This past year has seen a huge explosion in the mobile phone market with the newest crop of Android phones jumping past the iPhone and Blackberry’s as the most popular – and for good reason: Android is a much more open platform, allowing developers to make applications freely while also not being subjected to the draconian Apple apps rules and fees. While both the Blackberry devices and the iPhone offer some pretty good features (the Blackberry still being the best for Enterprise business users), there are things that have contributed to their losing market share, such as the crappy ATT service (Pensacola ATT service is spotty at best in many places).
So if you are looking for a new phone, the question comes, what to buy? One of the biggest factors is what you need your phone to do, as well as how much you want to pay for it – the initial cost of the phone is usually not as much of a factor as the continuing cost of the service. Smart-phone costs can add up quite quickly, especially with the added services such as tethering or mobile hot spots and high usage data plans (ATT has stopped their unlimited data plans and now requires you to pay in blocks which can be very expensive if you use just a little bit too much in a month.). Personally I have found that Verizon coverage is some of the best -Pensacola Verizon service is pretty good, and it definitely is one of the best when travelling across the US, however their pricing is not the cheapest so it is a trade-off between cost and benefits.
I currently am using a Droid (the original, although I plan on moving to a newer Android device in the near future). One of the things that I love about the current crop of Android phones is their ability to view Flash websites and play Flash games, something that the iPhone will never be able to do thanks to Steve (wanna be god) Jobs. In addition, I do like the easy integration with Google apps (gmail, google maps, etc). Also, with the soon to be released Android and Windows based tablets (like the Samsung Galaxy), the wireless hotspot capabilities may come in handy (while I currently have an iPad, I hate being hampered with its shortcomings such as the lack of flash, no usb ports, no camera, etc).
In the end, it comes down to a dizzying array of choices when it comes to phones, so be sure to take some time and do a bit of research before taking the plunge, and look carefully at all the associated costs.
While Motorola Droid users are patiently waiting for Verizon to push out the latest Android 2.2 which includes such wonderful things as the ability to use Flash Player 10.1 for mobile, tethering, faster web browsing and general faster experience overall, the web is now ablaze with an apparently ‘official’ version of Android 2.2 for the Motorala droid direct from Google, with accompanying instructions on how to install it yourself. I successfully installed this on my Droid this morning, and then installed the Flash 10.1 player. I am including the instructions and links I used, however be warned “This procedure should only be attempted with the knowledge that if you mess it up, it could mess up your phone beyond repair“. I personally had no problems doing this, but that doesn’t mean it will be successful for everyone, or that there isn’t a risk of bricking your phone if you mess something up on the way. Following is the instruction set I used with the website sources I got them from:
“You can download the new update from Google’s servers here (42mb). Instructions for updating are similar to past Android OS releases from Google: Re-name the downloaded .zip file to “update.zip” (without quotes), and place it in the root directory of the SD card. Turn off the phone, and reboot while holding the “x” key on the keyboard. When a screen with an exclamation point appears, press the “volume-up” and “camera” buttons simultaneously to select from available boot options. Select “Apply update.zip” from the list using the D-pad.
The update will be applied, and then return to the boot screen where you can now safely select the “Reboot” option from the list. The first boot after updating will take longer than normal, so give it some time and leave it plugged in to a power source for the duration. Enjoy Froyo!”
Once you have done this and gotten 2.2 up and running you will need to install Flash 10.1 – now I searched myself to find the easiest way to install it, but it seems that trying to get it direct from Adobe.com isn’t supported yet for some reason on this build, however I did find instructions and a download that worked for me here: http://blog.laptopmag.com/how-to-installing-android-2-2-froyo-onto-the-motorola-droid **NOTE: only follow the instructions related to installing Flash as I have outlined below:
Download Android Mate. Before you can install Flash, download the Android Mate application from the Android Market 0 it is a free app
Download Flash. Download the Flask .apk file. (click here) – Note: this download comes as a Zip file, I just changed the extension to .apk before copying it to the Droid in the next step
Connect the Droid. Connect the Droid to the computer , and enable the USB file transfer mode. Place the Flash .apk file on the root of the microSD card.
Launch Android Mate. Open Droid Mate, then locate and launch the “adobeflash3.apk” file. This will install Flash 10.1 (beta 3) on the Droid
Remember, use this procedure at your own risk. While it worked fine for me, it is still not ‘officially supported’ by Verizon – Unlike many of the ‘cooked’ ROMS floating around out there, this one appears to be more ‘official’ as it comes direct from Google itself.
Pensacola cell phone users who have service with Verizon and ATT will need to check with their carriers starting next week to see if there is a better and cheaper plan available. Starting Monday, Verizon is dropping the prices on many of its popular service packages, some with a significant savings! According to Verizon, switching plans will be free and there is no requirement to extend your current contract. AT&T, faced with so much bad press lately, responded with their own price cuts after the Verizon announcement
This is great news for cell phone users, but of course there is a catch. There will soon be mandatory data fees for all phones capable of internet accesss (all the smart phones like the new Droid already have these fees). That coupled with the fact that you still have to ask for the switch in plans is sure to bring Verizon some increased revenues. In a time when the cell phone carriers are battling, Verizon has taken the first swing which has forced the faltering AT&T to step up with a price cut of their own. AT&T has been recently battling a wave of negative publicity due to their poorly rated customer service and 3G coverage areas, not to mention all the bad press with Apple, and the iPhone (with Apple being sued by many huge companies for technology theft/patent infringement there is a good chance that they are either going to be paying a lot, or losing the ability to sell their current products).
For those with cell phone plans with Verizon or AT&T, be sure to check with them in the next week or so to see if you can save some money by switching to one of their new plans!!
This year has certainly seen an explosion of new ‘smart’ devices. From the much overhyped and pitifully supported (by ATT’s crappy network and Apple’s overly controlling attitude) iPhone, to the Droid, to the latest crop of mini-netbooks and iType devices. Unfortunately, one has to wonder if these smart devices make us smarter, or do they in fact actually dumb us down to their level? Sure, it is convenient to be able to surf the web and explore things through our phones and other mini-devices, but how much time do we lose and waste by trying to type out emails and text messages on mini or virtual keyboards? I have seen people spend many minutes composing emails on their smartphones that would have taken mere seconds to compose and send on their computers, yet many people seem to prefer to struggle away in their quest for instant gratification.
Now, I will be the first to admit that there are some incredibly cool and useful applications available on today’s crop of ‘smart’ devices, and I have certainly used many of them on more than one occasion, however I personally hate trying to type on a mini-keyboard, and I much prefer to surf the web on a nice 24″ widescreen monitor, rather than zooming, and scrolling and scrolling and zooming my way through a web page on a mobile browser. And yes, I will admit that sometimes I do ‘need’ to check and respond to an email on the go, but unless it really is super urgent, I will wait until I am at a real computer before I respond, and I have learned to never EVER try to read, much less respond to anything while doing things like driving (or having a conversation with someone – that is just sooo rude!).
There is always a line between convenience and over-dependence. When we stop using our brains because it is easier to rely on our devices, well then that is the day we are just asking for our batteries to die and leave us stranded in the middle of no-where (seriously, if your GPS gets you lost and you can’t just turn around and go back the way you came, you shouldn’t be driving in the first place!)