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Android 2.2 (Froyo) OS Update

I got a notice on my Motorola Android phone the other day, telling me that the Android OS 2.2 (Froyo) update was ready for download. I backed up my Android, disconnected the USB cord from my pc, and started the update.

Android 2.2 OS Update
Home Screens for both Android 2.1 and Android 2.2

The first noticeable change is on the Home screen. The Home screen now has dedicated shortcuts for Phone, Launcher, and Browser. On either side of the Shortcuts are Home Screen tabs, which make switching between the five different panels and knowing which one you're viewing a breeze.

The Browser has been enhanced using a new rendering engine, V8, which enables faster loading of JavaScript heavy pages. The ability to play Flash videos is apparently on its way.

The Camera and Gallery got a makeover too. There are now onscreen buttons for controlling zoom, flash, focus, exposure, white balance, and geo-tagging. The Camcorder now uses the LED flash to record video in low light or at night.

A new feature is the ability to tether the 3G connection using the USB cable. On some Android models, like the Nexus One, you can also create a portable WlFi hotspot. There may be additional fees for these services, so it's best to contact your service provider for more details.

The support for Exchange has also been upgraded. Remote wipe, Auto-discovery, and improved security are just a few of the changes.

There are changes under the hood too. Using Dalvik JIT, performance has been increased up 2x-5x for CPU heavy code. And Kernel Memory Management Boost improved memory reclaim performance by 20% for faster switching between applications.

Note:
I did have a couple of issues with existing applications on my phone. One I had to remove completely. Another, DejaOffice, had to be reinstalled, as it had an updated version for this platform (Android 2.2).

Update 8/20/2010: I recently had my Bluetooth headset die, and since writing this article have replaced it. I am happy to report that the voice-enabled dialing feature in this update does work.

Android Gallery 2.1 Force Close issue

I recently had an issue with the Gallery application on my Google Android 2.1. I would get an error message every time I started the Gallery app telling me, "Sorry! The application Gallery (process com.collliris.media) has stopped unexpectedly. Please try again.". Selecting 'Force Close' just put it into a loop. The only way to get out was to press the 'Return' key as the Galley app restarted.

I used SyncToy and backed up the contents of my Android. I then found several articles and tried a few of the suggestions. The following is the final process I went through to fix this issue:

  1. I mounted my Android to my PC via the USB cable, created a SyncToy backup, and copied the folder to another drive (I am going to modify the backup before restoring it, so I want a copy of the original backup)
  2. I umounted my Android from the PC.
  3. On my Android, I went to Settings>SD card and phone storage> and selected 'Unmount SD card'
  4. I then selected 'Format SD card'. Once reformatted, you will want to remount the SD card (my Android remounted the SD card automatically)
  5. In the backup on my PC, I deleted the contents of the \Android\data\com.cooliris.media and \DCIM\.thumbnails directories
  6. I then mounted the Android to my PC, recreated the folder pairing in SyncToy, and restored my data to the Android

After syncing my applications a couple of times, all of my settings were back. And now, the Gallery application works perfectly fine again.

Tether your Android's 3G to your pc with PdaNet

When I changed over to the Android, one of the functions I wanted was to use its 3G data connection with my netbook. I found this great program from June Fabrics Technology called PdaNet. It allows you to tether your Android's 3G without having to do any hacking.

PDA.net

Once the installation is complete on both PC and Android, you will find connecting to be easy. Just connect the USB cable from the Android to the PC, start the PdaNet app on your Android and then use the tray icon in Windows to connect. Here's a quote from their web site:

PDA.net has been one of the most popular software for Windows Mobile phones, Palm OS phones, and iPhones. It is now ported to the Android system! PdaNet provides you with FULL Internet access, so all your email, instant message programs will work without any setting changes. Supports both USB Tether and Bluetooth DUN.

PdaNet does NOT require root access or hacking your phone's firmware in order to work. It is just a regular Android application that works on all Android phones as-is. Tethering is fast, secure, and USB mode will also charge your phone at the same time. Your phone can either connect to 3G data, WiFi, or even through VPN, and PdaNet will share the connection with your computer.

If you are looking to connect to the internet on your computer through your smartphone, I recommend you go over to June Fabrics site and take a look at their line of PdaNet products. BTW: If you use Windows 7, you can create a WiFi hot spot with PdaNet and Virtual Router.

Use DejaOffice to sync Outlook with your Android

In my recent change to the Google Android from a Palm, I required two main functions. The second one was to be able to synchronize my Android to Microsoft Outlook. I have been using Outlook as a PIM (Personal Information Manager) for years now, as it's the 'de facto' standard in the corporate world. I was pleasantly surprised to find DejaOffice by CompanionLink.

Being on the Palm platform for years, I became kind of pampered when synchronizing data with Outlook. This really was one of Palm Pilot's strong points. So when I found DejaOffice, it was just the perfect replacement for the conduits from Palm. With the ability to sync Contacts, Tasks, Calendar, and Notes, this is a 'must-have' if you use Outlook. Here's a quote from their site:

Data from the PC sync to DejaOffice, a mobile office application suite for Android. DejaOffice features robust contacts, calendar, tasks, and notes apps that provide enhanced functionality over the native Android applications. Contacts and calendar automatically sync with the native Android databases to allow for full functionality with other apps.

I highly recommend you give this program a try. It's available from the Android page at CompanionLink.

Work with Office files on your Android with Documents To Go

In my recent change to the Google Android from a Palm, I required two main functions. The first one was the ability to create, edit, and view Microsoft Office documents on the Android. I was pleased to see that DataViz, the creators of Documents To Go, had a version for the Android platform.

Documents To Go on the Android platform

I have used Documents To Go for around a decade now on the Palm platform. The basic features are the same between the platforms, with a few minor changes. There is Word To Go (Microsoft Word), Sheet To Go (Microsoft Excel), Slideshow To Go (Microsoft PowerPoint), and PDF To Go (Adobe Acrobat). I like to create documents on my workstation, sync them with SyncToy to my Android and then be able to view/edit them when I am away from the office. Plus, you can also open up documents you have downloaded too. (like PDFs). Here's a quote from their web site:

Whether you’re an organization looking to mobilize your sales professionals or an individual looking to increase personal productivity, leaving your office or laptop behind does not have to mean leaving your crucial files and work behind.

Now you can get your work done no matter where you are by using Documents To Go to view, edit and create Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files as well as view Adobe PDF files on your Android-powered smartphone. And since it is full-featured yet easy to use, Documents To Go is one mobile office suite that makes good business sense.

There is a free version of Document To Go, and it's available on the Android page at DataViz.

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