Category Archives: Gadgets

Running Android Emulator with Market

I have been thinking of getting an Android phone to replace my iPhone 3GS. There is only so much you can tweak on the iPhone. Apps are great but I want glance able widgets on the main screen like every other smartphone. I want apps like Settings Profile. You can change settings on your phone based on time, location, battery, day/date… I had similar software on my Nokia smartphones for years.

Well I have read that I can do almost any kind of tweaking on an Android phone. So I have been thinking of getting one. The Dell Streak seems to be the only Android phone on AT&T to have a front facing camera. But I want to try out Android before I get it. If it were an iPhone, I would head to an Apple store to try it out. I have never been to a AT&T store. May be I should go and try a Captivate. Does not sound as interesting as going to an Apple store though.

Well I ran across a couple of articles on Lifehacker that let me try out the Android OS in the comfort of my home on my Tablet PC:

1. How to Test Drive Android on Your PC Without Buying a Phone
2. Enable the Android Market When Trying Out Android on Your PC

The first one is straight forward. The second one did not work as detailed. Maybe it is because of the different Android SDKs. Here are the steps that worked for me to get an Android Market enabled emulator running:

1. You must have Java installed.
2. Get the Android SDK from here.
3. Get the emulator running as per the first Lifehacker article. Choose Android 1.6 as the version to use.
4. Download the System image for Android 1.6 from HTC’s site here.
Download Image

5. Extract the system.img file to the location of the AVD you just created. Ex. <userhome>\.android\avd\Test1.6.avd.
6. Restart the AVD wiping out the user data.
7. Enjoy using Android and check out the apps in Market.

Android with Market

Samsung Galaxy S and US Carriers

Samsung Captivate [androidcentral.com]

Samsung Galaxy S phones are coming to almost all US Mobile Carriers. The phone compares well with even the iPhone 4. The screen Super AMOLED seems to match the Retina Display. The Samsung Hummingbird processor is very capable too. I would love to get myself a Samsung Captivate as soon as it becomes available. I like my iPhone but it is getting a bit boring to use. I can’t tweak or hack it like the other smartphones I have had. Android seems to be the most tweak-able phone OS out there now.

But what is worrying is how every carrier apart from Sprint has removed the front facing camera from the phone. The original Galaxy S has a front facing camera. Looks like they don’t want anyone to be using video chat over their network. My Dad and Brother both have a Nokia N900 and seem to be video chatting using Skype. Why can’t I get a Android phone that can do it too?

Thoughts on iOS4

iOS 4 was released yesterday. The update took a couple of hours for me. Everyone must have been downloading it. But I was watching Portugal score a sea of goals against North Korea while I waited. The update completed without any problem.

Here are the things I like about the update:

  • Folders are good. Now I don’t have to scroll through pages and pages of apps to find the one I am looking for.
  • Unified Inbox. I love this. Previously I had to tap a hundred times to switch between my inboxes. This is how it should have been all along.
  • Archive Gmail messages and threaded conversation. I like these. The mail app is trying to be more Gmail like.
  • My spelling is bad. So the spellcheck is a welcome addition.
  • Screen lock. Nice when reading in bed. Otherwise the screen keeps changing orientation when i don’t want it too.

Things I don’t care too much for:

  • Playlist creation
  • Bluetooth keyboard support
  • The home screen background is nice but I would not miss it if the feature went away.

Strangely the thing I don’t like is the way background apps work. The OS puts every app I open in the quick app switching list, even the ones that don’t support quick app switching. Does not make sense. The trouble with this is that quick app switiching is slower than launching the apps from the home screen, thanks to the new folders feature. And didn’t Jobs say that when an OS make you kill apps they have failed. I had to kill apps all day today.

The other thing is that the update made things very unstable. I have had a lot of apps crash on me today. Everything seems more sluggish too. Hmmm… Is Apple bloating their OS or encouraging us to upgrade to iPhone 4?

    quick app switchingquick app switching

    Google TV Explained

    When Google announced the Google TV, it seemed amazing but not completely clear how it worked. Now Google has released a video explaining this.

    But what is still not clear to me is how Google TV can integrate with DVRs other than the Dish TV DVR. If it can integrate with my Comcast DVR I am getting one as soon as it is released.

    Thoughts on iPad

    Apple iPad 

    There was too much hype. Lot of Apple patents was associated with it. It was to be the greatest thing to come from Steve Jobs’ mind. Finally when it is unveiled, it is just a big iPod Touch. Here are the disappointing things:

    1. No camera. Would have been cool if the iPad supported video chat with a front facing camera. I would not use it to take photos so a rear camera is not a deal breaker.
    2. Third party apps can not run in background. Well no Pandora running in the background while browsing.
    3. No tethering to iPhone. I would have the iPhone where ever I take the iPad. It should just use the iPhone for data not another data plan.
    4. No USB. To connect a camera I need a $30 accessory!
    5. No Flash. This is the deal breaker! No flash means no Hulu. Or hundreds other flash based video sites that are useless on the device which is supposed to be primarily for browsing and media consumption.

    Hmmm… When does that HP Slate come out?