Dodgy 3G

Nexus One

Earlier this week I was without 3G on my home mobile phone. Trying to use it resulted a “failed to connect to server error”. I certainly had signal and it wasn’t even working in areas where I know it should work.

My initial thought was that the T-Mobile (EE) network had fallen over, but with no one else reporting issues it was only me having the problem.

What I found out later was that I had exceeded my “fair use” limit on my unlimited 3G plan. This has only happened once or twice before and I was, then, able to get a free booster to extend my limit.

This time though the SMS messages I received from EE, the pages I was redirected to on the phone, did not indicate that I had reached my limit. In the end I guessed I must have as it was almost the day my 3G fair use limit resets.

Most of the day I was unable to access the boosters page, but in the evening on the way home, it did (finally) appear on the mobile browser and I was able to get 3G.

I think part of the issue is I have quite an old legacy plan, which isn’t really able to be matched by newer plans, hence my reluctance to upgrade. This probably means that when I run out of 3G, the redirects don’t work as they should, as so few people are using them. I know it has only happened once or twice before for me.

One day I might upgrade, especially when 4G is more prevalent, or even cancel, if FGW get their WiFi act together this year, as I generally use 3G more on the train then anywhere else.

Entering a parallel universe….

I was recently at a conference in London and I am sure that a few people thought they had entered a parallel universe, as before at conferences I was often seen with a MacBook, an iPad and an iPhone. At this conference I was carrying a Windows Surface Pro, a Nexus 7 and an Google Nexus One phone. No Apple hardware in sight!

I have recently changed jobs, so my MacBook was given back, as was my work iPhone. I did have a home iPhone 3G, but recently ended the contract on that one, so I cancelled the contract and gave the phone to my wife, as her phone had recently died. In a similar vein, I had gone out and bought the iPad (third generation) when it came out, but after a few months I also gave it to my wife, as I was using one at work and for most home purposes my old original iPad was doing a fine job.

Going to London the main problems I had was missing the Tube Exits app, which tells you where to get on the tube so that when you arrive at your destination station you are both a) on the correct side for getting off, but also b) right next to the way out.

The other problem I had was with maps, of all the map apps I have used, my personal favourite is the original Apple Maps App, which used the data from Google. I had it on my iPhone 3G and was disappointed with the upgrade last year. I was using maps to get from Euston Square Tube Station to Senate House, and though I knew the approximate direction, I wasn’t exactly sure where it was. In the end it was more luck than judgement I found it.

At the event itself my main device was the Windows Surface Pro. The battery lasted for most of the day and I was certainly using it quite hard. I have to admit I wasn’t too impressed with the images it took, I have had much better results with the iPad.

However it was easy to tweet from the device (and when I needed to catch up with e-mail or find URLs). Even with the “touch” keyboard it isn’t really a blogging device, and elsewhere I have found it easier to use a real keyboard (as it happens an Apple one….).

As for the Nexus, well that was a backup device, but I did use it to listen to some podcasts on the train home.


Nexus One

One of the reasons I like and still use my Google Nexus One, despite it’s age, is that I can use it for tethering. I am also lucky to have a legacy mobile phone contract that means tethering is included as part of my monthly payment.

I actually thought that I had unlimited data, but when I was on holiday and I did a fair bit of video streaming over 3G I did for the first time ever get a text from my phone company telling me I was reaching my fair usage data limit. This actually surprised me as I didn’t think I had a data limit.

Generally the connection is very good with very little latency. I have encountered a couple of issues that happen enough to be annoying.

The first one is when the connection just seems to stop. I am assuming that this is something to do with the 3G connection, and usually very quickly it comes back. Can be annoying when streaming video or if you are in the middle of posting a blog post.

The second issue is that the 3G connection just dies and stops working. The only resolution is to reboot the phone and start all over again.

It is only a 3G connection and until there is a lot more 4G (and it is a lot cheaper) I think I will continue with my current solution. Battery life isn’t perfect, but it generally lasts me for my daily needs and when I need more juice I plug the phone via USB into my laptop.

I like tethering over a dongle as a dongle can only be used by a single laptop, whereas with my phone, my laptop and iPad can be used at the same time, really aids productivity for me.

No more space…

Nexus One

One of the key issues I have my (slightly ageing, but still useful) Google Nexus One is one of storage. Yes it has an SD card slot, but the problem I am having is with the onboard phone storage.

There is only 200MB of onboard storage and though many Android apps can be run off the SD Card, some of the key apps I use can’t.

I recently downloaded an update to the Google+ App that comes in at 10MB which immediately resulted in the Nexus One throwing a hissy fit. I was able to get that app moved to the SD card, so the phone calmed down.

What this actually means is that I can’t use the Google Nexus One in the way I would like, in trying different kinds of apps. This was never a problem on the iPhone where the onboard storage of 8GB or 16GB made it much easier to manage apps.

There is no way to upgrade the onboard storage from the 200MB, so for the moment there is very little I can do.

Does anyone know if this is still an issue with the newer Android phones?

ITV Player for Android

I recently discovered that there was an ITVPlayer App for the iPad and the iPhone I also on looking on the ITV site there is also an ITVPlayer App for Android.

I was never really impressed with the BBC iPlayer App for Android that I installed on my Google Nexus One.

The main problem is you don’t get the smooth playback that I get on the iPhone or the iPad. If I play videos direct from the phone I do get smooth playback, so I don’t think it’s an underpowered hardware issue.

I have exactly the same issue with ITV Player. Both apps I find result in audio sync issues. However when playing the same programmes on the iPad, the iPhone or my computer I don’t have the sync or buffering issues.

As I said before I don’t think it’s a hardware issue, identical mp4 video files play just as well on the Google Nexus One as they do on my iPhone. I often use the same file to show the difference in screen quality between the Nexus One and the iPhone 3GS (and now the iPhone 4).

It would appear that my Google Nexus One doesn’t like streaming video. It’s not the connection as I am on wifi and my home broadband is quite fast.

So a question, is it just me and my phone, or are others having similar stuttering, audio sync and buffering issues?

Airsync Androidness

I have had a Google Nexus One for a while now, but though I have downloaded many different apps, they’ve all had one thing in common, they were free. I realised that I had never bought an Android App for the Nexus One. This is very unlike my iPhone experience where I have bought quite a few apps.

So when it came to buying my first Android App, I was a little apprehensive. To be honest the experience was not very positive and could have been better.

So what was the app?

Well it was doubleTwist AirSync.

As well as letting me sync the Nexus One with my Mac over wifi using doubleTwist, there were two other features that made me think that this was going to be a worthwhile purchase.

doubleTwist now supports AirPlay for users who have upgraded to AirSync. Stream to Apple TV (music, videos and photos) and DLNA devices (music and videos). Beta support for Sonos.

When a supported device such as the Apple TV is recognized on the same WiFi network as your Android device, you can start streaming to it from the doubleTwist playback controls if you are an AirSync user.

So what went wrong, why was the process not very positive?

Well… after finding the app in the Android Market Place (which was easy), I tentatively clicked the purchase link.

It took me to a purchase screen and as I had used Google Checkout before it remembered my details. I paid for the purchase, I fully expected the app to download and then I could start using it. Well that’s what I expected, but that’s not what happened.

It didn’t download, all I got was a message that I was awaiting for the purchase to be authorised.

Initially I thought it was broken or had failed. However an e-mail from Google said that my purchase had gone through and I was charged for the App. Still the phone was saying that it was waiting for the purchase to be authorised…

It did this for a few hours before finally the app installed, I could use it, pair it and sync it with doubleTwist. No idea if that delay is normal and certainly I had not warning that this would happen. If I knew it was going to take hours then fair enough, however there was no warning or explanation.

So what of the app? I do like it and the ability to stream video, audio and photos from the Nexus One to my Apple TV is a real plus. Most of the videos I tried worked fine, but then they were encoded for the iPhone and I would expect them to work through the Apple TV. I was disappointed though that native videos i recorded on my Nexus One didn’t work. Well one did, but the rest didn’t. The one that did was a recent video, older ones failed to stream.

So I am pleased with the app, however less happy with the purchasing experience. Hopefully next time (and yes there will be a next time) it will be a more positive experience.

Tethering Widget

Even though I have been using my Google Nexus One for tethering (portable wifi hotspot) for a while now, one of the annoyances was having to go into the menu structure to turn it on.

Menu -> Settings -> Wireless -> Portable Hotspot -> Turn it on….

There didn’t seem to be a quick way to add menu items to the screen. You couldn’t add it as a shortcut either.

After doing some of the Google stuff, I found that there was a free widget I could download that would then give me a widget on the home screen to turn the portable wifi hotspot on and off with a single click. Result!

Find it here.

Turn off the wifi

Following my previous post about the Nexus One battery life I received some useful suggestions from Gia and Dan.

If the Nexus One is searching for wifi access points then as Dan pointed out, this will drain the battery quite rapidly. This is not unique to the Nexus One, I have had similar issues with the iPhone 3GS and the Nokia N95. I had hoped that the issues would have been resolved with newer phones.

It’s interesting though to see the impact of wifi and the power requirements are still an issue.

It is the constant searching that has such a hit on the battery life, if the Nexus One is connected to a wireless access point then this has a lot less of an impact on the battery. That’s the reason why when using wifi on my iPad I don’t have similar battery issues as I am connected to wifi. Likewise when using the portable wifi hotspot on the Nexus One I find that I don’t have the battery problems either. Interestingly you don’t need to have the wifi turned on to use the portable wifi hotspot, the phone will turn on the wifi transmitter when you turn on the hotspot and turn it off when you turn the hotspot off.

I did find turning off the wifi did make a big difference to battery life on the Nexus One, so it is remaining off. Apart from having to turn it back on when I am using the phone at home, it hasn’t been such a big deal and hasn’t been annoying, whereas the lack of battery life was much more annoying. Still may follow Gia’s suggestions and get a new battery and use my old one as a spare.

Nexus to Nothing

One of the things I have noticed about using the Google Nexus One for more stuff is how awful the battery life is! I can barely get it to last the day, especially if I am using applications. As a phone and a portable wifi hotspot, it seems to be okay, but as soon as I start using Twitter or Foursquare then this seems to kill the battery life.

Yes if I turn off wifi, 3G and GPS then the phone battery does last a fair bit of time, but if I do that I might as well get a cheap Nokia phone which is just a phone!

My iPhone 3GS to be honest also has a pretty poor battery and as it gets close to its second birthday, the battery life appears to be getting worse! What is different though with the 3GS is that I have an external case which includes a battery, so I can usually ensure (even with heavy usage) that the 3GS lasts all day.

However the Nexus One has trouble doing even that!

My solution would be to buy a battery case as I have for my iPhone, but buying accessories for the Nexus One is not easy. Another option would be a spare battery, and I have considered that. I use to do that with an older phone I had a few years back.

My current solution is to carry the charger with me and I also have a car charger in the car too. As the Nexus One has a mini-USB port that does make life a little easier.

Where am I?

One thing I have realised is that location services work better on my Nexus One when the GPS is switched on!

Well I didn’t realise it was switched off.

My first indication that something was amiss was when using the Foursquare app which didn’t appear to be as accurate than using my iPhone in the same location. I just put it down to the iPhone been “better” and I was inside.

After this happened outside, I thought I better check the settings, and yes the GPS was turned off! Turning it back on and Foursquare was spot on to where I was.