A week in the life of Android... (my first Android phone)

andy1000

Active Member
Having had (and played) with my Desire and Android now for the last week, I'm starting to get my head around the whole thing a bit more now and thought I'd share a few of my thoughts & observations and likes & dislikes with it.

Firstly, I can't find fault with my Desire hardware and my hopes about the build quality of HTC devices so far have been more than met. I have to completely agree with all the reviews and opinions I've read on the Desire before I got it - it really is a quality device and definitely deserves it's rankings as one of the top phones currently available (I just hope I'm not tempting fate with mine by speaking too soon here!)

Firstly a few thoughts on the default Sense UI - really smooth and generally quite a lot of useful widgets & apps (FriendsStream, full-size calendar widget, power widgets, nice selection of clocks, etc) but WHY do they insist on have the huge fat dock at the bottom with the [email protected] 'Phone' tab in the middle - I find it really annoying that it pulls in all of my Facebook contacts whether I want them there or not (do I really want the phone number of someone I was at school with 15 years ago and just want to see what they're up to these days?!), though I've kept the Facebook sync active as I like having my phonebook contacts sync'ed and their pics showing under contacts

So, after reading up on Android I thought I'd give Launcher Pro a try. Bear in mind setting up my UI with this is a work-in-progress and I keep on flicking into it and trying different apps and widgets as I go, but I'm still a little uncertain whether I prefer/will use this over the stock Sense. I like the potential to be able to customise it a lot more and the ability to get rid of that fat Sense dock, but I'm missing some of the Sense widgets - in particular I've got a selection of power widgets set up on my Sense launcher to swittch off 3G when I'm in work and have access to the net on my computer so don't need it. I know there's various Power widgets that do most of the things the individual Sense one's do, but for the life of me I can't find on on the App market which either works well or doesn't look (frankly) fugly. The two that I tried in the 'group' power widgets both link the 3G on-off option to the Mobile Data settings, which on 2.2 don't actually give you the option to turn data on or off, so are completely useless. As for other widgets, I'm still deciding what I can live without or won't be bothered by not having - sure Friendstream's nice to have in full screen, but I can live with just having the app icon to click on to launch, and the same with the smaller stock Calender.

On the positive side of Launcher Pro, I do like the added customisation it allows, like the ability to remove the names underneath icons, or being able to specify how many screens you want. I'm sure there's a lot more to it that I've yet to discover, but as I say I'm still (re) setting up my screens with it so have yet to delve into it fully.

As another gripe about Launchers (I suspect all launchers, not just what I've tried), why can't they port across all your apps from Sense so I don't have to go and redrop everything onto my screens?

Anyway, as this is the Android forum, I guess I better mention my thoughts on it so far. Bearing in mind I came from a Nokia 5800 which I didn't use at all like a smartphone due to a combination of the [email protected] OS and my hesitation to enable all the 3G & wi-fi syncing abilities, Android really does make me feel like I can constantly be connected with the world around me (reading that back, I can't help shaking my head sadly at the modern technological world where we feel the need to have email and Facebook updates wherever and whenever we are!).

I'm still confused sometimes over what is a widget or an app, especially when I've been going in setting up Sense or Launcher Pro, but am rapidly learning to find my way around my phone and it's settings. Part of me loves the level of customisation Android brings (until I started using Windows 7, I was constantly messing about with different themes and looks on my laptops, even having the full-on iOS look to Windows for a bit, and frequently dip into Firefox Add-ons for customisation with that) but also Android annoys me in it's fragmentation. The marketplace seems full of quite a lot of junk and I've yet to find an app site that presents apps in a way that I'm happy to spend more than a minute searching through for app options. And like I've already mentioned, some app icons are just plain fugly and just seem to look out-of-place when lined up next to other icons on screen. Going back to my apps/widget confusion, I'm also finding it a bit time consuming at times finding something I've downloaded to go into the settings or to add it to my homescreen.

Like a few other people have said, whilst Android is nice and deserves the growth and reputation it's achieving, I'm already getting a bit tired of messing about and just want something that works out-of-the-box. I've downloaded two dozen apps and widgets, uninstalled half of them, and haven't even used half of what's left yet. I suppose as my knowledge of Android grows and needs change, I may well use more apps, but at the moment I can't quite help thinking that, for what I'm using it for, a cheap nokia dumbphone with 3G connectivity so I can check my emails & Facebook when out & about would do the job as well as my Desire. Still, the big techy-geek in me loves having a Desire(/mini-computer) in my pocket!

I don't know if I'd find iOS or WP7 any easier/better to get on with tbh - unless I decide to sell my Desire and downgrade, I'll have it for the next 18 months and will probably like Android more as my understanding and usage grows, but that part of me that wonders whether I've made the right decision in buying option A over option B is kicking in, so I guess only time will tell!

(Apologies if my terminology is incorrect or muddled throughout this but I'm still trying to find my way around it all a bit. I hope I get my points across anyway!)

Thanks for reading another lengthy spouting of my thoughts!

Andy
 

williamj1

Active Member
Welcome to the world of android :)

With the linking of contacts and facebook, I'm sure you can unlink their facebook account and prevent facebook from syncing their data.

The sense dock does my head in too, but I also loved the widgets. What is it you miss particularly, as there are direct ports of things like the sense htc clock which can be used on other launchers? I missed the sense clock, and couldn't find anything nearly as good for other roms / when I used launcher pro, but then I found a direct port of the sense clock for other launchers and roms. I can point you to these, or suggest ones that do the same thing etc.

I was kind of the same when I first got android, moving from ios. But over time you begin to realise all these little things it can do that others can't. What I love most, is that I have learned over time and now it is my own phone. You can't really do this with sense yet, but over time you will no doubt begin to customise and customise until eventually you have your own perfect phone. If you just have a look around loads of different sites, you will see that once you begin to explore about a bit, no two android phones are the same. This gallery illustrates my point :) A great place to gain inspiration. (Dropbox - Photos - Online backup, file sync, and sharing made easy.)

The market is a whole issue in itself. But you will soon begin to see it's potential. I have only had my htc desire (having never used android prior to this ) for about 3 months now. In that time, the market has transformed phenomenally. Whether it be from the look of it with all the updates they brought out to it, the apps, the new look or even the new web based site. As you are new to android, I don't know if you know about this, but they released this just 3 days ago :) https://market.android.com/ . When I first got my desire I was a little annoyed coming from ios about the lack of some of my favourite apps. But recently, they have been pouring in and some really good original new ones, and my old favourites from ios have started appearing. There are a few apps I miss, but by in large they are all there, with many more in development. It is growing, and one day soon it will be just as good as the app store :)


You also might find that as your knowledge grows, you might begin to delve into the world of android rooting. The possibilities this creates are honestly endless, whether it be custom roms or tweaked launchers and so on. Maybe not at the moment, but I guarantee you will at some point look into this. I like you started of with sense, then rooted and stayed with sense. Then went to stock android, then a port of the Desire HD rom with sense v2 and now I'm running a custom rom called Miui which is a mix of all 3 (ios, sense and stock) combined into one great rom, but completely different and I love it. Rooting - that is when the fun begins :)

Couple of suggestions....

Great site for anything desire related, quesions, advice, tips, guides etc. I use it all the time. Really really useful :)
- HTC Desire - Android Forums

On that same site, you might quite like to have a look through this thread. Pages and pages of people with desires homescreens, with all sorts of roms and launchers etc. Great place for ideas to begin.
- Show us your Desire Homescreens... - Android Forums

This thread might be of use for looking at widgets
- Most Wanted Widgets - xda-developers

Hope all this helps, and remember Android is a great OS, and as you say rightly deserves the growth and recognition it is getting. However, bear in mind that it is relatively new. The way I see it, it might not be perfect at the moment, but I am glad to be part of it's development and supporting it grow into what will one day be the best mobile operating system. It's future is very much dependant on and dictated by our support :)

Enjoy :)

(Oh my god, i've written almost as much as you :p )
 
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andy1000

Active Member
Thanks for replying with some helpful info. As you've covered quite a bit I'll respond to each as it comes up... ;)


With the linking of contacts and facebook, I'm sure you can unlink their facebook account and prevent facebook from syncing their data.

I think you're supposed to be able to, but in 2.2 once it's syced contact data at start you can't remove it short of deleting the widget and being quick to untick the contacts sync, but then you don't get any of the FB pics or anything. It's annoying, but I'm living with having the extra FB numbers and contacts in my 'Phone' list for now.


The sense dock does my head in too, but I also loved the widgets. What is it you miss particularly, as there are direct ports of things like the sense htc clock which can be used on other launchers? I missed the sense clock, and couldn't find anything nearly as good for other roms / when I used launcher pro, but then I found a direct port of the sense clock for other launchers and roms. I can point you to these, or suggest ones that do the same thing etc.

The HTC widgets are really handy. I can live without the clock (though it is a good reference point on Sense to be able to tell that you've scrolled back to the home screen) and prefer to use the smaller digital clock (for which I've found a pretty decent replacement - 'Digital Clock' I think it's called though I've since uninstalled it). What I'm really missing by not using Sense though is the Power Widget's, in particular the Data/3G On-Off one (though I've since discovered you can find the switch for that when you hold down the power button, at least in Sense, though it would still be handy to have on my Home Screen). All of the combination widget's I've tried have a button for it, but like I said before it only takes you to the 'Mobile Networks' menu and not to the menu preceding it where the option to turn Data on & Off actually is! :confused:


I was kind of the same when I first got android, moving from ios. But over time you begin to realise all these little things it can do that others can't. What I love most, is that I have learned over time and now it is my own phone. You can't really do this with sense yet, but over time you will no doubt begin to customise and customise until eventually you have your own perfect phone. If you just have a look around loads of different sites, you will see that once you begin to explore about a bit, no two android phones are the same. This gallery illustrates my point A great place to gain inspiration. (Dropbox - Photos - Online backup, file sync, and sharing made easy.)

I like being able to customise the phone to how I want it to look and so it works as effectively for me as possible, but as yet I haven't got around to buying a back-up app, which I probably should. The one think that always causes me to stop customising my computer equipment is the fact that if I ever have to do a format/reset, the more customising I've done the more work it will be to get it back to how I'd ended up having it!

I'll check out the link for definite though - cheers for that! :)


The market is a whole issue in itself. But you will soon begin to see it's potential. I have only had my htc desire (having never used android prior to this ) for about 3 months now. In that time, the market has transformed phenomenally. Whether it be from the look of it with all the updates they brought out to it, the apps, the new look or even the new web based site. As you are new to android, I don't know if you know about this, but they released this just 3 days ago https://market.android.com/ . When I first got my desire I was a little annoyed coming from ios about the lack of some of my favourite apps. But recently, they have been pouring in and some really good original new ones, and my old favourites from ios have started appearing. There are a few apps I miss, but by in large they are all there, with many more in development. It is growing, and one day soon it will be just as good as the app store

I have been looking at the Android Market, as well as Appbrain and using Google. THe Market's not bad, but I still find Appbrain slightly easier to navigate through (though it's still messy). For things like keyboards and launchers, I've found reading articles on the "best" or comparing them is the best way of sorting the good from the bad, so I can then search for the particular app.


You also might find that as your knowledge grows, you might begin to delve into the world of android rooting. The possibilities this creates are honestly endless, whether it be custom roms or tweaked launchers and so on. Maybe not at the moment, but I guarantee you will at some point look into this. I like you started of with sense, then rooted and stayed with sense. Then went to stock android, then a port of the Desire HD rom with sense v2 and now I'm running a custom rom called Miui which is a mix of all 3 (ios, sense and stock) combined into one great rom, but completely different and I love it. Rooting - that is when the fun begins

I'm sure I probably will at least toy with rooting & custom/alternate ROMS - already I've done a bit of reading on the matter but don't feel confident enough/have the time to attempt it yet. But the same point I made about customisation goes for this route too :rolleyes:

Couple of suggestions....

Great site for anything desire related, quesions, advice, tips, guides etc. I use it all the time. Really really useful
- HTC Desire - Android Forums

On that same site, you might quite like to have a look through this thread. Pages and pages of people with desires homescreens, with all sorts of roms and launchers etc. Great place for ideas to begin.
- Show us your Desire Homescreens... - Android Forums

This thread might be of use for looking at widgets
- Most Wanted Widgets - xda-developers

I'm already a daily reader of Android Forums and found there and here a massive source of info and tips, though have only glanced really through xsa as it seemed too techy for where I'm at at the moment, but I will definitely check out that thread link.

Thanks for taking the time to reply with some helpful info and some of your own thoughts - it's useful to know.

As for trying other OS's again, an iPhone 4 is too far out of my budget reach to try out even if I sold the Desire, and the fact that there's only a few months until the iPhone 5 is released would make me hesitant to swap for a 3GS (plus it seems a step down hardware wise from the Desire :rolleyes:). I suppose if I really wanted to I could trade for a WP7 handset on the Trading forum, but I'd be a little retiscent especially after reading recent comments about what it's actually lacking at the moment. Ah, I'm already settling into using Android more now (and gone back to Sense over Launcher Pro and a few other launchers I tried) so I'm sure I'll learn to love it over the coming months! :smashin:
 

williamj1

Active Member
"Thanks for replying with some helpful info. As you've covered quite a bit I'll respond to each as it comes up... ;)

The HTC widgets are really handy. I can live without the clock (though it is a good reference point on Sense to be able to tell that you've scrolled back to the home screen) and prefer to use the smaller digital clock (for which I've found a pretty decent replacement - 'Digital Clock' I think it's called though I've since uninstalled it). What I'm really missing by not using Sense though is the Power Widget's, in particular the Data/3G On-Off one (though I've since discovered you can find the switch for that when you hold down the power button, at least in Sense, though it would still be handy to have on my Home Screen). All of the combination widget's I've tried have a button for it, but like I said before it only takes you to the 'Mobile Networks' menu and not to the menu preceding it where the option to turn Data on & Off actually is! :confused:"


Download an app called Extended Controls, or I'll send you it if you wish. Duplicates the power bar widgets exactly from sense, but gives you the option to add loads more things into it. :smashin::thumbsup:


"I like being able to customise the phone to how I want it to look and so it works as effectively for me as possible, but as yet I haven't got around to buying a back-up app, which I probably should. The one think that always causes me to stop customising my computer equipment is the fact that if I ever have to do a format/reset, the more customising I've done the more work it will be to get it back to how I'd ended up having it!

I'll check out the link for definite though - cheers for that! :)"


Backing up is a problem. Without rooting, your ability to backup things are pretty limited. My rooting, you can take what is known as a nandroid. You might know this, but it is just a backup of your entire phone, setting, apps + data, homescreens + their layout etc. For example, I still have my original sense nandroid. So if I ever get fed up with Miui or things go wrong, I can simply restore my sense nandroid. You must root to enable this.

"I have been looking at the Android Market, as well as Appbrain and using Google. THe Market's not bad, but I still find Appbrain slightly easier to navigate through (though it's still messy). For things like keyboards and launchers, I've found reading articles on the "best" or comparing them is the best way of sorting the good from the bad, so I can then search for the particular app."

Never really felt a need to use anything like AppBrain. Only ever really wanted large famous name apps like shazam or games etc. Finding them has never been a problem. The few times I needed something unusual, I would just ask someone on a forum for a recommendation - easy :clap:


"I'm sure I probably will at least toy with rooting & custom/alternate ROMS - already I've done a bit of reading on the matter but don't feel confident enough/have the time to attempt it yet. But the same point I made about customisation goes for this route too :rolleyes:"

You confidence will grow quickly, it will surprise you. I reckon a month or so :p

"I'm already a daily reader of Android Forums and found there and here a massive source of info and tips, though have only glanced really through xsa as it seemed too techy for where I'm at at the moment, but I will definitely check out that thread link."


Yup XDA can be techy, but all the custom roms and mods etc, all the rooting stuff is done on their. I'm a member at both, so its useful :)


"Thanks for taking the time to reply with some helpful info and some of your own thoughts - it's useful to know.

As for trying other OS's again, an iPhone 4 is too far out of my budget reach to try out even if I sold the Desire, and the fact that there's only a few months until the iPhone 5 is released would make me hesitant to swap for a 3GS (plus it seems a step down hardware wise from the Desire :rolleyes:). I suppose if I really wanted to I could trade for a WP7 handset on the Trading forum, but I'd be a little retiscent especially after reading recent comments about what it's actually lacking at the moment. Ah, I'm already settling into using Android more now (and gone back to Sense over Launcher Pro and a few other launchers I tried) so I'm sure I'll learn to love it over the coming months! :smashin:[/QUOTE]"


I'm not a fan of W7 at all. I don't really see its place in the market. They have some nice phones physically, but software wise it offers nothing new. In fact (and I could be wrong) but I would go as far as to say it lacks many features. When android first came out, IOS already dominated and I stayed well clear of android. But once it had been around for a few years and developed a bit, I became interested and look at it now. Only then, once it has blossomed into something great did I jump on board. It was an alternative to IOS, and it was great. But my problem with W7 (at the moment) is that it seems to be very much just starting out. Also, I don't see where it is going. It is continuously playing catch up now with IOS and Android, and it isn't bringing anything new to the table. It isn't being marketed as a business platform, yet it doesn't have the apps or features yet to make it appealing enough to mass consumers. Just my thoughts, but it seems a bit like a new born baby unsure what to do with itself. I think your better with android :p

Once again a long response :) Enjoy
 

andy1000

Active Member
I'll try to keep my response a bit shorter this time :smashin:

Already you've got me thinking more about rooting and trying out different ROMS now :rolleyes: Will have to do some more research into what the Vanilla/specific-custom ROMS offer before I actually try anything like that though. I do think rooting might be an option but again I need to do some reading and order a smaller SD card and adapter (as I presume you'll need to plug it into a computer to create the goldcard(?) and don't want to use the 4Gb card I swapped out with an 8Gb I had spare as that might be useful to have as a backup for storage).

I've downloaded and am toying with a few launcher's again - Zeam and Modaco's Gingerbread one's this time (I like the simple dock that the Gingerbread one gives, but can see the benefits of having a scrollable larger dock that Zeam gives [though have read that Zeam's not going to be updated anymore, but presume that it'll be safe and fine to use for a while if I decide I like it, at least until I get bored of it! :rolleyes:)

I've also found a good clock - 'Digital Clock Widget' - which gives you your next alarm time as well as looking nice and readable, so have replaced the stock Android one with that :). Will look at Extended Controls too - so far by keeping 3G off when I'm at work or not needed I've used hardly any of my data allowance, so partly feel I should leave it on to get my money's worth of my data bundle I pay for on top of my tariff, but equally have noticed how having 3G and wi-fi on kills the battery (though to be fair playing around with 2-3 different launchers at the same time too could have something to do with that! :blush:)

I think WP7 will have a place in the smartphone world, but probably wouldn't consider it now for at least another 6 months, or until a few of the major updates have added the extra 'missing' functionality. Though I still think the Omnia 7 is one tasty piece of kit - hardware and aesthetics wise - and if I was offered one as a swap right now for my Desire would probably say yes! :smashin:

Anyway, there we go rambling again! :rolleyes:

Andy
 

williamj1

Active Member
You don't need a goldcard to root. Goldcard's are important for doing things like debranding or removing / changing the bootloader image etc. But they are quite complex as methods go and I have never touched one or gone anywhere near them as you don't need them to root.

To root you download a program called unrevoked3. You run it, and plug in your phone, hit go and it roots. It takes about 1 minute and then its done. You can then take nandroids, flash custom roms and do whatever you want. Rooting itself isn't too scary a step I don't think. It doesn't affect the phone at all and you wouldn't notice a different. For example I rooted with the original sense factory rom and stayed like that for ages - so I could get more space for apps and do app backups. It wasn't for about another month after that I mustered up the courage to flash an alternative rom :)
 

andy1000

Active Member
You don't need a goldcard to root. Goldcard's are important for doing things like debranding or removing / changing the bootloader image etc. But they are quite complex as methods go and I have never touched one or gone anywhere near them as you don't need them to root.

To root you download a program called unrevoked3. You run it, and plug in your phone, hit go and it roots. It takes about 1 minute and then its done. You can then take nandroids, flash custom roms and do whatever you want. Rooting itself isn't too scary a step I don't think. It doesn't affect the phone at all and you wouldn't notice a different. For example I rooted with the original sense factory rom and stayed like that for ages - so I could get more space for apps and do app backups. It wasn't for about another month after that I mustered up the courage to flash an alternative rom :)

Oh, I didn't realise that - I guess I was caught up in so much different reading before I got the phone that I got confuddled! As it happens, fortunately I got an unbranded handset from P4U so didn't have to worry about all of the Orange crapware that would've come with upgrading directly through Orange.

That's my evening sorted/wasted now then reading and mustering the courage to try that :rolleyes:
 

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