Santa Brought Me a New Phone, Part II

By default, the phone is limited to installing applications from the Android Market. It seems to be similar to a Linux package repo (or “repository”):

  • The phone maintains a database of installed programs.
  • When I tap to go to the marketplace, it compares that database with the market place database and tells me which files are already installed.

Android Marketplace

In the settings, you can check to allow third-party sources (though I wouldn’t–there seems to be an ample selection at the market).

The intro to the phone, which was part of the setup routine and therefore unavoidable, told me that, when an application is being installed, it will display a message informing me what access it requires. The phone introduction emphasized paying attention to the warnings and not completing the installation if they looked fishy.

This is the warning message from the “My Account” application, which I installed for easy access to ringtones, as two of my ringtones did not survive the upgrade (well, they weren’t actually ringtones–they were full-length mp3 files I had been using as ringtones, so I can’t really complain).

Installation Warnings

Passwords are implicit. Root access is not allowed, unless you have hacked the phone; users are locked out of root access. The warning and approval process takes the place of entering a password.

(Consequently, I still see no particular threat to open source phones from malicious programs as compared to proprietary phones. In other words, unless the user seeks out trouble, he or she should be okay.)

I’ve installed several applications, in addition to the “T-Mobile My Account”:

  • The FBreader, which I’ve used quite successfully on my PC. It functions slightly differently, but just as well.
  • The Astro file manager to ease manipulation of files in my home folder.

    Astro File Manager

  • Documents To Go, for viewing and editing *.ppt, *.doc, and *.xls files and viewing *.pdf files. (The viewing function is free; the editing function costs about $15.00). I’ve used Docs To Go for several years on my Windows Mobile and have been very happy with it, and, as open source a guy as I am, I need to be able to deal with Microsoft Office formats; it’s just a fact of life.
  • Mamoru Tokashiki’s Voice Recorder.
  • Opera Mini. As a rabid Opera partisan, I must say it’s not nearly so versatile as Opera Mobile, but Opera Mobile for Android is not ready yet. For example, it does not yet appear to be able to “open in a new window.”

Any one of these I’ll quite happy discard if I find something better. Applications may be uninstalled by going to Settings–>Applications.


A Gmail mail client is included. Additional POP3 and IMAP accounts may be set up.

You can set up speed dialing by placing icons for contacts’ phone numbers on the homescreen. A home screen can accommodate 16 icons and there are three homescreens.

You can use any picture in your home folder as a background for the home screens. I used one I took of the sky over the Atlantic Ocean at Virginia Beach, Virginia. In portrait format, the picture will be divided over the three screens; in landscape format, it will be repeated for each of the three screens.

I did have to upgrade my account from the T-Mobile Edge “Total Internet” to the T-Mobile “Web2Go,” increasing my bill by about $10.00 a month.

I cobbled together a video of my navigating the phone by the touchscreen. It’s a little shaky–my tripod is three states away–but it shows jumping amongst the home screen, opening a program, and few other things like that.

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