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May 31, 2011 11:00 AM   Subscribe

So I have switched to Android and have some questions...

I bought a used HTC Desire Z. It's unlocked and rooted (Clockwork Mod).

GENERAL QUESTIONS

1. I don't understand much the "runs 2.2 (froyo)" and such. I realize these are OS version numbers but aren't currently-avail phones capable of updating to whatever version comes out next? For instance, some phones say they're running 2.3. Why don't the people running 2.2 just update? If there is a version at which your phone "caps out", how do you know what version that is? Is it whatever it ships with?

2. I find I don't really use the "external" keyboard. Someone's offered to trade me for a Desire HD, which I think is pretty much the same but without the external keyboard. Any negatives to trading?

3. I installed Doggcatcher after it was recommended as a solution in another thread. I want to listen to this podcast. Though the podcast shows up in Doggcatcher, it doesn't let me play it. What gives? I have the podcasts in iTunes... is there a way to send the files to the phone so Doggcatcher can see them since Doggcatcher doesn't seem to be able to play them the way that it plays every other podcast? Is the podcaster doing something wrong that I can email him about that's making Android not be able to see his files?

4. I installed GO Launcher and it is fantastic. I was surprised no one who recommended Android apps to me had mentioned it. What apps do you find amazingly useful?

5. The apps on the front pages of places like Appbrain and Market seem to rarely change. Is there a site/blog with more frequently changing info about apps/phones/android news?

6. I have multiple audio apps for the different app processes (Doggcatcher for podcasts, audible for audible files, winamp for mp3s...). It's a pain in the ass to constantly have to tell the headphones which app I'm using. Is there an app/mod for the headphones that will just tell it to start/stop whatever audio app is currently/most recently running?

QUESTIONS ABOUT ROOTING

I assume rooted is similar to jailbroken and, really, I have no use for that function unless it's tied to the unlocked-ness. I am by no means a hacker and really have no time to tinker.

I'd like to know if it's possible to unroot it and return it to its normal self without relocking it. Further, if it is possible, how do I do it? The only instructions I can find are about rooting, not unrooting.

What will this action do? For the casual user, does rooting have any benefit?

My complaint with the rooting is that Android (or HTC) is telling me that updates are available and the Clockwork Mod is not allowing me to install them (even though I follow Clockword Mods instructions).

Are the updates I'm being told about 2.3 or just some minor patch?

If the phone cannot be unrooted without it relocking, is is possible to actually install the updates?

Thanks!
posted by dobbs to Technology (23 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
To answer question #5...check out http://www.androidguys.com for news and updates.
posted by Calzephyr at 11:17 AM on May 31, 2011


1. The phones are capable of being updated, yes. But the phone carriers (t-mobile, verizon, etc) have to approve/make those updates available. They simply don't for some phones. I have a t-mobile g1, which is stuck on 1.7.

It always feels like to me that the carriers have "moved on" from my phone to the next coolest hot thing. I'm sure some (most?) of this is done with the idea that if we wanted the newer OS, we'd buy new phones for it.. and they'd make more money.
posted by royalsong at 11:28 AM on May 31, 2011


1. I don't understand much the "runs 2.2 (froyo)" and such. I realize these are OS version numbers but aren't currently-avail phones capable of updating to whatever version comes out next? For instance, some phones say they're running 2.3. Why don't the people running 2.2 just update? If there is a version at which your phone "caps out", how do you know what version that is? Is it whatever it ships with?

Android suffers from a little bit of fragmentation, so there is a lot of hardware-specific and carrier-specific testing that needs to be done with each version of android. If you are not rooted, you are at the whim of your carrier to determine when and how (usually Over The Air) you get OS updates.
If you are rooted, it is up to you to keep up with updates, with your favorite ROM or with rooted versions of stock ROMs.

I'd like to know if it's possible to unroot it and return it to its normal self without relocking it. Further, if it is possible, how do I do it? The only instructions I can find are about rooting, not unrooting.

In order to "un-root", it might vary by phone, but you probably need to go to the Restore Factory Settings option. This will wipe everything off of your phone, so you'll have to reinstall all of your apps from the market.

What will this action do? For the casual user, does rooting have any benefit?

Rooting allows you to overclock the CPU, which you may find useful if things are running slow.
It allows you to use Wireless Tether without paying your carrier, but they're cracking down on that.
It allows you to do full backups and restores (with something like Titanium Backup).
It allows you to remove demos and applications that came with the phone that you're not interested in keeping.
Also, it's not easy to take screenshots without rooting, for whatever reason.
These are some things the casual user will see a benefit from with rooting.


My complaint with the rooting is that Android (or HTC) is telling me that updates are available and the Clockwork Mod is not allowing me to install them (even though I follow Clockword Mods instructions).

See my answer to #1. In order to keep up with updates, it usually means downloading a pre-rooted version of the latest official update, or using special super-customized ROMs (like CyanogenMod).
posted by jozxyqk at 11:28 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I should also mention that, along with overclocking, you can underclock (even on a schedule) which seriously helps save battery.
posted by jozxyqk at 11:33 AM on May 31, 2011


I'll have a go, and by the time I'm done almost certainly someone else will have answered.

1. No. The OS releases by Google are very early. Gingerbread is almost 6 months old, but is just now pushing to lots of devices. Only the "Google" phones get them right away, those being the "Nexus" series. Because each phone has unique hardware as well as carrier restrictions, each requires its own updates. Samsung, for instance, has sort of he held US carriers hostage to get to Froyo, much less gingerbread, even though European/Asian Samsungs have had it for a while. Generally, new ROMs are ports of other similar phone releases elsewhere in the world. For example, almost all Galaxy S development is coming off the European I9000 version of the phone, with various tweaks and mods hither and thither. The reason that CyanogenMod is so unique (and such a PITA as far as I'm concerned) is that it's a port of the Nexus software, and so it uses different EVERYTHING and can't be flashed like the other ROMs, as it's ALL a port of software from the "true" version released by google.

2. With the newest touch screen keyboards, I personally don't feel the need for an external HD. Swype sorta sucks now (too bad, it coulda been great) but with SwiftKey and text9 and those, you won't miss it. There are, however, some BADASS new android phones coming to market in the near future, so don't lock yourself into anything.

3. Yes, contact doggcatcher. Also make sure to check your DL settings.

4. This should be its own askme. No, really. All I'll suggest right now is that you install the amazon app store, just because they give 1 app away a day for free, and it's usually a pretty nifty app, although sometimes its garbage.

5. Xdadevelopers or androidguys or lifehacker. App brain will also "recommend" apps to you.

6. You MAY be able to do this with tasker. If not, this is what widgets are for.

Hope that helps.
posted by TomMelee at 11:36 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the answers so far...

In order to "un-root", it might vary by phone, but you probably need to go to the Restore Factory Settings option. This will wipe everything off of your phone, so you'll have to reinstall all of your apps from the market.

My Clockwork Mod has this as one of the options. Is there a way to ensure this won't relock the phone?
posted by dobbs at 11:36 AM on May 31, 2011


1) If you're not rooted, you generally rely on your phone maker to release the upgrade for your phone. Some companies are very good about it; others really, really suck. For me, I could root my original Droid and upgrade to 2.3 (Motorola has capped it at 2.2, presumably so that they can spend their efforts upgrading newer phones) but I just don't care. Froyo does everything I want it to.

2) I've had a physical keyboard for 18 months, and have used it about twice.

4) Replacing the launcher is the biggest improvement I've seen from any app. Additionally, Better Keyboard is a fantastic upgrade (depending on what keyboard you use now, I suppose).
posted by coolguymichael at 11:38 AM on May 31, 2011


It seems as though y'all are saying the rooted aspects should allow me to update, but not being able to update is the problem I'm having.

I just tried it again and here's what happens:

- run it the default way (following HTC's prompts) and I get and exclamation point / android logo.

- reboots to Clockwork Mod

- Choose apply update from sdcard

- am told no such file or directory

- try apply update from .zip on sd card

- choose the file from download directory

- it runs and then tells me an error in the file and installation aborted.
posted by dobbs at 12:07 PM on May 31, 2011


Fellow Desire Z user here (~2months).

My phone is rooted and is running CyanogenMod and a Pershoot kernel.
CyanogenMod is way leaner and more custumizable than the stock rom.
The Pershoot kernel allows for overclocking - which may not be your thing, but more importantly, it is undervolted = easier on the battery.
Installed via Rom Manager, buy the premium to get this functionality.

There is a thread here on great apps.

A nice blog for keeping a bit up to date on apps is Android Police.

Oh, and my phone updates just fine :-).
No reason to un-root.
posted by Thug at 12:16 PM on May 31, 2011


Depending on the device, you may need to wipe the davlik cache first.

XDA Forums will have most of the specific issues covered. Honestly, not everyone needs to bother with rooting. Stock 2.2 has its limitations and I wouldn't go back from 2.3 myself, but if the technical issues cause head scratching then it may really not be worth your time and you run the risk of bricking your device.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:19 PM on May 31, 2011


ClockworkMod's "restore to factory default" is not necessarily what you want. For instance, it will not remove ClockworkMod and your phone will still be "rooted"! Personally, I would leave it rooted, because there aren't a lot of drawbacks.

I suspect that if your phone has ClockworkMod then it is probably also running a custom Android kernel, such as CyanogenMod. If you could go to Menu > Settings > About phone and tell us what it says under "Kernel version"... If it is running CyanogenMod, then the easiest way to get the update nagging to stop is to update to CyanogenMod 7, which is the same as updating to Gingerbread.
posted by anaelith at 12:20 PM on May 31, 2011


anaelith, the kernel says

2.6.32.21-gd2764ed
htc-kernel@and18.2 #1
Tue Oct 26 2010
posted by dobbs at 12:39 PM on May 31, 2011


For 5, IMO the market websites tend to be pretty poor. They've gotten better in the past year, where before they were somehow worse than the Market app itself (how could they not be at least as good? I don't know!)

Seconding XDA forum, but Reddit's android groups are less dev-focused and more about interesting apps (Reddit's sort functions can help you find the best apps /posts as opposed to the most recent).
posted by zippy at 1:21 PM on May 31, 2011


I used the Rom Manager that Thug linked to to upgrade to Cyanogen 7 (stable)... and I think I might have bricked the phone.

It's been going for about half an hour so far and the screen seems stuck with the Cyanogen 7 screen (blue android guy with a arrow/circle going around him).

The phone's power button doesn't do anything. Ugh. :(
posted by dobbs at 4:40 PM on May 31, 2011


If you use irc, you might try jumping in to the cynagongen mod chatroom.

irc://irc.freenode.net/cyanogenmod

I've received help there before.
posted by bleary at 5:30 PM on May 31, 2011


Let us know what happens.
posted by bleary at 5:39 PM on May 31, 2011


Okay, I managed to get the Cyanogenmod installed and it's pretty awesome.

However, it seems to have deleted some weird apps... like Mail, Flashlight, and some of my widgets like Go Launcher Weather. Weird.

Can't figure out how to get Mail back as it doesn't seem to be in the Market.
posted by dobbs at 8:31 PM on May 31, 2011


To get mail back, you need to install the gapps bundle from Cyanogen--due to the licensing of the official Google apps, they can't be released with the ROM. You can download that from here--you want the Cyanogenmod 7 app set. Download it and move it to your phone, then use the ROM manager to install the zip from SD.

Incidentally, if you're missing the really lovely HTC homescreen weather/time widget--which was the one thing I missed when I started using Cyanogen on my Hero--can I suggest Beautiful Widgets? It's about three bucks, and worth every penny.

App-related: Possibly this is too obvious, but Lifehacker has a great Android section, including regular app reviews.

Re: Question six, above, Tasker will do that.
posted by MeghanC at 9:53 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let us know how it went :-)

Two killer apps for your rooted phone:
AddFree Android
Titanium Backup

Titanium Backup (get the pro version) is particularly nice if used with Dropbox.

I could go on all day ;-), gotta love the Android :-))
posted by Thug at 9:26 AM on June 1, 2011


I managed to get it all to work and am loving it.

I am finding myself quickly running out of room, however.

My phone has an MicroSD card. Am I right in understanding that the card is just used for media (music, etc.). When trying to DL a new app and am told I'm out of space does it simply mean I have to delete another app?

Or, am I able to buy a larger card and store some apps on there?
posted by dobbs at 11:22 AM on June 1, 2011


Go into the Settings -> Applications, Manage Applications, and then select your app and "move to SD card".
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:41 AM on June 1, 2011


Here. That's for 2.2 but it's the same with 2.3.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:43 AM on June 1, 2011


Also, since you are on CM 7, go to Settings -> CyanogenMod settings -> Application, choose Install location - external.
That should install future apps on your SD card.
posted by Thug at 1:30 PM on June 1, 2011


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