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.

Top 3 features for mobile phone innovation

The iPhone (3G) was launched in Denmark today. I’m not quite sure how great a success it was, but Telia was apparently sold out here on the first day. While I probably should be urging for an iPhone, I’m not – I’d like one, but frankly I wouldn’t spend money on one currently. It’s a cool phone, but it seem to suffer from many of the same problems other smartphones has.

I’d like to suggest a 6 month feature freeze to all smartphone developers, and suggest they stop inventing new features, and poor resources into fixing existing features already available in the existing phones – and the first three issues they so focus on are:

1. Battery lifetime.
Any phone should last at least 72 hours with “reasonable use”. Sure reasonable use may be a though term to define, but the iPhone reviews seem to suggest an expected battery lifetime well below 24 hours. My current SonyEricsson P1i can usually last about 48 hours (if I don’t use the Wifi at all).

Most specifications define an expected stand-by time and an expected talk time. I’d like to suggest the stand-by time is with all features enabled but no active – GPS, Wifi, bluetooth and 3G. I’m not sure how to replace the expected talk time with a better figure, but the standby time is certainly not 440 hours with wifi and bluetooth enabled (but unused) – it’s more likely 20 hours.

2. Faster.
Every time I’ve gotten a new phone (the P800, the P900 and now P1i), it’s become slower for every “upgrade”. It’s not just an SonyEricsson issue – the Nokias, HTCs and other brands I’ve tried seem to suffer from the same problem.

I’d like the software optimized or a more powerful CPU in the phone thank you.

3. Improvement on existing features

Most phone has a legacy, but sometimes you need a clean slate and a fresh start – and on most of the current smartphones it’s long over due. New features are cool, but it’s been happening way to fast, so the features (how they work) has far to often become a mess.

.. and to make matters even worse – with the explosion of new features and available applications on mobile phones, the user interface (where the features are located and how they look) has also be come a mess, and often it seems large parts of the software was slapped together in the last minute.

Please so making new features. Work with what you’ve got.