Posts Tagged ‘Android’

Ice Cream Sandwich on my Galaxy Ace

Today, I installed the first beta of CyanogenMod 9 (based on ICS) on my phone, beating the official distribution channels for an unknown but long and possibly infinite amount of time.

Why

The coolness factor, of course. I’m quite sure I’m the first of all my friends to have ICS. Also, it looks very slick. It is also heavily hyped, so I had to try it out.

CM9 welcome screen, still fresh and empty

The user interface is about as responsive as with 2.3, which is not perfect, but good enough. It’s actually quite fast, but the animations are not smooth, damaging the polished feel of the UX.

There is also the fact that the app development API has got many additions since Android 3.0, so it’s easier and more portable to write apps for ICS than for 2.3 that was installed by default.

CM9 app drawer.

How

There is a thread on the XDA-developers forum with news and releases. I downloaded the zip and installed it from ClockWorkMod recovery. A complete data wipe is needed, so make sure that your Google account is fully integrated and synced before trying the installation, or backup everything.

As the first post warns, if you don’t know how to install it, you probably shouldn’t. So I won’t post complete instructions here, but feel free to ask in the comments.

What now

The camera still doesn’t work. If this is something important to you, don’t use CM9 on your phone. For me, it’s an inconvenience, but the development possibilities are more important for me.

What you may or may not notice on the previous picture is that the icons are quite small on SGA’s 3.5-inch screen. The same is true for text in menus, fortunately there is an option to enlarge it in Settings > Accessibility.

ICS accessibility config, with the Large Text option checked

In general, it shows in a couple of places that my phone is somewhat too small and the screen resolution too low. Icons are too small, while text in some applications is too large. Other than that, web browsing and email is usable, and I don’t really need anything else from a phone. It also makes calls and messages, I tested it myself.

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CyanogenMod

What’s the point of an open-source mobile OS if you can’t change it?

So, yesterday I finally managed to install CyanogenMod. It’s not yet officially released for my Galaxy Ace, but there is a good unofficial build on the xda-developers forum. The process is really easy, but due to it being unofficial the instructions are somewhat hard to find, and that’s why it took me a long time.

As an operating system, it’s not much different than original Android. However, the appearance is heavily modified, with theming support for colors and icons, a better App list, and some really cool wallpapers. A small but important improvement is the lack of pre-installed apps that come with the phone. Additionally, CM add a plethora of configuration options, so you can really make your phone look unique.

Taking screenshots is easier, too

My new Android phone

I just bought a Samsung Galaxy Ace, the cheaper and weaker version of the S2. This is my first experience with Android, so I thought I should share some of my findings.

The user interface is basically what we’ve come to expect from a phone, similar to Plasma with widgets and to Symbian with menus. I quickly noticed that typing on a touchscreen is hard and slow, but then I found the great Swype keyboard which makes it so much easier. It’s amazing how much faster it is that typing on a phone keyboard.

A somewhat worse experience was the market. I heard critiques of Linux package repositories because of the large number of programs and too much duplication; all this applies tenfold to the Android market. I had to try at least ten notes widgets and apps before deciding on the one to use. And with many of possible apps costing money, it’s hard and expensive to try them all.

I already used many Google features (the money for the phone came from them via GSoC), so the account integration was welcome for me. Calendars and notes syncing with the desktop is really useful. My previous phone didn’t have wi-fi, and I only now noticed what a godsend it is, with wireless everywhere and carrier internet slow and expensive.

The only downside of owning a smartphone seems to be the battery life. Now, when I’m still installing apps and configuring it, it barely lasts two days. I suppose I’ll have to get used to nightly charging.