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Dropbox for Android

Until recently it’s been a chore to move files between my Samsung Galaxy S and my PC. The two original alternatives were to connect my phone to the PC via USB, or to send files to myself via email and then retrieve the files there (which isn’t without it’s own problems). Since rooting my phone I’ve been able to use SwiFTP – this sets up an FTP server on the phone, then I can use an FTP client on my PC to send and receive files. This works well, but means having to setup the server each time I want to transfer a file, or leave the server running (which might lead to security issues, and would also run the battery down).

I’ve finally got around to trying Dropbox, and it seems to be the ideal solution to my needs. To start with, you need to install Dropbox onto your PC. Then you can install Dropbox onto your phone, either from the Market or from AppBrain (my preference).

Once this has been done, you can now access files from your Dropbox folder from both your PC and your phone. This allows you to exchange files very simply. I took some screenshots to explain the process of sending an image from my phone to the PC. First, from the Gallery choose the file you’d like to send, then from the menu choose Share and then Dropbox:

Sending a picture to Dropbox from my phone
Choose Dropbox from the menu

This will bring up the Dropbox folder. Navigate to where you’d like to send the file to. I chose the Photos directory.

Choosing a folder to send the file to
Choose where to send the file to

Finally, press the ‘Send to this folder’ button to start sending the file.

Press Send to this folder
Press the 'Send to this folder' button to send the file.

The file will then be sent, and shortly after you’ll get a notification on your PC that the file is now available to view. It’s a very clever piece of software, and is free if you store less than 2GB of files which should be enough for most uses.

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Pocket Legends

I’ve discovered another new game for Android called Pocket Legends (also available on iPhone, iPod Touch etc.) The game has been described as ‘World of Warcraft in your pocket’, and is an MMORPG which is played entirely from your phone. I’ve played a few levels now and have found it very intuitive and easy to play.

The game is entirely free to play, although you can purchase ‘platinum’ to buy special items within the game. This may prove useful although I’ve survived thus far without having to buy anything with real money.

My Pocket Legends character
My Pocket Legends character, Asatrabas

I created a character called Asatrabas (there is a random name generator which I used), and I am currently a level 5 enchantress. You can also play as a warrior or as an archer.

I can highly recommend this game as a way of passing time on the move. Obviously as it is an online game you’ll need a connection to play at all times.

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Flood-It! and Line Up

Over the weekend I’ve been introduced to a couple of addictive games for Android. They’re both by the same developer, LabPixies (which was acquired by Google earlier this year). They are Flood-It! and Line Up.

Flood-It! is a game where you have to turn the whole board the same colour but you have a limited number of steps to complete this. It’s deceptively simple and will have you going back for more.

A screenshot of Flood-It!

Line Up is another colour matching game. This time you have to press on blocks of 3 or more of the same colour, which makes them disappear. You’ve got to do this as quickly as possible before the blocks build up to the top of the screen, which will happen quicker than you think if you don’t match enough blocks!

A screenshot of Line Up
Line Up

Both games are available from the Android Market, or if you click on the links above you can get them from AppBrain.

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Google Maps 5.0 released for Android phones

Google have just released version 5.0 of their Maps offering for the Android mobile operating system. This brings with it several exciting new features, including:

  • 3D view – this lets you view the map from an angle, and if you’re in the US you’ll also get to see the buildings represented in 3D.
  • Compass mode – you can get the map to rotate to your current orientation to make it easier to get your bearings.
  • Rotation using two fingers to rotate around a point, you can also move the angle of the map up and down using two fingers.
  • Vector graphics – these use much less bandwidth than the previous images which were stitched together.
  • Offline – if you lose your signal then Maps will still work as the application will cache the areas next to your location.
Screenshot of Google Maps 5.0
Screenshot of Google Maps 5.0 running on my Samsung Galaxy S

I’ve not had a chance to try out Navigation, but using Maps in general does seem a lot smoother now. Seems amazing that this product is entirely free for Android users!

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World War problems with Froyo

I’ve recently discovered a game developed by Storm8 called World War. I played this for about an hour last week, getting quite addicted to it, but unfortunately there are some issues which prevent me playing further. When I try and start the game again, I find myself playing as a different account each time, on a different level. I’ve even found myself playing on the same account as someone else, because when you do something in the game you can see your XP level increase, and mine was increasing even though I wasn’t doing anything.

Storm8 say that this is a problem specific to Android devices running Froyo, where for some reason the usual means of identifying an individual phone isn’t working. This is a great shame because otherwise I would be playing this game for hours on end, but until this bug is fixed there isn’t any point because I’ll never be playing on the same account from day to day. On the other hand, it’s probably a good thing I have one less game to occupy me!

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Samsung Galaxy S – One Click Lag Fix

Anyone who owns a Samsung Galaxy S has undoubtedly suffered from lag – where pressing a button can lead to a delay of sometimes up to 10 seconds before an application loads. This is believed to be down to the file system that the Galaxy S uses. Several developers have created fixes for this, but the one that I decided to go for was the One Click Lag Fix. That thread contains full details, although it should be noted that it requires the phone to be rooted, which will invalidate your warranty (although it’s possible to ‘unroot’ the phone and uninstall the lag fix). To root the phone I used SuperOneClick.

The fix makes a huge difference – it’s still not perfect but the lag is almost unnoticeable now. To demonstrate the difference I took some pictures of the Quadrant scores of my phone running Eclair, Froyo and Froyo+LagFix. Here you can see the results:

With Eclair my Quadrant score was 880.
With Froyo the score improved to 963.
With the lag fix applied, the score nearly *doubles* to 1834!

Quite a difference as you can see! It’s a shame that this kind of score isn’t the default, there’s no reason that Samsung couldn’t have developed this to begin with.

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Debranding the Samsung Galaxy S and installing Froyo

As I’ve previously written about, T-Mobile are continuing their mission to alienate their Samsung Galaxy S customers by continuing to promise the Froyo firmware update and never delivering it. The thread on the official forum is now 36 pages long and there’s no sign of a solution.

Surprisingly, T-Mobile haven’t removed the thread posts which links to XDA Developers detailing how to debrand, and I’m fed up of waiting so I decided to go ahead with it. It’s pretty straightforward, but I suggest you definitely back up things you can’t afford to lose, as I had some problems and needed to do a factory reset after the upgrade.

The ‘hack’ works by updating the registry to fool Kies into thinking it’s updating a different product code. So the firmware that I downloaded is the official Samsung stock Froyo firmware, and technically this shouldn’t invalidate my warranty as I’m using official firmware. Here is a link to the hack – Kies Registry Patcher.

As I said, I had some problems – I couldn’t use the Messaging service at all, and the notification bar would get stuck when I tried to pull it down. But doing a factory reset cured both of these problems, although it deleted my calendar which was a little annoying, and I also lost all of my hard-won 3*s on Angry Birds!

Since the update my Quadrant score has increased slightly – but more on that in my next post…

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T-Mobile are a joke

Further to my previous post about the T-Mobile/Samsung Galaxy S Froyo shenanigans, we’re still left in limbo. The forum thread about the update on T-Mobile’s official site has now had over 25,000 views, yet T-Mobile have only responded once, and that update was completely unsatisfactory.

As mentioned in that thread by a software engineer, it’s extremely unlikely and very bad practice that people would be working on a software update on the day of it’s release, so why on earth would T-Mobile promise us that the update would be ready by yesterday? It’s the lies that upset people most of all. If they had simply come out and said that the update was delayed and given a more likely release date, people would still be angry (it shouldn’t take that long to customise the vanilla update) but at least we wouldn’t be angry at a missed deadline (remembering as well that originally the update was promised to us at the end of September).

I really can’t see the update being released in the next couple of weeks, so I’m going to seriously consider debranding.

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Will Froyo be released today for the Samsung Galaxy S on T-Mobile?

T-Mobile announced on their forums yesterday that Froyo would either be made available to Samsung Galaxy S owners by FOTA (Firmware-Over-The-Air) yesterday or by Kies today. Well, here we are at today and no sign of either update yet. The update is a little suspicious because I am under the impression that the phone can’t be updated via FOTA until it’s had an update via Kies, so the reason for the delay doesn’t right, but if they release it via Kies today then I will be happy enough. I’m not going to hold my breath though!