CyanogenMod 7.2 for Xperia X10 (GingerBread / Android 2.3)

It is nearly 2 years since I bought my Sony Ericsson Xperia X10. I know many would have already moved to new phones, I thought X10 is doing just fine. Though official Gingerbread arrived to X10 few months ago, have to admit it’s performance is not up to my expectation. It is not optimized , very laggy screen transitions, basic apps like SMS, dialer takes ages to open because of poor management of RAM, etc.,.Because of these reasons I was searching for a responsive custom ROM for X10. I tried lot of ROMs on XDA , but most of them were not usable for daily use or were under development. My search(read as – wait) went on until my friend suggested this one – CyanogenMod 7.2 ported to X10 by FreeXperia Team.

I have been using it for more than a month now, it is performing very well. No random restarts, apps open fast and smooth, RAM is managed well, battery lasts for more than a day, touch screen is very responsive and I’m loving it.

Do head to xda page to flash this custom ROM, kernel with the flashtool provided there.

To load it unlock the bootloader. I used this method

and later Development Page of the mod, and details on How To Flash.

Do remember though  rooting and unlocking bootloader is legal, it  will void your warranty. 

Safeguard and Backup Information on your Android

Bought an android phone recently? If yes, I write below few things to know and do.

Your Smart Phone is your identity, it has your passwords, phone numbers, notes, SMSes, emails, credit card information, browsing history etc; with so much data on it you cant be ignorant, it is very much required to safe guard and back up these info in case you forgot, lost or someone stole your phone.

Backup Contacts 

Run Contacts sync (Settings -> Sync)on your phone; all your contacts will be backed up on Gmail. For people who are afraid of Google that it knows and stores all your personal info then you should not have bought a Google phone. Else you can run Backup contacts to SD card, later keep a copy of the .vcf file generated on you PC.

Backup SMSes

If you need your SMSes to be backedup, your phones SMS client will give an option to backup SMS on phone’s SD card. Make a copy of this on your PC(needs to be done often).You can backup SMSes using apps like SMS Backup & Restore. You can enable PIN for your SMS using apps like Handcent SMS to protect your SMSes being read from unauthorized person

Use 2 step verification

If you have bought a Google phone you must be knowing by now that it is tied to your Google account (email id). Therefore no explicit authentication is required to access your Gmail, Gtalk, Reader, Checkout etc; therefore I recommend you to use Google’s 2 step verification. Using 2 step verification adds an extra step to access your account but it helps you safe guard your private information being accesses by unintended people, so its worth an extra step. Before using it go through the video , understand the system and then step ahead 🙂 If your phone is lost you can revoke access to the google apps on your phone using 2 step verification.

Use SHREDroid 

More often there is lot of information which is stored in cache even after they are deleted (sms, emails etc..,). Use SHREDroid to remove information from cache; if not removed often it could be easily read by a pseudo techy which allows access to your private information

Use “Wheres My Droid” app

If you happened to lose your phone, this app comes in very handy. It has features like enable ringer on phone after receiving a phrase over SMS, it also send the GPS coordinates of the phone after receiving a phrase over SMS.

Use only Trusted apps

You must have read many malicious apps on market, please be aware of such apps. Try and use only apps from trusted developer, Featured on Market, going through comments on apps on Market, recommendations from a trusted friend who know things(you know..).

Keep your phone updated

Android has a bad history as many vendors deprive customers of latest updates even after phones harware supporting it. Google has intervened now, hopefully things change. Therefore try to keep your phone updated to the latest OS from your manufacturer.

I could come up with these things about safe guarding your phone from unintended access from stranger. Ill add or write new post if I come across new things. Do add in the comments if you have more tips to safeguard and backup private information on your Android phone. Hope this post helps you 🙂

Android Vs Android

It is now a cliché to compare Android with iOS (and wrong for obvious reasons).We are in a situation where Android is competing with Android for bad .This post is continuation of my earlier blog The downside of Android (June 2010) . Nothing has improved from then , in fact it is getting worse. Everyone from Google and manufacturers (also carriers) have contributed their fair share in setting up a situation like this. With series of wrong doings they will(have) take(n) Android from a usable and major mobile platform to a piece of crap. What are they doing ?

Google :

  • As mentioned in my previous post, the timing of new version of Android from Google is highly frequent. Because of this manufacturers are finding it very difficult to keep up with the pace of updates. Google just announced and released Android 3.0 for tablet and Android 2.3 for phones, just as manufacturers are trying to come up with phone (not updating the existing ones !) Googlecoming up with  Android 2.4[rumor] . Seriously this should stop, else I am sure Android will see a premature death. Google definitely underestimates the effort required to upgrade the firmware
  • Poor management of Market. Though it is improving nowadays, a lot needs to be improved.

Manufacturers :

  • If I have to say in one word they are Greedy.Every manufacturers may it be HTC,  Samsung etc., have completely forgot customer as one of their parameter for their decision making. They have dumped old phones/tablets for new ones as the newer update of Android arrives. Moreover they are expecting customers to upgrade to new phone when they could just upgrade the firmware ,which is crazy and meaningless. This attitude will surely put a dent in the phone sales in few months.
  • No foresight(may be deliberate) in deciding the specifications for a phone. It is understandable that manufactures try to limit the spec so the device becomes obsolete and customers will buy new ones sooner. But they must be dreaming when the specs of the phone are not sufficient for the next version of the upgrade of firmware (remember with Google upgrades are every 2-3 months or so!)

All in all if Google or for that matter manufacturers do not learn a lesson before they face the effects of wrong doings, it wont do any good for them. Also there will be millions of customers with phones that are outdated just after months of buying. Google must take a tough stance on manufacturers by making a mandate to update the firmware when there is a possibility. It should also press them to make the boot loaders open as Android is claimed as OPEN SOURCE. If it cant do it, then they will kill the goose that lays golden eggs !! So in the war between Android and Android , who is the winner , who is the loser ? Now you know it !

Bottom Line: I am an Android Fan !!

Update : Since rumor is pretty strong that Android 2.4 (also called Gingerbread)  will be out in April, which will support Android 3.0 (dual core) apps on smartphones running 2.4, all phones releasing with Android 2.3 will be out dated even before their release !!!!!!!!

Top 10 Android Apps : Useful Apps Series

How many times you have come across apps that are pretty cool, only to know you hardly have instances to use them after sometime. Here I recommend few apps that are not just cool but very useful in day to day life.
After all what makes your smartphone smart is the apps it has ! isn’t it? Here we go
You can use the barcode scanner app on your smartphone tou download the app from Market(Use Barcode Scanner app from Market to use the QR codes available in the post below) . I have also shared the apps on Appbrain which gives you more details about the apps and also allows you to sync apps onto your smartphone.

1. Tuk Tuk Meter [Free] : Ever been ” taken for a ride ” by an auto driver in India or else where ? Here is a solution 🙂 Tuk Tuk Meter allows you to know the exact distance travelled by you. Guess what doesnt need GPRS/EDGE access at all. Works with just GPS. You can edit auto fares/minimum distance to customize according to the city you live in Also available for blackberry and symbian.

Android market QR-code
2. Handcent SMS [Free]: Bored with the stock SMS app, here is new one. Handcent SMS allows you to search, blacklist or protect your messages. There are lots of themes/fonts available to give a very rich looks. Check this out

Screenshot of Handcent SMS
3. Rockplayer lite [Free with Ad/Paid 9.99$] : Tired of encoding video to mp4 or any other format supported by your mobile. Use Rock Player which plays almost all the video formats (divx, flv, avi etc). If you think 9.99$ is too much, try V Player it is 2.96$ comes with free trail.

Screenshot of RockPlayer Lite
4. Pulse News Reader[Free]: One of the best readers available for Android, can add feeds from lot of websites. Check this out!

Screenshot of Pulse News Reader
5. Whatsapp Messenger [Free for 1 year/later 1.99$ per year] : Whatsapp lets you use Wifi/GPRS/3G to keep on touch with friends using SMS, but your friends also need to use this app.So invite more friends and get the most of Whatsapp 🙂

Screenshot of WhatsApp Messenger
6. SoundHound [Free with ad/ Paid 4.99$] : How often has it happened that you have heard this song, but could not recall the movie/album/singer. Don’t worry use Sound Hound lets you recognize the song/singer and information related to the song.

Screenshot of SoundHound
7. Gesture Search [Free] : Best apps to search contacts/music/apps etc on your smart phone. This app from google indexes all the stuff on your smartphone and allows you to search them instantly with gestures. Use it to get the feel

Screenshot of Gesture Search
8. Elixir [Free] : Want to know the model, OS Version, Sensors and their real time readings on your smart phone ? Here is an app that lets you do exactly that. Elixir gives comprehensive info about your smartphone. Also has a widget which will be handy to monitor things.

Screenshot of Elixir
9. DropBox [Free] : Ever bored/tired of connecting your smartphone to/from your computer to transfer small amounts of data? Here is the solution , use dropbox app on your phone and also on your computer.Now transferring your files by drag and drop to the folder on your computer which also syncs it with app on your smartphone !

Screenshot of Dropbox
10. ColorDict Dictionary [Free] : Just heard a word from someone for which you don’t know the meaning ? Use ColorDict to know the meaning instantly !. ColorDict provides both offline and online at once, word suggestion etc . You need to download separate packages to get different information like meaning, thesaurus, Wikipedia(online).

Screenshot of ColorDict Dictionary Universal
Bonus App : Team Viewer [Free for non commercial use] : Here come the Bonus App :), Have you ever thought to debug your friends computer but you don’t have access to your/his computer? Don’t worry, team viewer app helps you in this case. Team Viewer app lets you connect to remote computer (must have Team viewer application installed on his/her computer). Currently in Beta stage but usable state. It is free for non commercial usage 🙂 TeamViewer QR-Code

Hope this apps make your life more simpler. You can check all my app recomendations here.  Leave a comment if you like the post and/or you have better app to do same tasks 🙂
Dont forget to subscribe to RSS or like my Facebook Page for new post updates !

Android Soft Keyboard choices

A keyboard is an integral part of any Mobile device. Very often keyboard is what defines your cellphone experience. There are physical keyboards which are self-explanatory and then there are on-screen(touch-screen ones) keyboards also called soft keyboards. Having a touch screen gives user flexibility to have a keyboard of his choice or at least gives choices.I have tried many keyboards on Android, from good ones to great ones, some weird ones and some bad ones too! . Here are my thoughts on few keyboards I have used and few more for you to try.

Important : Keyboards from third parties may record keystrokes which include passwords , PIN numbers etc., Please note this before using any of these.

1. Swype : I believe it is the most popular keyboard available for android. With swype you need to just swipe along the letters in the word. You need not be accurate , in fact even if you skip some letter swype does a good job in predicting the word. If I am not wrong I have heard that swype doesn’t take the swiped letters but the shape of the swipe to predict the word. Isn’t that cool ! do check it out for yourself. Sadly  swype is still in beta, and beta is closed(while this blog was written). No problem there are alternatives for swype like SlideIT and Shape writer which does good enough job but swype  has less  clumsy, more classy and very clean interface. Swype is available in English , Dutch, Danish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish and Russian

2. SwiftKey Keyboard : SwiftKey is one more option  which is good. SwiftKey uses conventional click on the letters, but uniqueness and usability comes from inbuilt intelligence. Yes, SwiftKey has intelligence (it learns) that enables to predict whole words with few letter clicks. If you don’t mind giving it access to your SMS , it will scan through your SMS and understand your writing style right from the beginning as opposed to learning curve if access not given.But again it is an issue of privacy, which is left to your discretion.  SwiftKey is available in many languages you can check this link for some more info on this keyboard.

3. 8pen : I came across this key board yesterday only , immediately bought from the market to try out (costs 70 Rs). This has a weird interface. Uses swipes in the shape of 8 to type letters, you can have custom gestures for frequently used words. It takes some time to get used to, but I liked this patent pending idea. I didn’t like to use it as my default keyboard as i am used to qwerty more and unlearning it is a difficult process. Do try it out from market(no demo version available !).

4. Messagease : One more keyboard with very different interface, which doesn’t use QWERTY interface. It uses a combination of swiping and click for entering different letters.This keyboard again requires time to get used to. Do check it out on market !

5. Blindtype : Blindtype is the keyboard which is in news lately(after Google acquired it). It isn’t released yet, what we have is these videos only. Do check the video below.

 

You may want to check Review of Android 2.1 for Xperia X10 also (Link open in New tab/window)

Xperia X10 Android 2.1 – Contacts missing problem resolved

Many people are complaining about contacts missing after updating Xperia X10 to Android 2.1, then restoring contacts using backup and restore app. It is because no phone book is selected to display. This blog shows you how to solve this simple problem.

1.Restore the contacts and necessary things backed up before upgrade. To know how to restore check the video from  3.22 min.

2.After restoring if you can see all contacts properly then you are doing fine. If you cannot see the contacts in your phonebook, click on the button to the left of search box on your phonebook (shown with red and yellow dot in the image below)

 

Screenshot1

3.After clicking that you will be taken to another screen, there you need to

a. [check] Contacts with phone number

b. [uncheck] Online contacts

c. [check] All contacts (check this depending upon the from where you synced the contacts from).

In my case I used Google to sync my contacts.Since(If) you are copying from restore app then check Phone contact –> All contacts

Screenshot 2

Hope this helps you. Do ask questions if any =) Do leave a comment if any !

You may want to check Review of Android 2.1 for Xperia X10 also

And Onscreen Keyboard options for Android too !!  (Link opens in New tab/window)

Review : Xperia X10 with Android 2.1

Sigh !, gasped all the Xperia X10, mini and mini pro users when Sony Ericsson started to roll out Android 2.1 a.k.a Eclair. But its not over yet, currently rolled out only to nordic region (when this blog was posted). I had to debrand my Xperia X10i to lay my hands on Eclair!(I am from India), Thanks to XDA. Though Eclair is outdated by months now, I have to say it is impressive =) . I have to admit Eclair being impressive doesnt reduce our desire to have Froyo(I dont think this will ever materialize 😦 ) . Following are my thoughts after using Xperia X10 for a day.

1. Unlock screen: is very snappy, far better than the curved unlock before. This unlock screen is very responsive. You can put phone on silent right from the unlock screen, though an option to put phone to vibrate from unlock screen  would have been handy. Now we need to unlock the phone and then we can put phone to vibrate mode.

2. Home Screen and widgets : Again, nothing great, but very handy. How often I had thought it would be better to have more than 3 home screens of the stock(without any launcher). Also Recent calls and status switch widgets are nice. Notifications tab is slightly thicker which is nice.

3. Timescape and Mediascape : Sony Ericsson has been very stubborn in pushing these signature apps even after hearing cries from users that not many use it regularly. In Eclair although there are some improvements in responsiveness in both apps, they are incomplete and there are zillions of apps out there that does job better. Timescape has text scrolling now, so you need not click on the card on the spline to get full text.

Yes SE (Sony Ericsson) needs them as differentiating factor but these are bullshit apps for following reasons :

  • There are apps that do better jobs than this
  • The functionality and experience  they offer is not complete. Eg: You cannot reply for message or tweet, cannot post comment to facebook without leaving timescape.
  • You cannot create playlist in Mediascape. Also you need minimum two clicks to play a song.
  • Lack of widget in Mediascape and also both apps are CPU hogs (affects battery life and responsiveness)

4. 720p HD with continuous Auto focus : Really awesome, I’m not sure how many other phones have continuous auto focus, this is great improvement from the last iteration(donut). The pictures and video are very clear and better in Eclair. Still no flash (not adobe )support, though it is useless to have LED flash.

5. New Apps: Being Eclair opens up the market a bit more as few apps require Android 2.0 and above.

Apps to check out would be Angry bird, Official Twitter app, Fennec(Mozilla), Vlingo to name a few.

6. Keyboard : Good keyboard, doesn’t hang as Donut versions’ one. Difficult for people who use smiley as they need to navigate to other set of keys. Correction feature is good, slightly similar to iPhone.I would like if SE puts swype as default keyboard?

7. Battery Life : I haven’t got chance to actually do a quantitative comparison with Donut as I am busy installing , testing new features of Eclair. Having said that I have to stress that if there is 30% improvement in battery life as SE claims, it would be great.

All in all Xperia X10 with above mentioned improvement is good – More responsive, more usable hopefully more stable than Donut .And I maintain no where near Froyo’s as Eclair lacks JIT compiler, V8 javascript engine and more stable kernel.Hope SE makes up its mind to upgrade to Froyo and break the prejudice that users have of SE that they move on to new models dumping its predecessors.

Android App of the Day : Skyfire browser

Skyfire is an excellent browser for android (1.5 and above) which plays flash videos also !!

To get Skyfire via the Android Market, launch the Marketplace application and search for “Skyfire” or use the QR code.

Important Features:

  • VIDEO: magically offers up videos that appear as broken links on all other mobile browsers, enabling Flash video to play quickly and smoothly.
  • EXPLORE: reads your mind and presents smart recommendations for related media content from sources such as YouTube, Twitter, Google, Digg and more.
  • SHARE: makes browsing social, with one-click share features to help you get the word out.
  • FLASH : supports Flash web video with patent-pending adaptive streaming technology for smooth playback.

Android App of the Day : Moodagent

Awesome music player I recently found on market. Lets you play music depending on your mood. It profiles all the song from the web.

To download search for Moodagent on Market from your android device or simply scan this 2D Barcode from your device


Main Features :

  • Automatically profiles your music based on emotion, mood, genre, sub-genre, style, tempo, beat, vocals, instruments and production features
  • Instantly create mood-based playlists
  • Create playlists based on seed track
  • Share your mood and taste in music on Facebook and Twitter
  • Exclude tracks or artists you don’t want to show up in your playlists
  • Supported languages: English, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish
For more info go to moodagent site


Android App of the Day : Awesome Drop

Transfers files from any computer to your Android phone. Great App

Download from Android Market  here (link works only from android device)

Tip: Use any barcode reader from your phone
  • No account required
  • Works over WiFi and 3G
  • Transfer files from any computer with a compatible browser*
  • Works with music, photos, documents, any type of file you want on your phone
  • Send and receive files with friends

* Compatible browsers include FireFox 3.6, Safari 5, Chrome 5