Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Why Switch from iOS to Android?

Switched from iOS to Android - The one-year marker.

I switched from iOS to Android for a few different reasons. One reason was price, the price of the iPhone was just out of my reach, by a long way. I have seen that there was a well-known Apple journalist that had changed to the Samsung Galaxy S3 and was very impressed with it. I wanted to get a phone with a larger screen and have a phone that in my price range would do more things. So one year later following my switch from iOS to Android I can tell you that I'm still very pleased with my decision. I haven't been able to get the phone upgraded to the latest version of the Android operating system and it looks like the phone carrier will not be pushing out the update any time soon. That is one of the bad things about the Android method of system updates, but there is a way to get around it. The solution to this problem is to root the phone and to put something else on there and I opted to go for CyanogenMod. The latest version of this CyanogenMod version of the operating system I have been using has been very stable and I can't even remember the last time that the phone gave me any sort of weird problem.

What do I miss from iOS

To be honest, I miss very little from iOS and this is not just because I still have my iPhone and my iPad to play with from time to time. I never did much of the video editing on iOS even though it was possible and did a great job of it. So it doesn't bother me too much that the Android video editing software is absolute rubbish. I do record audio into the Samsung Galaxy S3 and into my Nexus 7 although I prefer to use the iOS application called Twisted Wave. The audio recording software on iOS is much better, but Audio Evolution Pro does work well enough and I have used this to record a number of AudioBoo David Allen Wizardgold podcasts. I can record the audio well enough despite the fact that there is the automatic gain control on the Android devices, I would prefer to set the gain manually within the application. A couple of times I have managed to clip the audio recording and I just hadve to be careful how close I put the microphone to my mouth.

The advantages of changing to Android from iOS

The best thing about changing to Android from iOS is the fact that I have alternative keyboards that I can use. On the occasions that I go back to iOS and use it for entering data it annoys me to see that the letters on the keyboard don't change to show whether you are typing in a capital letter or a lowercase letter. The Android keyboards are much better. Even better still, with Android it is possible to use alternative keyboards such as the keyboard called SwiftKey or Swype. For a long time I was using the SwiftKey keyboard because of the spooky way that it knew which word I was going to type next, this made it incredibly quick to enter text into my Android devices. The only thing was, was that I was not terribly happy with the way that the dictation worked with regards the British English punctuation. So I started to use Swype instead and I find that I really prefer how the dictation works and sometimes I'm amazed at how fast I can get text into my Samsung Galaxy S3 or Nexus 7.

Read more about my change from iOS to Android

Friday, 14 March 2014

I am using the iPad again!

For quite a long time now been using the android devices without ever going back to using the iOS mobile computers. No, I tell a lie I have now and then used the TwistedWave application on the iPhone. I do have Audio Evolution Mobile for recording audio on my Android devices but I think TwistedWave is much better still. Today though I am working at the campsite and I have the iPad with me as well as having my android devices and just for fun I'm having a play with it. I had to install some of the applications that I had on before such as Drafts. With this post I am using Siri for dictation to dictate directly into the Blogger app. I am desperately missing the good keyboards that I have on my Android devices, but using Siri for dictation isn't too bad.

One of the reasons that I decided to give it a go for the moment is because somebody was asking me about what apps they should use on an iPhone for blogging. In the past I have used an application called Blogsy which is a very good at blogging application. Unfortunately that is just for the iPad and I don't have an iPhone version. So I have suggested to her that she tries out of the Blogger application from Google so that she can do her blogging. I don't think that they Blogger application is as fully featured as the application Blogsy, but it is alright.

I have also just been reading an article written by something also tried out using android after being an iPhone user and he found that the experience was okay. The only thing about changing platforms is that when you have been using an iPhone for some time you will have a lot of applications that you have paid for and will be too invested in that platform to want to make a change.

Obviously, there are some differences between the way of the two platforms work and when you try android for the first time it will seem a little bit strange. For me it didn't take too long before I talk to it, in fact I think I took to it like a duck to water. Some of the things that you do with a system becomes ingrained into your very psyche and you need to really think about how to work on the different platform.

With using iOS again for the first time in a while I have really missed the good keyboards that are available for Android. One thing that I do like with Android is that I'm finding it very easy to position the cursor exactly where I want it in the text. It is nice to hold down the touch and to get the magnifying glass and then move the cursor to just the right point in the word.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Longer life with an Android Phone

ZeroLemon a bigger battery and longer life

One of the best things that I have bought for the phone is the ZeroLemon which doubles the size of the battery physically. Before I was only getting about, between half a day and a full day of phone use. With this new battery I can go for about two and a half days and still have 15% to 20% left in the battery. I did buy other standard size batteries, but I found it to be a nuisance to have to swap the batteries over and to make sure that the spare ones were always charged up.

Keeping in a case or not

I do prefer to have the phone inside a case and to have a case that folds over to protect the front of the phone. With this ZeroLemon battery and the case that comes with it I can't fit into the case that I have. I could put a plastic protector screener protector screen on the front of the phone, although I have found it just as handy just to be careful where I keep the phone. So I wouldn't want to put the phone into a pocket that already had loose change in there or a set of keys. So far this is working very well and I don't have any scratches on the front of the phone.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The joys of mobile Android computing

I have been an Android user now for about seven months and generally I am very happy with the way that it hss worked out going from iOS to Android. I can do all of the things that I wanted to do with a mobile device that has a bigger screen and just about all of the apps that I need to get things done. The only thing that is a little bit of a problem is the fact that it can be difficult to get upgraded to later versions of the operating software. As the phone is not one of the Google phones such as the Nexus 4 or the Nexus 5, which would be getting the over the air updates in a fairly timely fashion; as I have seen with the way it works with the Nexus 7 that I own. There has been no word from the phone company to let me know that there was any updates available to the Android operating system since I bought the phone. In fact, when I got the phone it was already one version behind the latest that was available. So it has been necessary to root the phone and to upgrade it by getting my hands on other versions of the operating system. Lately I have been using the CyanogenMod versions for the Samsung Galaxy S3 which have nearly got me up-to-date.

Keeping an Android phone up-to-date

Rooting the Android phone wasn't that difficult and once I had done that I was able to run a few applications that allowed me to update the phone. It also allowed me to run one or two other applications that I wouldn't have been able to run with the standard operating system that came with the phone directly from the carrier.


Yesterday I heard from a contact on the Google+ social layer that there was a newer version available for the Samsung Galaxy S3 and that it was stable. I had been using an application called ROM Manager to do the operating system updates. I was able to download the necessary file from the proper place and use ROM Manager to do the install. On the first attempt it didn't go very well as it complained about the lack of space to do a backup first. I tried it again but without the backup and this time the new version of Android was installed. For the most part, now it is working although there are a couple of applications that have gone missing in action and the ROM Manager itself has stopped working. I am now thinking of doing a factory reset to completely clean the phone and to start again. The reason I am thinking this is because the phone seems to be rebooting itself too many times. So not as stable as I was informed.

How do I go about resetting an Android phone

Nandroid Manager ROOT Android Apps on Google Play

I can't use that application ROM Manager to put things back as it was, because that is not working any more. I do have another application which has backups called Nandroid Manager and maybe that is the way to go. There is also the CyanogenMod installer that I now have on my Mac and I already have the files necessary to go back to the previous version of Android. That previous version had been working out better, in as much as it wasn't crashing as many times as this new one.

The thing that would be a problem is that I would have to reset up many of the applications that I have already. Messing with with passwords and also some of them have data that I might want to keep. So if I do do some sort of drastic reinstall like that I could be creating quite a lot of work for myself. Another thing that is a little bit of a problem is that many of these applications that I would like to use, are short on information on how to use them. I could easily also be creating more problems by killing my phone completely if I don't fully understand the processes that I need to do. Certainly, it is true to say that I don't fully understand how all of this works as I am not a complete Android nerd. I think I might still be thinking about it for a couple of more days before deciding which way to go with this.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Stilll learning about Android

All new terminology with Android to learn.

Just been a normal user of Android since I put on the CyanogenMod thing onto the phone. The phone does mysteriously boot up by itself every now and then, but I just have to live with that. So long as I notice I have 4.2.2 on there now and I like having got rid of the bloat from Samsung. Would be great if I could just get the phone to the same version of Android I am running on the Nexus 7. On iOS it was great to always be running the same version of the operating system on all of my devices. I have to admit that sometimes I don't really know what I am doing, the terminology seems foreign to and I am guessing a lot of the time. In the ROM Manager App it tells me there is an update and then tells me there isn't. I start a download and then it reboots before it is finished it seems. I don't know if the reboot is part of what it was doing with the download.

Now I have told it to do a Fix Permissions. It seems to be taking quite a long time to go through all of the files. I suppose there are a lot of files. With luck the phone will run better what that is done. On the Mac fixing permissions is a good idea from time to time. Maybe then I will be able to try out a different ROM. When I put on the CyanogenMod I had instructions that was doing a clean install I think and the guy told me that next time he would should the process to do a dirty install. Maybe the phone company and Samsung can get together to give us an over the air upgrade to the Galaxy S3 phone. Even though I really like the phone still after six months of use I still wonder if I should have waited and got the Nexus 5 when it came out. It is rather good when you can have the latest OTA update before most everyone else because I have a Nexus / Google device.

Camera on the Galaxy S3

I have got some decent pictures of the phone and it has been OK for a camera phone. I find that I am not that impressed with the images though sometimes. I looked at a set of images I took one day and it was a fairly sunny day - I wasn't too impressed. The images seemed a bit muddy in therms of colour and rather soft. I reckon I have a need for a better camera to carry around with me. Something with a decent lens and decent size of sensor. Even so, it is still better to have some sort of camera with me even if it is a mobile phone camera.

Nexus 7

I am loving the Nexus 7 and I carry it everywhere with me. Great to have it for reading material even in the smallest room. I got the device updated to 4.4 by downloading the file that Google provided and only a couple of days later there was another that came to me as an OTA update. TO be honest I have not noticed much difference between what was there and with the 4.4 Kit Kat. Some changes had been made but it seemed that it was deep in the system and one or two cosmetic changes. Not much in terms of extra features to play with. The operating system on the Nexus 7 is loads better that the Galaxy 3 has ever behaved.

Do I miss iOS

Not at all.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Custom ROM install on Galaxy S3

It didn't really work out too well to begin with

Still not quite sure how exactly what I did that was wrong, but it didn't work at first. I used the shortcut in the ROM manager application to boot into recovery. I had already done the backup as per the instructions and then I moved on to step three which was to wipe out the data and do a factory reset. The next step was to do a cache partition wipe and up until that point everything went okay. The next step was to do a wipe of the dalvik cash which was supposed to be in a section called advanced. Unfortunately, I didn't see any possible way to get into an advanced part of the process.

I thought that maybe I had set up the deletion of a certain part of the cache within the ROM Manager application, so I went ahead with trying to install the custom ROM. The file for the custom ROM was sitting in the correct place on the phone and I was able to navigate to it from within the menu in system of the recovery mode. I selected it and gave it the go-ahead to process and after a short while I got a message to say verification failed. This was some verification of a signature which is required so how or other and there was no getting past this problem.

2013 10 19 06 04 06

Making use of the backups

Within the recovery mode there was the possibility to go to backups and to select the Nandroid backup and try to run it. That didn't work either and I got another error message. It is a bloody wonder that anybody is able to do any installations of custom ROMs to a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone as for sure, it really isn't easy. As you can see I was getting frustrated at this point in the game.

I had to go back to the standard installation of the phone that came when I bought it. I was pleased that at least I was able to do that without any problems. There weren't any problems, but there is a pain in the arse of having to set up all of the applications that I had before, once more. The first thing to do was to reinstall ROM Manager and my Helium backup application. There was a certain amount of messing about having to put in my Google details for the phone with the relevant passwords. Some applications were having to be downloaded from the Google Play App Store and some applications I was able to bring in again from the external storage. This is the procedure that is in process at the moment and I'm not able to do much else apart from wait. I didn't get all the way and I thought I would try again after I had the apps on there to be able to do so.

I haven't given up yet!

I am getting some help from somebody on the Google plus community called Rooted Samsungs. The only problem with this is the fact that it is not a direct conversation with somebody helping out, but a back and forth of posts within the conversation I started. It would work better if I could do a Google Hangout or maybe a Skype instant message or any other instant message service. As it is I am waiting for the guy to return the answers to my questions and he is probably doing the best he can while he is doing something else. He might even be at work!

Success at last - Running cyanogen mod

I kept trying to work out why it was the booting into recovery mode kept on taking me to the standard recovery mode when I was trying to get to the specific ClockworkMod recovery mode. I moved files from one folder to another and tried again and eventually something clicked and it worked for me. I found that by downloading the CyanogenMod file from within the ROM Manager application and also the same for the Google apps file that was required, worked better than downloading through the Mac. The ROM manager application put these files into specific places and this could have had an effect upon whether it was going to run properly or not. In any case, it all worked in the end!

Lots to do to finish off the job

I couldn't believe it when I finally saw the CyanogenMod spinning logo on the screen. To a large extent I just kind of followed my nose with doing things and clicking buttons to continue the process. I realised that I had to get back into the ROM Manager application in order to install the Google apps thing and I was very happy that it was quite seamless in the way that part of the job worked.

I'm also delighted with the fact that the applications that I had on the phone beforehand are automatically being updated from the backup that was made as part of the ROM Manager job. It was taking some time in order to get these applications downloaded again so I made sure that I had the other backup application loaded, Helium Pro. I was then able to quickly get some of the applications reinstalled from the backup which was residing on the external SD card.

It doesn't look all that different - At first

After reinstating and setting up the application Nova Launcher everything on the phone looks pretty much as it did before. I can go into the settings of the phone and I can see that it has been updated to Android version 4.2.2. It would have been nice to be able to go to version 4.3 and thats maybe possible further down the road. I can at least see that all of the bloatware from Samsung and from the phone company have been removed. I did like the way that I could swipe my hand across the screen of the phone to make it do a screenshot. I don't have that any more, but that is not too much of a problem as I have another way to do screenshots.

I like the way that when I do a slide to unlock the device I have a choice of sliding it to the right to just unlock it or I have four other options. One takes me into the messages app, the other takes me to the music app, another takes me to the phone app and finally there is one which opens up an Internet browser. The Internet browser is not the one that I am going to be using as I prefer to use a chrome, but the other choices could be useful.

Looking good so far

I have been able to set up all of the accounts on the phone with Google, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Dropbox and I have been able to get the passwords in there from 1Password as previously

Friday, 18 October 2013

Upgrading the Galaxy S3 to a Custom ROM

What exactly is a Nandroid backup

Last night until 1 o'clock in the morning I spent fiddling with my phone and getting it ready to put on a custom ROM. I got a lot of information from a Google plus community about how to do it. I needed to download extra stuff, for example I needed to do a Nandroid backup as well as download an extra application to add Google apps to the update. This is due to the fact that Google do not let the custom ROM makers distribute their applications within the actual custom ROMs. Android Custom ROM I have to admit that the process is quite complicated and confusing and not for your average human. Updating your phone to a custom ROM is more for the geeks of the world. I do consider myself to be a geek, but I have to admit that I'm finding this process a little bit challenging this first time around. I suppose that once you have done this process while two times it seems a little bit more friendly and easy. I bought an application called ROM manager which is supposed to be making things easier. I watched a video showing how to do the process but it didn't show all the things that were shown to be necessary as per the information from the Google plus community. There are certain files that have to be downloaded and the files are specific to the model of the phone that you're working with. There are rather variables also which are dependent upon the custom ROM that you want to put on your phone.

Why would anyone want to do this?

When you get a phone from a carrier it has extra software on the phone that is commonly called bloatware. So one of the reasons to use custom ROM is to get rid of that extra and required software. That software can't be otherwise deleted from the phone. After having the Nexus seven for a couple of weeks and using the latest version of Google Android and liking it, it seems like a good plan to get to something a little bit more pure Android.

Instructions from Geoff Whiteley at Google plus

With CWM this should be your procedure....

  1. Boot into recovery (shortcut in ROM manager)
  2. Backup (you've already done)
  3. Wipe data/factory reset
  4. Wipe cache partition
  5. Wipe dalvik cache (in advanced)
  6. Format /system (only /system nothing else, found in mounts&storage)
  7. Install zip, navigate to ROM
  8. Install gapps
  9. Reboot system
  10. Enjoy