Archive for the ‘Android’ Category

New mobile provider, Republic Wireless, for $19/mo, unlimited everything

November 8, 2011

Republic Wireless launched today. They’re a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) which essentially means they sell time on another provider’s network (in this case, Sprint). The twist is that they use WiFi for their calls and texts whenever possible. You sign up, pay $199 for an LG Optimus and your first month’s service. After that it’s $19/month. No, you can’t bring your own device (BYOD) but they say they’re working on that.

Ringtones from NASA!

September 23, 2011

Yowza! Want a lift-off ringtone or some beeps and clicks or how about some radio emissions from Saturn? NASA has put up a page with a bunch of sound clips — MP3s and M4Rs (for iPhone). Yep, real NASA sounds, free for the download. They’re here: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/sounds/

50% off all O’Reilly ebooks and videos thru 9/27/2011

September 15, 2011
Use code B2SDEAL

The great thing about O’Reilly ebooks is that they’re DRM free, you can get them in PDF as well as multiple ebook formats AND you get lifetime free updates. Works great on a tablet with your favorite ereader. http://www.oreilly.com

Woot off!

September 13, 2011
Today was a Woot Off! over at woot.com. If you’re at all into this, you know that during a woot off, Woot sells one item until it sells out then puts another item up right away. Serious woot-afficianados, sit glued to their computer all day. Less serious ones install WootWatcher (https://market.android.com/details?id=com.drclabs.android.wootchecker) and turn on the beta push notification service. Yes, it has ads to defray the cost of the push infrastructure but that’s a small price to pay. Am I going to keep it installed on my phone after today? Probably not but it’s fun seeing my phone light up when another item goes up for sale.

Current devices and why I’m OFF NVidia

September 13, 2011

Motorola XOOM with Verizon. Still 3G, running 3.2 stock but rooted.

LG G2x through T-Mobile. Running CM7 nightlies

Overall, I’m happy with both devices. Was considering NOT upgrading my XOOM to 4G but I think I will when they contact me. The G2x is a nice phone with a great display and very responsive. Since I’m running a custom ROM, I don’t have A2DP which is a philosophical problem for me but that’s all.

And, that said, I think I would NOT buy another NVidia-based device until/unless they start releasing their code/drivers. The reason I don’t have A2DP on my G2x is because NVidia hasn’t made their code available to the community. And that means that the independent developers are either limited to working with the kernel that was released with the device or are reduced to guessing how to work with the drivers. That’s NOT the reason I’ve moved to Android and I WON’T make that mistake again.

Cyanogen -> Samsung

August 16, 2011

My favorite ROM is CyanogenMod, originally produced by Steve Kondik (cyanogen) and now done by a whole team of developers. Steve just started at Samsung as a software engineer supposedly working on Android. And why not? He’s proven his stuff over the years. But how will it affect US? This could be either very good or very bad for Android and alternative ROMs depending on how Samsung handles things and how busy Steve is. He has always been a reasoned voice in the skirmishes between developers as well as among developers and carriers/ manufacturers. Time to change ROMs? (source)

Perhaps MIUI is a good candidate. It’s been around for quite a while, being done by a Chinese company, Xaomi. They’ve just announced a handset that will come with MIUI installed. (source)

Google to acquire Motorola Mobility — so what?

August 15, 2011

it was announced this morning that Google will acquire Motorola Mobility (TechCrunch live blog of the conference call here).

I’ve got a ton of stuff queued up to post and haven’t been able to make the time to actually post them but this particular story has driven me to (at least temporarily) break that roadblock. I have ONE Motorola device: a Verizon XOOM. While I’m happy with the quality of the hardware and Honeycomb, I’m NOT AT ALL HAPPY with Motorola, primarily because they’ve so badly missed their Verizon LTE upgrade. Whether it’s Motorola’s fault, Verizon’s fault or a combination, I look to the hardware vendor to honor their commitments or TELL ME WHY they haven’t.

If I had it to do over again, I’m not sure I’d buy the XOOM. Sure, it’s a Google experience device and, yes, it was the first to market with official Honeycomb support. But the hardware market’s continued to move and there’s even a new 4G tablet imminent on Verizon yet there’s still no upgrade for my XOOM. It’s supposed to be available sometime in September but the lack of any sort of notice prior to this bothers me. It smacks of how RIM doesbusiness — the old carrier/phone vendor model, closed source and closed mouthed.

As long as I’m on a semi-rant, I also have a bone to pick with NVidia and their drivers. Some elements of their HAL (hardware abstraction layer) are still unpublished, making it all but impossible to do things like update the kernel and still bring A2DP to custom ROMs. So, I’m also off NVidia hardware until I see a change in their direction.

OK, so, enough bitching. What am I after with this post? Here’s what I really hope — that Google’s acquisition will have significant positive effects on Motorola Mobility’s attitude toward their customers and, by extension, all other hardware vendors’ attitudes. Unlocking bootloaders, releasing source and binaries for MM’s kernel and drivers and just generally setting a good precedent for the rest of the Android universe of hardware vendors. Google sets the standard for Android base source (granted, they’re not perfect), Motorola Mobility should set the standard for everything hardware (NVidia, are you listening?).

Controlling security yourself on your Android device

May 26, 2011

One of the central features of Android is the concept of “permissions” — collections of access rights to data and services on your device. There are over 20 of them and they include things like access to the Internet, access to your contacts, access to your phone’s state, access to your location (GPS and cellular), etc. The developer declares what permissions the app requires in the APK (the thing you install) and when you install it, the permissions required are shown to you. You must accept them if you want to install the app. That’s all I’m going to say about permissions here … but you can read more about them here.

So, recent CyanogenMod 7 nightly builds include a permissions manager. It gives you the ability to revoke permissions of individual apps . This is causing a bit of a stir in the app world.

Now, along comes another app, LBE Privacy Guard (Android Market link and AppBrain link), which pops up a notification when an app requests ACCESS to a permission and lets you grant or deny it (yeah, sort of like UAC in Windows 7). Along with your allow or deny response, you can tell LBE whether you want it to remember your choice or ask each time. This app also comes white and black lists (which you can edit) and logs of the permissions requests. It’s pretty slick. I’ve installed it on my phone (LG G2x) and, so far, am happy with it. I’ve denied a few requests, just for fun, and haven’t seen app crap out because of it … yet. LBR is free but requires that you have a rooted device. You can get a little more information about it, along with some screenshots of it in use, at http://www.androidpolice.com/2011/05/26/new-app-lbe-privacy-guard-is-like-win…

New Opera for phones and tablets/EVO 3D uses MHL port

March 23, 2011

I ran across both of these articles on AndroidPolice this morning and, rather than posting them individually, I figured I’d just roll them together.

First, Opera’s released new versions of both their Mobile and Mini. Mobile’s got a new UI for tablets but it’s also got Flash support as well as a few other new features (AndroidPolice article about both is here as well as download links for both) so if you’ve got the horsepower and download speed, go for it. If not, go with Mini which also has a new, tablet-friendly UI and some new features like pinch-to-zoom. If you just want to download them, here’s Market for Mini and Market for Mobile. Supposedly you can just go to http://m.opera.com in your mobile’s browser but when I tried it on my T-Mobile Nexus One, I got a message that there wasn’t an Opera Mini for T-Mobile and that I should try the public Opera build.

Next, Sprint’s newly announced HTC EVO 3D doesn’t have a micro USB port nor does it have an HDMI port (AndroidPolice link here)! Instead, it has an MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) port. MHL is a new standard that can connect BOTH microUSB and HDMI on a single port. If you have a TV that has an MHL port (probably not at this point) you can plug it in and (get this) CHARGE YOUR PHONE VIA HDMI. The port supposedly is plug-compatible with microUSB so you don’t need an adapter for it but, until you get an MHL TV/whatever, you’ll need an adapter for HDMI. Yeah, it’s kinda cool and futuristic and I understand that devices must adopt new standards but, c;’mon, that means you need an adapter! OK, *I* probably won’t need an adapter because there’s very little chance I’ll plug it in to my TV anyway, but would it’ve hurt them to put an MHL *and* a microHDMI port on the thing?

The AT&T/T-Mobile deal changes everything

March 20, 2011

I decided to pass on the HTC Thunderbolt this past week when it was (finally) released because, frankly, I didn’t (and still don’t) think that it brings enough new stuff to the table. Sure, it’s Verizon’s first LTE phone. But there will be plenty of those. And unlike previous Verizon phones, it can do 3G data while you’re talking on the phone. But it’s a single-core phone at the beginning of the dual-core era and has an 800×480 display when 960×540 is the new resolution. If I’m going to lock myself in to a year long contract, I want to get closer to the cutting edge. Thunderbolt owners are able to get in on an unlimited 4G plan for $30/month and that attracted me, too, but there’s no guarantee it will be transferrable to another phone not that Verizon wouldn’t convert it to a tiered plan once they’re on the books.

So, after doing a Best Buy pre-order and waiting a month, I decided to pass. Yes, I went to the Verizon store and used the phone on launch day. For 40 minutes, no less! And it’s a great phone! But it’s not “not your next phone but the one after that” as it was advertised. It’s between my last phone (a Nexus One) and my next phone. And HTC has started locking their bootloader! C’mon guys!

I shifted plans. Rather than pick up last year’s phone, I figured I might get the USA version of LG’s Optimus 2X on T-Mobile, called the G2X. While it’s only 800×400 at least it’s got a dual-core Tegra 2. Rumor is it’ll be a “Google experience” phone and the G moniker sorta indicates it might be the next G phone (as in G1, G2, G2X).

But, now that I see AT&T is buying T-Mobile, I may have to go to Sprint or Verizon. I’ve already got the XOOM and I’m pretty happy with it (yes, I know I owe you a review … and it’s coming, I promise). But Verizon’s business practices bother me. Their coverage is excellent but, honestly, I’ve not had many problems with T-Mobile, even when I went to New York a few weeks ago. Sure, I get a few dropped calls but I’m not trying to impress anyone and a dropped call is just an annoyance to me, not something that’ll lose me business.

Stick it out with T-Mobile and see what happens or jump to Sprint or Verizon? Honestly, for me it’ll probably be a bit of both. Even if I get a phone on another carrier, I’ll probably scale back but keep my T-Mobile account. I’ll keep you posted.