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Nacey

The Android Thread

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Android

Might take me a while to fill this in, I won't be updating it like the computer hardware thread but I'm going to write a bit about useful apps and rooting.

I'm not going to tell you what phone to buy. But I am pretty good at keeping up with the handsets so you can always ask me if you want. Mike works with Android and I believe he gets to play with a few different handsets too.

Versions

Android is usually updated a couple of times a year. Ignoring minor bug fix releases, each new version has a number and the name of a desert. So far we've had:

  • Android (1.0)
  • Cupcake (1.5)
  • Donut (1.6)
  • Eclair (2.1)
  • Froyo (2.2)
  • Gingerbread (2.3)
  • Honeycomb (3.0) - Tablet only
  • Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0)
  • Jelly Bean (4.1, 4.2, 4.3)
  • KitKat (4.4)

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Apps

General

Games

Catan

Official Settlers of Catan game, it's a little expensive when you consider that the campaign mode costs extra, but it's pretty nicely made and has a good few gours of play just in the campaign alone.

Game Dev Story

Fun little Japanese business strategy game where you create and market video games. It's relatively easy to succedd, but still quite fun and addictive.

Grand Prix Story

More varied and difficult than Game Dev, but just as funn. Again, a very nicely made business strategy game, this time with racing cars.

MiniSquadron

2D dog-fighter, very easy to pick up, lots of different planes and weapons to mix it up. Has one incredibly overpowered plane (and no, I won't tell you which) but it's still great. The Special Edition version was a lot harder, remove the awesome plane, and I couldn't work out how it was even possible to unlock half of the levels.

Refraction

Great little Goon-made puzzle game with splitting and combing laser colours, there's also a free demo with the first twenty levels.

Robotek

Turn-based slot-machine robot combat. It's very well made but it does get a little repetitive once you work out a good strategy. Has recently added online multiplayer and more cusomisation which I haven't really tried out yet.

OS Improvements

System

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Rooting

What?

The term "rooting" comes from Android's Linux origins. In simple terms, gaining root access means having the abiltiy to modify anything you want on your phone. It is somewhat similar to having an Administrator account on a Windows PC.

For most phones, rooting will invalidate your warranty. However, most manufacturers will still accept faulty hardware, and it is nearly always possible to return your phone to the original condition if needed.

Take the team to read up on what is available for your handset before you make any decisions.

Why?

There are lots of reasons to root, I'll list a few of the main ones:

  • Install custom ROMs (Android builds) with additional functionality and features.
  • Install versions of Android newer than your handset manufacturere has provided.
  • Remove all network and manufacturer installed bloatware.
  • Use an alternate launcher (home screen) without the default one still using memory.
  • Install all apps to your SD card, useful on devices with low internal memory.
  • Make backups of your entire phone and restore them easily.
  • Dynamically underclock/undervolt to save battery life.
  • Dynamically overclock to improve performance.
  • Install custom kernels, bootloaders, and various other techie stuff.

How?

Unfortunately, the method for doing this various a lot depending on your handset. Some phones, such as the Nexus range, have an included option which lets you do it. Some others have official tools which will do this. So a good place to start is actually on the manufacturer's website. In most cases, you'll need a communtiy produced tool to do it for you.

The only tool I have used is Unrevoked which supports a few of the more popular HTCs. For other phones, the best place to look is XDA Developers. Find the Development forum for your device, and look for a sticky or popular thread discussing how to root your phone.

XDA has a lot of great people and threads but it also has a lot of people posting stupid questions. As such, the more advanced posters can't be bothered to explain the same basic things over and over again. I always find it hilarious to see things like "this thread is designed with noobs in mind" and then the next line is "this only works for HBOOT 0.93", as if a newcomer would have any idea what that means or how to find out if it applies to them.

As such, I recommend also looking on AndroidForums, which is much more newbie friendly (and you'll even see me post there sometimes). Most devices have an "All Things Root" sub-forum where you can look for guides and ask for help.

Ask me if you can't find something for your phone and I'll see what I can dig up.

What Now?

As above, there are lots of things you can do once you have root. I won't explain them all here but you can ask in the thread. Check out the apps post above as well.

HTC Desire

I know that a lot of you have Desires, so I'll mention it specifically. I rooted mine after one week, it worked perfectly, and I have been enjoying superior community-produced ROMs ever since. I'm currently running GingerVillain, a derivative of CyanogenMod.

Rooting a Desire is very easy, and there is a guide on XDA. As above though, there is a more beginner-friendly guide here and you can post any questions here or in that thread.

In short, the process is to install a special USB driver on your PC, run an executable, and wait 5-10mins. There's a little more to in than that, but that's pretty much it.

Rooting is not 100% safe, since it is an unofficial modification to your phone. But for the Desire, it is as close to safe as it is possible to be. All of the (extremely rare) issues that can arise now also have reliable fixes.

S-OFF and Beyond

It's possible to go beyond jsut rooting, to gain access to the entire hardware of your phone. Security Off (S-OFF) is a common next-step as it allows you to do things such as repartition the internal and system memory to create more space for user apps. For example, the Desire has 250MB dedicated to the system partition, where the operating system is stored. You actually only need somewhere between 100 and 180MB, and it's possible to get that additional space back. This stuff is beyond the scope of this guide but I'm happy to help if anyone is looking to do this kind of thing.

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Isn't the sensation running 3.0?

Sensation runs Gingerbread. Phones cannot run Honeycomb, there is no compatible UI or something, Mike could probably explain this better than I can. Some communtiy Gingerbread ROMs have included parts of the code taken code from AOSP though.
Isn't 3.5 comign at the end of the year?

Isn't that what I said? There's no exact date yet, as far as I have heard, but the last indication we have from Google was Q4.

I believe Unrevoked has been superseded by Revolution now.

Revolution is still alpha and I don't know the exact state of it, so I didn't mention it here. For just rooting a Desire, I'd stick with tried and tested Unrevoked for the moment. Do you know if Revolution supports S-OFF for GSM Desires yet? Having them both in one tool would be pretty neat, but I did mine with AlphaRev since I was already rooted.

I'm going to throw some screenshots up of what you can do with rooting and custom ROMs on a Desire.

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Do you know if Revolution supports S-OFF for GSM Desires yet? Having them both in one tool would be pretty neat, but I did mine with AlphaRev since I was already rooted.

I believe it does now.

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Is there any reason in anyones eyes why I should not buy a Galaxy S II?

I've been eyeing up the sensation for sometime now but Orange can't keep there numbers straight on it. The S II seems to be far cheaper for an equivalent if not superior in some aspects, phone.

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I've heard pretty good things about it in general. Samsung's launcher isn't that great and in the past they've been very bad an releasing updates but apparently they have improved on the latter point.

The major benefit of a Sensation would be that it has an official process to unlock the bootloader.

Right now, I'd probably be waiting for the (probably Samsung/Motorolla) Nexus Prime, the next dev phone. But that will be October at least.

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I can vouch for the sensation being of the awesome.

I know the Sensation is awesome but spec wise its practically the same as the S II.

The only thing I've heard bad on the S II is the fact it doesn't use the native File System.

The Amoled screen give sit a better battery life and The UI depends if you like Sense or not...

Yet Orange seem to think the Senseation is worth £15 a month more...

And I can;t use awesome deals like mobiles.co.uk because I can't ge tmy 25% work discount that way..

So basically thinking the SII is going to be the way to go as they'll as ridiculous prices for the Nexus Prime when it comes out...

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I hate Samsung devices, but I'd take the S2 over the Sensation purely based on cost nowadays. It's just not worth how much more it costs, and the S2 is so much better than the S (mainly due to working with Google first on one) that it's actually alright.

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Sensation on o2 for 27£ a month?

You can stop stealing my priority stuff? ;p

Offer edned today and was only 300 minutes... I use 500-600

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Oh god, who actually writes prices as "27£"?

Anyway, if the prices are so wildly different then an S2 seems like the obvious choice.

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Yup it was the SGS2.

Basically I went to a gig straight from work.. impromptu sort of thing, mate had a spare ticket. Was standing a decent amoutn away from the crush enjoying it, some twat started smoking so we moved over... was still not crushy or anything but was closer... Lead singer of the band jumped out at the end into the crowd.. grabbed hold of me being tall and I got pulled into a huge crush of people.. struggled my way out.. pockets out-turned.

So yea....

Haven't had it long enough to claim off the insurance either.. so i'm basically fucked for 18 months.

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Wait until you have and then claim? Technically fraud but it's a legitimate claim really.

What the hell kind of stupid insurance has a lead in time anyway, that's not really insurance is it?

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Because the insurance was through my bank but I only upgraded my account to the one to cover that the same day It has a 1month period before you can claim to stop fraudlant claims and some other random stuff..

Figured i'ld be fine for a month... after all its been nearly 2 years since the last time anythign happened to a phone of mine.

Can't just wait it out.. reported it all last night...

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