Posts Tagged ‘Android’
Now, I’ve always been a PC user and Android is my preferred platform for mobile phone, but in the iPad, Apple have produced a gadget that has my attention. Derided at first as a giant phone, without the er phone function , the iPad has confounded it’s critics by shipping over 3m units since May. Not bad for a fashion accessory. Meanwhile, the rumoured Android powered tablet from HTC remains as elusive as mist.
The iPad offers rather more than just sleek looks. It is primarily a device for consuming media. Not a laptop, not a mobile phone, not even a camera. It offers a decent size, readable screen, email, wireless and 3G connectivity, productivity applications and games. An iPod function, iTunes and a web browser. Street maps, video player and notepad. Contact book and Calendar.
I downloaded the following applications form the iStore, for the princely sum of £29. Many of them are free.
- iBooks – online reader, free books from the Guttenberg project. I got hold of Don Quixote and Moby Dick to while away the train time….
- Keynote – to knock up some effective presentations. Yes I know content is all, but I love those transitions…
- Pages – to knock up some articles and blog posts while I’m on the train, not reading Don Quixote…
- Friendly – a Facebook client. Perfectly adequate for the purpose
- Sobees Social Media – Updates Twitter and Facebook statuses simultaneously, sadly only those two, unlike the desktop client which is well nigh unbeatable.
- BBC News – Essential reading
- Weather Pro – well, it beats looking out of the window…
- Dropbox – File sharing app which allows me to bring files into the iPad without invoking iTunes
- GoodReader – Enables me to read the files which are not supported on the iPad. Well, most of them
- BBC iPlayer – beta version of BigScreen. Awesome.
- Mashable – New Media News aggregator
- Dash Four – foursquare client. Hmmm
- Cogs HD – Excellent steampunk styled spatial visualisation game.
- Epicurious – recipes. Possibly wishful thinking, I’m far too busy.
- Things – To Do lists. Increasingly essential – is this age or simply multitasking. Don’t know, don’t care it’s essential.
What makes this device a winner is very simple. The weight, or lack of it. I’ve been in the IT industry for fifteen years or thereabouts, I’m sick of lugging laptops wherever I go. They ruin my suits and keep my osteopath in expensive wine. I’ve never been convinced by the Apple corporations “Creative Computing” schtick, but their products are beautifully styled and engineered. The OS has been superior to Windows for some time now and I think this little gadget will be enough for me to show presentations to my clients, collect my work email and connect to the work intranet. And that’s all I need to do when I’m visiting clients. I’m going to try and use this thing as my principle mobile business platform. I’ll let you know how I progress!
One observation – Apple have a multi million dollar laptop business. Will the iPad displace the laptop? You do the maths!
Keith’s mum says if she wants Tweets she’ll feed the budgie, but that’s another story. It was clunky, slow and in the end HTC couldn’t be bothered to maintain it when Twitter remodelled their authentication module. Quite why this was allowed to happen when HTC are positioning themselves and the Android platform as a serious rival to the Apple iPhone as a social software platform is a question I’d love to know the answer to – it’s not as if Twitter didn’t warn people.
In any case, the new authentication mechanism is more secure and in the end more user friendly – password changes can be maintained from the provider, Twitter, rather than held in the app, so that is goodness. I’ve moved to using the official Twitter client for Android, cunningly named Twitter for Android and so far it’s a massive improvement; faster and with more functionality than Peep, though in fairness that may be due to the coincidence of upgrading to Android 2.1.
Early adopters of technology must sometimes feel like hamsters, interminably stuck in the exercise wheel. Yesterday evening, having nothing much better to do, I decided to upgrade my HTC Hero to a newer version of the Android OS, my transparently ridiculous excuse being that location awareness in Twitter posts is obviously something I can’t live without.
A cursory inspection of the HTC site showed that upgrades were available for the Orange branded handset and I downloaded the build and read the instructions. Unsurprisingly, the phone needs to be connected by USB to the computer where the binaries are held, and so the HTC Connect software also needs to be installed.
Now, my experience of running the HTC Connect software in Windows Vista was so flaky that I hastily uninstalled it, but my general experience of Windows 7 has been so much better that I decided to reinstall, noting that there would be the possibility that my HTC supplied version of the software might not support Windows 7. I was correct to be suspicious, the software installed but resolutely failed to connect to the phone. No problem I said, I’ll just go and download a more recent version….how naive, I really should have known better!
The Windows 7 compatible version of HTC Connect installs fine and recognises the phone. However the support statement says that Android 1.5 is the minimum level of OS. I discovered why, as soon as I kicked off the firmware upgrade – the drivers are incompatible with Android 1.0. this manifested as an I/O error, so no damage was done, though I am curious as to why HTC Connect recognises the phone yet the upgrade software doesn’t.
Plan B was implemented – installing the HTC Connect software on a Windows XP powered laptop enabled the right drivers to be in place. I copied the binary for the upgrade across to the laptop and kicked off the install. It took approximately ten minutes to complete. Afterwards, with the newly upgraded Android 1.5, I was able to sync the handset against my Windows 7 machine.
A word of warning for the unwary – the firmware update wipes the ROM completely – that means your address book and custom applications, your Google, Facebook and Flickr connectivity, all gone. What would be useful for HTC Connect to feature might be a way of restoring these values during the sync?
Another grumble – in syncing my address book from Outlook, it would be really useful to flag certain addresses as being unwanted. Outlook has a habit of hoovering up addresses from the copy lists of every E-mail you recieve and respond to, hence I found 271 new aquaintances cluttering up my phonebook with e-mail addresses. Surely HTC Sync could provide an interface to the phone that allows you to delete batches of addresses instead of going through the list manually and deleting one at a time?
The good news is the phone appears to run faster than it did, it gave me an opportunity to install newer versions of a couple of apps and discard the ones that I don’t use. New wallpapers are available too, so the handset looks and feels like a new phone. Location awareness in Twitter? Haven’t a clue, just need to find something worth Tweeting about…
Windows Mobile OS can finally be consigned to the dustbin. In Android, Google have come up with a mobile operating system that is super slick, lightning fast and paired with HTC technology represents a very real threat to both Blackberry and iPhone.
The Phone is impressively specified:
3.2 inch TFT Screen
5 megapixel Camera
420 minutes talk time and 750 hours standby (WCDMA)
Onboard 512mb ROM, 288mb RAM expandable via MicroSD Card
Bluetooth® 2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate and A2DP for wireless stereo headsets
Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 b/g
The most notable innovation is that the touch screen has been improved in both sensitivity and responsiveness and enhanced by the addition of a Blackberry like tracker ball with scroll and click functionality.
Android is the operating system built on a Linux kernel by Google with the intention of competing with Microsoft, RIM technologies (Blackberry) and Apple in the mobile market.
The immediate advantage Google have in this space is evident the minute you provide your Gmail credentials. The telephone leverages the full range of Google Apps, so if you are already using Google Calendar for example, you will find your phone calendar automatically synched with the online version.
The operating system supports VGA, 2D graphics library, 3D graphics based on OpenGL ES and as you would expect from a Linux based distribution, virtual screens. The HTC Hero provides a total of 6 full screen estates.
Android uses SQLite for data storage and for connectivity, supports GSM/EDGE, CDMA, EV-DO, UMTS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The web browser is, like Google Chrome, based on the WebKit framework and the OS has a development kit with an emulator, debugging tools, performance profiling and a plugin for the Eclipse platform.
Android, like Apple have organised a virtual mall, Android Market , where developers can sell or give away applications written for the Android platform.
First impressions are jaw droppingly good. The phone is everything its Windows based predecessor (HTC Diamond Touch) wasn’t. It is fast, flexible and intuitive, largely down to the dropping of the Windows Mobile platform. The Google tie in has ensured that Microsoft document formats are supported and there is support for multiple mail accounts and social software support in the shape of Facebook, Flickr and Twitter. HTC still persist with the USB supporting but proprietory connector for headphone and laptop connectivity. It’s a minor irritation, thankfully mitigated by the addition of a standard headphone jack on the top of the phone.
This is a serious piece of kit and fully deserving of the fistful of awards it has already picked up. Even the arch Apple apologist Steven Fry has conceded that “you have to applaud HTC, they have gone all out to rethink every detail of the user experience … It’s an impressive device, really really impressive”