A Week On Android

2 years ago I purchased an HTC Magic which runs on Android. I used if for a day and decided I didn’t like it, so I switched to my wife’s old iPhone 3G instead. I never looked back, until …

Last week my wife’s new iPhone 3G got water poisoning, so I loaned her my iPhone (her old phone). My plan was to dust off the old HTC and try using that instead. After all my needs are quite simple. I read books with the Kindle app, I use email, and I listen to music. The only part that I anticipated difficulty on was the music portion because I had a number of albums that had been purchased from iTunes.

Kindle Block

After charging the phone up a bit I moved onto trying to load the Kindle app. Unfortunately I didn’t see it in the Android marketplace. So I did a Google search to see if I could download it from the web. I found it and downloaded it, but was prompted that it was from an untrusted source and that I needed to turn off some setting in order to be able to install it. After disabling this security setting, I tried to install it… but failed with an error “This app could not be installed on this phone”. No explanation – just failure.

I repeated this procedure on a few different websites before realizing that my version of Android (1.5) was too old to run the software. In fact it was also too old to even work with the Android marketplace on the web.

Upgrade Maze

My next mission was to find out if there were any updates for my phone. So I did some google searches for variations on my phone’s model and my phone carrier which led to an updates page with about 8 or 9 different updates that apparently could be downloaded. There was a date next to each update but it wasn’t clear which update I needed. Did I need them all or did later updates overlap with earlier updates? One of the updates appeared to be an Android 2.1 update but I wasn’t absolutely sure about that. So I downloaded that update – which was only available as an EXE file (i.e. won’t run on a Mac).

So dusted off my Windows laptop and installed the update software. Unfortunately this software said that it couldn’t detect my android phone. After a while I figured out that I needed to also install phone sync application for the computer. Once that was installed, I was able to run the updater program. However the update failed half way through with a non-specific error about my phone not supporting this update.

This led to a period of research where I scoured Google to try to find all the information I could about my phone and updates, and errors with updates. There was a wealth of contradictory information – some reports claimed that the phone could not be updated, other reports claimed that it could. In the end I just went back to the same HTC update page and tried downloading some older updates. I downloaded each update and applied them in order. Most seemed to work – but none of them yet brought my phone up to Android 2.1, which is what was needed to run Kindle.

Once all of the prerequisite updates had been installed correctly, I tried again to install the 2.1 update. But it failed again.

Luckily at this point (with one of the updates I installed) I was able to get the update using a built-in update feature on the phone. So after about 5 hours I had updated my phone to 2.1.

Still No Love

Now, with 2.1 installed I had renewed vigour to get Kindle up and running. I was able to download it, but when I tried to run it, it informed me that I didn’t have enough memory. Apparently the HTC Magic doesn’t have much internal memory, but it has a MicroSD card slot. So I marched over to London Drugs and bought a 16gig card to load into the phone.

This time around, I was able to install Kindle. Phew!

The Easy Part

Android 2.1 is better in every way than its 1.5 ancestor. Importing my contacts from the iPhone and transferring the music turned out to be quite easy.

The Good and The Bad

Most of my gripes (such as lack of features like pinch-zoom) were resolved, leaving the UI to be almost as fluid as the iPhone interface. I do like the multi-tasking ability of it for productivity. I don’t like the multi-tasking ability for battery life.

Turns Out Ben Affleck Survived the War After All

After a few days of Android, we discovered that my wife’s iPhone had recovered from the water poisoning and was ready to resume its duties as her faithful communicator. So I was faced with a dilemma. I had put so much work into reforming the Android phone, and it had come such a long way. It would seem like a betrayal to return to my old phone after all we’d been through.

But it’s just a phone. I’m sure it will understand that no matter how much it tries to look and act like my old phone – it will never be an iPhone.

So I returned to my iPhone this morning and all is well in paradise again.

Footnote: The android really does come close now – but in the end it was the battery life that tipped the scale and convinced me to return to my old phone.

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