Getting To Know Your Android

Screenshot of Android 4 on Galaxy Nexus
Android 4, which I don't have yet

Ah, the slow terrible frustration of it…

I’m trying to be good here and give my new phone’s battery the best possibly start in life. I was advised that the way to do that is to completely flatten it and then recharge it for seven or eight hours, while switched off. Several times. That means I can’t use it while it’s charging, and as most of what I do want to do means going online, I can only squeeze maybe eight or ten hours of messing around with it out of a day. No of course that’s not enough!

Connecting it to the PC would charge it too, so I can’t synchronise it properly and, what’s much worse, can’t download the latest firmware. Ah! Nerd hell. And of course, I can hardly use it as my working phone either. So for the first few days it’s an invalid.

Just as well perhaps. At least I’ll have had some practice using it before anyone sees me trying in public. Having a phone as noticeable as this and not knowing what the hell I’m doing with it has too much comic potential. And I’ve never had an Android phone before (well, I did have an experimental Android install on my N900, but it wasn’t really usable), so I’ve little experience with it.

It has to be admitted, Android is a whole other operating system.There’s a lot I like about it already, but there are constant reminders that it’s not Windows or Mac OS, or even Maemo. I think what I miss most is control keys. Control+z especially… After that, definitely arrow keys or an equivalent. Moving back a single letter, for example, is not easily done by poking text on screen. I feel like the interface was conceived to work with single as well as multi-touch input, and in consequence is more restricted than it really needs to be now. But the Swype keyboard at least tries to make up for that, and works impressively well.

Plus I haven’t really used a capacitive screen before. With the N900 I could hit tiny links and so on with a fingernail, without having to zoom in, and it’s frustrating now when that doesn’t work. Basically I have to unlearn what I spent the last year learning.

First world problems.

22 thoughts on “Getting To Know Your Android

  1. When you tap in a text-entry box it will pop up an arrow where it thinks you tapped for the text insertion point, you can then drag that arrow to where you really want it (took me 4 days to realize that).

    On my slightly smaller Droid Razr, I only have problems tapping on links with my fingertip (which is 16mm x 10mm) when the links are only one or two characters in size – and even then only when there are multiple links next to each other.

    You’ll get used to these minor frustrations, be glad you’re solving them before going in public and screaming at your phone “NO! I wanted more information on Hepatitis A! Not B! Not C! Definitely not D! A! AAAAAAAAA!”

    1. 😀 Yeah, it’s not that you can’t hit the little links with your fingertip. But I’m hittin’ ’em with my nail, which of course means nothing to it.

      Still having trouble with that insertion arrows. It seems to divine my intent – and then actively resist it. But I guess it’ll come naturally in a while.

      1. I know, my tablet is a resistive screen android which I’m used to scrolling/swiping/tapping with my fingernails when I’m not using my stylus/pen so I keep having problems switching between the two.

  2. I’m trying to be good here and give my new phone’s battery the best possibly start in life. I was advised that the way to do that is to completely flatten it and then recharge it for seven or eight hours, while switched off. Several times.

    Fully charge and flatten your battery before first use. OR IT WILL EXPLODE!

    What’s the science behind this ritual? Lazy electrons? Surely it’s misplaced ritualism, written in the manual by the same people telling you to WAIT A FULL MINUTE before reconnecting your router. (Because, as we all know, our routers truly come with supercapacitators in the memory chip, sustaining charge for dozens of seconds!).

    Maybe old 5 pound lead-acid batteries needed to be broken in, like a fresh pair of boots. But lithium-ion? Why? What sorcery is this?

    1. (On re-read, that seems like it might be a criticism of you, Richard, but it’s rather aimed at the deliberate “technology as black box” treatment that manufacturers give us. I honestly wonder what their deal is with those instructions, as they fail to provide any clue or good reason as to why it’s a good idea to follow them.)

    2. It’s called battery management software programming. The Android operating system controls your battery life by learning how you use it, and if you don’t start it with data showing the full capacity of your battery, it will start telling you your battery is lower than it actually is because it thinks you’re going to charge it sooner than you actually will.

      My tablet initially had about 4 hours of useful life, then I deleted the files that contain the tracking information, charged it to full while turned off and let it drain fully before charging it again and my battery life is now about 6.5 hours of useful life.

      Nothing to do with the battery, everything to do with the software controlling it.

      1. My tablet initially had about 4 hours of useful life, then I deleted the files that contain the tracking information, charged it to full while turned off and let it drain fully before charging it again and my battery life is now about 6.5 hours of useful life.

        What you mean then is, you have 6.5 hours of useful life in both situations, but the OS start beeping earlier about “low battery” hence inducing the dreaded “range anxiety” if it’s not calibrated properly?

        I mean, the battery still has the same actual capacity right?

        (Personally, I experience cold sweat whenever my phone gives the dreaded “10% battery left” and HAVE TO charge it. Which is stupid, because if you think about it, 90% has gotten it through 20 hours of standby and 4 hours of usage, easily. Assuming that every hour of usage is about 4 hours of standby time, the math works out that it means that I still have about 4 hours of standby left, easily. But, psychology simply takes over).

        Or does android actively turn off based on reported capacity left? Surely that’s something that’s far better left to the battery controller firmware than the OS*? Simply measures the voltage of the battery and send a shutdown signal if it gets too low?

        *you want this to work even when the OS isn’t loaded, after all.

        1. When the OS believes the battery is low, based off of it’s statistics of your usage, it saves all of your data and shuts down. When the OS isn’t loaded the battery firmware handles the behavior. It’s a necessary evil for a multi-tasking operating system, because you can’t always predict the rate of battery use.

          If I’m using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and listening to music while playing Word Feud and Angry Birds, while the Live Wallpaper updates the simulation of what the outside weather is and the GPS tells it where I’m located for doing so I’m going to burn a lot more battery a lot faster than if I’m just listening to music – and Word Feud and Angry Birds have wildly different rates of battery consumption depending on which is active. The Android OS is trying to keep me from losing data because of my multitasking.

          And, yes, at my average rate of use I had 6.5 hours of battery available, but if I fit the default battery use profile I would have only had 4 hours available.

  3. I’m trying to be good here and give my new phone’s battery the best possibly start in life. I was advised that the way to do that is to completely flatten it and then recharge it for seven or eight hours, while switched off. Several times.

    Fully charge and flatten your battery before first use. OR IT WILL EXPLODE!

    What’s the science behind this ritual? Lazy electrons? Surely it’s misplaced ritualism, written in the manual by the same people telling you to WAIT A FULL MINUTE before reconnecting your router. (Because, as we all know, our routers truly come with supercapacitators in the memory chip, sustaining charge for dozens of seconds!).

    Maybe old 5 pound lead-acid batteries needed to be broken in, like a fresh pair of boots. But lithium-ion? Why? What sorcery is this?

    1. (On re-read, that seems like it might be a criticism of you, Richard, but it’s rather aimed at the deliberate “technology as black box” treatment that manufacturers give us. I honestly wonder what their deal is with those instructions, as they fail to provide any clue or good reason as to why it’s a good idea to follow them.)

    2. It’s called battery management software programming. The Android operating system controls your battery life by learning how you use it, and if you don’t start it with data showing the full capacity of your battery, it will start telling you your battery is lower than it actually is because it thinks you’re going to charge it sooner than you actually will.

      My tablet initially had about 4 hours of useful life, then I deleted the files that contain the tracking information, charged it to full while turned off and let it drain fully before charging it again and my battery life is now about 6.5 hours of useful life.

      Nothing to do with the battery, everything to do with the software controlling it.

      1. To be fair, this is a known issue that Google improves on every upgrade to Android, and I’ve heard that ICS is the best yet, I’ll let you know once ICS is released for my phone what I think of the new power management.

      2. My tablet initially had about 4 hours of useful life, then I deleted the files that contain the tracking information, charged it to full while turned off and let it drain fully before charging it again and my battery life is now about 6.5 hours of useful life.

        What you mean then is, you have 6.5 hours of useful life in both situations, but the OS start beeping earlier about “low battery” hence inducing the dreaded “range anxiety” if it’s not calibrated properly?

        I mean, the battery still has the same actual capacity right?

        (Personally, I experience cold sweat whenever my phone gives the dreaded “10% battery left” and HAVE TO charge it. Which is stupid, because if you think about it, 90% has gotten it through 20 hours of standby and 4 hours of usage, easily. Assuming that every hour of usage is about 4 hours of standby time, the math works out that it means that I still have about 4 hours of standby left, easily. But, psychology simply takes over).

        Or does android actively turn off based on reported capacity left? Surely that’s something that’s far better left to the battery controller firmware than the OS*? Simply measures the voltage of the battery and send a shutdown signal if it gets too low?

        *you want this to work even when the OS isn’t loaded, after all.

        1. When the OS believes the battery is low, based off of it’s statistics of your usage, it saves all of your data and shuts down. When the OS isn’t loaded the battery firmware handles the behavior. It’s a necessary evil for a multi-tasking operating system, because you can’t always predict the rate of battery use.

          If I’m using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and listening to music while playing Word Feud and Angry Birds, while the Live Wallpaper updates the simulation of what the outside weather is and the GPS tells it where I’m located for doing so I’m going to burn a lot more battery a lot faster than if I’m just listening to music – and Word Feud and Angry Birds have wildly different rates of battery consumption depending on which is active. The Android OS is trying to keep me from losing data because of my multitasking.

          And, yes, at my average rate of use I had 6.5 hours of battery available, but if I fit the default battery use profile I would have only had 4 hours available.

  4. (Starts again at left because it’s getting too cramped.)

    I suspect I’m going well overboard, but I want to be sure I’m getting the best out of it after spending so much. I have too many cheap recon laptop batteries that go red less than half way through their discharge.

    1. Quite understandable. And as the old proverb goes: Galaxy Note enjoyment is a dish best served after a good charging. Or something similar anyway.

  5. (Starts again at left because it’s getting too cramped.)

    I suspect I’m going well overboard, but I want to be sure I’m getting the best out of it after spending so much. I have too many cheap recon laptop batteries that go red less than half way through their discharge.

    1. Quite understandable. And as the old proverb goes: Galaxy Note enjoyment is a dish best served after a good charging. Or something similar anyway.

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