Thursday, January 22, 2009

Locale: Application review

The cool thing about android is the number of interesting applications that are available from Market they may be simple but do interesting things. Here is one such application that I downloaded and installed recently.

Locale is an application that can customize your phone based on your location, time and many other parameters. For example you can automatically send out a tweet when you are at a certain location. You can change the screen brightness, ringer and other stuff.

From what I have seen till now, I like this one. Let me give it a try for couple of more weeks before I pass judgement on it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Unexplained running out of space on phone

A bug has been seen on android phones where the device runs out of space. The space occupied on the phone can not be explained by the applications installed and other usage of space.

Here is the email thread where this discussion has taken place.

In nut shell, here is what seems to be happening.
When some applications is uninstalled (or some other activity that deletes files), the system unlinks the files. If the phone goes to sleep before these files are cleaned up, these unlinked files are not removed.

The work around for this bug can be done by creating a scenario where the system unmounts/mounts the un-checkpointed filesystem since at only unmount/mount time the unlinked files are cleaned up.

So here are the steps that one can follow.

  • Shutdown the phone

  • Power up the phone

  • Wait for the phone to get to Home screen i.e. enter unlock code etc. if required.

  • Shut down the phone (before it goes to sleep mode)

  • Turn on the phone again, this should result in the files being deleted.

Optimizing the phonebook

After playing with my android phone and a user device (rather than a developer device), here are my notes on optimizing the phone book.

  • Older phones and SIM card based phone books generally have multiple entries for one individual for work phone, home phone etc. You should go through and collapse all the entries for one individual into a single entry.

  • The is best done using gmail''s contact option rather than on phone

  • Go through all the addresses that you use with gtalk i.e. people with whom you chat, make sure these addresses are part of your google contacts. Once you do this, if these users have put photos in their gmail settings, you will see these as picture ids in your contact book.

I have to say, once you do all these, the phonebook in android phone becomes much better than anything else that I have seen on phone. The best part is that I don't have to manage people's picture ids and they can change their own picture ids.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Application review: PostBot

I installed application PostBot from the android market and it is really cool for posting to your wordpress based blogs. The blogs could be hosted on or at your own website.
The application supports multiple blogs, adding images and multiple categories. It does not support adding tags to posts.
Overall an interesting application you like to blog while being mobile.Way better than some of those SMS based blogging softwares.

Test post from android application

Test post for creating a post from android phone,


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Android, Airtel India and Calendar

Right from the day one, I started facing this strange bug on phone calendar. Any alert that I put in the calendar would go off 3:30 hrs before its scheduled time. I tried to find what was going on and I would some issues with Automatic Network Time from Airtel Network.

When your date and time settings are set to "Automatic" the time zone goofs up at times and because of that the alert goes off at a wrong time. The resolution to this problem is to manually set the time and time zone to IST.

After that I have not seen the problem at all.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Uploading phone book to GMail Contacts

The G1 or Android developer phone both require a gmail account to work properly. The phonebook on the phone is automatically synchronized with the associated GMail contacts. Once anybody acquires a phone, the first thing that is needed to be done is to put your phonebook to google contacts. Here is what I did and it worked.

Most of the phones allow the phonebook to be synchronized to Outlook, that should be the first step that you take. Once you are in the outlook or outlook express, export the phonebook to a CSV format.

Go to GMail contacts and import this CSV file. After successful import, you can cleanup the phone book on your computer. Now as soon as you powerup the phone and it connects to google, the phonebook will be synchronized to your phone. From there on it is a two way automatic sync so one does not need to worry.

Import Error

Many times when you try to import the CSV file to GMail, you will get a message saying that "an unknown error has occurred". Following work around can be tried and it worked for me.

On the top right menu in Gmail, switch to Older Version of gmail and then perform contact import. After that it works and gives you messages on how many contacts were imported and how many could not be imported.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Android Developer Phone 1 -- first impressions

I finally got my android developer phone 1, I would say that I am impressed with the software. I have used phones from most manufacturers except the most notable exception of iPhone and I would have to say that this phone probably is right there at the top. I use google services for most of my stuff and this phone, as is expected, integrates very well with google services.

The setup of the phone was very easy, I just had to pop in the SIM card from Airtel in India, setup the GPRS settings and then I entered the details for my google apps account. This becomes the primary google account for the phone and all the other stuff like calendar, google talk etc. are used from this account.

Following are the most notable interesting things that I found about the phone.

  • GMail

  • Google Calendar

  • Google Talk

  • Read only integration of Google Docs

  • Google Maps with street view

  • Contacts integration with GMail contacts

  • Email app for additional email accounts (POP3, IMAP)

  • Android Market

  • Barcode reader app and its intergation with Google search

There are things that need improvement and most probably would be improved in future.

  • GMail (not the Email) app needs to have option to add more accounts. It is very common to have one GMail tied to Google Apps and another one Currently one needs to choose one of these as GMail while other one as to be setup in the Email app. The Email app does not have option for Archive and some of the other GMail specific features

  • GMail needs to have option to accept and reject invitations sent through the calendar

  • Google Talk needs to integrate with Orkut and may be at a later date Facebook

  • Docs should be editable -- probably limited by the processing power on the phone but would be good to have

  • Service that would generate notifications for feeds registered in google reader. For reading itself the webbased stuff is good enough.

I will add most stuff as I use the phone more. Overall I think I like this phone and would recommend to anyone who uses google services.  For users in India I would suggest rather than buying T-Mobile G1 and worrying about unlocking etc., they can register themselves with android market and buy the Android Developer Phone 1.