Android for noobs and Heroes!

Some of my non-technical friends mentioned that all this Android stuff sounds great but they don’t understand any of it. So here is a very brief introduction. Android is a (mostly) Open Source operating system initially developed by Google and subsequently taken over by the Open Handset Alliance (OHA). This means that instead of every phone manufacturer working on building their own operating systems in isolation, the members of the OHA all work together to make Android better, fixing bugs and writing new apps.

Just a little teaser... I've subsequently installed the Hero ROM... and it is beautiful.
My Magic running Hero with TouchFLO.

This does mean that a relatively unknown manufacturer like Huawei could build a phone to Android specifications, install Android on it and reap the rewards of work that HTC employees had done. Phone manufacturers can chose to keep applications to themselves, like HTC has done with the user interface app called TouchFlo that they released on their new Hero Android phone. However the Open Source license states that if HTC makes any changes to the core Android system (ie, fixing a bug or adding a new feature) those changes have to be shared with the rest of the the Android community.

While all the OHA members, (Google, Intel, Nvidia, HTC, LG, Motorolla, Samsung, Asus, Garmin, Huawei, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, Acer and more)  work together to build a better phone operating system, there are also a bunch of independent nerds in their nerd rooms building cool apps and fixing bugs for free. (Some developers can charge for their apps)

This is great for the consumer because not only do you get a great operating system and great apps but you also get well priced phones because there is always pressure from the little known phone manufacturers in China etc bringing out a really cheap Android phone. This also means that phone manufacturers can focus on building good quality phones with great cameras etc instead of wasting time with the OS.

While Apple’s iPhone does have a more mature ecosystem, the speed at which Android is currently moving makes me think that their lead will only last for a few more months. Case in point is the ridiculous speed at which new ROMs (A ROM is basically a big file containing the entire operating system) are being released by the Android community. I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I said there was a new ROM available ever second day.

Which brings me to the part that my nerd friends want to hear about. Running the HERO Rom on my Magic. To clear this up for the non-nerds, what I’m doing here is running an Operating System theoretically built for HTC’s newest phone, the Hero, on my HTC Magic. The fact that this is even possible is entirely due to the fact that these phones run Android. While it may have been possible to do it with other phones in the past, the process would have been exceedingly complicated and probably impossible.

The Process: It was easy, I put the update.zip on my phones’ SD card, booted into fastboot mode, fastbooted the recovery image and applied the update.zip. It took about 2 minutes in total.

The OS: There are a few new things:

  • New keyboard with longpress for things like numbers and symbols ($%#()!) etc. This is great.
  • New Social Networking integration. When you’re setting it up it asks for your twitter, facebook and flickr details. From then on uploading a picture to any of those is a one “click” process. The built in Twitter client, Peep, is pretty nice too.
  • TouchFLO is very pretty but it really needs to be equated to Vista… It is CPU intensive and therefore your battery life is decreased. I used Touch Flo for a few days and then turned it off, which essentially makes the phone look like the traditional Android interface and increase the battery life. TouchFLO does have some nice widgets that are not available once you disable TouchFLO.
  • There are some new non-TouchFLO widgets that come bundled with the image (A neater calendar widget is one) but I think these are probably all available on Android Martket.

Now that I’m back to running the standard Android UI, I do believe that the Hero ROM has increased my battery live compared to the stock image that the phone came with.

All in all I’m very happy with the Hero ROM and I certainly won’t be going back. 😉

j.

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12 thoughts on “Android for noobs and Heroes!

  1. So, help someone so new they are actually still waiting for the phone (Magic) to be delivered!
    What do you lose when applying the update? Is this like a format and you start from scratch each time?
    I am seriously considering rooting the phone when I get it, before I get too used to anything.
    Finally, are you still able to access the Android market as per your post on the 20th June?

  2. Hey J

    Got my HTC Magic on Sat and already hacking it. I’ve already rooted the firmware upgrade which allows access to Android Market. Works like a dream. Next Step – BECOME A super-HERO

    Please provide me with the link for the version of the Hero ROM you used.

    I’d like to use a stable version.

    Regards,

    Vibe

  3. A few quick questions. Does is it really have flash support and multitouch? Also how stable is it, I’ve read somewhere that the early leaked Hero ROMs lacked WiFi and were buggy.

  4. Is there a specific community you get your roms from or random googling?

    Oh and your site has helped convert a few people to the android way.

  5. Good to see the hero ROM on the magic. Any chance of getting a nice tutorial like with the Daldroid Rooted ROM or even a link to download the HERO ROM?

  6. @eishman, yup, you lose everthing except for the files stored on the SD card. Yup, I still have access to the market, and using Market Enabler I am able to buy apps with my ZA credit card.

    @vibe, Unfortunately the exact ROM I used is no longer available but your best bet is to look around on XDA-Developers and report back when you’re sorted.

    @david, It does indeed have flash and multitouch… as for being buggy, I’m not noticing any major issues.

    @Yossarian, as mentioned above, ZDA-Developers is the place to hang out.

    @Koos, The steps involved in ROMing to Hero are exactly the same as the Daldroid process from my previous post, except of course the update.zip file is one with the Hero ROM.

  7. Hi J,

    Firstly – thank you for all this info. I’ve had my Magic for only 2 weeks now and I’m running the Hero ROM. (Your instructions are spot on!)

    I’ve got a question though – do you experience any issues with your microphone volume when making calls?
    I’m searching for a way to increase the volume but haven’t seen anything yet.

    I’m still browsing the XDA-Developers site, so I hope to find something there.

    Thanks again!

  8. Hey J,

    I’ve been on HERO for some time now…and ABSOLUTELY LOVE it. DEfinitely won’t go back.

    a few questions. I loved Teether…but it’s NOT on the Hero. Where can i find it?

    everything works fine except the following:

    Downloading of MMS’s and if I go to a HTTPS site. Any advice there? I’m assuming it’s simply a setting or proxy I need to input..

    Thx

    Vibe

  9. HTC Hero come with “Mobile Network Sharing”.

    However it doesn’t able to invoke PC to install the HTC Remote NDIS driver…

    Eventually, still have to stick with the PdaNet for pc connecting to internet via the phone.

    Hope some genius can hack the HTC Synch 2.0.4 to identify our Magic as Hero… then it would probably be fixed.

  10. Hey guys

    I’ve been running with the Daldroid ROM for some time now. I am very happy with it and don’t need tochange, however, I am keen to take a look at some new ROMS and especially HERO.

    which ROMS are you guys using and what issues (if any) have you had? I also use Touchdown for my exchange email, so no need for the HTC activsync.

    also. can anyone recommend a good android fan blog for south africa? I am hoping that there is enough of a community already to have this, rather than trawling through the endless international pages

  11. I am running the standard OS Firmware 1.5 (not rooted yet) on an HTC Dream, with Vodacom as service provider.
    I copied the Vlive! settings from a friend with an HTC Magic, but cannot send or receive MMS’s.
    Does anyone know the APN settings for the Dream on Vodacom?
    Otherwise – Android Rocks 🙂

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