I have just uploaded an update for the SMS Bot Widget to the Android Market. It fixes two issues with the HTC Tattoo. The first one would show a “Force close” error message upon sending a message (the message would still be sent though). The second was a more serious as it meant that two messages were sent instead of one. This was not a bug in my code but in the Tattoo’s ROM. I used the workaround suggested here.
Somebody has alerted me to an issue with Reader Widget Pro on the Sprint Hero. If a Reader Widget is present when rebooting or switching scenes then the configuration screen is relaunched and the user has to reconfigure. This is a symptom of a bug in the Sprint Hero ROM where widget IDs are not saved. I found this thread on the Android Developers Google Group: What is the Sprint Hero AppWidget problem?. My widgets aren’t the only ones affected. Hopefully HTC will release a firmware update to fix this.
European Heroes (or at least mine) seem to be unaffected.
… I’m not asking for anything for this Christmas but for next year I want the perfect Android phone to be released. Maybe a keyboardless Droid, maybe the Nexus One, Two or Three (or six?) but with the following:
- 3.7 inch 854×480 screen
- Decent camera with:
- Flash (xenon if possible)
- Physical button that can be half pressed for focus
- 720p video recording
- Running stock Android 2.x
- Physical buttons on the front for home/back etc
- Decent amount of on board memory (1Gb+) for apps
- 802.11n Wi-fi if possible
Although my next phone will probably be a stock Android 2.x device, I’ll still install the HTC Hero keyboard on it.
I have just uploaded updates to both Pro and Free Reader Widget. Here’s the change log:
- Bug fix: Motorola Droid force close on docking
- Bug fix: browser launch option goes to Reader start page as configured on the Reader site instead of the “Feeds” view
- Bug fix: HTC Hero sometimes got stuck launching webview
- Bug fix: headline list in large widget force closes if the widget is configured for a single feed.
- Bug fix: headline list in large widget can now be sorted by headline title if the widget is configured for a single feed.
- Exit button added to menus in pop-ups (headline list, webview, tag list).
- Separate styles for spinner (drop down list) and spinner drop downs on the final configuration screen. This saves room and looks better
Don’t get me wrong I love my HTC Hero and it’s Sense UI. I just don’t like the fact I have to wait longer for Android updates compared to other phones. I’m sure when Eclair comes to the Hero it will be great but I just can’t stand missing out on all the new apps that have come out for 1.6 and above like Google Goggles and the new Maps. I can try them out on my G1 with Donut but I’m not lugging that around with me too.
By the way, I just updated my Hero to Modaco 3.0 and it feels a bit faster.
I think my next phone will be a stock Android 2.x device, perhaps the Nexus One that’s been causing such a storm. That way I can get updates much faster.
I moved house last week which of course left me with no broadband for a few days. It just got connected today but luckily I could use my HTC Hero’s built in USB tethering to keep me going. I know there’s Android Wi-fi tethering available too but that eats the battery for fun and only works if you have root. It might sound like I sing the Hero’s praises a lot but little things like this and being able to switch off the mobile data connection lift it above standard Android phones (if there is such a thing anymore).
I have installed the official Android 1.6 (aka Donut) ADP build on my G1. I’ve done some initial testing and found that both Reader Widget Small and Reader Widget Pro work on it. I have also uploaded screen shots for both to the market (only visible in the 1.6 version of the market). PubCrawler still works too. Now where is my Android 1.6 build for my Hero, HTC? :)
An official Hero ROM update has been leaked but I haven’t applied it. The reason is I went with MoDaCo’s 2.2 custom ROM (core) instead. I know I said I wasn’t going to use custom ROMs on my Hero but I couldn’t resist. If something can be modded to get extra functionality I’ll usually go right ahead and mod. The official firmware update removes root functionality and the ability to boot/flash an unsigned image which means:
- Wi-fi tethering won’t work
- Cyanogen’s custom recovery image can’t be used
- Nandroid back-ups can’t be made
The MoDaCo ROM retains these abilities which I didn’t want to lose. It’s based on the official 2.73 update anyway so it contains all the fixes therein. The lag has definitely been reduced especially using Spare Parts to set the transitions to “Fast”. However, flash in the browser is still clunky and slow. Hopefully when flash 10 officially comes to android this will get sorted out.
I have noticed something not mentioned much elsewhere when testing the PubCrawler on various devices. It is how much screen space is devoted to a web page. This is not a simply dependent on screen size as these screenshots show:
|iPod Touch/iPhone 3.0||HTC Dream/T-mobile G1 Android 1.5||HTC Hero|
All the devices have the same resolution at 320×480 but the iPhone has the larger screen at 3.5 inches. The other two have 3.2 inch screens. It is obvious that the iPhone is showing less of the page, chopping off the bottom of the map. This is an important thing to remember for a single page web app like PubCrawler. The map should resize dynamically for each device which is something I might look into. Luckily the iPhone does not need the controls at the bottom thanks to multitouch pinch and zoom. The reason for the lack of browser room is the absence of physical buttons on the iPhone. This means it has to show more buttons on the screen which take up valuable space. Some people have wandered why there are so many physical buttons on Android devices but they are there for a reason: freeing up screen space and providing more options.
As mentioned before the Hero turns the entire screen over to the browser window forsaking even the notification bar. This leaves a big gap between the map and the controls at the bottom. Space for an ad perhaps? Maybe but you wouldn’t see that ad on the other devices!
Here’s a quick write up on my thoughts after two days with my unlocked white Hero. The device itself is very good looking but it is not without its shortcomings:
- Hardware looks and feels very good in the flesh. Matte teflon backing is unique.
- Virtual keyboard is excellent. Really fast especially in landscape mode. I find its best to just blast out text and let the auto correct take care of things.
- Facebook integration. I like the way it aggregates contacts and shows profile photos next to them.
- The infamous chin. I like it. It keeps the screen and buttons off of a flat surface when face down which you might do to hear the speaker better. It also angles the buttons nicely and curves the mic towards your mouth.
- Speaker seems to be much louder than the G1.
- Headphone socket. About time!
- It’s still an Android phone so all the Google stuff works as usual. All my apps have been working so far.
- When calling someone it vibrates when the other person picks up. Its a minor thing but a nice touch.
- The multi-touch browser is full screen. Not everyone might like this as it means the notification bar is hidden.
- HTC’s clock app. It lets you add several clocks for different time zones, set alarms and incluides a stopwatch and countdown timer
- Oleophobic screen nicely minimises fingerprints and smudges. It also looks better than the G1′s screen somehow.
- Lag. Yes it is there, even with a Class 6 microSD. Certain things like the manage applications list are much slower than on my clunky old G1. Sometimes it seems like its just the animations are holding things up. The rotate animation is way too slow and the home screen swipe has a pretty but weird bounce back effect.
- The camera is almost as bad as on the G1. Just throwing more megapixels at it has not improved things much. It’s still slow and as there is no physical camera button (the trackball is used) you can’t half press to focus. Roll on Sony Ericsson X3.
- Flash in the browser isn’t great. Its not a big deal as there is an app for it but the BBC iPlayer site does not work. Stuff like Yeti Sports works but it’s slow. I haven’t had much time to test Flash out but it seems like it makes loading web pages slower and there doesn’t look like there’s an option to disable it.
Overall I’m glad I bought it. Hopefully HTC will come out with a firmware update to fix the lag. I’ll still use my G1 for development and testing but the Hero is going to be my day-to-day phone.
By the way the Hero has already been rooted. Click here for instructions. I have tried it on mine and it works.