Tag Archive: Smartphones


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 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.

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……

As anybody who’s read this blog knows, I’m fairly miffed that Three in the UK still haven’t got their fingers out and deployed the update to Froyo (Android 2.2) to owners of branded/locked handsets.

I have an HTC Desire, and I really want to upgrade, since features like the ability to move apps to SD card, freeing up phone memory, wireless tethering (Hotspot capability)  and huge speed increases with enhanced battery life are all pretty appealing.

Three have said ‘The end of summer’, which is IMHO a little bit open ended, since a look out of the window suggests summer may have already passed by, leaving people with A) No more summer and B) No Froyo.

I regularly search for updates to this wildly vague statement, and found this today. Three Announces Hero and Desire Dates

TBH it is still pretty vague, and doesn’t say much more, but lets all keep our fingers crossed that now September is here, we’ll get our Froyo.

Since Android 3, or Gingerbread, is apparently going to be making an appearance in Q4 of 2010, I hope Three make a better job of timing the release of that….

Or, is it perhaps another tablet wannabee.

There is a great article on the HD here: HTC HD, and the photo makes it look just huge, though going by screen size it is a bit smaller than Dells Streak.

Spec wise, it looks like a Desire on steroids, though it does appear to use the same 1GHz cpu.

I’m sure it’ll be great, especially given that it will be running Froyo (Come on HTC, lets have Froyo on the Desire), but I am getting a little worried about the trend towards devices with 4-5 inch screens.

I think perhaps the iPad has got things right, I mean it is just too big to try and wedge in your pocket, and even with 3G it isn’t really pretending to be a phone.

But the HD and Streak are hovering in that zone that is just maybe a little too big to pocket, and maybe feel uncomfortable as a phone, yet don’t have that out and out ‘I’m a tablet don’t you know’ thing going on like the iPad.

Maybe it’s just me, but I like the size of the Desire and the iPhone, they are phones that can do more, and perhaps have progressed from being Smartphones to Superphones. I have just enough room for them in my pockets with my wallets and keys etc. By adding an extra inch or so to the screen size, I’m thinking I’m gonna need a bigger pocket, and I don’t think it’s a good look.

I guess only time will tell.

I’ve now come to the conclusion that going for the HTC Desire over the iPhone 4 has meant I might have dodged a bullet given the furore over the antenna (Aerial for us UK bods).

Reading this article here: iPhone Antenna issues, it seems that those people making the decisions, blatantly ploughed on and built the device, with the expectation that people would just buy it and love it because of their particularly strong brand position.

Apple may admit to it (The jury is out until the press conference this afternoon), but until then it is a serious blow, IMHO, to their credibility.

I freely admit, I know several people who have iPhones, and none have reported this issue (And I have asked them), but they do have rubber bumpers on their phones. Not everybody is going to want to have to buy an extra accessory to just make phone calls.

And, I must admit that if I’d just shelled out for a new iPhone, and my calls kept dropping out, I’d be mighty peeved.

No phone is perfect, not even my HTC Desire, but surely if you’re going to make a new model of your best selling phone, you’d better be damn sure that it can make phone calls.

I’ll be very interested to see just what Apple come up with at the press conference, which I believe is happening at 18:00 BST today. I wonder if anybody will find themselves joining the unemployment queues. I’m sure Mr Jobs wont be.

It’s not been so good for posting for me lately, having been on my holiday and returning home with a sinus/ear infection which makes my head feel like an over inflated world cup football!

I have however been able to look at the iPhones 4’s owned and operated by the fanboys in my office, and my spangly new HTC Desire, received just yesterday as a free upgrade from 3.

The Apple device, whilst good, seems to only score over the HTC in robustness of construction/industrial design. I freely admit, that Apple have got that really right, and if I’m honest, the retina screen is also awesome.

However, the HTCs Android O/S is a complete joy, and I had migrated myself over to the new phone from my trusty Nokia E71 (Also a superb phone) within such a short space of time that I was truly astonished at how quickly it was done.

I feel like I’ve had the phone for years after less than 24 hours, and ok, maybe the App Store is good, the Android equivalent is also pretty good too.

I guess maybe my ideal phone would be an iPhone 4 running Android, and I believe this has been done on older iPhones (see here), but for the time being, I need to spend some quality time with my new toy!

Back soon with more stuff.

I’ve just been reading about the HTC Evo here: HTC Evo.

It looks pretty good I must say, but I must stop drooling and concentrate on what will be my next phone for real!

There are now 2 people in the office sporting new iPhones and I have phone envy right now, and it’s making me grumpy!

It is getting much harder to choose these days though, and it does beg the question of just how many different types of phone do we need?

Hmm, I’ve spent some time reading about the iPhone 4 and the Desire, and despite the fact that I really do think i’d like an iPhone, the restrictions on iPhone usage seem to be a little bit draconian.

There’s a good story about it here, so I won’t go into it too much, but it’s looking like HTC for me so far.