Android

Using a Nexus 4 in x64 Windows Land

I’ve had a horrible morning.

I’ve been dealing with shitty, unpolished crappy software all damned morning.

All because people that are too intelligent aren’t stepping back from what they are doing and running a “real world” acceptance test.

I’m now the owner of a Nexus 4. The phone is blazingly fast, has fantastic battery life and is largely free of bloat. Today I decided to try and put a few mp3s on my phone. So, I connected my phone to my desktop running Windows 7×64.

Problem 1 – No drivers

I can accept that every now and then, a device will not interface with my desktop pc. Usually the device vendors have tested this out and provided a CD or a link to download the drivers. Unfortunately, between LG and Google, no one bothered to test this out. Some intense googling should send you to the Google USB driver download page. Unfortunately these are x86 drivers only.

Yeah you heard me. x86 only. Let’s just have a think about that. 3 years ago, in 2010, Microsoft announced that 50% of all Windows 7 were in 64 bit land. Which way would that number have gone in the 3 years since 2010? Yet Google only bundles 32 bit drivers for their USB drivers.

Luckily for all of us 64 bit users out there, some one else (not Google or any of the huge corporations behind this phone) has compiled the drivers for 64 bit Windows. You can download them here.

Problem 2 – Device not showing in My Computer

It took me a while to get to the bottom of this, but it is because of the protocol that the phone has been setup to use – Media Transfer Protocol.

In order to use this on Windows, you need to have Windows Media Player installed. You might laugh and think that everyone has Media Player installed, but actually many European Windows installs don’t.

To download Windows Media player you need to go to this MS download page in x86 Internet Explorer. I’m not joking. It must be x86 Windows Explorer so that Microsoft can verify that your version of Windows is genuine before letting you have the download. Going to the page in anything but x86 Windows Explorer will give you a whole host of pain when trying to validate your install.

Edit:

Incredibly, you may still get issues connecting the device to your computer after all of the above. If so, you will need to force Windows to use Microsoft’s generic driver, and not Google’s driver.

To do so:

  1. Locate the device in Device Manager. Right click and select “Update driver”.
  2. Click “Browse my computer for driver software”
  3. Click “Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer”
  4. In the dialogue that shows up, select “MTP USB Device”
  5. This will install the generic MTP driver that will let the device be used in Windows for file transfers etc. It’s worth noting that in with this driver, the phone will not be visible over adb.

Conclusion

Whilst its great that this phone is vanilla Android and is largely free of bloat, I couldn’t gift the phone to anyone non technical. To expect a normal everyday user to go through any of the above is utterly ridiculous.

Android

Why I wont be installing another custom rom on my Android phone

A while back I rooted my Samsung Galaxy S2. I decided to root the phone and swap the rom out after getting frustrated waiting for Android updates to firstly get updated again by Samsung, and then bastardised by t-mobile. This would usually involve a varying range of irritations; from whacking on uninstallable applications that I would never use, to renaming the stock browser to “web n walk”.

Aside from the application bloat irritations, the actual sweet goodness at the core (the latest release of the Android OS) was still something that I looked forward to. However, it takes time for Samsung and your mobile operator to get their changes in, and this can often be months. For example, Ice Cream Sandwich was officially released on the 19th of October 2011. It eventually landed on t-mobile uk branded Samsung Galaxy S2 handsets in June the following year. A painful 8 month wait.

So, after lots of careful consideration and lots of research, I rooted my phone and installed a custom rom using some of the awesome information available over at galaxys2root.com.

The rooting itself was quite straight forward. I then selected a custom rom that I had heard several rave reviews about – Resurrection Remix.

After installation and initially playing with it, I was very impressed. But as the weeks went on I started to notice a few bugs of varying degrees of irritation. Some were a little annoying. Others were rage inducing.  I was also getting worse battery life and plenty of apps just didn’t work.

But I still stuck with it. Why? It was so much faster than the official rom.

After a few months, I decided I’d better check for a newer version of Resurrection Remix with the hope that it would fix some of the issues that I was experiencing.

There was. I considered it, did my research, and found that most users were satisfied with it. A Google search for “resurrection remix [version number] issues” was my research.

After installation and a few weeks of use, I was much happier. I was now getting much better battery life and many of my apps that did not quite function properly previously were now working as expected.

I’m currently still on Resurrection Remix version 2.7. Some parts of the rom are great, but others are not – there are a few annoying glitches. One of the worst is that I cannot update the gmail app. Frustratingly, this is even though the rom’s community is one of the biggest out there.

If you are thinking about running a custom rom on your android phone, consider the following:

I personally now would not recommend going the way of running a custom rom. Sure, it’s fun playing around with your phone and seeing how it runs under a highly customisable, non stock rom, but if you use your phone heavily and rely on it to work, I just don’t believe it’s worth the risk of running into a frustrating glitch.

I think that from now on, I’ll be sticking with the stock roms but will be rooting so that I can use apps like Titanium Backup, and so that I can uninstall unwanted bloatware apps.