Posts Tagged ‘Android’
You’ll remember that I recently rooted my TMobile G1 so that I could run a WiFi tether and use my Apple iPad on the TMobile 3G network. Boy, is it sweet! That process (rooting) turned out to be more conceptually frightening than actually difficult. So with all the Android action at Google’s recent I/O conference (much of which can be found online here), I’m pretty excited to upgrade my device to the newer versions of Android OS.
At I/O, Google confirmed that running the 2.x operating system on the Dream/G1 was “technically possible”. That seems to be geek code for “you’re unlikely to see the upgrade via official channels” (e.g., the operators and/or Google itself) but, (b) “Dear hackers, go forth and prosper”. Cyanogen (and the community that have sprung up around his original work) seems to have heard that loud and clear. They’ve got Android 2.1 nearly baked.
This is great for a couple of reasons. The most important? It shows Google has gone to lengths to assure that their original hardware is still supported. We’re still very early in what is likely to be a very long game and it would have been unfortunate if Google decided to cut life-support. It’s worth noting, though, that the operators themselves are not being supportive of Google’s efforts. By appearances, they’ve determined the right approach is to make their G1 customers upgrade to a newer phone (which will likely require re-upping for a 12- or 24-month extension to contract as well). Nonetheless, in the past there was no avenue to upgrade an older phone. Google has, at least, given us one with Android.
The major reason to go to extremes (metaphorically) to get Android 2.1 is speed. These later releases of Android have, we hear, seen a lot of work on performance. So, it’s not just the modern hardware making Android fast – it’s Android itself. As with other open source projects, we’ve got lots of eyes on Android, and a community generating requirements. That seems to be pushing Google in the right direction.
In addition to speed, there are a number of new OS and application-level tweaks and features available with the 2.x OS upgrade. The list is virtually identical to this description provided for the Nexus One. Wow, it would be a shame to miss out on this stuff!
So, I’ll be upgrading as soon as Cyanogen gives the word. A quick thanks to both Google and Cyanogen for keeping Android’s original fans current!
I’m going to attend O’Reilly Media’s Developing Android Apps with Java class online – weekly over the next month and a half.
I’m anxious to see how Android’s implementation of something-like-Java-but-can’t-be-called-Java actually works. I have some pretty decent experience with Java Micro Edition and it’s raft of extra libraries. Java’s promise to make device programming easier never worked out, though. So, I’m anxious to see how well the Android team exposed the operating system’s functionality to Java.
I’ve been a fan of O’reilly’s book series since I started working with computers – and, gosh, how long ago was that?! I’ve always found their publications right on the money in terms of understanding my starting point, then getting me to the next level.
In this case, I also admire O’Reilly’s creative mechanism for charging for the course: attending the live sessions online is free, but access to the course materials after the fact costs money. The charge, by the way, is reasonably low – so if you want to go back for a refresher or just have a cache of examples to start from, it’s not going to be too expensive. I like that O’Reilly is working very hard to figure out what it means to be a publisher in this era of all things digital. I figure that’s something I can support.
Andy Badera, over at Flip Bits Not Burgers, has just gotten his talons on an HTC Droid Incredible from Verizon Wireless. Andy’s been a long-time Windows Mobile phone owner. As some of you may know, many of those phones where built by HTC as well. In fact, it could be said WinMo made HTC’s reputation.
Since many of my readers are Verizon customers, I’m providing a link to Andy’s review.
Net: Very positive. HTC seems to be learning with every new Google Android OS design. Looks like those of you looking to upgrade from Blackberry or a feature phone should definitely consider the Incredible. You’ve got the Motorola choices, too.
I know some of you are dreaming about the upcoming 3G-enabled Apple iPad. You don’t mind spending the extra $130 in price nor the $19.99/month for connectivity. I thank you for supporting the economy in these hard times! But, some of us already paying for mobile data service wonder why that’s necessary.
James Kendrick, over at JKOnTheRun, recently talked-up the possibility of tethering one’s shiny new WiFi-only Apple iPad to achieve Internet connectivity in places where WiFi is not available. He was talking about the MiFi (Verizon) or OverDrive (Sprint) options. While these both sound like great alternatives, the charges will come on top of whatever current mobile connectivity you have – same as when you buy an iPad with AT&T’s 3G coverage. But I’m cheap and on T-Mobile. And I’ve got the T-Mobile G1 device – the first available Google Android-based device – with a full-up data plan. So I wondered if I could get my iPad to tether through the G1.
The answer is YES; the process slightly involved. The rewards, however – a cheaper iPad, no “dual fee” for wide-area data connectivity – are great. Continue reading for an abbreviated how-to.
A little love first: I’ve been with T-Mobile for many years and I’m very satisfied with their service, fees and customer care. Due to my business I change devices often, and sometimes do non-standard things with devices, and they’ve always been supportive. T-Mobile’s prices are great and my troubles have been (exceptionally) minimal.
There are a couple of application options on the Android Market for tethering but, long story short, they require root (privileged) access to your phone which, in turn, requires that you modify the phone’s software. Now, I’m not the jailbreak type, frankly, but Android is an open source operating system and I have been very curious about what the community has been doing to add value. Further, my business partner Nathan Freitas has been using a rooted Android phone as the basis for his Guardian project. So I decided to take the leap.
First I backed up my apps and data using Rerware’s MyBackup Pro, a great little app for Android. Then I hunkered down with the docs: here’s how to root your G1 phone using CyanogenMod – though note that Cyanogen supports other devices as well. Once rooted with Cyanogen, you have the privileged access you require, but an operating system very similar to the stock version. This process took me about 90 minutes.
Note there are a number of reasons to root your Android phone. Just ask LifeHacker.
Once you’ve installed, you’ll boot up a fresh device and be asked to sign back in with T-Mobile. I brought back my apps and data after that.
My tethering application of choice was the Android WiFi Tether on Google Code. You download the application to your PC or Mac, then (using USB) copy the app to your device’s SD card, and lastly use a program called AppsInstaller (also available on the Android Market) to install the tethering app on your device.
There’s a small amount of config to do: give your device an SSID, choose security (WEP, and therefore a password), select Bluetooth or Wifi. There’s also a great little access-control feature which allows you to approve devices seeking connection (permanently or temporarily). Say you’re in a coffee shop or other public space where somebody might be trolling for a connection. With access-control turned on, you’ll see (and can reject) anyone looking for a signal.
I tried the tethering application first with my Macbook as I suspected it might have more robust networking support. Sure enough, it found the phone as a device (rather than a wireless hub, because this is an ad-hoc 802.11 network you’re creating with the tether) and everything worked smoothly on both sides. That left me wondering if the iPad would recognize it.
Sure enough it did. The iPad’s WiFi configuration panel is simpler than the MacBook’s and it shows no difference between a router connection and the device. Piece of cake. Hunky-dory. This setup works like a charm. I’m thrilled to have wide area connectivity for my iPad now.
Disclaimer: No article about updating your phone’s software is complete without a disclaimer regarding the ills that could befall you should your update fail and the trapdoors possibly sprung in your mobile service contract in any case. Please be aware of these issues (by consulting your mobile service contract) before you decide to enjoy the benefits. Also be aware that, with the CyanogenMod at least, you have the option to Revert To Stock (yes, there are second chances in life).
This rumor (and here) that Motorola is stopping its Symbian/UIQ development of the RAZR3 is no surprise, given Moto’s 2003 sale of its stake in Symbian. Also, Moto made lots of noise in October about their commitment to Android. With Moto losing it’s “best selling in the US” bragging rights this year to Samsung, and their position still more tenuous internationally, it’s clear a move to a modern smartphone platform was warranted. Moto’s membership in the Open Handset Alliance supports this, too.
Yet, I don’t expect a raft of Android-based handsets from Motorola in 2009. Moto is still king of the mid-market device, while it’s high-end devices – like the Q – have gotten mixed reviews (see here, here and here). Therefore, I believe Moto will be in test-the-water mode until it creates a successful first example of matching its (formerly) powerhouse brand name with Google’s up-and-coming platform.
Granted, we’re early days with this marketplace, but frankly, it’s great to see applications other than games in the Top 10, though it’s depressing to see Pac-Man Mobile in the #1 slot. The leadership of gaming in this industry continues to point to immaturity, in my opinion.
Personally, I’m particularly pleased with The Weather Channel’s namesake application. ShopSavvy, also here on the Top 10 list, is also a great use for one’s mobile phone (though, it is sometimes difficult to get connectivity inside large shopping facilities).
By the way, if you’re a fan of QR codes (we are!) find the Barcode Scanner application in the Shopping section of the Market. It recognizes QRs and will “do the right thing” when you photograph one.
We should keep in mind that the Android Market is not accepting paid applications until 2009. So, unlike the Apple iTunes App Store, we’re only seeing that portion of the market willing to give their applications away (either as a means to increase traffic to existing services or simply as a means of testing the waters).
Speaking of the iTunes App Store, Ben Lorica over at O’Reilly has some good articles about what’s happening in that marketplace. Quite a contrast there, compared to here in the Android space – at least in this nascent early-adopter period. Strange to find the social networking applications low on the App Store list, though.
Gizmodo’s been showing “leaked” images of what it claims is a Lenovo-branded Andoid-based mobile phone. This one’s got iPhone design sensibilities, unlike the HTC-built unit available from T-Mobile in the USA and this dandy from down-under.
Here’s an initial look at Australia’s own Kogan Technologies’ new Agora – an Android-based smartphone for the home market. The tri-band Agora will sport a 2.5 inch screen, 3G network support, a full QUERTY keyboard, but no touch screen. Availability on January 29, 2009 is claimed. Kogan themselves have the Agora for direct sale, unlocked. Juicy details here.
Suppose Telstra will pick it up?
UPDATE: new pix