Friday, April 19, 2013

HTC Contacts and Google Maps

I don't like the HTC Locations service on HTC Android phones. And I don't know anyone who does.
I really do prefer Google Maps and Google Navigation.

Bummer is was that when you click/tap on the location of an event in the (HTC) Calendar, it always takes you to "locations" instead of Google Maps.

Turns out, there is an app for that :)
Aptly called Select Other Map for HTC and available in the Play Store.

And it does just that. It is only there to register Google Maps for the same intent/scheme as HTC did with locations.
Once installed, the next time you click on a location in the calender, the Android system will find two apps registered for the same action, and will ask you for your preference.

You can pick Location Picker (which you wont, because that's the whole point) or Select Other Map.




Choose this one and say Always (unless you just want to try this once).
And - voilĂ  - Google Maps will open and search for the location from the event.

You can always change this back, by going to the Select Other Map app in Settings > Apps and click on Clear Defaults in the Select Other Map app.  This will undo the Always selection from above and you are free to go back to the cra**y HTC location picker.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Two random yet timely thoughts on Android

1.  I finally gave up (to wait for JB ever to be released by HTC for the S3 variety of the One S) and had my "old" HTC One S (the one with the S4 chip) repaired.  Got the phone back 20 minutes before we went on a  a marvelous week of vacation with the family in Nice, France. So, finally, when we came back it was time to migrate from One S to One S.
Thus I - again - ran into the issue of Back / Migration of Android.
Not an easy task.

First, there is the Android 4+ trick of using the Android dev kit (ADK) on the PC, connecting the phone via USB and running
adb backup –apk –shared –all
That was the easy part, especially since as an Android developer I of course have ADK on my PC:
The  adb restore to the other phone did not work for me, because it always stopped with an exception after a while.
When trying to root my phone to get Titanium Backup to run, I must have selected one wrong option - it only takes one - and totally erased my phone.
Good thing I had the adb backup files.

So...breath deeply... root the "new" phone... because this is pristine anyway, login with google account, go to Google Playstore on the web and click through all the apps to re-send them to the phone.
Run adb restore for the data only, to get all text messages and other data back.
Worked quite fine, most of the apps found their settings again.
Took me altogether like 5 hours or so.

Then, take the S3 variante - the one I just got rid of - and set it up for my wife... Moving from a Gingerbread Samsung Galaxy S (the "old" I9000 one) is harder, because adb backup does not work there.
Anyway, I pulled most of the data through USB file system mode. Register her account on the new phone, restore some select folders from the PC (like media, and beyond pod, ...) ... 2 hours and it was done.

This is probable the only realm where apple is still ahead... Migrating a phone through an iTunes or iCloud backup is really easy. As easy as it can be.

Google / Android: This is where you need to learn from Apple. You really have to.



2. Facebook last week announced their Facebook Home for Android.
Good thing. Instead of building their own phone, they just "skin" Android and potentially all hardware. Seems to be 4+ only, which is OK as well.
Not sure, however, if their premise is right: What do they mean, that I want "people" on my phone, not "apps"?
It will be a success, because Facebook junkies might use it. I personally rather have my widgets on my home screen, and not 100% Facebook. I don't even have any of the social/facebook/google+... widgets active on my home screen, so this part of Facebook home is not for me.

The chat heads (talk about a fit yet bad name) seem to be interesting; non intrusive / disruptive chat layers on top of the apps might actually work, especially if the combine SMS/text and facebook chat (and the other messaging services in the future maybe).

I'm not talking about the privacy aspect here. Facebook does have a worse track record than Google, so not sure I want them to have total access to my phone and thus contacts, location, texts, ... But that's a different story

It is, however, a wonderful testimonial for the power of Android. A truly modular and open architecture.