Gingerbread!

Not much blogging going on here for a while. Finishing up one assignment, starting a new one and at the same time buying an apartment takes up a lot of energy. The good news is that my first post in a while can be the one announcing…Gingerbread (Android 2.3.3) is rolling out for Nexus One (and Nexus S). Announced by http://twitter.com/googlenexus.

They warn us that the roll-out might take a few weeks but we don’t want to wait for that do we? Hang on for a couple of ours and I’m sure I can find you a direct update link. See you then :)

Nexus gets Gingerbread
Original tweet

Nexus One updated again, nope not Gingerbread yet

My Nexus got a new two part update yesterday. I’m guessing that I wasn’t the only one jumping up and down hoping for Gingerbread (next major Android version) when it arrived but it turned out to be bugfixes and probably some preparations for Ginger.

Read about it here at Android Central.

Google comments via RyGuy in the support forum here.

And of course, if you can’t wait, get the file here (directly from Google) and update the same way we did last time:

Make sure you have at least around 75% battery remaining, you will not be happy if it shuts down during flash!

  1. Change the name of the zipfile to update.zip and put it directly in the root of your phone
  2. Turn off your phone.
  3. Press and hold Volume Down while pressing Power
  4. Choose the option Recovery (using volume keys and power to select)
  5. A screen with a Triangle and an Android will show up
  6. Press Volume Up and Power simultaneously
  7. Choose the option Apply sdcard:update.zip (using your Trackball)
  8. When its done, select Reboot

Then Tada! Nothing exiting happens. Your Android version is still 2.2.1 but your Build number changed to FRG83D.

Android update for Nexus One

This morning I awoke to the news of Android 2.2.1. This time around the rumour

Android 2.2.1 - FRG83
Android 2.2.1 - FRG83

mill didn’t catch it before launch but on the other hand…what does it do? I don’t really know since Google hasn’t published any blogpost, changelog or anything.

One thing I do know is that it updates something with the Exchange support (if you have an existing connection you’ll have to accept admin rights for the app that seems to be related to enforcing policies). I don’t have my own exchange server any more so I can’t really try it out and my Google Apps account is yet to show any changes. I’m guessing we will know more later today. No matter what, it’s nice to see Google keeping a high pace with updates for my lovely Nexus!

How to get it, if you don’t have the patience to wait for the Over The Air Update of course (translated from Swedroid):

Get the file (directly from Google) here (note, made for FRF91). Make sure you have at least around 75% battery remaining, you will not be happy if it shuts down during flash!

  1. Change the name of the zipfile to update.zip and put it directly in the root of your phone
  2. Turn off your phone.
  3. Press and hold Volume Down while pressing Power
  4. Choose the option Recovery (using volume keys and power to select)
  5. A screen with a Triangle and an Android will show up
  6. Press Volume Up and Power simultaneously
  7. Choose the option Apply sdcard:update.zip (using your Trackball)
  8. When its done, select Reboot

Welcome to a new updated version of Android :)

Chrome to phone – a preview of the future?

I installed a new Google Chrom Extension a while back called Chrome to Phone. The idea isChrome to Phone logo quite simple, now and then you will be using your computer and realise that you need the information on your desk/laptop screen on your mobile device. Instead of typing it in you send the information to your phone and we’re not talking about just text here. I made a short list on what’s supported:

  • URL (web address), send it and your phone will automatically open your browser and take you to the same page you had on your desktop
  • Google Maps links, been planning your travel route with Google Maps and don’t want to redo it on your phone? Send it and it will open in Google Maps
  • Select plain text and it will be sent to your phones clipboard, ready for pasting in an text message, mail, facebook status or whatever you choose. Just long-press then select paste
  • Select a phone number and press send, like magic your phone will launch your dialer (default or custom) with the number already populated. Sweet
  • YouTube links, of course they launch your native YouTube app

As far as I’m aware there is only an Android version, and it requires you to run Android 2.2 (FroYo). On your device you need to install a service to “catch” the information and you have to be logged in with the same Google Account. To stop misuse of course.

Been trying it out now for a while and it will definitely stay installed. It’s cool, it’s simple and actually quite useful. When we have the same implementation for sending music, pictures etcetera I’m guessing that there’s really no reason to connect your phone to your computer via cable any more :)

Learn more and try it out: http://code.google.com/p/chrometophone/

New licensing service for Android Market apps

Yesterday Google announced a new licensing service on the Android Developers Blog.

To put it simple Google is listening to developers complaining about there applications being too easily copied and spread (finding paid apps on the major piracy networks are quite common). This is a very good thing, it’s the developers that keeps driving Android forward and of course they should be paid for their efforts when they ask for it. The new service will certainly not be unbreakable (it never is) but as long as it’s easier to pay that’s what the majority of users will do.

The problem is that it won’t be easier. Google still hasn’t enabled paid apps for a majority of the world (done country by country). For me in Sweden that means that there isn’t any easy way to pay for my apps (possible yes, easy no and the question is if the “workarounds” are much more legit than downloading the apps). Today I don’t use any paid apps since I can’t get hold of them and paying the developer at the same time.

This is simple marketing:

  • Android will gain popularity with more quality apps on the market
  • More apps will be developed if the developers gets paid
  • More developers will get paid when more users has access to paid apps
  • repeat loop until happy

Conclusion, nice one Google but remember that the original problem that lead to the common use of downloaded paid apps is still there. A problem “you” created. As long as the disease remains it won’t help that you’re treating the symptoms. Give us paid apps, not in a year, ASAP. Not until then will the problem be truly solved.

Also reported by: Swedroid

Google removing apps in our Androids

On 23 June something happened. Google decided that 2 Android apps should be removed. If it would’ve been only a

My prrrecious!
It's mine I tell you, filthy hobbits

removal from the Android Market it wouldn’t be news or weird but they didn’t stop there (actually the author had removed them from the market already). Google used what they call “Remote Application Removal Feature”, in short that means that everyone who had one of the apps installed got a notifications saying something like “This app has security issues and has been uninstalled”. Not ok Google. My phone is mine and you should not force me to remove things from it.

I understand the will to do it though. When installing an app from the Android Market it states what it has access to (in big red letters with exclamation marks) and you have to approve it before installing. Good so but knowing that most users will likely approve almost anything there is a need for additional security. As I see it there are three alternatives:

The Apple way. Let all apps go through a review process. I don’t like this, it takes time, requires resources and opens the possibility for censorship (you’ll find no iTunes competition in AppStore, no nudity and some other things Jobs decided shouldn’t be allowed). Apple also have a feature to remotely uninstall apps but to my knowledge they haven’t used it yet.

The Google way. As stated above, all apps are directly published and will only be reviewed if users complain. Then it can be removed from the Market and obviously from devices that installed it.

My way (Google are you listening carefully now?). All apps are directly published  and only reviewed if users complain. It can then be removed from the market. If Google finds it necessary to take direct actions because the app is malicious in any way this is what happen: Instead of removing the app it will be stopped from running until the users act on a notification explaining in simple terms what the problem is. The user can then choose to lift the quarantine and keep on running the app or remove it. Simple “I understand the risks” or “Save me” buttons. The only thing that remains unsolved is if the app in question adds risks for other users. That is a hypothetical question since Android today doesn’t really have a way to harm each other if I understand correctly (I’m still not a developer so my insights in the deeper parts of Android is somewhat limited).

Problem solved. Google, Don’t be Evil right?

Read the Android Developers blog post mentioning the removal:

http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2010/06/exercising-our-remote-application.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+blogspot/hsDu+(Android+Developers+Blog)

Finaly! FroYo OTA update

This is one good morning! I awoke, noticed my Nexus trackball was glowing and decided to check it out.

“System update available”

Now I’m finally running FroYo. Interesting is that I haven’t heard about anyone else going from EPE54B (“AT&T version”) to FroYo but right now I got FRF85B. I’ll post back when I’ve been using it a bit but I snatched some screenshots until then.

FroYo Homescreen

FroYo About Phone
About Phone displaying my new Android version FRF85B
FroYo Homescreen

Nexus One News & Weather app/widget

So I’ve been using my N1 for quite a while now and one of the pre-installed apps I just love is the News & Weather

Weather & News Widgets
The available Weather & News Widgets

app/widget. It’s not that it unique in what it does, I just find myself using it more and more. The functions are straight forward:

  • Widget presenting either current weather and headlines from Google news or just one of the two
  • Selecting the weather gives you some additional info and forecast for the coming 7 days
  • Selecting a headline gives you a tabbed list with categories with headlines

Nothing is perfect so when the product manager showed up on the Help Forum asking for feedback for a new iteration…I jumped right in. Good can always get better right? Trying to think outside, inside, around and over a defined box is always a fun challenge so here goes…

For the weather app/widget:
  • Option to set background colour, and transparency from 100%-0%
  • Option to set both Home location and Current location
  • Added view in the app to show hourly forecast for the day/24h/48h instead of day by day forecast
  • Night icons :)
  • When opening the app a small animation would be cute, raindrops splashing, clouds moving etc. (possible with an option to disable, relevant for low tier devices)
  • Different sizes available for the widget
For the News app/widget
  • Option to set locale (right now I depend on the “More locale” app to be able to get Swedish news, not everyone will figure this out). Now and then I also might be interested in reading us, uk or whatever news.
  • Option to set background colout and transparency from 0-100%
  • Ability to star news in the list, which should keep them on the top, and not fall of the list (hate trying to find that article I started reading only to find out that it’s not listed any more)
  • Articles I have already opened should not be displayed in the widget, unless I starred it (see above), option to dis/enable this feature
  • Different sizes available for the widget
News app displaying Headlines
News app displaying the current Sport headlines

I’m especially proud of remembering two things I have been thinking about. First the locale issue. So far you can only set your Settings->Locale (to simplify it, your location) to the countries where the Nexus have been launched. That means no-no for Sweden. The news app/widget read this info to determine which news to present to me and in what language. Now that’s a limitation I don’t like. Using the app “More Locale” from the market you can work around this but most users won’t figure that out. I would also like to be able to read other news than the localized now and then so an option in the settings would be the easiest way to go. More Locale also gives me metric units in Google Maps so if this is bugging you that’s a way to fix it. Just search for More Locale in the Market and then select your country. If it’s not available just choose “Menu”->”Add Custom” and fill it in like in the picture below.

Second great idea, staring articles. Fits right into “all” other Google services from Search to GMail and would be like a perfect bookmark for me until I finished reading/telling my friends about it or such. Together with the idea about read articles not showing up in the widget feed it’s a killer feature :)

What ideas do you have, what would make it better for you? Take your chance to contribute to Android :)

More Locale configuration
Just fill in the fields with your country code and enjoy local news

Original thread in the support forum can be found here.

DoubleTwist on Android

The stock media player in Android is somewhat notorious and because of that the market is flooded with alternatives. Now another player steps in, DoubleTwist. After using it a couple of days I decided to make a little summary…

DT start up
Default view

Frist impression: This app looks good! Clean interface with smooth graphics which is a whole lot better than the stock one.

Double Twist play view
Neat play view

When it comes to features it’s not much to say, it will play your music, videos and podcast and has the standard sorting of Artists, Albums, Songs and Playlists. Note for all of you that has been dying to get an equalizer…keep on waiting. DoubleTwist doesn’t really bring anything new to the table and lacks some features that can be found in other players (last.fm, internet radio and so on). The two things that I miss the most though is a Widget (if I didn’t use widgets I could’ve gotten an iPhone) and decent edit/create playlist functionality. If I’m to summarize it in one sentence it would be that it does what I expect of a standard media player, but it does so looking good.

A quick update gave us the option to disable the headset controls which is good, if you’re using different audio apps for different purposes the lack of such option could make DoubleTwist start playing over your Google Listen podcast for example. Other than that the only option is “Enable automatic massstorage”. Not a lot of flexibility but on the other hand I can’t think of other options that I feel is a must have.

This is a early version of the player and that will sometimes show…many users have reported issues with it not reading the music on the device properly. Missing parts of tags, not finding all files in an album etcetera. I haven’t had any such problems, it even handles Swedish letters properly which the stock player doesn’t always do. Overall this is a neat start but future development is what will decide if this is a new Android favorite or just another player among many. I’m looking forward to see how it goes, especially when it competes with the updated stock player.

Part two, the Desktop version and the wish to give you an “Apple Experience” but with Android

DoubleTwist comes in a desktop version as well, for both Windows and Mac (Linux is not supported…so far). This player has great synchronizing abilities with loads of devices. The aim is obviously to free you from iTunes and WMP. You can sync music, pictures, movies, podcasts and even search the Android Market from inside of your media player. This is all good ideas! Unfortunately the player has a looong way to go before being an option to iTunes or even any other media player. A part from the sync abilities it’s not that good. Serious problems reading ID3 tags properly (almost half of my library was missing parts or all information and believe me, I keep those tags in pedantic order), no ability to view or edit file information, no ability to collect album art and an interface that is actually less appealing than it’s Android counterpart. Did I mention I had to install it as an admin in Win7, and run it as one each time? Otherwise it won’t sync with my Nexus1. No, my computer will continue running songbird. I can’t sync pictures, movies and podcasts (though I guess podcasts is coming up sooner rather than later). On the other hand synchronizing music is also hard when the library doesn’t perform good enough to even show all your songs.

Double Twist Desktop library
DoubleTwist library when I search for "abra"
Songbird library
Exactly the same search and library but in Songbird instead

No that’s is not the final FroYo you’re running

And now it’s comfirmed.

The FroYo (Android 2.2) update for Nexus One that’s been running wild online is not a final version. There are no worries for all of you that have already done the manual update, you’ll get the OTA when it’s released. Quote below from “passion-ate” in the official Google Help Forum, also confirmed by “Ry-Guy” by his best answer selection, both are Google Employees working with the mobile team. Link at the bottom:

“Hi all,
Thanks for the responses!
Just wanted to give a heads up that the build floating around is not the official Froyo release. You will get an automatic notification when we OTA the build, no need to manually download it. You will still get the automatic notification if the official release is a newer version than the one you have, so don’t sweat…but I’d highly recommend waiting for our official release :)

We are striving hard to OTA the build to you ASAP, thanks for your patience!

Gaurav”

http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/android/thread?tid=488da0ef21660d13&hl=en

Good news for everyone worrying bout some odd behaviours from the new build and new features not working exactly like expected!