My Android Experience Thus Far

I have had my Samsung Moment since around Thanksgiving 2009. It came with Adroid 1.5 initially and was my first smartphone. I played with it quite a bit at first, but after the first few months the novelty mostly wore off. I fell into a pattern of using it for its browser, email, twitter (mostly reading tweets not tweeting myself.) and occasionally for taking photos. Battery life was pretty dismal which actually discouraged me from using it because I would rather not have a dead phone by the afternoon.

Sometime in the spring it got updated to 2.1 which was sort of a let down to be honest. Most things were just as they were. There were a few more options as far as apps, and a nice new unlock screen, but that about covers it. standard 2.1 stuff was left out by Sprint. I guess they had their reasons.

About a month ago I decided I wanted to try to do some deeper customization. These phones are like little computers. If I could install Ubuntu on my laptop why couldn’t I do something similar on this phone.  Android is basically a Linux distro for mobile phones.

Anyway long story short – rooted it and installed custom ROM with the help of sdx-developers. I actually had some reasons for work that prompted this move, but those aren’t so relevant here. The phone is awesome again. A couple new features and capabilities come with root access that only geeks will appreciate, and all the bloatware that I never used and couldn’t get rid of was gone, but the most useful aspect is the dramatically improved battery life. Now a full day of heavy use is no problem. Two full days is pushing it a bit, but I do it from time to time. The wireless tethering is slick and actually useful when traveling. (did I mention I am not paying Sprint for this feature? … don’t tell….)

It comes with some consequences. The occasional random reboot or flickery screen, but so far they haven’t really interrupted anything I needed to do. reboot is faster than it used to be too. Overall the stability isn’t really a hit, because the phone wasn’t glitch free before anyway.

What is cool is that these now ‘old’ phones (Sprint tweeted they were done providing updates for the Moment 6-7 months after it was released!) can continue to be very useful because of an active developer/hacker community. I do encounter these longings to have the latest greatest devices, but I am also beginning to see much more challenge/fun/value in being able to keep lower end hardware useful through better software.

The more I have a smartphone the less I want to be without one. It is interesting how my computer usage habits are changing because of it. Maybe a topic for another post.

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2010 breakout year for Linux (as in Android)?

Yeah, i know not another “year of Linux” prediction. So lame, but eh, whats the harm really 🙂

I have been thinking for a while now that Android is really the up and coming platform. This article about the android market reaching the 20,000 app milestone seems to agree, but is pretty conservative about it. Things it doesn’t consider is that the Android Market is just one place that apps are released. Apps can be made available other ways, such as a simple download available on the web that you then drop onto your device, or accessed directly through specific URL’s.

Also in contrast to native apps there are web apps. Web-apps developed for iPhone’s mobile safari browser also run on other mobile webkit browsers like the one found on Android (and Palm’s WebOS) and vice-versa. There is no count on those that I know of, but they are definitely growing in numbers and I suspect their popularity will be increasing dramatically. Less platform lock in is a big draw for developers. Additionally, existing tools make developing mobile apps relatively easy. For example, Android benefits from already existing tools like JqTouch, xUI, iUI and others

Then there is the fact that Android is starting to show up on things other than phones, like e-readerstablets, and amazing looking reader-tablet hybrids

With 2010 just around the corner some people are sure to claim (yet again) that this will be the year for Linux to break out, and they might be right as 2010 is really shaping up to be a big year for Android.

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