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Back when I got my Palm Prē, I noticed that it wanted to store various of my information on Google’s servers. I thought I’d kept it from doing so; I sure wasn’t using Gmail on a regular basis. I configured the Prē’s email client to check my own account on mactane.org, and I thought everything was fine.

Eventually, I gave up on the Prē and switched to my current, Android-powered Samsung Epic. I figured I was in for a boring day of transferring my contacts over manually… until I discovered that many of them had been synced to my Gmail account, and so they showed up in my new phone without me having to do anything.

Considering all the work I had to go to in order to get my to-do list items, memos and notes transferred over manually… I decided that having stuff transfer automatically was actually pretty damn cool. Since I got my Epic, I’ve been picking “Save contact to Google” whenever I create a new contact. So, if I accidentally drop my phone on the street and it gets run over by an 18-wheeler and then the fragments get kicked into the bay and sink to the bottom, I can just buy a new Android phone and have all my contacts “magically” appear there.

On the other hand, all my contacts are sitting on Google’s servers.

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Originally published at Coyote Tracks. You can comment here or there.

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Since two of my friends have bought new Android phones in the past two weeks, I think it’d be helpful if I wrote up a quick guide and some app recommendations for those entering the Android world.

Quick Tips

Android version numbers went: 1.5, 1.6, then 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3, and now the latest 3.0 release. Starting with 1.5, releases get code-names that start with successive letters of the alphabet, and which are based on “sweet things” or desserts. 1.5 was Cupcake, then 1.6 was Donut. The “Eclair” code-name is applied to both 2.0 and 2.1.

Most modern Android phones should (hopefully) be using at least version 2.2, “Froyo” — or 2.3, “Gingerbread” if they’re nice and up-to-date. The 3.0 “Honeycomb” release is currently intended only for tablets.

Since there’s no way to right-click on things with a touchscreen, Android uses the long-tap, or tap-and-hold, method. This is probably familiar to Mac users already. Try long-tapping on things; you’ll find a lot of features that way.

The home screen is not just one screen; it’s anywhere from 3 to 7 of them, depending on what particular model of phone you’ve got. Just swipe left and right to access the other home screens.

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Originally published at Coyote Tracks. You can comment here or there.

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A few nights ago, my Palm Prē got dropped, causing a hairline fracture in the touch-screen. Since it would no longer take any screen input, it was suddenly an even less useful device than usual. I’d been thinking of switching to an Android phone anyway, so I am now the (proud?) owner of a shiny, new Samsung Epic 4G (one of their Galaxy S line).

Getting used to it has occupied a fair bit of my time, but here are a few early impressions. Obviously, some of these are impressions of the Android OS, and others are about the phone’s hardware.

  • The Android calendar will let me set alarms anywhere from 1-99 units in advance of events, where the units can be minutes, hours, days, or even weeks. This actually beats what the old PalmOS used to let me do (and the webOS replaced by a simple drop-down of 5, 10, 15, and 30 minutes, 1 hour, and 1 day — not very useful; sometimes I want 3 hours’ warning).
  • The Epic is a much bigger, chunkier device than the Prē was. It still fits in my pants pocket, but not so smoothly. Not only is it just plain larger than the Prē, it also has less-rounded corners. Also, the protective case I got for the Epic is the rubberized kind, noticeably thicker than the “invisible skin” I had on my Prē.
  • What’s with the battery gauge not giving an actual percent? That seems so… naff. I’ve found a nice app to give me usable information: Modded Logic’s Battery Status Bar.
  • Live Wallpaper is cool as anything. It also seems to eat batteries like a very hungry thing. I’m still trying to decide if it’s worth it or not.
  • Read the rest of this entry »

    Originally published at Coyote Tracks. You can comment here or there.

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July 2011

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