonkers.

At £299, it really is a gadget too far, especially since it will only work with other Samsung devices. At £100, it might have worked, but that really is just way too expensive.

Samsung, get your head in order, and make the price something that real people can afford, and stop being bonkers!!

Join the Forum discussion on this post

So, I was pretty happy about the Jelly Bean update for my HTC ONE X, but that diminished as over time as things started to slowly go downhill.

I found the camera app was really slow from time to time, and only a reboot would get things going again, and the performance generally was the same, again needing a reboot.

I’d had issues with my work phone, a Galaxy S2 after that received both the ICS and JB updates. Not the same issues I might add, instead the battery life being sucked dry by a vampiric Exchange email client. The solution to this was a factory reset each time.

So, I thought ‘what have I got to lose?’ and proceeded down the factory reset route with my own phone.

I was pretty impressed by the Google experience, as my phone was reset and had all apps automatically restored by Google and within an hour was back up and running, albeit without any personalisation, other than having all my account information back in.

I’d taken screen shots of all my personalisation for the home screens (press power and volume down on the ONE X to do this), and in another 30 minutes my phone was back as it was before by referring to these.

So far it’s looking good, the phone being much more spritely than before, with no signs of camera or other slowdowns, and everything is buttery smooth again, and battery life seems to have shot up immensely.

I’m sure this has done the trick, so I think the moral of the story is ‘do a factory reset when you upgrade to a new version of Android’.

Hopefully somebody else in the same position will find this useful 🙂

Join the Forum discussion on this post

I just checked for updated firmware for my One X, and was surprised to see there was an update waiting.

It was large, weighing in at 165 megs, but downloaded quickly over wifi, and was installed in about 5 minutes.

Android is now at 4.0.4, and Sense is at 4.1 and the software number is 2.17.771.3, which seems to be a big jump past the last version. I’ll be interested to see what sort of a difference it is makes to the phone overall.

So I’ve had the updates a few days now and wanted to make a note of what I’ve seen so far.

Visually, it looks much the same. HTC Sense always was a nice UI, even before the update, but now it seems even smoother and just that little bit slicker, and there is something I can’t quite put my finger on with the visual quality, but it seems, well, nicer.

The biggest improvement I noticed was the battery life, which overall seems to have improved hugely, and is not dissimilar to my work Galaxy S2, which is also running ICS, albeit 4.0.3. Considering the extra CPU power in the One X, this is a good thing.

Another area where battery life seems to have improved is gaming. I take full advantage of the Tegra 3 chipset and run games like Max Payne, Dead Trigger, GTA III, ME Infiltrator, Dead Space and Shadowgun.

These used to make for a very low battery, and a very hot phone, but after the last update, these things seem to have improved immensely.

So far I haven’t any other info about this latest ICS incarnation, but as and when I do, I’ll post it here.

Update your phone now, and enjoy the bonus battery life 🙂

So, my wife would like an iPad, so we take a look at eBay to see how much 1st gen ones go for.

Well to say I was shocked is an understatement, because you can go and buy a refurbished 2nd gen one for less straight from Apple.

Why do people persist in paying more on eBay, I just don’t get it.

Shop around fools……

I promised a guide a little while ago, on how to upgrade an HTC Desire from Froyo to Gingerbread.

Well, keep reading because here it comes, since I’m on a night shift and have a spare moment!

First off are the obligatory warnings.

This process involves flashing the ROM of your phone, so if you don’t understand what you are about to undertake, don’t do it, walk away now, as you might brick your phone, and that’s your fault not mine. I’m only making the information available, what you do with it is your business.

When you do this, your phone will essentially be ‘Box Fresh’, so be prepared for some work afterwards to get it the way you want. It will even remove your custom recovery, if you already have one installed.

So, what is the process?

It goes a little something like this something like this on a PC. No Macs here, sorry:

  1. Back up your phone before you do anything. I used Titanium Backup Pro, and as my phone was previously rooted when I installed Froyo, I also took a ROM backup using ClockWorkMod recovery. If you’re not rooted, this will still work, and in any event, it will de-root your phone, but more on that later.
  2. Visit http://htcdev.com/devcenter/downloads and download the item named ‘ HTC Desire Android 2.3 Upgrade’, which is 161MB in size. It will most likely be top of the list. Unzip it once downloaded.
  3. If you don’t already have HTC Sync, jump over to the HTC Help Center here and download it. Install on your PC. You can remove it later if you want.
  4. On your PC, ensure you’re logged in as an administrator user, and connect your Desire using a USB cable. When the dialog box pops up asking what you want to do, make sure you select HTC SYNC. Wait for the phone and software to settle down, and ensure your PC has no failed devices in device manager.
  5. Locate the files you unzipped in ‘2’, and double click on the file ‘RUU_HTC Desire Android 2.3 Upgrade (Gingerbread).exe’.
  6. On the first screen you see, click ‘Next’. The next 2 screens require that you tick a check box. Do so, and click ‘Next’, and you will arrive at a screen with an ‘Update’ button.
  7. Click the ‘Update’ button, then click ‘Next’ on the following 2 screens. Do not unplug or otherwise disturb your phone during the update, it may brick your phone. After about 10 minutes, the update will be completed, and you will see a screen with a ‘Finish’ button. Click ‘Finish’ and the ROM Update Utility will close, and your phone will reboot, and will come back as a clean phone requiring set up.

That’s it for those of you who aren’t bothered about rooting. The next step is to set up your phone, and restore the apps you want using your chosen method.

Be aware, Gingerbread with Sense is a tight fit, so you may want to take a moment to de-clutter now you have a box fresh phone.

For the tinkerers amongst us, that may not be enough, especially if you want your root access back. Well, that just got easier with the arrival of Revolutionary.

Again, backups before starting, and do so at your own risk etc etc.

So, what is Revolutionary? Its a tool which disables the NAND lock on your phone allowing an optional install of a custom recovery, which will allow rooting too.

So, here’s the process:

  1. Visit this page: http://unrevoked.com/rootwiki/doku.php/public/revolutionary#revolutionary_s-off_recovery_tool and download the Windows fastboot drivers and zipfile you’ll need for Rooting your phone.
  2. Uninstall HTC Sync, but don’t uninstall the drivers. If these drivers don’t work, uninstall them, then install the ones you just downloaded.
  3. Visit this page: http://revolutionary.io/ and download Revolutionary. A form will open asking you to generate a key, but we’ll come back to this in a moment. Let the software download, and unzip it.
  4. Connect your phone using USB and Run the exe you’ve just unzipped. It will tell you your serial number and HBOOT version
  5. Return to the web form from ‘3’ and enter the phone model, HBOOT version and serial number. This will generate a key.
  6. In the revolutionary window, enter the serial and the key you generated in ‘5’.
  7. Wait for Revolutionary to run, and allow it to install ClockWorkMod recovery if you want a custom recovery. This is necessary if you want to root your phone TBH.
  8. Copy the ZIP file required for rooting to your SD card, and reboot into recovery. To do this, power off the phone, then power on with the volume down button held. Using the volume +/- keys, select recovery and press the power button. This should put you in ClockWorkMod custom recovery.
  9. Once in recovery, choose the option to install a zip from SD card, then choose the ZIP from the location you placed it earlier. This will give you root.
  10. Once completed, reboot your phone. You now have an HTC Desire, with Gingerbread, Sense and root.
  11. I’d advise getting the ROM Manager app from the market next, as it will allow you to do a full ROM backup to SD card in case you break it during the next phase. Don’t be stingy, buy the full version.

Next, lets talk about removing bloatware.

The Gingerbread ROM for Desire comes with a few apps, like Facebook and Flikr, missing, due to memory constraints. In order to remove the apps you don’t want, and make space for the ones you do, I’d suggest you buy Titanium Backup Pro. Go on, treat yourself. It has saved my neck on numerous occasions, and since you now have root, it will work nicely.

The other way to do it is using the ADB shell, but Titanium will make it much easier. Once you have Titanium Backup, run a full backup at least once.

You can then select apps, even system apps, from the list of backed up software, and uninstall them.

I removed things like the FM Radio, which I never use, the Twitter client, as I prefer Tweetdeck, and things like Voice Search and Stocks as I never use them either.

The choice is yours, just be VERY careful, because if you haven’t made a ROM backup, you can easily remove something essential and break your phone.

I now have around 40 apps on my phone, all of which I want, and have around 13% free space, which is just right. And don’t forget to make sure any apps you do have are moved to the SD card where p0ssible.

Remember, this is a guide, so you may need to interpret what I’ve said, as it may not quite match what you see on screen.

Also remember that you do any of these procedures at your own risk, and if you break your phone, it isn’t our responsibility.

Good luck!

Well it appears the experiment worked.

I now have a Desire with official HTC Gingerbread ROM, rooted with ClockWorkMod recovery in place.

I was able, once rooted, to boot up using CWM recovery, mount the System and manually rip out the bloatware, and initial impressions are good, with Adao file manager reporting 147MB total ram, the same as when I was running Froyo.

Titanium Backup, as ever, is helping me get my apps back in place complete with data, plus I’m able to restore a lot of my settings. As I’ve said before, if you have Root, get Titanium Backup, it’s saved me a whole load of time and heartache.

So, all that remains is to pop all my icons back where I had them before.

Sorted!

HTC have recently released a ‘DEV’ version of Gingerbread for the Desire.

It was nearly a non-event, since Gingerbread+Sense doesn’t leave much memory to play with, but after a lot of protests, they did a U turn and released it. If only they had taken out some of the apps like Footprints, Stocks and Peep (I use Tweetdeck)

It is shorter on RAM than a Froyo Desire, but if you want, it is available.

I decided to give it a whirl, but I’ll say this, it gave me a hell of a fright, since it overwrote my ClockworkMod recovery, and it took a bit of doing to get it back.

Hence my advice to tread carefully, as I was now in a position of not being able to restore my Froyo backup, and no longer having root on my phone, and whilst I was happy to be getting Gingerbread, I had no way of removing the bloatware to give me space for the apps I wanted.

To recover, I had to use a tool called Revolutionary, which is the work of unrevoked & Alpharev, which restored the CWM custom recovery, and allowed me to restore my backup I’d taken before starting.

So I’m back in my happy place with Froyo, but having come this far, I have decided that another attempt is going to happen.

I shall be re-flashing the stock Gingerbread, then re-running Revolutionary so I can connect via the CWM recovery using ADB and manually delete the bloatware. From there I can try and see if Titanium Backup will restore the apps and data I do want successfully.

It’s gonna be an interesting ride, and I’ll report back on my results.

TTFN

So I’ve been trying to get my Desire (Froyo) to play nicely with HTML emails when using Exchange 2003, and it seems the stock email client just won’t. This is very annoying, since the email client on my wife’s iPhone works just fine. I also have a backup phone, an original 2g iPhone, and despite it’s age, that works just fine too.

So I did some digging, and discovered that my Galaxy Tab, recently updated to Gingerbread, now has a stock email client that supports HTML email with Exchange 2003! So every phone in the house, apart from my Desire, works. Most annoying.

Whilst I have an Exchange 2007 server available, which should in theory work with the client on my Desire, and ActiveSync is up and running, I would also need to migrate all my websites to it too as I run off a single IP and everything sits on one server at present.

That’s a lot of work just to get HTML emails.

I’ve tried RoadSync, and that doesn’t do it either, so I’m now giving Touchdown a road test.

And it’s working. I have HTML email on my Desire. I have 30 days trial to see if it satisfies all my requirements, but so far we have one major box ticked.

I’ll post more as and when I have played with it, but it is rather maddening that Apple, Touchdown, and even Google with Gingerbread can do it easily, but not the Froyo client, especially since Touchdown is £12 odd.

I have know that isn’t a huge amount of money, but I think its expensive for an app.

At least you have the benefit of a 30 day trial.

More later.

ADDITIONAL UPDATE

As of 25th September, I now have Gingerbread on my Desire. And guess what? The stock email client still doesn’t support HTML emails with Exchange 2003. The option is there, but greyed out.

Come on HTC, get it sorted. If Samsung can do it, why not you!

Well, I finally took the plunge and downloaded Samsung’s Kies app to my PC as I’d been reading that Samsung delivered new firmware using it, and that FOTA was not their thing. I have a Galaxy Tab as well as my HTC Desire, and was keen to get it some Gingerbread action.

So, with everything installed on my PC, I plugged in the Tab, fired up Kies, and sure enough it identified my firmware as needing an update and after backing up my data, installed the new firmware.

Be aware, Kies is not fast, so be patient. It took a good hour to back up and install the new firmware, so give it time.

One reboot later and Gingerbread has left my Tab with few obvious changes, but with a definite feel that everything was ‘perkier’, with menus sliding back and forth with ease, and a Quadrant Standard score that is seemingly better than the original firmware.

And that is where most people need to stop reading, because if you have no need of root, then that’s all you need to do in order to get some Gingerbread action.

Me, I need root as I have some software that needs it, such as the lifesaver that is Titanium backup.

I used the details that can be found here: Rooting a Galaxy Tab with Gingerbread 2.3.3.

They are simple and easy to follow, and as I’d tried and failed with a couple of other methods, I breathed a sigh of relief when it all worked and I was rooted again.

A benefit of this method was that the ClockworkMod recovery is included, giving you great access and a means to fully back up your system prior to any Rom based hijinks.

Beware though, the controls once in ClockworkMod recovery are based around the volume up/down keys, so a bit odd as it starts up in landscape mode.

You also get a Tweaks tool for messing around with performance. I’ve not tried any yet, but it looks good.

As usual, you get the obligatory warning: ‘I am not responsible if you choose to follow any of these procedures and turn your Galaxy Tab into a paperweight. This is all on you if you get it wrong.’

If you do decide to go ahead, good luck, I hope it works as well for you as it did for me.

Bye for now!

It’s been such a long time since I last blogged. I thought I’d better get started again.

I shall try to get something posted soon re a comparison of the Android and IOS UI and what I like and dislke about each.

So come. back soon!

I recently noticed something about my rooted Froyo HTC Desire which had me slightly worried, because I had little idea of when it had happened, and it caused my security to be slightly compromised.

I’d recently done a factory reset and reinstall, and noticed the other day, completely by accident, that when I drew my unlock pattern, I could draw it with one node missing and still get in!

The problem was easily solved, by entering a new unlock code, but just beware to those of you in the same position as me,  check to make sure your security is working after a restore.

I’ve always been looking for ways to try and eke out the memory on my phone, and what with upgrading to Froyo with its App to SD functionality, I’ve been doing pretty well. Don’t forget, my phone is rooted so if you have a vanilla Desire, you can’t do what I’ve done here. Rooting is truly the way forward!!

Now I’ve had 4 days off this week, and this spare time that I don’t usually have, led to a bit of tinkering. In short, I started looking a bit closer at Titanium Backup Pro, which I’d purchased and use as a scheduled backup tool.

However I found a feature amongst the batch processes that intrigued me. It’s called ‘Integrate updates of system apps into ROM’.

When I hit the run button, it suggested 6 apps that could have their updates rolled into the ROM:

  1. Flash
  2. Gmail
  3. Maps
  4. Market
  5. Street View
  6. Voice search

What this means is that updated system apps, that are considered part of the Android OS, can be moved from taking up space in RAM, into the system ROM, freeing up valuable space. This was just the thing I was looking for to give me a significant RAM boost!

So I approached with caution, and moved Flash first. The documentation for Titanium Backup Pro suggests a double reboot after using this batch procedure, so after rebooting twice, I tested Flash and all was good. More significantly a large chunk of RAM was now free.

So, I then moved on and tried Gmail and Voice Search. Again, success! More free RAM, a total of 19% freed by this process, and everything worked fine after a double reboot. A double reboot is nowhere near as classy as a double rainbow BTW!

Spurred on by my success I decided to try Market next. To my dismay, the phone rebooted halfway through, and Market no longer worked, even after a double reboot!

So, in for a penny, in for a pound, I also tried Maps and Street View, with the same reboot problem halfway through and dead apps afterwards. Titanium Backup couldn’t help either, despite my attempts to restore things back the way they were.

So, with a heavy heart, I carried out a factory reset. The phone came back fresh as a daisy, and I set about getting back into the Market and reinstalling Titanium Backup Pro. Since my license file was installed on my SD card, along with the backups, it all came back up nicely, and I was then able to restore my last backup and have my phone back the way it was before I mucked it up. Yes, it was my fault, but knowing better now, I have returned to the process and moved Flash, Gmail and Voice Search successfully again and regained the 19% space. So I went from 89% used, down to 70% used, and though there have been some updates to Market and Maps, I’m still only at 80%, which isn’t bad, since at the last count I had 70 apps installed!

I’m keen to get the rest moved to ROM, but I’m not in a hurry now. I’m probably going to email the dev for Titanium Backup Pro to ask if there are any caveats with the integration int ROM, but if I get any further with this and do successfully move the remainder, I’ll be sure to post here.

The moral of this story? If you have a good backup, you need never be afraid to factory reset!!

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 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 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!