Thursday, October 28, 2010

the long awaited Froyo update (for Telstra Desire owners)

After being a "coming soon" item for what seemed an eternity, Froyo (aka Android 2.2), or more precisely the ROM upgrade customised for Telstra Desire users, was finally released on 26 October 2010. This comes about 3 months after Froyo was available to those who chose to root their phones. Was it worth the wait? Let's see...

For one, after all this delay with Telstra customising the ROM to fit in their software (some of which has its uses, others of which are just bloatware), and testing by them then testing by Google, they still can't get it right! I don't know whose fault it is, but it was with a sense of "I'm surprised but then again I'm not really" that I read of the many problems people had in getting the update to work, particularly those running Windows 7 - see comments at Gizmodo, Ausdroid including a followup post, and Whirlpool. I'm glad I didn't try the upgrade at close to midnight on the 26th - it probably would have been a long/sleepless night of frustration.

[BTW, I just read that the update is now available OTA... though that too may not be working properly... yet?]

I installed the update a day later using a WinXP machine. It went pretty smoothly and was done within 10 minutes. However there are some things (that I've identified so far) that didn't go as smoothly:
  • Inescapable blank screen after first run of setup wizard
    After the update completed successfully, the phone restarted and I went through the setup wizard. At the end of this the screen went blank/black. The only thing it seemed to respond to was the power button (to enter standby/wakeup) - and the only way I could tell something was happening was that the hardware buttons would light up / turn off. After a few minutes of this impasse I removed the battery, reinserted and powered on the phone. Things seemed to go ok from there.
  • Automatic data backup failed to restore
    I had automatic backups enabled, and according to the user manual, "after you do a factory reset or update your phone, you will be asked if you want to restore the backed up data after you turn on your phone." This did not happen, ie I saw no such "Restore my data and settings" dialog box. This might be related to the blank screen issue, but that's purely conjecture. Whatever the case, there seems to be no way to manually invoke the restore process, which is a pretty big fail in my books. Fortunately (and thanks to the various comments I had read up on), I installed MyBackup from the Android Market to do a backup of applications and data before attempting the update. This was not without its own issues, but for the most part it worked well and was much much better than nothing!
  • Lengthy restore times using MyBackup
    Backing up with MyBakup was a lot faster than restoring - we're talking minutes vs. hours here. The whole restore process took about 2 hours; contacts and calendar data took particularly long to restore. In hindsight (see below points), I probably should have skipped these two and relied on OTA syncing instead. On the plus side reinstalling apps was fairly quick and easy (though this probably could have been achieved using AppBrain as well, and not everything was included in the backup/restore - see ShapeWriter keyboard below).
  • Calendar backup/restore anomaly
    I have/had 3 calendars visible, my google calendar, wife's google calendar, and PC sync calendar. The MyBackup process appears to have saved/restored everything under my google calendar, so now my google calendar has a lot more entries and I'm showing a lot more duplication. I'll probably go through them and clean it up sometime when I feel sufficiently motivated. Oh and it's made my Outlook to/from Google calendar sync pretty screwed. It tells me there are some 2-300 entries to delete, and I'm not sure I want to do that big a batch at once.
  • Contacts backup/restore anomaly
    As with the calendar issue, it looks like MyBackup has saved/restored all my contacts (phone, google, and facebook) under my google contacts. Again, plenty of duplication to sort through. My contacts were already in a bit of a mess from when I first wrestled with the immature process of syncing contacts using HTC Sync, so I guess this hasn't really made it that much worse in comparison...
  • Strange Google Calendar behaviour
    I received an email this morning from myself for a calendar event from a few months ago. It was an event someone else created, and invited me to. My manager received an email this morninng from me for another calendar event from a few months ago, for an event that I forwarded from work to myself as a reminder (as I would be on leave the few weeks immediately prior to this event). I have no idea whether any other strange emails have gone out... This is probably the most unexpected side effect and I'm yet to figure out how this got triggered.
  • Lost ShapeWriter keyboard
    Would have been a lot more annoying if I didn't find a copy of the apk online - the app has been off the Android market since June 2010 and I couldn't recall how I installed it the first time round in July. May well have been via this link, from which I did the reinstall (v3.0.9). I should probably keep my own local backup copy...
  • Lost Credit Usage configuration
    Not a huge issue - rekey data from memory / check against rates stored on wife's phone/app. There doesn't seem to be a way to backup/save the configuration to a file, so the next time I'll just have to write the info down or rekey from memory.
  • Lost Timeriffic configuration
    Minor annoyance. There doesn't seem to be a way to backup/save the configuration to a file, so the next time I'll just have to write the info down or rekey from memory.
  • Lost mobile data usage information
    Mildly annoying but not a huge issue - I know that I'm way under my quota this month and only have a few days before a new month begins.
  • Lost Dolphin HD bookmarks
    I thought these were saved to SD, but it seems that I didn't actually set this up (had the add-on installed, but not configured). Something to play with later.
  • Photo numbering reset
    Photos taken by the camera are restarting at IMAG0001 for the filename, rather than picking up where the last one left off. There should be a config file that you can change to fix this, but I can't find it. Not a big problem as the photo gallery displays photos in time/date order, however I also discovered that all the pictures I took on 27/10 before the update are appearing with datestamps in the future! One has today's date (and a future time), the rest tomorrow's date... weird.
  • Lost UPM data
    UPM data doesn't get backed up by MyBackup. I restored off an old backup I had on SD, and so now need to try to remember what I've changed in the last few months since that first and only manual backup... and I'll look at setting up a remote sync for the data to eliminate this problem in the future.
Lessons learnt

  • Don't trust Google/Telstra/HTC/software developers for things to work the way they should / you expect.
  • Don't be a pioneer - let others try the updates first and learn from their mistakes/experiences!
  • Don't rely on Android's built in backup feature to restore correctly (or at all??)
  • Don't use MyBackup to restore contacts or calendar items. It would (probably) be better to resync with Google/Facebook/PC.

Changes/improvements in Froyo

  • Apps to SD - yay! This is the main feature I was waiting for. Now I can free up some space on the phone / install Angry Birds :p Having said that I'm running out of space on my 8GB SD, what with my MP3 collection and various GPS related maps... but that's a problem for another day.
  • Additional options for screen unlock (password / PIN, in addition to existing pattern)
  • Screen lock delay option means AutoLock app is redundant (notwithstanding that AutoLock doesn't appear to work for Froyo users in any case).
  • Another consequence of the changed security settings is that the Curvefish LockPattern OnOff widget no longer works / just acts as a shortcut to the security settings screen. On second thought this might not have worked for a while... in any case a similar shortcut is available via QuickSettings, so LockPattern is redundant.
  • HTC App Sharing widget - I don't think this is necessarily part of Froyo but it's new to me, and seems a handy way to share applications with friends.
  • HTC Flashlight app - again not sure if it's a Froyo thing, but offers a bit more versatility compared to, and hence has replaced, the LED light widget.
  • Wifi hotspot - saw this on a friend's imported Desire last month - looks handy.

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