Remove Amazon From Cyanogen ROM December 18th, 2009
Does anyone actually use the Amazon MP3 app that comes bundled with the Cyanogen ROMs? I’ve always found it annoying that it is not able to be removed from the Manage Applications applet, but of course, there is another way to cleanly uninstall it.
Simply open your Terminal Emulator app and type the following:
mount -o rw,remount -t yaffs2 /dev/block/mtdblock03 /system
That’s it, no more Amazon!
Of course you can also use this method to remove other apps by changing the appropriate file in the code. Enjoy!
Facebook App From Motorola Droid November 16th, 2009
I have to be honest; I can take or leave Facebook. Sure it is probably the most used social networking service out there but I much prefer Twitter. Facebook has too many Pirates, Vampires, Racers and other annoyances for my liking these days. I wonder if Facebook – like many before it – is becoming a victim of its own success. The number of Facebook users may well be continuing to climb but I wonder for how long, it’s becoming too commercialised and too full of junk.
Still, I acknowledge Facebooks relevance and am surprised to see that the latest version of the Android specific client which is found on the new Motorola Droid has not been ported back to the wider community. The version available in the Android Market is pretty poor.
So you want the new version? OK, it’s actually quite easy to get it to work:
Caveat: You MUST uninstall any previous versions of Facebook from your device before trying to install this new version.
- Download this file and copy it to the root of your SD card
- Open a terminal window and type the following:
mount /system –o remount,rw
cp Facebook.apk /system/app
You don’t need to reboot, the Facebook app will show up immediately in your menu.
Note: Feel free to add me on Facebook if you wish but remember to add a note that you’ve come from my blog otherwise as if I don’t know where you’re from I may not accept your request, and more importantly, any requests to join your Vampire or Werewolf clan (or any other for that matter) will not be met with enthusiasm.
Cyanogen v4.2.5 ROM November 16th, 2009
Typical, the day after I flash my ROM to Cyanogen v4.2.4 a new ROM, v4.2.5 is released!
To upgrade to v4.2.5 you can follow the same instructions as per my previous post but substitute the file in step 2 for this one. If you already have v4.2.5 installed, you can also use CM Updater – available from Android Market – to automatically download and upgrade to the latest ROM. I have tried both methods this morning to see if one is better than the other and they both produce the same results.
The change log from v4.2.4 to v4.2.5 shows the following:
- Eclair/Blur animations
- Eclair Dalvik
- WiFi update from Eclair
- Kernel tweaks
- Tiny video player is back
- Update phone mod from Cytown
- Contact list photos patch from Geesun
- Browser settings fix
- USB tether works thru WiFi connection
- Apps that automatically change the wallpaper work once again
- Other bug fixes and tweaks
I have only been running the new ROM for a few hours now but first impressions are that it is much faster.
Kudos goes once again to Cyanogen.
T-Mobile G1/HTC Dream: Upgrading To Cyanogen v4.2.4 ROM November 15th, 2009
It’s been a while now since I changed the ROM on my G1; I’ve been more than happy with Cyanogens v4.0.4 ROM which has proven to be very stable and pretty quick. I still find it amazing that he and other developers are able to push out these ROMs to a higher standard – and much quicker – than the service operators themselves. T-Mobile have a team of developers working on this and yet they just don’t seem to be able to get it right, they still think the way forward is to fill our devices with crapware and customisations which frankly either don’t work, or slow things down to a crawl – when will they learn.
Now that the things have settled down after Cyanogen received his C&D notice from Google, I thought it was about time to switch up to his latest stable ROM release; v4.2.4 comes with numerous enhancements and bug fixes and promises to be speedier than ever. Time to find out!
Notes: For the purpose of this guide, I am assuming that you already have an older Cyanogen ROM installed (v4.1.99 or older) and you are using Cyanogen Recovery v1.4. Of course following these instructions may work with other combinations but I have not tested them so if that applies to you, by all means use this as a guide but you do so at your own risk.
Before starting, assuming that you don’t want to sit with your G1 plugged into the power socket, it’s a good idea to give it a charge and ensure your battery is at least 75% charged, then when you are ready:
- On your computer, download the Android 1.6 Recovery Image from HTC’s website. This isn’t like one of the normal recovery images you’ll be used to running, but you’ll need it in order to ensure the Google Apps are working. For ease, download this to your desktop so we know where to find it in later steps
- Next, download Cyanogens’ latest v4.2.4 ROM, again saving it to your desktop
- We now need to copy both of these images onto your G1 so connect it to your computer using a USB cable, making sure that it is still turned on. Now, drag down the status window on the G1 and mount your phone so that it is accessible on your computer. Navigate to the root on your G1’s SD card and copy the two ROMs from above onto the SD. Once this has done, you can disconnect the USB cable and turn the G1 off
- Hold down the home button on the G1 and power on, this will allow you to boot into the Recovery Mode
- Once the Recovery Mode had loaded up, perform a Nandroid Backup [Alt+B] just in case you run into any problems in the later steps
- Next we need to wipe the ext3 partition on the SD card so that once we have flashed the ROM, we have a nice clean system without any of the remnants of the previous ROM, enter the console [Alt+X] and type:
mount –o rw /dev/block/mmcblk0p2 /system/sd
rm –r *
- Perform a data/factory reset [Alt+W]
- Next, we install the first ROM which will allow you to continue to use the Google Apps once Cyanogen v4.2.4 has been flashed in the next stage. Choose to apply any zip from the SD [Alt+A] and choose signed-dream_devphone_us but DO NOT reboot your G1 once this has been applied, instead go straight onto the next step
- Install Cyanogen v4.2.4 ROM by again choosing to apply any zip from SD [Alt+A] and choosing update-cm-4.2.4-signed.zip
- Now restart your G1 [Home+Back]; you may find that during the restart, you’ll be returned to the Recovery Menu as the cache is formatted. This is not a problem so just restart using [Home+Back] once again
- All that remains now is to go through the initial configuration of your G1 and mate it with your Google Account details however, on the initial screen check your APN details as I have found that whilst the APN lists have been updated since v4.0.4 some of them are no longer accurate (specifically the password), as in my case, the o2 payandgo APN is now slightly wrong and needs to be edited otherwise data will not work. The following steps are o2 payandgo specific so adjust this based on your SIM provider and data plan; other APN details are discussed in a previous post
- Click Menu and select the correct APN – o2 UK payandgo – then edit the APN details ensuring the following are entered:
NAME: o2 uk payandgo
PROXY: Not Set
Port: Not Set
MMS PROXY: 126.96.36.199
MMS PORT: 8080
APN TYPE: Not Set
Notes: I have shown you the steps to perform a clean install of the v4.2.4 ROM which is the way I choose to update, I tend not to keep much in the way of data on my device and any photos or documents etc can be copied back onto your SD card once the upgrade has been done using a USB cable. However, you can upgrade your existing ROM instead by missing out stage 6 above; this should leave your already installed applications and data intact. You may need to open Market afterwards though to rebuild your application database so that you continue to receive application update notifications.
Caveat: All modifications which attempt to bypass the base system settings allowing you to install custom ROMs *could* brick your phone (and if you’re not sure what is meant by that, please don’t read any further!). I am not responsible, this guide gives you the information you’ll need, what you choose to do with it is down to you.
As always, I make a few base customisations to the nice clean ROM once it has been installed, obviously at this stage you may choose to do the same or do something different but this is what I do:
- Cyanogens ROMs are designed for speed and efficiency so do not have all of the audio files that come with an original ROM, however this is easy to fix to ensure that you have all of the ringtones and alerts, simply download the audio zip and extract it to the root of your SD. Restart the phone and you should now have access to them all
- I’m not a fan of desktop wallpaper, perhaps it heralds from the days when it would have an impact on system performance; perhaps it’s just because I don’t like clutter. So, I prefer to have a simple black background which I think looks much smarter. To do this take a picture with the camera but keep your finger firmly pressed over the lens whilst you do, then choose this ‘image’ for your desktop. Easy.
- The first app that I always install is a battery status app which gives a much better representation of the amount of charge available than the one which comes as standard, so head to the market and install Battery Status – Free
- Finally, I upgrade to the latest version of Google Maps – v3.2 – which is far better than the version which comes with the ROM, to do this download the update file and using the same method as above, put this file onto the root of your SD card and reboot into the Recovery Mode menu and apply the update. Once your G1 has rebooted after doing this, you should see the updates Maps icon on the home screen and have access to the latest version of maps which has layers (showing you traffic hold ups etc) amongst other things and is much faster. Worth noting also that if and when the voice navigation feature is enabled outside of the US (currently it is not available in the UK owing to licensing restrictions on the map data), you will already have the core map application ready to go!
I hope you find this useful, enjoy.
Android Apps On My G1 October 21st, 2009
Everyone has different ideas as to what are the best apps available for the Android, and as with a lot of things it’s always going to be subjective. After all, an app which serves a purpose for me may not for you and vice versa. So, I thought I would compile a little list of the apps which I have on my G1 right now. Some I use everyday and I couldn’t live without, others are more of a novelty and I rarely use. The list of course changes regularly depending on my mood or need.
I have added where I can the direct link to the Android Market for each app so all you need to do is scan the barcode and it’ll take you directly to the appropriate page for you to download the app, for this to work you’ll need a barcode scanner installed. If you do not already have one, just download from the Android market and you’ll be good to go.
Bit of a geeky one this, perhaps of little use to the majority of users but its one app which I always have installed. The notion behind the app is quite simple, it uses cell information to identify which cell tower your phone is connected too and calculates an approximate distance from the tower based on your signal strength. Then, it takes a gps fix and interfaces with Google Maps to give you a map view showing your location and the location of the cell tower. Now unless you are an RF engineer this is probably not that exciting but I use it when I am in an area of poor signal to see how far I am from the cell tower, just out of curiosity.
Battery Status – Free
Now we all accept that just as with the iPhone, the battery on most android devices is pretty shameful, certainly on the HTC Dream/G1 you can expect to just about get through a day before having to find somewhere to plug in. What makes matters worse, is that the battery display doesn’t really give you a lot of information, sure, it goes from green to orange to red to critical but just as with a cars fuel gauge, the whole process doesn’t seem to be very linear. So, this little app is a useful way of showing more information. Basically, it runs in the system area of your home screen and gives you a numerical value for the amount of battery remaining out of 100, so half battery would be 50 etc. It gives you more faith in your ability to ensure you have enough battery left to get you through the day, no more leaving the house thinking you have plenty of battery only for the inbuilt gauge to suddenly drop to red! The app doesn’t appear to use much in the way of system resources, it’s certainly one app I couldn’t live without.
Pkt Auctions eBay
As you would expect by its name this is simply an eBay app. It’s not very easy to search for new items but then that’s what we have home computers for, but, if you are already bidding or watching an item and you know you are not going to be at home when it’s due to finish or you just want to check on its progress then this little app is great. It gives you full access to ‘my eBay’ so you can see items you are watching, ones that you are selling and ones that you have outstanding bids on. Of course it also allows you to place bids on items. Doesn’t do much more than that if I am honest but if you are an active eBayer then this is a useful tool, certainly much easier and quicker than navigating the mobile eBay site on your androids browser.
Twidroid for Twitter
Twitter, the new facebook, or so they say. If like me you spend a lot of time using Twitter then this app is one you cannot be without. There are a lot of others in the Android Market, each with its own unique set of features but as an all round Twitter client I don’t think you can get much better than Twidroid. The app gives you full access to your Twitter features and allows you to include pictures and geo-data in your tweets. It also makes use of various URL shortening services, needless to say. The app runs in the background and alerts you to new tweets in the same way as the android OS natively alerts you to email and text messages, so you are never away from the action! Being that the app runs in the background and monitors your Twitter account, it is going to eat a little bit more battery on your device and take up some additional system resources. I personally have not found this to be a huge problem although have throttled it back so that it only checks for tweets every hour. As with any app which uses background data, it should be configured for your needs – it’s pointless having it check every few minutes unless you really need it to.
A relatively simple app brought to you by Google. Using your gps it finds where you are and gives you a list of local places based on your search criteria. So, you want a local restaurant or a need to book a hotel nearby – no problem. It also gives you access to user reviews and contact details using the power of its Google origins. So you can for example find a local hotel, look up it’s details and call to make a reservation all from one place. I have to admit I don’t use this much but I’m sure it’ll come in more useful one day when I am in an area I am not familiar with and need to find a local amenity. It doesn’t do anything in the background so I’m not worried about leaving it installed ready for the day it’ll be more useful.
Wikitude World Browser
Now this is a great app, although I have to say I am yet to use it! Wikitude presents you with data about your surroundings, nearby landmarks, and other points of interest by overlaying information on the real-time camera view of your android. So if for example you take a trip to London and are up in the London Eye, you simply look at your screen and point your android around and it’ll point out Big Ben and Waterloo station for example. It’s like having a personal tour guide with you. This has to be one of the most popular downloads on Android market and I look forward to using it properly when I am next on holiday.
This app interfaces with your Google Analytics account to give you access to your stats for any websites which are using the Analytics service. This is one of my most used apps and I couldn’t be without it. It doesn’t give you are much information as the proper web client but it gives you snapshot information which is often more useful at a glance. So, for example I can quickly and easily see how many unique visitors I’ve had today, yesterday or this week. See where my traffic has come from and what people were searching for to happen across my site. It doesn’t give you all of the trend information or goals as you get in the web client but it gives more than enough information to appreciate what is happening across your websites.
Google Sky Map
Not really that useful unless you are an astronomer but a great party trick app with the all important ‘wow’ factor. Essentially it imposes a sky map on your screen so you point your phone (as if you were using the camera) around the sky you’ll be able to see the stars and planets on your screen, making it easy to find Jupiter or Mars etc. Also it has a search facility so you tell it you want to find Saturn for example and an arrow on the screen tells you to move left or right, up or down and there you go, you’re looking at Saturn! Of course you’ll need a nice clear night to use the app otherwise you’ll just be looking at a cloud but that’s something which is outside of the apps control.
A simple app which acts as a TV guide displaying information for UK television channels; there is also a paid upgrade available which does interface with your Sky+ box so that you are able to set programmes to record directly from your android. I keep thinking about getting this as it would be a useful feature but am too tight to click the ‘buy’ button. One day perhaps when the credit crunch is over! There are a lot of other apps in the market which act as TV guides, I have tried a few and always seem to come back to this, of course it is down to personal choice but this remains my favourite.
Doesn’t do a great deal but I use this in conjunction with Pkt Auctions eBay. This app allows you to perform basic PayPal tasks such as send money or check on your account balance and transaction history. It’s been developed directly by PayPal so is well designed to securely interface with the PayPal systems. Rather annoyingly, I have recently signed up for a PayPal secure card which uses a scambled code to further enhance account security, a great idea day to day but I did not realise it would mean I had to use it everytime I used the android app too. So now I have to carry the smart card in my wallet too if I want to use this app.
Another geeky tool which will serve no purpose for most people as it is designed to act as a tool. Essentially it is an audio signal generator which can create white noise, pink noise and sine waves. I have it installed as you can use the sine generator and your finger to control the slide (changing the frequency) to make a noise like R2D2! It’s the simple things in life. So not really very useful but it’s not talking up much space so it can stay for noe.
I’ve used this quite a few times now when I hear a tune on the radio or on a TV advert that I really like but am not sure who releases it. Shazam uses the androids built-in microphone to gather a brief sample of music being played. An acoustic fingerprint is created based on the sample, and is compared against a central database for a match. If a match is found – which it usually is – information such as the artist, song title, and album are relayed back to you on your screen. Relevant links to YouTube and Amazon MP3 are also given to you so you can then go and listen or buy the track. It’s uncanny just how many obscure tracks this is able to correctly identify across all genres, impressive stuff.
This app interfaces with data supplied by the BBC to show both visually on a Map and in text format live traffic conditions in a given area. What is also unique is that under each traffic instance a progress bar is shown letting you know an approximate time for the delay. It’s proven quite accurate so far but as with any traffic app, this is only going to be as good as the data it is given, I’d have liked to have seen the developer add support for multiple sources such as the Highways Agency as well as BBC etc. I’m sure this comes down to licensing, hopefully it will be addressed in futher releases, making it even more accurate and reliable.
A simple app that brings you the latest BBC news headlines, nothing more and nothing less. I like this as it allows me to quickly find information on any breaking news without having to search for it.
This app uses the Google Translation service to provide translations for given text in just about any language you can think of. It’s another one of those applications which actually don’t serve much use but it’s always fun to send random sentences in a foreign language when using instant messengers. I guess the inner child in use never grows up! Had it been given the ability to translate full web pages on demand then it would have been far more useful, but this obviously would change the development of the app significantly and probably change it from a free app to a commercial app.
This application improves on the in-built software for the android camera which makes it useful in anyone’s book. We all know how basic the camera is and this app improves things by adding a proper digital zoom, a timer, burst shooting mode, various filters, white balance adjustment and autofocus. Of course the quality of the finished photo is always going to be subject to the quality of the hardware which in HTCs case isn’t the best but this app definitely makes the pictures better than the standard camera app.
Feel free to discuss any of these apps below in the comment field or suggest some useful apps that you have come across.