Category Archives: Android

Chromecast – a household hit

Ok; I was skeptical about the Google Chromecast. When it was released in the states I didn’t immediately bite (despite it being cheap enough to import). I’m mainly an iOS user (and fan) and so I wasn’t sure I’d get enough use out of a wifi HDMI dongle that presumably might see most support on Android.

But I was kinda wrong.

The device doesn’t really do anything I couldn’t already achieve through other means, be it wired connections or whatever. But there’s a certain cool factor to being able to control what’s on your television with your smart device and my kids have seemingly bought into it big time. I found it hard to wrestle my iPhone away from my youngest today once she got used to loading up various childrens content from BBC iPlayer and when she did give me my phone back it was to swap for the Google Nexus 7 that offered the same functionality of controlling her content from the sofa.

My eldest also found it very cool and it prompted her to download a few apps to her Moto G to take proper advantage of the device.

As for me? I tried casting some sports from Google Chrome via the BT Sport website last night (after installing the Google Cast extension) but found the sound cut out from the transmission. Maybe it’s a Microsoft Silverlight issue as I found various Adobe Flash content streamed just fine (BBC News, YouTube, etc). I read that when casting from the Chrome browser to use the lower bitrate 720p setting but I found the highest 720p setting worked just fine; there was no difference between the slightly jerky frame rate I was viewing on the television (but obviously the picture quality looked a little better).

Overall, I think the device is worth buying and I really hope developers adopt it wholeheartedly. I’m very tempted to go do some tinkering with it myself… :)

Flash Player 10.1 for Android 2.2 Release Notes

This link is very useful in working out the changes in Android Flash Player, although a proper change log somewhere would be nice Adobe. Also, I think because I was using the default version of Flash that came with Android it didn’t offer to auto-update or indicate if/when a new version of Flash Player was available (whereas it now offers me that option now that I’ve searched and downloaded the latest version).

How is the average Joe supposed to realise he/she hasn’t the latest version of the plug-in installed?!? This is important, especially given the fixes that have apparently been made in the recent 10.1 minor releases.

Android Flash player version weirdness

If I visit playerversion.com in my HTC Desire Z’s Froyo browser it tells me I’m running “FL 10,1,123,425″, but when I navigate to Settings > Applications > Manage Applications > All > Adobe Flash Player 10.1 it tells me it’s version “10.1.92.10″.

I’m still relatively new to Android so this isn’t making immediate sense to me; either playerversion.com‘s JS need adjusting or there are two versions of the Flash player on my Android device. Or something else?!?

Edit: Adobe’s own version test page mirrors playerversion.com‘s findings. cisnky suggested trying a pure Flash-based version detection method, which’ll be my next move.

Edit 2: This Flash-based test mirrors the above; that the minor version I’m running is “123″.

Changing the User Agent on an Android phone

This posting on Lifehacker is very useful if Android’s tendancy towards bouncing you over to mobile versions of sites is annoying you. However, I noticed you can also play around with the Flash plug-in settings using this method too; switching between Flash 10 and Flash Lite (on Froyo anyway).

Going Android

I’ve been weighing up switching over to Android for some months now. I really like my iPhone 3G (running 3.1.3; iOS4 was soooo terrible on it I had to downgrade firmware), but after playing with my brother’s iPhone 4 I didn’t feel it offered anything significantly different from what I already had (or at least new features I was really interested in).

So, I’ve opted for a HTC Desire Z. I was initially swayed by the HTC Desire HD due to its larger RAM and faster processor, but in the end opted for the Z for the following reasons:

  • Size of screen (less power consumption, useable in one hand unlike the larger HD where you can’t use one hand/thumb to press all the icons)
  • Screen has better contrast than the slightly washed-out HD
  • With a keyboard you’re regaining a lot of screen real estate (due to lack of needing an onscreen keyboard)
  • QWERTY backlit keyboard and Microsoft Office on the phone (don’t think the HD comes with Office)
  • More pocketable than the HD
  • Larger capacity battery than the HD (along with the slightly slower processor it should mean better battery life)
  • Browser tests I’ve viewed on YouTube show it at least as fast as the HD
  • If it feels slow (which is unlikely given tests and videos I’ve watched) I can always root it and overclock the processor
  • The camera on the HD didn’t impress me whereas the Z one did a bit more with its videos and photos (think the 8MP on the HD is too much for the size of device)
  • Will be able to develop Flash and native Android apps which test against a range of touchscreen and physical keyboard inputs

Roll on Monday 1st…