In the last few months, I have noticed that a lot of the websites that I have visited have been offering apps. It gets quite annoying after a while, as every time I visit the website, I am greeted by a modal pop-over asking me if I would like to install their app. The pop-over, invariably has a very large button to take you to Google Play Store (formerly known as “Android Market”) with a quite small link underneath it with a “continue to website” text. Continue reading
The main attraction of the smartphone systems available in the market is the ability of users to install applications. The ability of users to install applications on their phones is essentially what makes smarphones “smart”. The range of applications available is quite wide and they number in the tens of thousands to the millions. Continue reading
A recent article from Ars Technica points to a situation in which a developer contracted by an agency developed an IOS app for a commercial client using the Titanium tool. It seems that the sales team from Appcelerator contacted not only the agency concerned, but also the client, demanding a payment of £ 5,000 or the app will be taken down for intelectual property infringement. Continue reading
Although it’s not my main occupation, I have dabbled in front-end development for sometime. I have enjoyed working with new front-end techniques, such as those provided by features included in the HTML5 and CSS3 specification. Compared to the way things were 10 years ago, these features look like designers’ dreams. They greatly simplify the development of front-end interfaces that are not only easy on the eyes, they are also more mobile-friendly with some great features added for accessibility.
However, I am beginning to see a trend with front-end designers trying to apply too rigid a control on their designs, resulting in the loss of accessibility for the end users. While it might be fine for twenty-something designers to use 8pt text to render a whole article in a web page and then disable zooming so that their layout can “look good”, it is not fine for everyone, especially those over the age of 40.
When smartphone browsers (starting with mobile Safari) implemented a “pinch to zoom” feature to allow people to view web pages with larger text (which is then reflowed), I thought that this was the beginning of an accessibility trend which would allow people to view hard to read text a little bit closer. However, it seems that a lot of designers responded to this by disabling the end users’ ability to zoom the viewport, supposedly to maintain the layout. While I understand that need to maintain a layout, I don’t think that sacrificing usability is the answer, In the end, the content that is supposed to be delivered to the end user does not get the message through, because the layout might “break” if the user zooms the page in. This is why I have enabled the “force zoom” feature in my Chrome for Android browser, so that at least I might have a chance to read what’s on the page, rather than looking at a pretty layout and not being able to read the article.
Well, I must say that working with an Android tablet poses a lot of challenges. Firstly, to get my tablet to connect to the corporate Wifi network at a TAFE college was a serious challenge for my sanity. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why anyone would want to ship a tablet operating system without any configurable proxy setting. Most tablet users would want to take their tablet to work and connect to a wireless network that uses, guess what, proxies.
Luckily, my sanity was saved by the ability of Mozilla Firefox (for Android) to have a proxy setting (via an Add-on), but the method that I had to use to connect to the wireless network at TAFE is so bizzare, that it defies any logic (this same craziness applies to using my Mac laptop as well). Unless you are using Internet Explorer on Windows, then your milage varies quite a bit.
The procedure on the Android tablet goes like this:
- Start Firefox mobile, then turn off proxy settings in the proxy add-on
- Type some random URL in the address bar
- Authentication page will come up.
- Go to Add-on setting and enable proxy.
- Close the browser
- Open the browser
- Authenticate again
- Browse the internet
- After an hour, repeat all the above steps.
Bizarre or not?
Ever since the idea of an Android tablet started floating about on the internet, I decided that I was going to get one. First there were the cheap and nasty Android tablets coming out of some previously unheard of Chinese manufacturers, but I held on to my money. Even though I wanted an Android-powered tablet that could rival the iPad, I did not want to blow my money on a device with Android 1.6 and no market access, plus one with a cheap resistive screen coupled with flaky wifi and no GPS.
I waited a long while before Samsung brought the 7-inch Galaxy Tab to the market, but, alas, it was only powered by Android 2.2 (Froyo) and it was also a phone which made it a little awkward and after a few hands on time, I decided it was lagging a little in the normal operations of the UI. It was only when Google released Honeycomb that other manufacturers started to come to the tablet party. HTC released the Flyer, although it was only running Gingerbread (2.3), while Samsung promised the Galaxy Tab 10.1, which in Australia manifested into the 10.1v sold through Vodafone.
While I liked the HTC Flyer, no one in Australia was selling it (except for a few on Ebay) and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v that I managed to look at in a Vodafone store, has no expansion slot whatsoever, with a steep price of $729 outright. I was then hoping that I would be able to find an Asus Transformer TF-101. I looked everywhere around town and no one had one. Furthermore, I found out that to have access to the USB port and HDMI, one would have to plug the Transformer TF-101 onto its keyboard dock. I mean, if I wanted a netbook, I would get one! So in the end I went and bought the Acer Iconia A500.
Why did I choose the Iconia A500? Well, one of the main reasons was that it was there in the stores that I went to. Hell, I even found one in Officeworks. Furthermore, it has a full-size USB port and expansion slots with an 8-hour battery life. The camera seems to be quite decent too. So without further ado, my money went to the Acer for availability and expandability.
For someone who wants to buy a tablet right now, especially in Australia, the choices in the market are far from clear. If you fancy an Apple Ipad 2, you are guaranteed a great user experience, a good selection of apps and nice applications such as GarageBand and iMovie. However, if you look at the hardware, even though the dual-core A5 is a little powerhouse under that screen, the hardware list is a little disappointing. The camera is a disappointment and the lack of slots for expansion as well as being tied down to an iTunes only transfer can make things complicated under certain usage scenarios. Furthermore, even if you have cash burning a hole in your wallet, there is hardly any stock anywhere.
In the Android camp, at the moment there is the new Samsung 10.1v being sold through Vodafone. The tablet runs Android 3.0 Honeycomb and it has good specs, such as a nice camera, 3G connectivity and being an Android tablet, it can be used as a USB storage device. However, the Samsung lacks any expansion slot whatsoever. This makes it a slight disadvantage if you are one of those movie and music hogs who like to take a lot of media on the go.
Recently, I started to see some Acer Iconia A500 tablets around the shops. Yesterday, I looked at a couple in a JB-HiFi store somewhere in Sydney. The unit definitely feels nice to hold and amazingly light. It has a brushed aluminium back and the camera seems to be quite good. However, so far there is no 3G version available in Australia.
Dilemma is sometimes a wonderful thing, as I think I will wait until there is a tablet in the market that will fit in as a daily use tablet without being tied down to any particular device ecosystem.
Having recently acquired a samsung galaxy s android handset, I proceeded to install all the apps that I had installed on my htc legend. One of them was the juice defender app, which worked quite well on the legend.
Soon after I installed the app, I noticed that the battery would drain quite quickly. Within about 4 to 5 hours the battery would be totally flat. As soon as unplugging from the charger, the battery would be down to 80% within about 10 minutes.
Thinking there was a problem with my phone, I began to check all my settings. I then realised what the problem was when the juice defender app was starting really slowly. In fact, the app was causing the phone to really lag badly.
I immediately uninstalled the app and believe it or not, my
battery life improved after uninstalling Juice Defender.
You might want to try this if your galaxy s suddenly drains battery like there’s no tomorrow. Now my battery lasts 8 hours plus like it should.
I recently acquired a Vodafone-branded Samsung Galaxy S GT-i9000 phone. Since I purchased it second-hand, it was not part of any contract with any carrier. However, I found out that it was locked to the Vodafone network as it would not accept a SIM card from Virgin. To unlock the phone, I just headed over to the Vodafone unlocking website and after entering the phone’s IMEI (found under menu > setttings > about phone), I was able to unlock it from the Vodafone network. In some cases, the unlocking could cost money, but in this case I seemed to just get the unlocking code straight away.
After the unlocking, I checked the version of Android installed and found out that the phone was still running Eclair (Android 2.1). Using the version of Kies (the Samsung Phone Manager) that came with the phone on two mini CDs, I was told that the firmware on the phone could not be upgraded. This was quite disappointing since I had just upgraded my HTC Legend to Froyo (Android 2.2) the week before.
A few Google searches later, I tried to use the Registry spoofing method that was discussed on a few websites and it just didn’t work. In the end, the method that worked was updating to Kies 2.0 and it seemed to find the Froyo update for the phone straight away.
The update took quite a while, but it seemed to have done a proper job and restored some of my settings minus the apps that I have downloaded. So, if you want to upgrade your Vodafone Samsung Galaxy S to Froyo, there is no need to use any spoofing or custom-cooked ROMs, just update your version of Kies to version 2.0.
I have been using an HTC Legend running Eclair for the last six months and it has been running quite well. I like the small size of the phone, since it is a bit smaller than my previous phone which was a Nokia E71. It does all the things that I would like to do on a phone:
- Push email
- Web browsing
- Supports Flash-based application
- Occasional games
- Good quality snap photography
- Plays music
- Great configurable interface
However, I feel the need to update to Froyo, because there is no support for wi-fi sharing and installing apps on memory card in Eclair. These two features meant that I had to wait months while HTC updated the official ROM for Legend on Vodafone, thanks to the custom HTC Sense interface. Thankfully the official ROM was available early December 2010 for HTC Legend owners in Europe and Asia.
For a while I thought that Vodafone Australia would make the official HTC Legend ROM update to Froyo (Android 2.2) through an OTA (Over The Air) update. By late January I grew tired of waiting and checking, so I headed over to the HTC site and decided to update the Android OS on my HTC Legend manually. To get the official ROM update you can go to this page in the HTC site.
The update process was nice and simple, but I had to remember to backup several things as the update will erase the entire phone:
- SMS: I use SMS Backup and Restore, which backs up all your messages to the removable microSD card.
- Pictures: this could be done manually using Astro File Manager
- Contacts: if you don’t use Google to sync your contacts, you need to back this up.
- Apps: you can use Astro File Manager to backup all your apps.
After about 15 minutes, I had a nice phone running Froyo, with all the features that I wanted. All up, it took me roughly about an hour to get my HTC Legend to the same settings and apps that I had running on Eclair. So, if you have a spare hour or hour and a half, with a little bit of care, you can update your Australian Vodafone HTC Legend to Froyo.