Why doesn’t the new Flickr app do automated background uploads like Google+ or Dropbox? Seems like it would be an obvious way to increase usage by reducing friction. Keep them private until I decide to share them, but do the boring bit for me. Add in some sort of “highlights” feature to surface the best of the batch and it would be a winner.
OK, so I’m behind on the times a bit. The Google Nexus 4 has been out for several months, and I’d paid it no heed. I’ve been chugging along with my bought-at-launch iPhone 5 in that time, and barely paid the Nexus any thought. I read the reviews, and concluded it was a great Android phone, but I had no wish to rush out and buy one.
Then something strange happened.
I’m not sure why, but I got disenchanted with my iPhone. I never had that with my 4S, or 3G/3GS, despite the 5 being – in every way – better than all of them. Once that feeling settled in all the little niggles started to grate1. The easily chipped and scratched aluminium casing (as gorgeous as it is to look at); the way the sharper edges of the back felt in my hand; the random network-stack drop-outs; the hoops you sometimes need to jump through to share files/data from one app to the next; the keyboard that seemed to miss random presses, and still took me longer to type on than I could on my 4S (where I could at times type whole messages without looking at the screen).
I caught myself checking out other phones in the stores. Clearly it was time for the iPhone and I to “take a break”.
I looked at Windows Phones, but decided there wasn’t enough there to make it last. Blackberry? Err, no. That left Android.
I have a history with Android. I bought the HTC Desire HD on pre-order, as it had been loudly proclaimed “King of the Hill” at the time. Before it was even in my hands its crown usurped by (I think) the Galaxy S. We had some fun times, but I could never get along with the Sense UI. I rooted and flashed the phone, trying ROM after ROM. The experience was akin to installing Linux on an early Centrino laptop (anyone who tried it, back in c.2002-2003 will know what I mean) – where a feature worked, it worked very well… but only if you could live with the unsupported stuff. In the end, as much as I enjoyed parts of Android, I ended back in the warm embrace of iPhone.
Anyway, as I was saying, Android seemed the obvious choice, but which phone? I immediately gave up any notion of trying to get a phone that would be top of the specs pile for more than a few weeks2. I also ruled out those ridiculous “Phablets” like the Galaxy Note 2. The recent HTC phones look brilliant, but they’re still packing Sense. Sony’s Xperia line look distinct, but seemed to come with another GUI skin and a load of unneeded apps. Samsung… well I’ve never had a good experience with Samsung’s phone build quality, and they have the TouchWiz skin3… lets just say I ruled them out quickly. There’s the also-rans, but I was keen to get a phone that would get at least a few regular OS updates in its time.
I think I’d initially dismissed the Nexus because there was nowhere locally I could find one to try it out. Eventually I found somewhere with a display model, but I still couldn’t test it because the security system used by the store blocked most of the screen. In the end (after a couple of weeks mulling it over) I went ahead and ordered one through the Play store anyway4. A little over 24h later and the phone arrived.
First impressions were good. The unboxing experience was nice, and the first switch-on and setup was very fast. Within a few minutes my phone was syncing all of my Google services. If you use Google apps, then the experience is very, very smooth – everything “just works”. Contacts, Calendars, GMail, Google+, Picassa, YouTube, Music… all setup with just one login during start-up. I had some data issues with contacts and calendars, due to the way I had my iPhone setup, but that’s the subject of another post.
Of all the apps I regularly used on my iPhone (a decreasing amount recently), the only one I haven’t don’t have is Everpix, but I can keep using that one on my iPad Mini. Everything else either had an Android version – even my banking apps5 – or a suitably good equivalent (Falcon Pro instead of Tweetbot, for example).
Android itself has come a long, long way since I last used it. Jelly Bean is amazingly well polished, and the experience is very smooth. Coming from an iPhone, things do take a while to adjust to. I’ve found myself missing notifications on the lock screen, and application badges as indicators of which app just beeped at me. This is something I’ll get used to I guess.
If I can get round to it I’ll post a more comprehensive look at the Nexus 4, but for now I’ve not had it long enough to form more than first impressions. What I will definitely write-up is some of the experiences of moving my data from iOS/iCloud into Android/Google.
- These are all anecdotal, and in no way intended to imply they are common issues, or even that they’re not “all in my head”↩
- I think by now, in the age of quad-core CPUs and multi-GB RAM that Smartphone specs are good enough for most tasks they need to do. ↩
- What is it with Android OEMs and custom GUI skins? ↩
- I recommend going this route. Despite the £10 delivery charge, it’s at least £150 cheaper than buying at a retail store.↩
- I wasn’t too impressed by one of them insisting I needed to install anti-virus on my mobile…↩
…If they run across a problem in one of the Android (or iOS) apps, they can take advantage of a bug reporting feature Facebook builds into its internal betas.
It’s called “Rage Shake” and the name is spot-on. Employees just violently shake their phone and it automatically logs its current state and sends in details to Facebook’s mobile bug-squashers. The Google+ team apparently also has a “Rage Shake” feature and even gave access to it to end users, though it’s unclear which company had if first.
By avoiding a more complicated manual reporting process, Facebook maximizes the number of bugs it hears about from its 4,000 employee-testers. If Facebookers like the taste of Droidfood, they could make sure it’s not their actual users shaking their phones in fits of anger.
Sounds like a neat way to pick up a frustrating bug. I wonder how it works with the native iOS “shake to undo”?
It’s taken them a while, but web-based profiles are finally coming to Instagram; slowly rolling out to users over the next week or so. Uploading is still mobile-only, which is smart to me – it keeps the core of the product intact, but allows them to promote to and entice a wider audience.
I’m not gonna lie - Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) looks pretty nice.
I’m currently out of contract on my iPhone. I’ll see what like the new iPhone is like, plus whatever Google Nexus phone running Jelly Bean comes out next, and make up my mind which to get.
I’ve already done iPhone > Android > iPhone, so if the Nexus is compelling I have no problem switching back. Just so long as it’s not some super-sized Hulk of a phone.
- CyanogenMod’s HP TouchPad Team Releases A Glimpse At CM9, Hopes To Give Us “Something To Play With” Soon (androidpolice.com)
- Android port for HP TouchPad nears completion (intomobile.com)
- First look at Android 4.0 on the HP TouchPad – video (liliputing.com)
- HP’s TouchPad running Ice Cream Sandwich? Mmmm, thanks CM9 (video) (engadget.com)
Android phones generally don’t get a lot of battery life. Judging by some of the forum threads and blog posts I’ve read, 20 hours or so is about the average. With the stock I’ve occaisionally had it scrape past that, but not by much. Using a lighter-weight Sense-based ROM I was able to get around 36 hours of charge
If you switch the Desire HD to a ROM without HTC Sense (such as CyanogenMod 7)you’ll find your battery life reduced even further. There is a battery drain issue with all custom, non-Sense ROMs for the DHD, due to a bug in the open-source code controlling the aic3254 chip used for processing sound (the closed-source HTC driver doesn’t have the issue). Once the chip comes on it doesn’t switch off, consuming power at a steady rate. Continue reading
This post is pretty old now, and I no longer have a Desire HD. The instructions below might work for you, but I can’t say for sure, and I can’t help you if you get stuck. Your best bet is to head over to XDA Developers to find more up to date instructions, tools, and ROMS.
A few months ago I made the switch from the iPhone to Android – a HTC Desire HD (DHD), to be precise. I’m still formulating a post about my experience of switching (and Android in general), but today I want to document the process I had to go through to “root” my phone. Rooting your device seems to be a right of passage for Android owners and being the geek I am I didn’t want to miss out.
HTC recently released an OTA update for the Desire HD (v1.72) which locked down the phone to prevent “rooting” (jailbreaking by another name, as far as I can tell). I find it amusing that the “open” Android platform suffers from some of the same vendor lock-downs as Apple and the iPhone, but that’s another post for another day. What I didn’t find amusing was that this update hit my phone the morning I decided I wanted to root my handset.
Thankfully there is a large community of enthusiasts who dedicate their spare time to working around issues such as this. Within a week or so there was a workaround. What follows are the collated instructions I used to downgrade my DHD to a rootable firmware, apply the root, install a recovery image, and install a custom ROM. These instructions are pulled from a number of different forum threads and blog posts across the internet.