Thursday, March 31, 2011

Preparing for an Android Update

With the Android 2.2 update just around the corner for Virgin Mobile USA customers, I thought I would cover a few essentials to make the transition as smooth as possible.  Many of us have heard the horror stories of updates gone bad, phone numbers lost, text messages gone, apps missing, but did you know there are steps you can take to prevent them?  .  Taking a second to prepare could save you hours on the phone with tech support.

1. Let Google store your contacts.
Many people are used to storing contacts on their phone, but allowing Google to store them for you will not only make an update easier but a complete phone change as well.

2. Backup your phone with software.  
Apps like "My Back Up Pro" and "Titanium Backup" will backup user data to prevent loosing everything.  Lookout Mobile Security combines data backup with antivirus protection for overall security.

3. Manually backup you contacts.
Never hurts to be too careful.  So doing a manual backup of your contacts should be your last line of defense.  Contacts can be exported to your SD card for later retrieval.

4. Power up 
When the update arrives, make sure the phone is plugged in.  Doing so will prevent the battery from draining before the update is finished.  Failure in the middle of an update could have disastrous effects.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Virgin Mobiles Andorid 2.2 Update for the Samsung Intercept - What's the fuss about?

We have all been patiently waiting for months now for Virgin Mobile to release the Android 2.2 update on the Samsung Intercept, but what's all the fuss about?  Many of us don't even know what the update is, let alone all of the changes that will happen.  I did some digging and this is what I have found.

1. General Android OS speed, memory, and performance optimizations
Thanks to some tricky little programming on Google's part, the overall responsiveness and speed will be improved.  Something that has been plaguing the Intercept since it was released.  Applications will be given a boost courtesy of JIT implementation and the browser is receiving Chrome's V8 Javascript engine.

2. Unlock Screen Change
Having played with the LG Optimus running Android 2.2, I can tell you that the user interface has changed a fair amount.  The first thing you will notice is the unlock screen has changed.  You now have to slide the unlock button to the right to unlock the phone.  You also have a quick sliding silent button on the unlock screen as well.

3. New non-scrolling dock
They have added a new dock to the bottom of the home screen that contains the Phone, Tray, and Browser buttons.  As you scroll the different home screens this dock is always visible and indicates which screen you currently are on.

4.Updated Camera App Layout
The slider is out and new transparent buttons are in.  Giving you single handed setting adjustments and shutter.  After digging around I have yet to find if the "Night" shot mode that makes the Intercept's camera so great is still included.  They claim the change is all visual, but that has yet to be seen.

5. New Dial Pad
Switching from the current multi colored dial pad to a more uniform gray keypad with larger spacing between keys.

6. Technical Stuff
Also included with the update is a bunch of technical stuff.  I'll spare you the details on that.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Samsung Intercept 2.2 Update - Virgin Mobile

It's official, the long awaited update for the Virgin Mobile Samsung Intercept to Android 2.2.  Which rumor has it, this update will speed up the Intercept to more usable levels, and fix may of the bugs we all put up with on a day to day basis, has been delayed by Virgin Mobile USA.  Originally scheduled to be delivered on the 25th of March 2011.  It has been offically delayed until the first week of April.  According to Virgin Mobile USA the update was delayed due to "internal timing issues".

As much as we all would like to see this update go through, making sure the errors that occurred when Sprint updated their version of the Intercept is well worth the wait.  The original update Sprint pushed through bricked nearly 50% of the phones that received it, forced them to pull the update, and send hundreds of customers to sprint stores to replace their phones.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Low cost android phone service - Virgin Mobile

I know the amazingly low price service from Virgin Mobile has been covered by many, but I wanted to give you a users expeariance so far. I for one swiched over to Virgin Mobile back in Oct of 2010. When I called to get my number switched the customer support was friendly and easy to work with. They took down all my info and told me it could take up to 72hrs for my new Samsung Intercept to become active. To my plesent surprise I received a text about 2hrs later welcoming me to Virgin Mobile.

Is the phone reception perfect?
No. But so far I've only found one place that the service drops completely, which also happens to be surrounded by 2feet of concrete. Shortly after getting the phone activated I took a trip out to Los Angles California and found the reception to be great, and the GPS navigation on the Samsung Intercept to be a life saver.

What's the catch?
If you are looking for the hidden fee's you won't find them. The only thing on top of the $25 a month plan I picked up was sales tax. Which you will be paying on any other carrier as well. No incoming text fee's, no roaming fee's, no data fee's, nothing.

Do the phones suck?
The Android phones currently available from Virgin mobile are considered low end phones. So I will not lie, you won't be completely blown away by them. So far I've had the opportunity to use both the Samsung Intercept(My personal phone) and the LG Optimus V. Both phones are great entry level Android phones perfect for someone looking to move up to a smart phone without paying an arm and a leg. I hope to write reviews of them later on but I will give you a few pro's and con's of the two below.

  • Slide out Qwerty keyboard(for those that like to have a physical keyboard)
  • Great Low light photos (Thanks to the Intercepts "Night" shot mode)
  • Optical pad for navigation(Amazing how big a difference this makes over the Optimus)
  • 2GB microSD card
  • Good sound(The speaker on the Intercept looks larger in comparison, gives you more bass, and overall is louder than the Optimus)

  • Sometimes feels sluggish(sounds like the Android 2.2 update improves this a lot).
  • Poor Battery life like most of these phones.
  • Not the best for graphics as they can sometimes be a little choppy(again sounds like 2.2 will give this a slight improvement).

  • Dedicated graphics chip makes gaming a whole lot smoother
  • Higher resloution screen
  • Overall feels fairly fast
  • 2GB microSD card with adapter to make it a standard size SD card
  • Poor low light photos(Comparing the two phones several photos came out black on the Optimus in low light and only dark on the Intercept.)
  • Weak speaker (I found cranking it all the way up gave you a tinny sound and really wasn't that loud)
  • No optical pad(When editing text you must switch keyboards to the arrow keys which is a pain)

Which phone is right for me?
Well, that all depends. If you are an avid gamer, I recommend the Optimus as it has the dedicated graphics chip. For those looking to take photos and listen to music, I would tend to lean towards the Intercept.

Will Virgin Mobile get better phones?
Rumor has it they may be picking up a 4.1" 1ghz smart phone. Which I think could be a big seller for Virgin Mobile. I for one would consider upgrading.

Overall I am extremely satisfied with my service so far. I highly recommend checking out Virgin Mobile for your cell phone needs.

Gripe about Android - Screen Shots

Ahh what a simple thing that has been around for years on computers, the screen shot. Nothing crazy, just want a picture of what's on my screen, should be a peice of cake right? Wrong! It seems for what ever reason this is one of those things that Android dropped the ball on. In order to capture a screen shot on a Non-rooted phone you must first enable USB debugging, connect the phone to your computer, download the Android SDK, and run DDMS. What was that about cake? I can see why they paint the typical android user as a computer geek.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gas Buddy - App Review

APP: GasBuddy
Cost: FREE

As the gas prices rise we are all looking for ways to pay less at the pump. But did you know that there is an app that will show you which station has the lowest price? No more driving around to find that deal. GasBuddy is a great way to save a few bucks at the pump.

How it works
Based on your GPS location it can show you the closest station near you, map out the stations, and even store a list of your favorite stations. The prices are submitted by users, and so far most have been updated just about daily in my location. You receive points for every price you submit, and can use those points to buy raffle tickets for a $250 gas card. The app can also show you if the station has a car wash, air pump, ATM and more. Overall I highly recommend it for anyone with a car.

Samsung Intercept Notification Pane Stuck

Phone: Samsung Intercept M910
OS: Android 2.1

Ever had your notification pane stuck and it just won't come down? I know I have. For the longest time the only way I could find to fix it was to restart the phone, and anyone that owns this phone knows just how long that can take. Well, I did some digging and finally found the answer.

What causes it:

1. Holding the power button down to display the options for airplane mode, power down, and silent.

2. Press the back button.

Your notification pane will now be lock. It won't swipe down or come down with with the Notification button found in the menu.

The good news, You can fix it! without restarting

Here's How to fix it:
1. Press and hold the Home button until the menu appears

2. Press the Back button.

That's it!

I have a feeling the glitch is caused by the power menu locking all other icons and options, but the coding doesn't release the notification pane. I have not heard if this is fixed in the Android 2.2 update on the intercept(due March 25th for Virgin Mobile Customers) but it will get you back in business for the time being.

Update: This issue is fixed in the Android 2.2 Update


Welcome to Anything-Android. This is my first of hopefully many post showing you tips, tricks, reviews and anything else I can come up with reguarding the Android OS and gadgets.