* I got my Droid / Motorola Milestone last Thursday.
* I rooted my Droid last Friday.
* Now, I have played my rooted Android phone for long enough and have decided to terminate my iPhone 3G plan once the two-year contrast ends. Droid Does.
The coming iPhone OS 4 is very attractive, but with current version of Android, I get so much more with my phone. Since I recently bought an iPad, and I also own an iPod Touch. My accumulated iTunes apps will live long and prosper!
I was very excited with iPhone OS 4, which was before I really play with an Android phone. HTC magic is the phone my wife is using and I didn't get chance to digg it. I consider this Motorola Droid A855 is the first Android phone I used.
You must be very curious about what's the magic in Android made my flip, disregarding the coming iPhone OS 4 and rumored iPhone 4G/HD. Let's just go through what are coming in iPhone OS 4 and see how current Android does (based on Droid with 2.1-update1 Android).
- The biggest selling point for OS4 is the multi-tasking. I don't have personal hand-on experience with it, although the demo is really exciting. BUT, Android already uses it and behaves extremely well:
# Anytime I push the HOME key, I return to the home screen, the current running program stores in the background; when I click the program icon again, it returns to the exact place where I left
# While I am checking twits, a notification pops up - "new email"; I click it and open the email client to process it; once I finish, I BACK to the twitter client where the twit I just looked at - last time I checked, the BACK button wasn't on the iPhone
# Android has many process manager apps to help you handle those multi-tasking programs, which really feels like using a low-end desktop computer where sometime I have to close several programs to save resource for others
- I don't know why OS4 is selling Folder. It is just an organizer for a large number of application icons. It has been in the Cydia from years ago, which can be used in iPhone if it is jailbreaked. What I really want "Folder" is the folders to put my notes, photos, videos in organized place. In Android, I get it! Organize files just like on a computer, folders, files, file extensions, etc. Unlike iPhone, each app has its own directory with extremely long and non-sense naming and collects their own notes, images ... it is just silly
- OS4 gets better Email. Android's email system is a little confusing. Once I separate them into Gmail related and the other, things get easier to understand and WOW - it is really powerful:
# I got multiple Google account sync with different things, mail, photo, contact, etc
# Each account can be configured to fetch email with different frequency, display notification differently, ... even the LED flash notification shows corresponding email account color - how thoughtly
# Of course, multiple exchange account support is already running in Android
# One thing iPhone beats Android is the support of Yahoo Mail free accounts: on iPhone, I get push; on Android, I can only check Yahoo Mail with WiFi off, and in a pre-defined frequency
# I haven't figure out how to search email in Android, but I think it is there, which might be powered by some kind Google Desktop for mobile
- OS4 gets iBooks and iAd. No comment on iAd. As for iBooks, I am using it on iPad, which is awesome. For either Android or iPhone, I think the screen is too small to read in a book mimicing way - I am happy with any app that display text well on small display :-p
- OS4 also has better Enterprise support, mainly the security part. Android is open source and security is ITS thing! For example, I installed a free app called IO Safe, with which I can encrypt a note I just wrote, easily - I cannot image this app will be available in iTunes app store.
- In conclusion, the expected coming OS4 is still wrapped in a private APPLE zone, cannot compete what current version Android has already offered. Why iPhone is popular? It's because of the app store!
In current state, in my opinion, Apple rules the smartphone market because of the GIANT collection of free and paid app in its iTunes store. So, what's in Android Market? Let me go through the ones I installed on the first two days. All of them are free apps in Android Market, which I collected based on their ranking and reviews on the Internet.
* Advanced Task Killer Free: I use it to manage apps - it gives quick way to kill background running program; a recent update enables automatic apps killing
* Alarm Clock: a clock that works great, a must-have
* Barcode Scanner: a must-have; because it works so great that I even start running QR barcoded URL on this blog for easier mobile access
* Color Flashlight: as its name, very handy when I am in the dark, i.e. microscope room
* ConnectBot: allows me to access remote servers via SSH
* Documents to Go: it handles Word, Excel, Powerpoint and PDF files. The free version allows me to read those files, better the system's QuickOffice. The paid version allows editing and PDF creation.
* drocap2: updated from drocap, screen capture application, which requests root; there is another app called Home++ in the Market, which replaces the original Home and has a built-in function to capture the screen (I don't like the UI outline of Home++, plus it is slow to get the full application draw displayed)
* DroidRootHelper: a must-have, once the Droid is rooted; has all the things needed to setup the initial nandroid backup
* Metamorph: runs on rooted Droid, which changes the theme - haven't tried / haven't found a theme excited me
* Motion Launcher: switch apps by shaking the Droid, very fun - I find it is "less" usable to me, because I am always running around
* My Battery: shows numbered residual battery, handy
* My Tracks: records the path, using Droid's built-in GPS and Google Maps; very thoughtful; extremely useful during hiking/running/trip
* News and Weather: as its name, I mainly use its weather module, because I check news by the next app
* NewsRob: highly integrated with Google Reader data, has almost everything I need for a RSS reader
* OI Notepad: for writing notes, one of the many excellent apps from OpenIntents
* Seesmic: it is free and it is THE BEST twitter client I used so far, among the many I tried in Android Market and iTunes App Store; I started with a twidroid, but really don't like the small font and some handling of specific operations; Seesmic is just the ONE I need
* Android Terminal Emulator by Jack Palevich: a terminal emulator for communicating with the built-in Android shell, which emulates a reasonably large subset of Digital Equipment Corporation VT-100 terminal codes
* Titanium Backup Free: as its name, very useful application; but I feel it is kind compelled while I am also backing up the nandroid
* WordPress: another way to update this blog from the phone besides the web interface, which might not be easy to control on a tiny screen
* Yelp: I am in a big city - Yelp suggests things to try, anything I could image, with many useful tips/tricks/comments from its users
* android-wifi-tether and android-wired-tether: these two are not in the Market, which are from http://code.google.com/p/android-wifi-tether/ and http://code.google.com/p/android-wired-tether/ and require root; current versions are NOT working with Droid
Below is the one I am using now
I want to highlight the following:
* Astro File Manager - not only file manage, almost everything; it has an application backup function as well
* aTrackDog - update my apps to the newest, easily
* MSN Talk - it is FREE and very functional
* PdaNet - a paid app that DOES Internet tethering; I used its iPhone and Palm apps, and now, Android app
* RepliGo Reader - the BEST PDF file reader I tried so far
* ucweb - a browser developed in China, very powerful, "World in Hand"
* WebSharing - it allows me to browse my photo from a desktop computer, very like the one, Air Share, I use on iPhone
* WordMate - local dictionary; I import the stardic data and it rolls
As you might notice that I mentioned couple times - ROOT - above. What's root?
What is root?
Root is Administrator access. It grants you full, unrestricted access to your phone.
Does it void your warranty?
Yes. But you can unroot the phone back to the original factory setting, which means warranty back ...
I rooted my phone in the hard way: running 2.1-update1, unroot to 2.0.1, root and update to 2.1-update1. It is said that I can directly root my 2.1 firmware phone (1, 2), I haven't tried and I only describe the way I tried.
# unroot to 2.0.1 stock (ESD56)
I was following this post.
A. Droid 2.0.1 http://www.mediafire.com/?2nojyrkfznj (.sbf file)
B. RSDLite 4.6 http://www.mediafire.com/?jzzjmngizmj
C. 32-bit Motorola USB Drivers
1. Download all of the files above
2. Install RSDLite 4.6 AND the 32-bit Motorola USB Drivers
3. Connect your phone to USB and turn it off then while your phone is booting hold UP on the DPAD
4. Run RSD Lite 4.6 as Administrator (For Vista/win7)
5. Click the ... next to the filename box and browse to where you saved the .sbf file and double click the .sbf file
6. Hit start and below it should give you completion progress
7. Once your phone is done being flashed (It may take a while so don't unplug it) it will reboot and you will be back at stock 2.0.1 no root
dordodim for the sbf file.
Motorola for the awesome phone, usb drivers and RSDLite (Thanks Ron for pointing out where I could find the USB Drivers and RSDLite)
The following is a screen capture on my desktop when the unroot is successful.
I did unroot several times. Sometimes, the process stopped at 92%, then the software talked me that it FAILED. Don't panic: the software failed, but the phone unrooting was successful. Just do NOT unplug the USB cable until RSDLite says something.
# 2.0.1 stock to 2.1 rooted (ESD81)
I was following this post. I did it because I performed a nandroid backup before the updating, which changed bootloader and prevented direct system update.
What is "Nandroid"?
Nandroid is a tool that, when added into the source of the recovery mode, and compiled, allows making a backup of various parts of your system. This is extremely handy in preventing bricks when used properly.
How to backup nandroid? I followed these two youtube videos.
The only difference is that I directly flashed Recovery 99.3b to the phone using DroidRootHelper. There was no need and no point to flash 99.2b. If things come up which cannot be solved by googling, try IRC.
How is the word typing experience? Initially, I am not very comfortable - I play iPhone's virtual keyboard for too long to easily adapt to others. After couple days' extensively usage, now, I am pretty fluent with Droid, both the virtual and the physical. Here is a review wrote by rm, and I agree with him.
1. You have four keyboards to choose from. It really matters!
2. The haptic feedback creates a small vibration in the device when you type a key with the on-screen keyboard. This feedback gives you a real confirmation that you have “depressed” a key, even when you have not actually pushed on anything. It is a great feeling. It is also better than the BlackBerry implementation for which you must actually depress the glass plate.
3. The Motorola Droid actively suggests a list of words to complete what you are typing. Look at the image to the left. As I typed the word app, there is a list of words that I only need to touch to complete typing. It pulls words from its dictionary and also from my contact list, so names of people appear in the choices.
One thing missing, even in my rooted Droid, is able to record the communication while making the call. Disregarding the law issue, this function comes very handy in certain conditions. But, my search comes nothing useful right now (1, 2). The AirVoice in Market supposes to work on some phones, but NOT Droid. If you have something working, even needs heavy lifting, LET ME KNOW!
One last thing - battery life. My Droid's battery lasts for one-day extensive usage, which is about the same as my iPhone 3G. But, Droid's battery is swappable - theoretically, I can keep the phone working forever, as long as I have enough charged battery to swap... Droid Does!