Posts Tagged ‘Android’

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Putting the Galaxy to rights #5 – Froyo Wi-fi Fix

December 14, 2010

Vista busy cursor Updating my Samsung Galaxy S to Froyo appeared to resolve a problem I had been having with bluetooth and wifi but I didn’t want to jump to conclusions too soon.

It had been a particularly annoying problem whereby I had to keep turning the wifi connection off when away from the house, otherwise on my return my headphone’s stereo bluetooth connection was likely to be broken when the home wifi connection was re-established. A typical scenario would be walking the dog. I would be out and about listening to audiobooks or podcasts. On returning home I would hear the warning tone the headphones play when the bluetooth connection goes down and the podcast would suddenly be playing through the phone’s loudspeaker. I have my phone scheduled to turn notification sounds off at night and on in the morning and this automatically reinstates wifi so, even if I had remembered to turn wifi off, it might still come back on unbidden during a walk or trip to the shops. Worse than that, the wifi would then try to connect to someone else’s wifi and on occasion freeze up as a result. There have been a few times I’ve had to take the battery out to force a reboot.

Having said that, this misbehaviour did not happen every time and its failure to reappear after Froyo might have just been a run of good fortune. Also, while the bluetooth/wifi clash had been discussed in Android forums there was no change brought in under Froyo designed to fix it, or at least none advertised.

It has been a few days since my Froyo update and all doubts have gone. I can wander as far and wide as I wish with wifi left on and nothing untoward happens. Neighbours’ wifis are ignored and when I get home my phone reconnects to my wifi without prompting bluetooth to miss so much as a beat.

My guess is that the improvement has nothing to do with any software changes to the wifi or bluetooth stack under Froyo. It could just be that the modest increase in performance from the upgrade is what has done the trick. Maybe the pre-Froyo connection drops were simply due to the phone not being able to process code quickly enough to keep the bluetooth connection alive while going through the wifi reconnection handshake, or at least not every time. It would depend on the resource load on the processor and could explain why the effect was intermittent. Froyo’s small performance boost might just have been enough to allow the phone to keep both stereo bluetooth and wifi handshake processes on the go simultaneously.

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Putting the Galaxy to rights #4 – Ice Cool Froyo

December 10, 2010

Vista busy cursor My patience ran out out before my caution did.  The plan had been to hold off installing Froyo on my Samsung Galaxy S until I was certain that it was safe, based on comments in the T-Mobile user forum. But the furore in the forums had ground to a conspicuous halt.  So I went for it, in the middle of yesterday evening.

I did take a few precautions.  The latest version of Kies was installed.  I used MyBackup Pro to backup everything I could think of to the cloud.  Made sure the phone was fully charged.  Made a detailed list of all my apps (I had 40 of these on top of the built-in ones) along with a note of where I had put icons or widgets for them on the various desktop screens (I was using 4 out of a possible 7).  I also dismounted the external SD card; probably not important but some forum posters had mentioned it.

Kies had no trouble connecting with the phone.  Immediately offered me the update.  I clicked the button to accept, gave authorisation to the UAC dialogs and left it to chug.  I had other things to do and resisted the temptation to start fiddling with the phone too soon.  I did check on it periodically; the download of the software and update of the phone did not take all that long, maybe 10 minutes.  Even after the update was proclaimed complete I left well alone for quite a while, maybe half and hour.

When I felt I had given the phone long enough I closed the update dialog on the PC, closed Kies and disconnected the USB cable.  The phone came on looking very much like before. Slight change in the lock screen with “Sweep glass to unlock” text and animated chevrons.  Standard icons identical to before, icons for user installed apps all missing.  My desktop photo was still there. Everything was there and working.  Call log was there, contacts all there.  I feared the worst when opening the messaging app, given many users had reported having to do a factory reset to get that working, but it opened and all my conversations came up fine.  Whew!

I ran the Quadrant benchmark to find an improvement from 835 to 936. Not earth-shattering but it is something.  I may yet try the One Click Lag Fix but that can wait a while.

In general everything was there and working fine.  Responsiveness of the phone seems better – not conscious of any noticeable lags so far.  Referring to my copious notes I reinstated all my icons and widgets.

So what has changed?  Apart from the lock screen and slightly different status bar icons (e.g. bluetooth icon has lost its blue background).  For one thing I was able to add all my gmail accounts to the Google Mail app. Previously it had locked up when trying to add a second account.  I can now ditch use of the standard Email app for the other accounts.  I had hoped to use the standard Email app for my hotmail account.  It had refused to work before and still will not work now.

I opened the Downloads tab in the Android Market, expecting to see all the apps I had installed but only the 4 ones I had paid for were listed.  That was worrying because I relied on that listing to find out about upgrades to my apps, both paid and free.  I don’t know why that was, but after I next installed a new free app the Downloads listing was restored to show all of my installed apps.

I have been less plagued with interference between bluetooth and wifi.  Previously I had to ensure wifi was off before returning to my house after walking the dog if I had my A2DP bluetooth headphones on.  The reconnection with the home wifi once within range would break the bluetooth connection.  Sometimes failed attempts to connect to other people’s wifi could cause the phone to lock up.  This is a known issue and Froyo is not supposed to fix it, but so far things seem better although it is early days.

The Music Player still has my albums/tracks but doubleTwist has lost all information about which songs go with each artist/album.  That might be fixed when I next connect to doubleTwist on the PC.

The Audible Android app started playing up.  It seems to be very resource hungry on Froyo, even more than on Eclair, and keeps triggering the Watchdog app resulting in a notification beep and interrupted playback.  I have whitelisted Audible on Watchdog and this seems to have done the trick.

And of course, you can play Flash on websites.  Not something I have much call for but it is nice occasionally to be able to play the videos on the BBC News website.

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Putting the Galaxy to rights #3 – Fits of Froyo Frustration Flaring in the Forums

December 9, 2010

Vista busy cursor T-Mobile have only yesterday released the official Froyo update for the Samsung Galaxy S, having promised that it would arrive before the end of November, following months of stringing customers along prior to that.  The missed deadline was compounded by inadequate communication and generally poor expectations management, with the result that tempers had been flaring on the T-Mobile user forum.

Even now that Froyo is available for download (through the hated Kies software) the grumbles rumble on.  Some people are unable to get Kies to co-operate with the upgrade at all.  Others have upgraded but complain their phone runs slow or email is sluggish, and suchlike.

A lot of people complain that upgrading kills the text messaging system and the only way to get SMS working is to do a factory reset, which means elaborate backup and restore procedures and a lot of careful planning.  One forum member mentions that a user data reset from the Settings menu is enough to solve the SMS problem and no pictures, videos etc are lost.  You still have to reinput all your application settings though.  In any event, even if SMS is working after Froyo (as it seems to be for some) you still have to set up all your application icons and widgets from scratch.

It does all sound a bit fraught and risky.  The result of the upgrade also seems to vary with age of phone and whether it was bought unbranded or direct from T-Mobile, already with the annoyingly loud T-Mobile power up splash screen. My phone is relatively new which is probably good news. Another pointer is that leaving the phone alone to do its thing, during and after the upgrade, makes for fewer glitches.  I get the impression some people are too anxious to start fiddling with their phones after the upgrade, before everything has “settled down”, and somehow applications get out of kilter as a result.

I shall wait for a few more days and keep my eye on the forums, in case any more useful pointers come to light.  When I do take the plunge with Froyo I will document all my settings, use MyBackup Pro to back everything up to the cloud, ensure I have a very full battery, leave the update to chug and settle without interference for a couple of hours.  Hoping to give myself the best shot at a smooth Froyo.

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Putting the Galaxy to rights #1 – Sitefinder

September 28, 2010

Vista busy cursor I am still iPhoneless and likely to stay that way. I seriously toyed with waiting for Windows Phone 7 but memories of being an early adopter of Vista were enough to put a dampener on that idea. So it had to be Android and a bit of research suggested the Samsung Galaxy S was the best handset on the market, just shading the offerings from HTC. The main attraction for me was the bigger screen, reputedly bright enough to read in the open on a sunny day.

I have been an O2 user for years as has everyone in my household and we have all complained about the poor cell coverage when at home. Rather than blindly land up with more of the same I tried to look into which carrier was likely to offer the best coverage and hit upon the Ofcom Sitefinder website. This is the UK Government’s independent database of mobile base stations and it has a natty user interface which shows you on a map all the stations closest to say your home, which carriers they belong to and which services they carry, eg normal cellphone communications, 3G, etc.

It turns out that at the moment the nearest base stations to my home are operated by 3 and T-Mobile, both supporting voice and 3G, and considerably closer than the nearest O2 stations. I did look briefly at 3 but they seem to be widely panned by their users for poor quality of customer service. In fairness, all the carriers do (it is after all the most disgruntled who are the most vocal) but I thought I could detect significantly more disgruntlement on the part of 3’s users than anyone else’s.

It was decided. I would get my Samsung Galaxy S on a T-Mobile contract, although improved mobile coverage was not a foregone conclusion. We live along the side of the Bollin valley and the local topography appears to interfere with the signal from the main cluster of local base stations which are in and around Hale Barns village. The nearest T-Mobile base stations are in the opposite direction, close to the M56 motorway. My guess was that distance and topography would both favour the T-Mobile signal but until my phone arrived I would not know for sure.

In the event the coverage has proved to be considerably better than with O2. The signal strength is often weak but I hardly ever lose contact with the network whereas on O2 I could sometimes be waiting 15 minutes for enough signal to send out a text message.

Oh, and I can see the screen even in the sunshine (if I turn the brightness up) not that we get much sunshine in the Manchester area.

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