Sprint Hero ROM bug and the Reader Widgets

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.


Dear Santa…

… 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
  • Trackball
  • 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.


Reader Widgets V2.2 out

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

Senseless Sense

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.


Motorola Droid/Milestone thoughts

I liked the Droid. It has a really solid, heavy feel to it. Android 2.0 certainly looks better than previous stock versions and the screen is gorgeous. Most operations were snappy but for some reason swiping from home screen to home screen was a bit laggy. The physical keyboard is not as good as the G1’s in my opinion. It feels odd with no spacing between the keys and no offset between the rows. The virtual one is not as good as the Hero’s in my opinion despite being larger and faster. Hopefully somebody will port HTC’s to it, although that could be difficult because of the higher screen resolution. I didn’t like the capacitive home, menu and back buttons on the front and found myself missing the trackball. There’s the D-pad to the right of the physical keyboard but no equivalent when the phone is shut. The camera felt much better than the Hero’s although I didn’t get much time with it. The examples we got to play with were from the US so no multitouch and they only worked on Wifi.

Overall it is probably the best Android phone to date but I’ll be sticking with my Hero for now. I’ll wait for Sony Ericsson’s X10 or HTC’s rumoured Dragon/Passion, to see how they turn out. Although the Acer Liquid looks interesting.

The other phones I got to play with were not as exciting as the Droid. The LG Eve was probably the worst as the replacement interface was just plain bad. The app drawer tab was replaced with four icons and it was hard to tell their functions. One launched the app drawer but the apps were categorized which actually made them more difficult to find! The resistive screen was horrible too.
The HTC Tattoo wasn’t too bad. It’s screen is resistive but it only required a little pressure compared with the Eve and didn’t feel as squishy. The virtual keyboard was actually quite useable. It’s the smallest Android phone to date as far as I know and it’s cheap so it might entice many more people to the platform. Quite how HTC managed to squeeze it’s Sense UI onto such a small screen and still make it look pretty is beyond me!
I didn’t get any time with the Samsung Behold II but impressions from the other devs were not good. Samsung’s TouchWiz UI did not go down favourably.


This week in HTC Hero fanboyism

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).

android webapps

Reader Widgets and Android 1.6

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? 🙂


Back from holiday

I’ve been away on holiday for the last two weeks, hence the lack of posts here. My girlfriend and I went to California and had a great time. Naturally I took my Hero with me. It has a really useful option in the “hold the power button down menu” to switch off the mobile data connection. I found it incredibly useful as it prevented extortionate data charges whilst still receiving calls and letting me connect to any Wifi hotspots I came across. This allowed me to stay in the loop with all the goings on in the mobile world and a lot has happened, especially with Android.
The first thing on my to do list is installing an Android 1.6 ROM on my G1 and testing the Reader widgets on it.
I have received a few suggestions for features in addition to my own ideas so watch this space.
Also Reader Widget Small passed the 5000 download mark last week. Thanks to everyone who has downloaded, rated and provided feedback on it.


Hero ROMs

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:

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.


Touch screen implementations and browser size

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
iPhone Dream 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!