Monday, August 30, 2010

Hacking your Android phone

postheadericon.pngSo if you read the previous post I wrote on Android, you'll know that I managed to get hold of a Nexus One, which is unfortunately not available except through Vodafone. The device came with Android 2.1, which I was pleasantly able to upgrade to 2.2 with an OTA upgrade by doing a "Check for Updates". Android 2.2 is blazingly fast, introduces some new features and is generally pretty stable and robust.


But, I was bored with it - it felt like there was much more tweaking that was possible, and I wasn't seeing it. My device was rooted, by following this post. That was required primarily to buy paid apps from the market (in retrospect, if that was the only reason, I should have used, which allows you to buy apps). I had heard about Cyanogenmod before, but frankly didn't have the cajones to try it.


Well, I've tried it, and it is the best OS to mate to amazing hardware. It is supremely flexible, and allows me to customise almost every aspect of the device. I'd highly, highly recommend it! Note to HTC users, there is a lot of goodness in the Sense UI which is now available on almost all their devices. Be warned, naked Android is not as pretty as what you have. Check the Cyanogenmod Wiki for a how-to relevant to your device.


If you own a HTC Desire (which frankly I would leave with Sense, and just root), you're in trouble if you updated to 2.2; you won't be able to root, and hence, no custom recovery and therefore no new mod. Downgrade to 2.1 and use the unrevoked method.


PS. If you're new to Android and don't like the battery life you're getting, download Screebl Lite (and then reduce your screen timeout to the lowest you can) and JuiceDefender from the Market. They'll do wonders. When you root your device, get SetCPU and change the CPU clock speed to underclock when the screen is off, and overclock when on. Works great!


PPS. I'm not going to paste links to apps, they change too often.


PPPS. The full list of apps that I have on my device as "must have's" are;

  1. 1Password - popular Mac password manager port for Android
  2. 3G Watchdog - check your data usage and whinge when you hit particular limits
  3. Adobe Flash Player 10.1 - self explanatory
  4. Adobe Reader - self explantory
  5. AK Notepad - to take notes :-)
  6. AndFTP - ftp client
  7. Antennas - check to see how rubbish the mobile networks are
  8. Apps Organiser - best way to organise apps, I would die without this; organise and then create category shortcuts on your home screen(s)
  9. Astro File Manager - self explanatory
  10. Autostarts - tells you what apps are being called on which system event hooks
  11. Battery Left widget - nicest looking battery life estimator I could find
  12. Beautiful Widgets - nice looking clock and weather widgets
  13. Better Keyboard - stock Android keyboard is rubbish
  14. Bluetooth File Transfer - should be in the base OS, but isn't - go figure
  15. ConnectBot - ssh client
  16. Documents to Go - view Microsoft docs on your mobile
  17. DroidStats - analyse your SMS and calls
  18. Earth - self explanatory
  19. Factbook - CIA-backed DB on various cities and countries
  20. Feedr - RSS reader
  21. FeedSquares - another RSS reader (but pretty)
  22. Fring - used to be useful, now only as a sip client
  23. Goggles - Google's LBS demo app
  24. Google Sky Map - pretty nifty, lets you know what's up!
  25. Google Translate - self explanatory
  26. Handcent SMS - much better than the stock messaging / SMS app
  27. Here I Am 2 - tells your mates your exact GPS co-ordinates
  28. IM+ - multi-IM server client
  29. IMDB - because looking up movie information is important on a Friday/Saturday night
  30. InstaFetch - Instapaper client
  31. JED - I have new shareholders :-)
  32. JuiceDefender - monitors and optimises battery by cutting features (e.g. 3g radio)
  33. LauncherPro - MUCH better than the stock launcher, very customisable and fast
  34. Linkpack for Android - to compare sizes
  35. Brut Navigation (Maps and Navigation) - enable Navigation outside the US and UK - get from here
  36. MarketEnabler - allow you to buy apps from anywhere
  37. MyBackup Pro - self explanatory
  38. NubDial - T9-style predictive dialler
  39. ONN - for kicks, fun client
  40. Paypal - nothing really useful
  41. Phonalyzer - similar to DroidStats, but with graphs
  42. Places Directory - tell you where to go close by
  43. Pure Calendar widget - allows you to see your calendar in a variety of forms
  44. Quadrant Standard - to compare sizes
  45. RealCalc - for when the stock calculator doesn't hack it
  46. ROM Manager Premium - because you never know when you want to try another ROM ;-)
  47. Root Explorer - similar to Astro, nothing that I need more, not sure why I bought it
  48. Route Recorder Free - tells you where you've been (Zen!)
  49. Screebl Pro - Pro version of the screen saving tool mentioned earlier
  50. SDMove - move apps to the SD card
  51. SendContact - send business cards to people
  52. Shazam - tells you what music is playing
  53. Ookla Speed Test - to compare sizes
  54. SystemPanel Lite - quick system-wide info tool
  55. TaskManager - tells you what is running
  56. Titanium Backup - best backup tool ever
  57. Trackball Alert Pro - flash different colours LED / trackball on particular system events
  58. Vibrate During Meetings - self explanatory
  59. Visual Task Switcher - pretty, not essential or important
  60. WaveSecure - great tool, gives you the ability to remote wipe and manage your device
  61. Wifi Analyzer - lets you feel like you have a very expensive spectrum analyser (when you don't)
  62. XE Currency - again, I have shares in foreign currency :-)