Useful Android 4.4 (KitKat) links

Just released Android 4.4 (KitKat) introduced a number of new features: integrated messaging app (Hangouts), wireless printing, improved immersive full screen mode, new Dialer app, improved stock Email app, NFC update which allows apps using NFC (e.g. Wallet) to function without the access to secure element on the device, and many more. Android 4.4 has also been optimized for more efficient memory usage, which should improve overall performance.

Below are some links that will be useful for consumers:

… and developers:

Enjoy!

 

Android 4.4 KitKat

Posted in Android, Dev | Leave a comment

[Tip] How to save offline map in Google Maps v7

Downloading maps for offline access is useful not only for travelers worried about roaming charges, but also for any heavy Maps users with limited data plans.

If you are worried that the ability to save offline maps in Google Maps has disappeared after major update in v7, you are not alone. The good news is that the feature has been added back in 7.0.1 update, but the way to access it changed.

Here’s how to download an offline map in version 7 of Google Maps:

  1. Move and zoom the map to the area you’d like to download
  2. Click on the top Search bar:
    • Google Maps
  3. Scroll all the way down
  4. Click Make this map area available offline
    • Offline mode in Google Maps version 7

Alternatively, you can type or say “Ok, Maps” directly in the search box.

Source: Google Product Forums

Posted in Android, Tips | Leave a comment

[Follow up] List of phones that work with “How to move almost all apps to SD card” procedure

How to move almost all Android apps to SD card (no root required) remains the most popular post on this blog despite being 2.5 years old. One of the most common questions about that procedure is which phone does it work on.

To help answer this question, I added a Google Form to record success/failure reports and now it has enough answers to publish the results.

Some of the popular phones for which this hack works:

  • Alcatel one touch (2.3)
  • HTC Desire (2.2, 2.3)
  • HTC explorer (2.3)
  • HTC Wildfire S (2.3)
  • LG Optimus L7 (4.0)
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace (2.3)
  • Samsung Galaxy mini (2.3)
  • Samsung Galaxy Y (2.3)
  • Samsung Galaxy Y Duos (2.3)
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc (4.0)
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia mini (4.0)

You can see all submitted responses in 2 separate documents below:

  1. List of phones for which this procedure works
  2. List of phones for which this procedure does not work

Note that some phones are listed in both lists, which can be caused by few reasons. First, not all users follow the procedure correctly, and as a result pay more attention to the first list. Second, carriers may tweak the phone’s operating system and disable this hack as a result of these tweaks. As a result, the hack may work on one carrier, but not on another for the same phone.

Notably, most people report that on the best selling Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4 this hack does not work.

Hopefully, this will remove some confusion about moving apps to SD card. I will update these lists as more responses are submitted via Google Form.

Posted in Android, How To, Mobile | 14 Comments

Resources every Android developer must know

As Android platform continues its incredible growth, more and more developers start working on Android apps. If you are beginning Android development in 2013, you are a lucky person, as the platform has greatly matured in the last few years. While the number of available developer resources may seem overwhelming, this post points to the most important ones.

This post may be useful for both beginners and moderately experienced Android developers, as a single place where most useful resources are listed.

Books

You may think that starting to learn a new development platform in 2013 by reading a book is old-fashioned and you may be right. But you should still do it: see Programmers Don’t Read Books – But You Should by Jeff Atwood

I recommend these 2 books:

  • The Busy Coder’s Guide to Android Development by Mark Murphy. What makes this book special is not only its depth of coverage (2000+ pages), but its frequent updates (~every 2 months). This is by far the best model for books on such rapidly evolving topic as Android SDK. Mark Murphy also regularly holds office hours, where subscribers can ask questions. Book samples are hosted on githubHighly recommended.
  • Smashing UI by Juhani Lehtimaki. An excellent book for any Android developer who cares about great UI design.

developer.android.com

Before starting to write your first Android application, read and learn Android Design site by heart. Specifically, these articles:

Also check out the Downloads section, which contains stencils, source files for icons and controls, styled and unstyled Action Bar icons.

Ready to start coding? Sorry, keep reading:

StackOverflow

A number of Android core framework engineers, developer advocates and expert Android developers regularly answer questions on stackoverflow.com. Here’s a list of  top stackoverflow Android users. I’m subscribed to RSS answers’ feeds of many SO users; some of them are: CommonsWare (Mark Murphy), Dianne HackbornRomain GuyReto MeierTrevor JohnsRoman Nurik, Adam Powell (thanks, @remdroid!).

Blogs

Many blogs provide great up to date information about Android development:

Google+

While Google+ has not become the social network, it is an invaluable source of information about Android development. Some of the Google+ profiles you may consider to follow are: Tor Norbye (ADT), Dianne Hackborn, Romain GuyChris BanesRoman NurikNick ButcherAdam PowellRich HyndmanCyril MottierPaul BurkeJeff Gilfelt.

Make sure to follow Jake Wharton, the author of ActionBarSherlock, ViewPageIndicator, NineOldAndroid, and many other open source Android libraries.

Also consider joining few of the Google+ communities:

Open source projects

Reading source code of well designed apps is always a good idea:

  • Google I/O Android app. If you like to copy/paste code, this is the place to copy from.
  • Photup by Chris Banes.
  • Android Protips: A Deep Dive Into Location by Reto Meier. Demonstrates use of location detection, fragments, and BackupManager. Use with care, as this code has not been updated for some time.

And, of course, the ultimate source: Android source code.

Open source libraries

Some of the most useful open source libraries:

  • ActionBarSherlock by Jake Wharton. Library for implementing the action bar design pattern using the native action bar on Android 4.0+ and a custom implementation on pre-4.0 through a single API and theme.
  • ViewPagerIndicator by Jake Wharton. Paging indicator widgets compatible with the ViewPager from the Android Support Library and ActionBarSherlock. Originally based on Patrik Åkerfeldt’s ViewFlow.
  • NineOldAndroids by Jake Wharton. Android library for using the Honeycomb animation API on all versions of the platform back to 1.0.
  • Universal-Image-Loader by Sergey Tarasevich. Powerful and flexible instrument for asynchronous image loading, caching and displaying.
  • UrlImageViewHelper by Koushik Dutta. UrlImageViewHelper fills an ImageView with an image that is found at a URL and automatically downloads, saves, and caches all the bitmaps.
  • Android-BitmapCache by Chris Banes. A specialised cache, for use with Android Bitmap objects.
  • DiskLruCache by Jake Wharton. Java implementation of a Disk-based LRU cache which specifically targets Android compatibility.

Search github for [android] projects to find more. Also, DevAppsDirect app is a great collection of available open source custom views, widgets and libraries.

Google I/O talks

While it has become virtually impossible to get a Google I/O ticket, all Google I/O talks are available online, usually with slides. Links to Google I/O Android sessions over the years:  2012, 2011, 20102009.

Some of my favorite talks:

Please stop, you’re scaring me

If this post looks a bit overwhelming, don’t despair. Some of the links above are useful only for beginners, while others are useful for more advanced developers.

Few tips on how to efficiently consume this content:

  • First, read the books. Did I mention you should read the books? This will lay the proper foundation of your Android knowledge.
  • Subscribe to blogs and stackoverflow answer feeds via RSS.
  • Set up an android-dev circle in Google+.

Android superstars

As Android developer ecosystem continues to flourish with contributions from many exceptionally talented developers, special mentions should be reserved for two people who have been instrumental in making lives of Android developers easier. They are: Mark Murphy and Jake Wharton.

Mark and Jake have earned an unlimited beer for life for making some of the most useful contributions to Android open source. If you ever meet them, make sure to buy them a drink of their choice. [correction: based on the comments below, Mark's beer should instead be directed to Chris Bane. And if you read that far, you know that the best way to thank Mark would be a CommonsWare subscription.]

Obviously, a lot of Android framework developers and designers at Google did a great job with Android. A number of them is referenced in this post.

The end, finally

That’s it, folks. You now have all the information and tools to write some kick ass Android apps! Well, not really: you still need a great Android UI designer, but that is a topic for another post. But you should definitely be ready to write your first Android app.

If I’ve missed any great resources, please let me know in the comments, as I plan to occasionally update this post.

Happy coding!

Posted in Android, Dev | 42 Comments

Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 are back in stock at Google Play store

Google’s November refresh of Nexus devices did not go smoothly: the most attractive of new devices, Nexus 4 has been out of stock most of the time since its launch. Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 were also out of stock for extended periods of time. Nexus 4 stock issues even prompted a n4checker site which was set up to monitor Nexus devices availability.

It looks like the stock situation has been resolved at least for now. All Nexus variants have been in stock at Play Store since January 29  and what is even more important, are still in stock today.

This is great news since I believe Nexus devices with stock Android are the best way to experience Android. Nexus devices ship with the latest Android 4.2 version (Jelly Bean) and provide a superior software quality over competing offerings. All available Nexus variants are listed below:

Nexus 4:

Nexus 7:
Nexus 10:

From this lineup, two devices stand out: Nexus 4 loos like a great upgrade from Galaxy Nexus. Compared to Galaxy Nexus, it has a higher display and build quality and $349 for a 16 GB unlocked phone is an incredible price. Nexus 4 also supports wireless charging with charger available for $59. 

Nexus 7 has the perfect tablet form factor out there. Not too small, not too large – just right to be comfortable for use with one hand. Tim Bray declares Nexus 7 to be his favorite Android device ever and I agree with him:

Way back in August of last year, I tweeted “Would totally pay ~$300 for a Nexus 7 with telephony & cellular data.” So I did; with my own money I mean. You will be unsurprised to learn that it’s my favorite Android device ever.

It’s also worth noting that current Google’s approach seems to be to keep expectations about shipping dates low and overdeliver. In my case, Nexus 4 has arrived less than 48 hours after the order was placed, even though the Play Store description said “ships in 1-2 weeks” at a time of order.

Wireless charger for LG Nexus 4 at Google Play Store

Wireless charger for LG Nexus 4 at Google Play Store

 

Posted in Android, Mobile, Nexus | Leave a comment

Google announces Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, and Android 4.2

Google has expanded its Nexus line of Android devices by announcing new Nexus 4 phone, Nexus 10 tablet and updating Nexus 7. All Nexus devices will be shipping with new Android 4.2 and go on sale on Tuesday, November 13.

Nexus 4

The specs of Nexus 4 were mostly covered by numerous leaks in the last few weeks. Nexus 4 is made by LG and has 4.7″ display (1280 x 768 pixels),  Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro 1.5GHz Quad-Core CPU, 3G (WCDMA) and HSPA+ support, 2GB of RAM, 8GB/16GB internal storage, 8MP rear and 1.3 MP front cameras and NFC. The phone is 9.1mm thin and weighs 139g. Notably, it supports wireless charging using the wireless dock.

Nexus 4 does not support LTE due to cost and battery life concerns as well as “tactical issues” with carriers (see this for more detailed explanation). It also lacks SD card support since it was deemed too “confusing” for most users, as explained by Matias Duarte.

What about the price? At $299 for unlocked no-contract 8GB version and $349 for 16GB version, Nexus 4 is priced very aggressively for a flagship device.

Nexus 7

Nexus 7 price has been dropped to $199 for 16GB version and $249 for 32GB version. Additionaly, a new 32GB model with mobile data support (HSPA+) will be available on November 13.

Nexus 10

Nexus 10 is a new 10-inch tablet from Google manufactured by Samsung. The standout feature of Nexus 10 is its display resolution of 2560 x 1600(300 ppi), which is quite a bit higher than iPad 4 resolution (2048×1536 resolution, 264 ppi). Nexus 10 is also slightly thinner (8.9 mm) and ligher (603g) than iPad 4, although Nexus 10 is about 23 mm “taller”.

Nexus 10 has 5M rear and 1.9M front cameras, NFC, micro USB and micro HDMI ports, 2GB of RAM and 16 or 32GB of internal storage.

Google Play store has been updated with the information about new devices. Samsung Galaxy Nexus (as well as its accessories) and Nexus Q are now gone from the online store.

Android 4.2

Google has also updated its mobile operating system to Android 4.2. All new Nexus devices will ship with Android 4.2 and previous Google experience devices such as Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S are expected to get this update fairly soon.

Android 4.2 update is still branded Jelly Bean and includes the following new features:

  • redesigned camera app with new photo sphere mode allowing to capture 360-degree images
  • gesture typing support in the keyboard, inspired by Swype keyboard
  • multi-user support on tablets
  • wireless screen sharing to TVs using Miracast technology (requieres either compatible TV or Miracast dongle)
  • power controls accessible via notifications
  • lockscreen widgets

Another interesting change in the user interface is the placement of system buttons and status bar on Nexus 10. Nexus 7 was the first tablet to experience this new design introduced in Android 4.1, but Nexus 10 screenshots show the same design choice. System buttons (back, home, task switcher) are now in the center at the bottom of the display, while status bar is accessible from the top. In other words, both buttons and status bar are positioned on tablets exactly as on phones.

This is a change from Honeycomb design, where system buttons were shown in the lower left corner with the status bar accessible from the lower right corner. Moving system buttons to the center would seem to make them less easily accessible given Nexus 10 width. Matias Duarte explains that based on usability studies his team chose consistency in placement of those controls.

Pricing and availability

Pricing and global availability of new Nexus devices:

- Nexus 4: 8GB for $299; 16GB for $349; available unlocked and without a contract on 11/13 on the Google Play store in U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Spain and Canada. The 16GB version will also be available through T-Mobile for $199, with a 2-year contract (check here for more details).

- Nexus 7: 16GB for $199 and 32GB for $249; available in U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Canada and Japan, and also through our retail partners Gamestop, Office Depot, Office Max, Staples, Walmart.

- Nexus 7 with 32GB and mobile data: $299 and unlocked, on sale 11/13 in the Google Play store in U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Spain and  Canada.

- Nexus 10: 16GB for $399; 32GB for $499; available on 11/13 in the Google Play Store in U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Canada and Japan.

LG Nexus 4

Nexus 4

Samsung Nexus 10

Nexus 10

Posted in Android, Jelly Bean, Mobile, Nexus | Leave a comment

Android 4.1.2 update adds landscape mode, rolling out to Nexus 7

Nexus 7 is an interesting Android tablet: I tend to use it much more frequently than 10″ Samsung Galaxy Tab, because Nexus 7 is so much more comfortable to hold.

One thing that has been bugging me is the absence of the landscape mode support in native launcher. It wasn’t bad enough to make me switch the launcher, but this was a nagging issue.

Great news: the latest Android 4.1.2 update solves this issue and adds landscape support to the native launcher. The update will be delivered over the air, but if you don’t want to wait for the OTA update and prefer to install it manually, here are the instructions.

 

Posted in Android, Jelly Bean, Mobile, Nexus | Leave a comment

The rollout of Android 4.1, Jelly Bean, begins

In the next few days Galaxy Nexus phones will be receiving over-the-air updates to Android 4.1, Jelly Bean. Galaxy Nexus is a “Google experience” phone which originally shipped with Android 4.0 and is the first phone to receive Android 4.1 update.

Jelly Bean includes improvements such as smoother graphics, expandable and actionable notifications, more accurate keyboard, Google Now search, and offline Voice typing.

The update will first be delivered to Galaxy Nexus HSPA+ devices, followed by CDMA Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S, and Motorola Xoom. Nexus 7 tablet will ship with Jelly Bean later this month.

If you don’t want to wait for the update, you can install it manually using instructions from XDA and Android Police.

Enjoy!

Android 4.1, Jelly Bean

Posted in Android, Jelly Bean, Mobile, Nexus | Leave a comment

Galaxy Nexus HSPA+ is back on sale at Google Play store

Galaxy Nexus HSPA+ went back on sale at Google Play store and is again available unlocked and without a contract for only $349 + tax. The estimated delivery time is 3-5 business days. This brings the flagship Nexus phone back on sale after a brief US sales ban due to a court injunction issued last week.

Galaxy Nexus is the first phone to ship with latest Android version 4.1 aka Jelly Bean, which includes Google Now search, smoother graphics, rich notifications, improved keyboard and other improvementsGalaxy Nexus is a pure Google experience phone which means stock Android, Android OS updates directly from Google and Google Wallet. Specs include 4.65″ display with 1280 x 720 resolution, only 135g weight and support for both AT&T and T-Mobile GSM and HSPA+ frequencies.

At $349 for contract-free unlocked top of the line Android phone, it is a steal.

Galaxy Nexus with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Posted in Android, Jelly Bean, Mobile, Nexus | 2 Comments

CM9 RC1 is released

Just in time for Google I/O 2012 conference, awesome CyanogenMod team has released CM9 RC1 for 37(!) devices. Get the images from http://get.cm/ or http://jenkinsmanifest.clockworkmod.com/ or via ROM Manager.

For install instructions, check out wiki.

Posted in Android, CyanogenMod, Mobile | Leave a comment

Walking the talk: Galaxy Nexus

Following up to the previous post:

Let’s be honest, US wireless providers are truly awful. With generally crappy coverage they charge excessive fees for substandard service coupled with ridiculous restrictions. Any action that takes power away from them is a good karma, and buying Galaxy Nexus without a contract certainly qualifies.

… Wednesday will be an exciting day.

Galaxy Nexus HSPA+

Galaxy Nexus HSPA+

Posted in Android, Mobile | Leave a comment

News: Google Drive arrives with 5GB of free storage

Catching up with the other big news of this week: Google Drive has launched with 5GB of free storage. For details, watch this introductory video, check out review by The Verge and see this chart by Endadget comparing Google Drive to Dropbox, SkyDrive and iCloud.

For me, as a heavy user of Google Docs for at least 5 years, the Google Drive couldn’t come soon enough. I’ve been using Dropbox recently, but the choice between 2GB of storage protected by a regular password  (Dropbox) and 5GB of storage protected with 2-step authentication (Google Drive) seems clear.

Google Drive provides desktop clients for Windows and Mac and mobile client for Android with iOS version “coming soon”.

Google Drive

Posted in Android, Mobile, News | 3 Comments

News: unlocked GSM Galaxy Nexus now sold directly by Google for $399 w/o contract

This was a great week for Android’s Nexus brand. Google has started selling unlocked GSM version of Galaxy Nexus for $399 without a contract (US only for now). Given that this 5-month old phone was first sold for $299 with a 2-year contract, this is an excellent deal. Both T-Mobile and AT&T offer no-contract “unlimited” data plans, which at T-Mobile are as low as $50 per month.

I strongly believe that the best way to experience Android phones and tablets is by buying Nexus devices with pure Google experience, such as Galaxy Nexus. Pure Google experience means stock Android, no crapware, future updates directly from Google and pre-installed Google Wallet app (Verizon, shame on you).

Galaxy Nexus ships, of course, with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and will be the first phone to get any future Android updates. The phone feels very light (135 g) relative to its large 4.65″ display running at 1280 x 720 resolution. It is truly a world phone that supports both AT&T and T-Mobile HSPA+ frequencies. The full list of supported networks is the following: GSM/EDGE/GPRS (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), 3G (850, 1700, 1900, 2100 MHz), HSPA+ 21. Note that AT&T LTE is not supported.

The only notable drawback of this phone is its ordinary 5 MP camera which is not as as good as, for example, camera on Samsung Galaxy S II.

Let’s be honest, US wireless providers are truly awful. With generally crappy coverage they charge excessive fees for substandard service coupled with ridiculous restrictions. Any action that takes power away from them is a good karma, and buying Galaxy Nexus without a contract certainly qualifies.

For further praise of this phone let’s now turn to these two notable Googlers, Jean-Baptiste Queru:

BUY NOW.

It’s SIM-unlocked, supports all the HSPA+ networks in the US and in Europe and roams happily around the world.

You don’t need to sign a 2-year contract to get your hands on one. You can use it with any type of SIM you want, you can make operators compete for your business and switch whenever you want. You can even us it without a SIM, it becomes a WiFi device that can also call 911.

and Tim Bray:

It’s got, by a wide margin, the best radio I’ve ever carried. They say “Pentaband”; what that means is, if you’re a heavy traveler, go anywhere in the world and you’ll be online with fast data toute suite. I suspect it might just be the best phone in the world for globetrotters.

If you are in the market for a new Android phone, you should strongly consider getting Galaxy Nexus. The only other phone which may be worth considering specs wise is HTC One X, but it ships with HTC Sense 4.0, which is a step down from stock Android Ice Cream Sandwich experience.

Galaxy Nexus

Posted in Android, Mobile, News | 1 Comment

Apple approves app to toggle Bluetooth from the home screen

Apple approves app to toggle Bluetooth from the home screen

Apple is famously strict with the apps it approves for use on the iDevices, but it has just approved one uncharacteristically useful utility called Bluetooth OnOff. This app adds a simple Bluetooth toggle to the home screen of an iOS device, thus saving numerous taps to get at the settings.

Bluetooth OnOff is selling for $0.99 in the App Store.

Revolutionary or resolutionary?

Posted in Humor, iPhone, Mobile | 1 Comment

[PSA] You must enable 2-step verification in Gmail. Right. Freaking. Now.

I’ve been meaning to write about Gmail 2-step verification for a while now, but Jeff Atwood beat me to it with this excellent post: Make Your Email Hacker Proof. If you currently don’t have 2-step verification enabled in Gmail or are not using Gmail, you must read his post in its entirety. Jeff goes into great detail to describe all aspects of using 2-step verification in Gmail.

The importance of your email account security cannot be overstated, because via password recovery a hacked email can potentially provide access to most of your other accounts, including bank accounts. Jeff:

Your email is the skeleton key to your online identity. When you lose control of your email to a hacker – not if, but when you lose control of your email to a hacker – the situation is dire. Email is a one stop shop for online identity theft. You should start thinking of security for your email as roughly equivalent to the sort of security you’d want on your bank account. It’s exceedingly close to that in practice.

The good news, at least if you use GMail, is that you can make your email virtually hacker-proof today, provided you own a cell phone. The fancy geek technical term for this is two factor authentication, but that doesn’t matter right now. What matters is that until you turn this on, your email is vulnerable. So let’s get started. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Right. Freaking. Now.

Here’s what happens when you lose your Gmail account, described by James Fallows:

When [my wife] came back to her desk, half an hour later, she couldn’t log into Gmail at all. By that time, I was up and looking at e‑mail, and we both quickly saw what the real problem was. In my inbox I found a message purporting to be from her, followed by a quickly proliferating stream of concerned responses from friends and acquaintances, all about the fact that she had been “mugged in Madrid.” The account had seemed sluggish earlier that morning because my wife had tried to use it at just the moment a hacker was taking it over and changing its settings—including the password, so that she couldn’t log in again.

The greatest practical fear for my wife and me was that, even if she eventually managed to retrieve her records, so much of our personal and financial data would be in someone else’s presumably hostile hands that we would spend our remaining years looking over our shoulders, wondering how and when something would be put to damaging use. At some point over the past six years, our [email] correspondence would certainly have included every number or code that was important to us – credit card numbers, bank-account information, medical info, and any other sensitive data you can imagine.

But what if you use email, which doesn’t allow two-factor authentication? Switch to Gmail. Again, Jeff Atwood:

Either nag your email provider to provide two-factor authentication, or switch over. Email security is critically important these days, and switching is easy(ish). GMail has had fully secure connections for quite a while now, and once you add two-factor authentication to the mix, that’s about as much online email safety as you can reasonably hope to achieve short of going back to snail mail.

Please, follow this wise advice and enable 2-step authentication in Gmail. Right. Freaking. Now.

Posted in Tips | Leave a comment

Thoughts on Google IO 2012 registration process: stop the giveaways

This morning at 7AM registration for Google I/O 2012 conference has began and all tickets sold out in about 28 minutes. Russell Holly estimated that roughly 7 million requests were sent for 5500 tickets. Do the math and you can see why the likelihood of getting in was slim. I barely got my ticket and the process left me sad.

Google had almost one year to prepare for this event and the best they could come up with was “first come, first served” process.  Which wasn’t actually the case, because it was more of a lottery, where you would repeat this exciting sequence: click register, wait, get “sorry, try again” message, rinse and repeat. It took me well over 20 attempts in multiple browsers to get in at 7:17, just 10 minutes before all tickets sold out.

There was a trick that apparently let you register a bit early (hint: view the source of the registration page), but this falls far short of the “be sure to brush up on your coding skills” November hint of a possible coding challenge. So how can this mess be solved?

First of all, stop the giveaways at the conference. Yes, it’s exciting to give the free stuff out and have your Oprah moment during the keynotes, but it hurts more than helps. Serious developers will buy hardware on their own or use loaner programs and Android is well past the time when giving out phones or tablets was necessary. Some targeted giveaways at the sessions are ok: good examples from the last year were Android Accessory development kit (Arduino) and Sony smartphones given out at the corresponding Android sessions only.

Second, allocate more tickets via coding challenges. Last year some tickets were awarded to the winners of the coding challenges, but the number of these tickets was minuscule. Increasing the number of tickets allocated this way would be greatly appreciated by the development community.

Third, drop silly registration requirements such as Google+ sign up. Google I/O events are about developers and building developer community. Requiring Google Wallet can somehow be justified, but Google+ requirement unnecessarily pisses off top developers, such as Mark Murphy:

They just launched the Google I|O 2012 conference site, and it is immediately apparent that I will not be attending, most likely, as they require Google+ to sign up.

And finally, follow the promises that were made prior to the registration. The Google IO 2012 registration page still says “registration will be first-come, first-served”, which clearly wasn’t the case. I realize that if the process would indeed have been first-come, first-served, all tickets would’ve sold out in the first few minutes. A more appropriate description of the registration process would be a “lottery”.

Posted in Android, Dev, Mobile | 8 Comments

How to manually upgrade Nexus S from Android 2.3.6 to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

If you own T-Mobile’s variant of Samsung Nexus S (i9020t) and don’t want to wait for the official OTA Android 4.0.3 update, you can install it manually. The procedure below will upgrade stock Android 2.3.6 build GRK39F to Android 4.0.3 build IML74K.

With a rooted phone the easiest update process is to use ROM Manager (Download ROM -> Stock Images -> Nexus S 4.0.3).

If you don’t have root, follow these manual steps (if you are new to the update process, check out this slightly outdated, but detailed update guide).

  • Download the update package.
  • Rename downloaded file to update.zip.
  • Copy the update.zip file to the phone’s internal storage.
  • Turn the phone off, press and hold Volume Up and Power to boot into the bootloader.
  • Using Volume Up/Down select “recovery” and press Power button.
  • After the exclamation point in a triangle appears, hold the Power button and press Volume Up.
  • Using Volume Up/Down select “apply update from /sdcard” and choose the update.zip.
  • After the update process is finished, select “reboot system now” and press Power.
Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich build IML74K

Enjoy!

Sources: XDA, koush.

Posted in Android, How To, Ice Cream Sandwich, Mobile | 62 Comments

Official roll out of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich to GSM Nexus S begins

Just one day after Galaxy Nexus went on sale in the US, owners of GSM versions of Nexus S rejoice: Google has began the roll out of the Android 4.0. Users running stock Android 2.3.6 should receive OTA update within the coming month. Impatient owners can also install this update manually.

Once upgraded, check out tips and tricks from Google listing main workflow differences with Android 2.3.

Posted in Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, Mobile, News | 2 Comments

Galaxy Nexus with Android 4.0 released by Verizon in the US

The wait is over and Galaxy Nexus is finally available in the US from Verizon Wireless. Galaxy Nexus can be purchased online or at Verizon Wireless, Best Buy, Costco and Radio Shack stores. Verizon’s price is $299 with a contract and $649 without a contract, but before rushing to the store, check the online deals such as $155/$175 (new contract/upgrade) at LetsTalk or $150/$250 at Amazon Wireless.

Galaxy Nexus is a successor to Nexus S and is the first phone to ship with fully redesigned Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). This is also the first Nexus phone available on Verizon’s network, which is considered to have the best coverage in the US. The specs are impressive: 4.65″ Super AMOLED HD display with 1280 x 720 resolution, 9.5 mm thin and weighing only 150g (5.3 oz), 5MP main camera, 1.3MP front camera, 1080p video recording, NFC, and 4G LTE network support. But the main selling point of Galaxy Nexus over other Android phones such as Galaxy S II is the pure Google experience 1), meaning stock Android, updates from Google and absence of carrier’s bloatware.

I’m a big fan of Nexus phones and I think they provide the best Android experience for reasons described in these brief reviews of Nexus S and Nexus One.  My only concern about Galaxy Nexus is the screen size, which maybe too big for some users. I used to think that 3.7″ of Nexus One was the optimal display size, however after using Nexus S I now prefer 4″ display. But a jump to 4.65″ may be a bit too much, so if you plan to buy it online, I recommend taking some time to play with the phone in the store first.

For more information about the phone, see the full list of features and specs and check out Joshua Topolsky’s review and Jason Kincaid’s comparison of Galaxy Nexus with iPhone 4S.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

1) Pure Google experience is slightly tainted by the absence of  Google Wallet, but at this point only Nexus S from Sprint supports it.

P.S. Due to various offline commitments this blog went on a 2-month break. What a great occasion to resume our regular programming.

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CyanogenMod 7.1 is released

The most popular Android custom ROM CyanogenMod has released today a new stable version CM 7.1. With almost 6 months since the last stable CM 7.0 release it’s been a long time coming, but it was worth the wait. The new release adds support to 24 more devices, which brings total number of supported devices to 68! That is incredible.

Among the newly added devices notable additions are: HTC Desire S, HTC Incredible S, HTC Incredible 2, LG Optimus 2X,  T-Mobile G2x, Motorola Droid 2, Motorola Droid X, Samsung Captivate, Samsung Fascinate, Samsung Vibrant, Samsung Galaxy S, Samsung Galaxy S2 (multiple carriers), Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, Arc, X8, Mini, Mini Pro, Neo, Ray (full list).

CM7.1 release is based on Android 2.3.7 (Gingerbread). You can see the full list of changes here, but the few that stand out are:

  • native screenshots in the power menu,
  • camera touch-to-focus,
  • revoking app permissions,
  • upgraded kernel.

Another good news is that Sony Ericsson assisted CyanogenMod developers in adding support for Xperia phones by “providing over 20 devices, technical assistance, and compatible hardware drivers”. This is a great move by Sony Ericsson, which should be followed by other manufacturers.

The easiest way to get CyanogenMod 7.1 is via ROM Manager. Detailed device-specific installation guides can be found at CyanogenMod wiki.

Source: CyanogenMod blog, Android Police.

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