Android 2.0 (Eclair) FAQ

Android 2.0 (Eclair) FAQ

Summary: In this article I'll answer some frequently asked questions about Android 2.0 from regular users and developers. Just for fun I've tossed in a few questions about the new Motorola DROID phone as well. This is the last of a 3-part series.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Google, HTC, Telcos
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This is the last of a series of articles on Android 2.0 ("Eclair"). In part 1, we examined the user-oriented features of the new release, and in part 2 we discussed several features intended for developers. For this final part we'll switch gears and answer some frequently asked questions about Eclair from both users and developers. Just for fun I've tossed in a few questions about the Motorola DROID as well.

By the way, if you have any questions that I didn't cover, just ask them in the talkback area.

Q. When can I get Android 2.0?

The Android 2.0 Software Development Kit is available now. This includes an emulator that lets you run a virtual Android device on your desktop computer.

The first phone with Android 2.0 installed is the Motorola DROID, which will be carried by Verizon in the US starting November 6th. The second one will probably be Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X3/Infinity/Rachael . A release date for that model hasn’t been announced but it’s widely expected to be out before the end of the year as well.

Q. Will the Acer A1 Liquid phone with Snapdragon have 2.0?

Liquid is set to be released with Android 1.6.

Q. Can I upgrade my ___ (fill in the blank) phone to 2.0?

The only one we know for sure that will be upgraded is the HTC Hero.

It has been rumored that the first Android phone, the HTC G1/Dream, doesn't have enough memory to run 2.0. However, I don't think that will necessarily be the case. If you remember, they said the same thing about version 1.6. Like 1.6, 2.0 is a little too big to fit into the G1's memory. But with a few optimizations, 1.6 was slimmed down enough to fit, so the current speculation is that 2.0 can be made to fit also. ...

Continue reading: Android 2.0 FAQ >

The HTC Magic/Sapphire/MyTouch3G/Ion has more internal memory than the G1 so that's not an issue. It's up to the carrier, though, whether or not they want to go through the trouble of an over-the-air update.

Luckily with Android you don't need to wait for Google or T-Mobile or whoever to update your phone - you can do it yourself. If you're a highly skilled hacker, that is. Or just know one, like Steve Kondik (aka Cyanogen). Modders such as Steve are certain to come out with their own installable images of Android 2.0 just like they did with 1.6 and 1.5 before it.

Q. Does 2.0 come with a terminal emulator?

No, but "There's an app for that" in the Android Market. More than one, actually. I've heard ConnectBot is good but I haven't tried it. Also, if you're using the emulator you can find a terminal inside the Dev Tools program.

Q. Are there any books that cover 2.0 yet?

Gimme a break, 2.0 just came out this week. :)

I happen to know there is a new book for Android 1.5 and 1.6, hot off the presses. The changes from 1.6 to 2.0 are much smaller than the changes from 1.1 to 1.5, so aside from a few cosmetic differences like directory names and tweaks to the Eclipse plug-in, any 1.6 book will work just fine for 2.0 development too.

Of course a 1.6 book won't cover new topics like Sync Adapters and Quick Contacts but you can pick up those things from posts on blogs and newsgroups. As far as I know, there won't be any 2.0-specific books in print until well into next year. Just before the next Android version is released, no doubt.

Q. Does Google's new Navigator app require Android 2.0?

In case you missed it in all the other news, Google Maps Navigation is a voice-activated turn-by-turn GPS application that Google is giving away. According to Google, it is "currently only available in the US on phones that run Android 2.0, including the DROID".

Q. Will there be an iPhone version?

Google says it's entirely up to Apple. But Apple loved the Google Voice app so much, I'm sure they wouldn't mind approving the Navigator.

Q. How about a Nokia/Blackberry/Palm/Windows Mobile version?

You do know this is an Android FAQ, right?

Continue reading: Android 2.0 FAQ >

Q. Since the DROID has twice the resolution of the iPhone, and yet the screen is only a little bigger, won't all the text be too tiny to read?

Nope. The user interface (including the text, icons, etc.) is scaled according to the density, or dots per inch, of your display. It will actually be more readable because DROID uses those extra pixels to make the fonts and everything else smoother.

Q. What do those two little blank buttons on the bottom of the DROID keyboard do?

The one on the left activates the Death Star and destroys Alderaan, and the one on the right brings up a Twitter application. Or maybe it was the other way around; I get them confused.

Actually, they don't do anything. They're not even keys, just plastic tabs.

Q. Will the GPS be functional if I don't buy the Verizon data plan?

The GPS chip would be functional; in other words the phone would know your longitude and latitude. However that wouldn't do you much good because Google Maps will not be able to function if you don't have any kind of internet connection.

A more common scenario is that you have a connection but it's unreliable and cuts in and out. In that case, Google Maps Navigation still work for the most part. The program will continue to give you directions ("turn right in 300 feet", etc.) because some pre-fetched map data for your route is downloaded and stored locally in the background. However your underlying map tiles may not load and you won't receive a reroute if you deviate from the original planned route. Depending on how bad your connection is, you may not notice the difference.

Q. Does 2.0 allow for more than 3 home screens?

No, not in the standard home screen app that comes with the phone. Of course, you are free to put your own home screen program on there that supports more screens or any other kind of navigation you like. Some manufacturers or carriers will bundle in a non-standard home screen app to help differentiate their phones from the competition. For example the HTC Hero has its Sense UI, and the Motorola CLIQ has MotoBlur.

Q. Does 2.0 have FLAC support?

FLAC is an open format for lossless audio data compression. Android 2.0 does not currently support FLAC out of the box, however a decoder has been ported to Android and incorporated into Cyanogen's custom ROMs. When Cyanogen does a ROM for 2.0, then you can get it that way.

If FLAC is important to you, be sure to vote for the enhancement request to add the FLAC codec to the regular Android distribution. Some Google Android team members have expressed interest, but there's a little issue with the license to overcome and the library would need a "thorough security review" because it's native code.

Continue reading: Android 2.0 FAQ >

Q. Will Sprint's new Samsung Moment run 2.0?

Not initially. The Moment is being released with Android 1.5, and will be upgraded later to 2.0.

Q. Does Android 2.0 support Bluetooth SPP/RFCOMM?

The Android 2.0 API includes the android.bluetooth package, which among other thing allows you to create an RFCOMM socket. See the documentation on the BluetoothDevice class for more information. You could do it in older releases, but 2.0 is the first one that makes it a public and supported part of the platform.

Q. Will Verizon allow tethering on the DROID phone?

Tethering (using your phone as a modem for a laptop) has always been possible on Android phones if you were willing to do a little hacking. But during a press call, Verizon officials said that that while the DROID does not support tethering out of the box they would support tethering as an "over-the-air upgrade for customers". Verizon is also said to be working on a device that will combine Android with MiFi for a wireless tethering option. MiFi is Verizon's popular little gadget that converts their 3G signal into WiFi so your laptop computer, iPod Touch, Nintendo DS, or other device can use WiFi to connect to the internet.

Q. Is there any vendor producing an unlocked Android phone that can be used with any carrier just by inserting the SIM?

Both the ADP1 and Google Ion are unlocked development phones. You can get one on ebay.

Other than some kind of jailbreaking, I've heard that T-Mobile will unlock your phone after you've been a paying customer for a few months. I tried to get my G1 unlocked and they said they would but never got around to responding with the unlock codes, so your mileage will vary. Call your carrier and see what they say.

Q. Hey, why didn't you answer my question?

See that talkback area down there at the bottom of this page? Insert a question and if I deem it worthy (read: know the answer) then I'll move it up here and answer it. And if you see somebody else's question and know the answer, please share with the class.

Q. Ew, then I'd have to fill in that yucky registration form?

It's not yucky any more -- just a name and email address (which will not be shared, even with me).

Topics: Mobility, Google, HTC, Telcos

Ed Burnette

About Ed Burnette

Ed Burnette is a software industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience as a programmer, author, and speaker. He has written numerous technical articles and books, most recently "Hello, Android: Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform" from the Pragmatic Programmers.

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42 comments
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  • Android 2.0 GPS

    Will the GPS be functional if I don't buy the expensive Verizon data plan (or pay by the Mb).
    ericdagle
    • You would need access to the internet

      to download the maps as needed (there would not be enough room on the phone to store the whole country locally). So unless you have a mobile WiFi router in your car, I think that would be a negative.
      Michael Kelly
      • The first provider to carry Android lets you use all of it

        The data you want for a single price. That's
        why I prefer them.

        The second test is speed. I currently can ping
        Tmob at 250ms with a transfer rate of 1900kbps
        average on any 3g service.

        If you search for "Iphone Speedtest dslr" test,
        try 3g. You can test your phone.

        Iphone's 3gs will average out at 500kbps.
        Haven't tried the yellow provider yet that
        finances cup races. Though their Hero only has
        Android 1.5 and my G1 has 1.6.
        Uralbas
      • then it's no better than Sprint Nav

        which is free. If I can't have predownloaded maps, then what's the point? Granted it's free over Verizon's paid option, but for Sprint, Nav is included in the plan. You have a card slot that can currently take a 16gb card so there is plenty of room for maps of the entire US to reside on the phone and not rely on a phone signal for nav. It's the biggest complaint with the carrier based Nav.

        I hope I can uninstall Google's app then and free up room on the phone for something useful.

        And your G1 may have 1.6, but you'll have to wait to root your phone and have a hacker optimize 2.0 in hopes it will even fit on your G1. The Hero came out with 1.5 because the European version that was already out is 1.5. The Hero will be going straight to 2.0 in hopefully less than 2 months. So enjoy your G1.
        crogs
    • DOn't elieve you have the option to do that

      I'm pretty sure, as with VZs other smart-phones, you are forced to purchase at least a basic data plan along with the phone, AFAIK.

      "The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed."
      gnesterenko
    • Google Maps needs at least an intermittent connection

      I added your question and addressed it in the article; thanks.
      Ed Burnette
    • Verizons plan is surmountable

      Buy the phone.
      Get an unlimited nationwide with unlimited data (3G even) from Cricket.
      Take the phone to a qualified cell phone tech and have them set it up on your account.

      I'm doing this. I've run a Sprint Mogul (HTC6800) on Cricket enabled the GPS and I get fast internet all for only $50 a month. Cricket even has nationwide roaming now. Why do others pay $100 a month? For stellar customer service? For $50 a month savings customer service reps can tell your mama jokes all day.
      I'll have a droid, fully functional on Crickets network within a week. Just waiting on my Ebay to arrive.
      sir4taye@...
  • RE: Android 2.0 (Eclair) FAQ

    Will Sprint's new Samsung run 2.0?
    florida_rob
    • Not initially

      The Moment is being released with Android 1.5, and will be upgraded later to 2.0.
      Ed Burnette
  • RE: Android 2.0 (Eclair) FAQ

    When will Android support voice calls over BT?
    sfreistedt
    • My G1 Support BT voice since Jan 09

      So.. yeah sure its there
      Uralbas
      • Please clarify

        I'm talking about syncing your phone with an automobiles' hands-free system and telling it to "Call Bob" without pressing any buttons on the phone. This method will not work unless you root your phone is what I'm told.

        If possible without rooting it, let me know.
        sfreistedt
        • Not sure

          I couldn't find a specific mention of this capability. If anybody knows for sure, let me know.
          Ed Burnette
  • Bluetooth SPP

    Does Android 2.0 support Bluetooth SPP? We have an idea for an application, but it requires SPP to talk to the specific external hardware we have.

    If it does, is support also in the emulator so I could get started?
    wkulecz
    • I believe so

      According to what I've read, SPP is supposed to be supported in 2.0; I have no idea about the emulator support.
      NetAdmin1178
    • 2.0 has new bluetooth API

      The Android 2.0 API includes the android.bluetooth package, which among other thing allows you to create an RFCOMM socket. See the documentation on the BluetoothDevice class for more information. You could do it in older releases, but 2.0 is the first one that makes it a public and supported part of the platform. I've added this to the FAQ, thanks.
      Ed Burnette
  • Tethering

    What about tethering? Does Android 2.0 support it? Will Verizon allow it?
    rfind
    • Not initially, but later

      Added to the FAQ: During a press call, Verizon officials said that that while the DROID does not support tethering out of the box they would support tethering as an "over-the-air upgrade for customers". Verizon is also said to be working on a device that will combine Android with MiFi for a wireless tethering option.
      Ed Burnette
  • RE: Android 2.0 (Eclair) FAQ

    I wonder how the Eclaire would be installed along with the HTC sense UI..
    wilswong@...
    • You'll have to wait on HTC

      to integrate Sense into 2.0. Then they'll release 2.0 for the Hero. Think they said possibly December or early 1Q 2010.
      crogs