Android – installing apps

Picking up from the last post, I’d share a little more of my Android experience.

Once I had configured the phone with my basic settings – voicemail number, wifi networks and so on – and moving my contacts to the phone, installing software is probably the next step. There is an Android market, but it’s just as good (or bad) as the Apple Apps store – finding the best applications may be a pain.

Schack has been on Android for awhile, and here are the tricks, that got me started fast. First install the program called “barcode scaner” (just that no more). You do that by launching the “market” and searching for the name click and install it. It allows you to scan barcodes with the camera on the back of the Hero.

Next step is going to the Cyrket website on any computer and use the big screen and keyboard to explore the software available for Android – once you see something you like, you can scan a square barcode on the page and go directly to the page on the market place – so much easier than browsing on the Hero itself.

Some of the programs I’m playing with currently include:

  • nav4all – GPS Navigation
  • Listen – PodCasts (subscription and downloads)
  • NewsRob – RSS reader with Google Reader integration
  • Compass – name says it all…
  • Toggle Settings – nice, but wasn’t available in the Market.
  • TasKiller – a task killer

Bonus wifi tip for HC Hero: If your wireless network is hidden, it seems the Hero really doesn’t play well. Make the Wifi net visible and you should be all good (and if the network is secured probably, it shouldn’t be a problem it’s visible).

Moving to Android (mobile)

I’ve been using SonyEricsson mobile phones ever since the launch of the P800 some years ago – all with the Symbian OS. Until a few days ago that is. Now I’m on Android. I’m still in the process of finding my way around Android, but I’ll try to post some of the tips and tricks of running Android here. This first post covers the very basics.

The Phone

My Android phone is the HTC Hero. It seems well build and solid – and the case seem to be crammed full with just about any imaginable feature available in a mobile phone. The only exception seems to be an FM radio, but frankly I doubt I’ll miss it much. I didn’t really use it on my most recent P1i.

The phone has a MicroSD card (easily accessible) and included with the phone was a 2Gb card. It is a regular MicroSD card. The Hero supports MicroSDHC cards, which are available in sizes up to 16Gb currently (but the format should support up to 128Gb).

TODO: It seems it would be worth while to get hold of a SDHC card (Class 6) to replace the included card. Android uses the MicroSD card as swap storage and faster memory card ought to result in faster performance on the phone…

Moving contacts

I’ve been using mobical for years to backup my contacts. I don’t think Andriod and mobical work together, so moving contacts over was a slight detour, but it worked almost without any pains. As a part of setting up the Andriod phone, you tie it to a Google Account. I’ve tied it to my personal Gmail box on my on Google Apps domain – as it works just fine.

To get contacts to the phone I logged into mobical and exported all contacts in a single VCF-file (it Contained a Vcard for every contact). Then I logged in to my Gmail Webmail and choose contacts in the left side menu and imported the file.

It went surprisingly well. Most of the overlapping contacts was merged with out any issues and a few duplicates had to be merged (or removed) by hand. A few minutes after updating the webmail contacts, they were automatically synced to the phone.

TIP: If you like the phone to pop-up an image of the caller, you can add images to contacts in the webinterface. Use Facebook, Linkedin or regular image search on Google to find suitable images for your contacts. For companies (main number) I usually pick their logo as contact image.

Security can be easy

It’s often the case that security is an inconvenience and gets in the way of usability and ease of use. There are exceptions though and for a number of weeks I’ve been playing with the Yubikey (thanks to Schack) from Yubico.

It’s a small device, which plugs into a USB port, and to the computer acts as a keyboard. It has some advanced security build-in with the ability to generate one-time verifiable passwords, but is incredible easy to use – plug it into the USB port and press the single button when you need to sign in to services supporting the Yubikey.

I’ve been useing it with OpenID sign-ins and WordPress logins, and it’s worked flawless everytime. The only important thing is to remember the Yubikey – without the little hardware token, you’re lost. If you need a secure sign-in solution, listen to security now to get the technology explained and contact Yubico, it’s seems to be as affordable as it is easy to use (and no, the post isn’t paid or sponsored, nor do I know anyone at Yubico).

Google and the iPhone

Appleinsider has an interesting little story. It reports how the iPhone usage shocks Google – being far above the expectations. I don’t have any expectations, have so far not used nor touched an iPhone, but frankly you shouldn’t be too surprised.

Sure I’ll probably get blamed as an Apple fanboy, but I hardly know any other company who is able to – so successfully – match the possibilities of technology with consumer desires.

Just spend a few minutes comparing the 4 iPod lineups with the current Creative mp3 offerings (10 models  – some with additional options) – Where would you fell most confident, that you picked the right model for you?

With the iPhone I guess Apple has managed to make a technology device accessible and understand how their customers might use it. It’ll be damn fun one day to try it out and see what makes it so special.