May 7, 2010

Seven Days on Android Makes one Weak

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:46 pm by dgcombs

While rummaging around in my junk drawer, I found an old Sprint Touch by HTC. I used that phone with Windows Mobile 6 for quite some time. I was quite excited when the upgrade to Windows Mobile 6.1 came out. It made such a difference. I remember the upgrade. I was in the kitchen of my son’s home in Jacksonville on a quiet Saturday morning. The promise of 6.1 was the arrival of EVDO on the phone – faster data speeds. I charged it up and booted it. Oh, yeah. I had run the unlocker from PPCGeeks and flashed Windows Mobile 6.5 on it before I chucked it in the drawer. The good news was that it still held a charge and not only that, it worked!

Kris, a friend of mine, has been using Palm products since the late 20th century. I remember when he came into the Baha’i Unity Center just after his purchase of his Palm Pre. He had wires dangling from both hands. He had a car charge, wall charge, Touchstone and his Pre. His first Pre. He’s had at least two others since then. They don’t seem to last long for him. The latest problem is that the speaker sounds like a bumble bee caught in the phone. I thought maybe he could use this old Touch and so I dashed off a quick TXT message to him. “I’ve got this old Touch. If you don’t want it, I’m going to flash it with Android.” The message came back within seconds – at least the keyboard on his Pre still worked – “Flash away!

I did some research on xda-developers and PPCGeeks Forums. I found several versions of Android available. After a little research I settled for one titled Easiest Step-by-Step Android Tutorial. I learned right away that you shouldn’t judge forum posting by it’s title.

I had already unlocked the phone which allows for loading a ROM of your own choosing. I pulled together the Android components:

  • Myn’s Warm Donut (version 2.0) Code
  • The NBH file (flash rom program)
  • RUU Update utility which allows you to flash the phone

The problem I noticed with this step is that for the HTC Vogue (the phone’s code name from HTC), there are two variants based on the screen size and multiple versions of each of these. You can look on Sourceforge if you’d like. I closed my eyes and picked a set. I ended up with Eclair, the version 2.1 code. Not that I’m complaining.

Using the RUU, I loaded up the ROM and used the Sprint online help center to activate my flashy new Android phone.

The phone itself worked, but the data portion did not. It was another 30 minutes of searching the forums before I found out that I had to activate the data while on Windows Mobile and THEN flash the Android. So back to the drawing board. I re-flashed a copy of Windows Mobile 6.1. Activated the data plan. Re-re-flashed the Android. Again. This time, I was able to connect to my Google account. I had data!

Like Kris, I own a Pre. Mine’s in better shape than his right now. So my comparisons are Pre vs. Android kind of things.

On the plus side, it is not hideous. I’ve been using it exclusively for almost a week. Once in a while I’ve felt like pulling the Pre out but the Android on Vogue seems to be doing the job. I also have to praise the developers who port Android over to these phones. They are very dedicated folks. The fact that the phone even boots is a source of wonder to me. Once in a while, I reboot it just to watch the screen.

On the down side, the interface and function are very Linux-like. That is, they tend to be extremely utilitarian and not at all eye-catching. It is as if the user interface was designed by a techie for a techie. I’ve been looking for information on how many people return their Android phones because they’re too complicated. I don’t see any statistics like that. But I suspect the numbers are higher than for an iPhone. I’d also guess that this is why HTC felt it important to port their Sense user interface to Android.

Back on the plus side (maybe), it has apps. I’ve been toying with three or four of the multitude of Twitter apps. There is an O’Reilly course on building a Twitter app for Android. I expect there will be more in the Android Market soon after the completion of this course. There are two or three TV Guide apps, some even in English but many for Europe. There is at least one app to update your WordPress blog. There is a Remember the Milk app from Remember the Milk. There are several book reader apps. Open source has long advocated for choice. I remember complaining bitterly about the overwhelming inability of Red Hat to pick one, or maybe even two, command line text editors. I didn’t need to use each of the ten or so variations of VI they included in early distributions. All this choice of apps is a little bewildering.

But the broad range, if not the depth, of the apps on Android is the reason that I would put up a less than spectacular user experience – even including the user experience of Sense UI.

I’ve been on Android for a week. I may go a little longer but not much. I really like my Palm Pre. And barring a surprise “one more thing…” saying that Sprint will get an iPhone, I’ll stick with it for now.

Posted via web from Meyeview

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1 Comment »

  1. Ian Vink said,

    We have 12 new Baha’i Android apps at http://BahaiResearch.com


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