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Android G2 – My touch – impressions

By Dale Reagan | August 5, 2009

Update 8/11/2010 – there have been quite a number of new Android based phones since January – simple/basic problems still remain.


Update 1/5/2010 – the new, Nexus One Android Phone from Google is now available – I would love to see a review that covers the items below (as well as comments from my other posts about Android) – same problems present?, i.e.

Based on a quick review of the manual (yes! this manual was easily found unlike the previous one – which I presented to my T-mobile vendor when I returned the phone – they did not have one at the time…) it seems that many of these items may have been improved/resolved – I’d still like to have confirmation from a real-on-the-street-user – overall I was tempted by the device.


Use care/caution with this device. The ‘data sync’ application will read all of your phone SIM card info and upload to Google.  While exploring the device I pressed quite a few buttons and wound up sending my phone contacts to my Gmail account – not something that I wanted to do (share my contacts with a third party.)   While Gmail is a wonderful product I find that I get an inordinate amount of SPAM with this account; this happens because one or more of the folks who have my Gmail address were either infected by a data-stealing virus OR they happily imported their contacts into some rogue email snarfing service which then added my Gmail email address to some SPAMMERS target list.  Yesterday I deleted over 400 SPAM messages (which Gmail isolated.)  Today there are already six new ones in the SPAM folder…  [This is a simple comment about sharing your data with third parties and some of the implications of doing so – do you want your competitors to have your client list?  Anyone recall the recent violation of Twitter’s data?]

————————————————————————————————————–

My HTC MDA unit (Windows Mobile/Pocket PC) is fading – literally.  The screen simply vanishes and the system is getting ‘hung’.  It provided several years of excellent service but I need something that works consistently sooooo – of to the cell phone stores…   Some very brief, off-the-cuff comments follow.

Android G2 Comment Summary

After some review (from online sites) I pick up a new phone from T-Mobile  – the Google Android HTC ‘G2’ known as MyTouch.     Note that this phone Requires a Google email account to ‘activate’ – This was not explained until I made the purchase; Also, T-mobile charged me $18 to upgrade so the ‘real prices’ of the unit is $199 + $18 + Taxes. + extending service contract…) not sure if I like this or not.  By simply activating this phone you provide a 3rd party (beyond your cell phone service provider) to know or be able to ‘track’ any and all usage of this device, i.e. all:

You should expect highly targeted ads when surfing the Internet with this device – Google will know quite a bit about you based on information from the device (i.e. your general location garnered from analysis of cell phone information and possibly your approximate location based on GPS data, or simply from data you provide like your Zip code)  as well as from reviewing your online activities.  This allows Google to sell ads to business with precision – you want customers located in/near Zip code Y, near street address X, right now – Google can deliver any user of an Android based phone – right now.

Where’s the printed manual? THE WHAT?  Folks still read such things in this age of ultimate convenience and simplicity?  (Yes, I still read manuals…)   I try searching online for a PDF to download…  Only finding mini-guides.

The T-Mobile Web Site

Simply not much help – full of ‘pretty pictures’ and mini-videos but no easily found, detailed (text/pdf) list of features and limitations.

After a few hours of use here are my first impressions (ok, not much time; it is interesting enough to purchase for the trial period of 14 days – I was hoping for more…)

Handset

Phone Use

Wi-Fi mode

Data-Sync

Data-storage

Moving files from the device to a PC or Linux system is relatively easy.  Connect via the USB cable to the PC/laptop – the PC should ‘see’ the device (Windows or Linux – Linux system messages below.)   When the PC and phone complete their initial negotiations the phone will prompt you to select ‘mount’ if you want to allow a connection to the phone’s storage.  Once connected you can copy files to/from the phone.  Note that you do NOT have access to system areas on the device – just the data storage card.  There is NO security on this connection/storage if the phone is not locked then anyone can connect the phone to a PC and copy files to/from the device.

Screen

Gmail (regular users may like this)

Song Player

Manage/Remove Applications

  1. Home –> Menu –> Settings –> Applications –> Manage Applications
  2. you can NOW sort a list by selecting Menu –>  Filter –> Running — WHEW!
  3. Now select the App you wish to stop
  4. Now ‘slide’ so you can select the ‘force stop’ button  (there is NO indication that the app has stopped…)
  5. Select ‘back’ and now repeat from step three

Marketplace (you know, like “we got an app for that“)

You gotta-wait-search and really only with your G2.  There is a basic web site listing a few applications and you are directed to USE YOUR PHONE for the searches… Not a very customer-friendly approach. Hmm, PC with real keyboard, HS Internet connection, large screen VS using a mini-touch pad showing me a one-column display that I have to scroll through to locate possibly useful applications???

Custom Ringtones

We have special ring-tones in my family (well for some members.)  These are simply audio files which I would think I could simply copy to the Android device and use; seems it is not that simple.  I can copy the file but Android provides no instruction on how to locate the special ringtone.   Going out to search for every-little-bit of what should be simple/basic information for a device/gizmo is getting, well – really, really old… Where’s the MANUAL? Seems that I have to use a real PC and do an Internet search to find the directions for what should be very simple, direct processes – this seems like a theme of convenience, i.e. the real process is soooo complicated that you have to getta-app-just-to-do-whatever-simple-thing… ???

As best I can tell, there seems to be a simple solution to add a ringtone (or possibly other sounds) – create custom folders on your storage card (at the root? level):

  1. alarms
  2. notifications
  3. ringtones

Copy appropriate sound-files (.mp3, .wav., other?) into the folders.   Carefully disconnect from the PC (i.e. stop the USB device) and then search your Ringtones on the Phone (Home –>  Menu –> Settings –>  Sound & Display –> Phone ringtone –> scroll through the list.)

Web Browser

Speaker Phone (which I use more than holding the device)

Email support

Operation

Status Bar – top of Screen

Many detail items that I would expect to be selectable to view/adjust settings, i.e. for Clock, network, immediate access to date/schedule, etc.  I like to see the current date on top of the screen – there is no option to make it visible – you can only format the current time; the data is displayed only if you tap the top bar on the device.  There are icons showing network and battery status.

Case & Cover (gone missing)

The phone is delivered in a somewhat large case containing two mini-flyers showing the basics of using the phone, i.e. ‘long touch’ to bring up options to customize the device.  The case also contains a battery charger and ‘ear buds’ and a USB cable.  There is no protective cover – of course you can buy a skin or other covering…

Pin Codes

If you are transferring from an old phone/SIM-Card it seems that the previous SIM Pin code was not transferred when you moved to this phone.   The ‘default’ code was in place.   When I attempted to access the SIM code lock setting the phone locked up (emergency calls only; does NOT include calls to T-Mobile support…)  and you get the message, “SIM card is PUK-locked“…  To un-lock the phone a call to T-Mobile is required (BTW – PUK = ‘personal unblocking key’.)   The process to un-lock is the MyTouch is:

  1. call T-Mobile support and ask for the PUK code
  2. Tap ‘Emergency Call’ and enter:   **05*PUK code*New-Pin*New-Pin#

Overall Application flow

Well – sort of – it depends on the Application.   If you start application NN and then hit the HOME key you

Linux

Aug  5 20:59:15 LINUX kernel: usb 1-5: new high speed USB device using ehci_hcd and address 6
Aug  5 20:59:15 LINUX kernel: usb 1-5: configuration #1 chosen from 1 choice
Aug  5 20:59:15 LINUX kernel: scsi9 : SCSI emulation for USB Mass Storage devices
Aug  5 20:59:15 LINUX kernel: usb 1-5: New USB device found, idVendor=0bb4, idProduct=0c02
Aug  5 20:59:15 LINUX kernel: usb 1-5: New USB device strings: Mfr=3, Product=2, SerialNumber=1
Aug  5 20:59:15 LINUX kernel: usb 1-5: Product: Android Phone
Aug  5 20:59:15 LINUX kernel: usb 1-5: Manufacturer: HTC
Aug  5 20:59:15 LINUX kernel: usb 1-5: SerialNumber: SOME_LONG_NUMBER
Aug  5 20:59:20 LINUX kernel: scsi 9:0:0:0: Direct-Access     HTC      Android Phone    0100 PQ: 0 ANSI: 2
Aug  5 20:59:20 LINUX kernel: sd 9:0:0:0: [sdg] Attached SCSI removable disk
Aug  5 20:59:20 LINUX kernel: sd 9:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg7 type 0

I plan to give this device a try for at least two weeks – I will be looking at options including a new Windows Mobile 6.x device.  My 6 hour assessment – I need something different (less entertainment oriented and less  privacy intrusive…)

Topics: Computer Technology, Media and Communications, Mobile Web, News/Events, Problem Solving, Web Technologies | 4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Android G2 – My touch – impressions”

  1. kammy Says:
    August 10th, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    thanks for the thorough assessment. My MDA is also on its last leg and I’ve been looking for a replacement. I live & die by my Outlook calendar and Task list though, and yes, those privacy issues are definitely concerning. No keyboard? yuck. I can’t use the iPhone either with those onscreen keyboards. I was concerned about the limited documentation when trying to research the MyTouch, so you have validated my concern that it just doesn’t exist. Frustrating, but it looks like I’ll still be waiting for a replacement that would work well for me too…

  2. Futureboy Says:
    August 19th, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    There is a solution to manage your contact privacy.

    I too was frustrated when my phone contacts suddenly appeared in gmail. What’s worse, is that when I turned off “sync contacts” in the contacts>menu>edit sync groups, all my contacts disappeared. It seemed as if it was a forced “sync all with google” or “you get no contacts at all.”
    Then I stumbled on a thread in the T-Mobile forum which pointed to a global gmail data sync setting at settings>data synchronization>gmail, which will allow you to turn off your gmail contact sync. This allows you to create all the contacts you would like on your G2 without syncing them to gmail. There is also a on/off for syncing your mail and calendar. *whew!* I like the G2 far more than the MDA (which was a champ in its day!). This was almost a deal-breaker, but I am now happy that I found a solution to shut off the auto-sync features.

    Agreed that a downloadable manual would be nice. All they have to to is write one and post it for download. No printing cost. Oh well… one can always hope.

    Finally, kammy, there are ways to sync Outlook with Google Calendar. There are a few third party solutions, but it appears that google has released a solution called “Google Calendar Sync” which does the job. Haven’t used it yet, so I’m not sure if the sync encompasses tasks, but I will definitely be checking this out as I prefer the ease of Outlook data input over Google Calendar.

  3. Melissa Little Says:
    February 18th, 2010 at 9:46 am

    The My Touch SIM card is PUK-locked instructions does not work. When I go to emergency call and put in my PUK with the above format I get an error message stating that this is not a valid phone number. Very frustrating!

  4. Dale Reagan Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 1:05 am

    Hi Melissa,

    Only your Service provider can assist with a PUK code issue – give them a ring (611 may work)

    🙂
    Dale


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