bryan_gb: (helm)
I upgraded my new phone - a Cubot Note S, for those that care - to Android 6 Marshmallow, via some help from the excellent folks at xda-developers and Needrom. After a couple of false starts (mostly to do with Marshmallow needing a tweaked version of the recovery program TWRP - that's the one that lets you install & backup system-level stuff, such as the superuser program needed for root access) it all worked pretty well. I'm still coming to terms with the mucking about that Google's done with the application permissions and with write access to the SD-card, but in general it's a step forward - leaner and smoother than Android Lollipop.

So the next thing was to upgrade herself's phone, which has been struggling with low-memory issues. I figured out a nice clean-ish process: for some reason Titanium Backup is fine restoring app data from a Lollipop backup to a Marshmallow target, but doesn't like restoring the apps themselves, so I used Android Assistant (AA) for those. You have to click to restore each app in turn, which is immensely tedious, but still faster than doing it via the Play store. Plus by doing a fresh AA backup, I had an exact list of the user apps that were installed before and therefore needed to go back - that was a big win, process-wise.

So it was:
* Full data backup via Titanium
* Backup all apps via AA
* Run a WhatsApp backup too, just in case
* Boot to recovery and do a nandroid (system image) backup, also just in case
* Flash the new firmware, including Marshmallow-compatible recovery & superuser
* Reboot and do initial phone setup, eg. Google accounts
* Reinstall Android Assistant from SD-card
* Restore all the user apps via AA
* Restore the user app data via Titanium
* Fix a couple of settings and let Play do a few app updates
* Reboot again, and Voila!

Yes, that did take quite a while, but it was mostly time when I could do or read something else while waiting for a process to complete. And at the end, all was running nicely and I was looking forward to getting to bed at a vaguely normal (for me) time - until I went to restore the SMS database, only to find that the backup app which is supposed to run every day hadn't actually done so since January... 😱

Alright, I thought, no big problem - I've done all my backups! I'll do a new nandroid backup, restore the original setup from the previous nandroid, grab the text messages and then restore the new setup.

Except that for some bizarre reason, TWRP wouldn't restore across different Android versions, ie. from within Marshmallow it couldn't see its Lollipop backups. Argh! OK, I'll flash clean Lollipop firmware back on, then restore from there. Except that this time the restore process crashed - and then it hit me that Stupid O'clock really had made me stupid, and that the text messages had probably already been backed up by Titanium, so I could get them from there. Doh!

OK then, let's restore the nandroid of Marshmallow - but that process crashed too! I ended up having to flash the new firmware and reinstall the apps all over again. At least this time I remembered to restore the messages from Titanium as well as the other user data before finally getting to bed. Then of course this morning, she says Oh, the text messages weren't that important...

There's probably still a few apps to tweak so they work properly with the new Marshmallow permissions, but the phone's now running faster and cleaner, with less memory consumed, so overall it's a win. Was it worth it in terms of time consumed? Well, hopefully I will get it right next time - and hey, it's all a learning process, innit? 😂
bryan_gb: (helm)
...for varying values of "fun".

I've been lent a Nokia Lumia 820 for some software reviews I'm working on, and I must say it's a lovely piece of kit. Excellent screen, very responsive, feels great in the hand, and the Nokia mapping software is almost excellent. Windows Phone 8 is remarkably responsive and smooth too. And yet, I keep hitting niggles.

First, many of the apps seem to be stateless, so if I go back to the main screen to do something else and then re-enter the previous app, it dumps me back at the start. And I can't see how to pull up a list of recent apps like you can easily on Android, or with Alt-Tab on desktop Windows. Add in a more limited tweakability than Android, and frankly it just feels like a slightly better designed iPhone.

Then I discovered that back in January this year Google removed Google Sync access for everyone except certain categories of Google Apps users. So although I can sync my Google account and email to WinPhone, only the primary calendar comes through and not the 3 or 4 others I have linked to my account. The suggested alternative is the GCal web view, which is excellent IF you have a network connection, but about as much use as a chocolate teapot otherwise.

Seems to me that Google wants you to have two choices: dump your WinPhone for Android, or dump Google for WinLive. For many people the second route will be cheaper, albeit more work, so Google may just have shot itself in the foot out of spite.

And lastly, there's apps... Yes, there are lots in the WinPhone store, but most of the ones I use regularly are missing, for example there's no Catch Notes, no official Dropbox client, just third-party ones that are only free for the read-only versions, and no Untappd or RateBeer - do WinPhone users only drink wine?! (There is a third-party app that pulls info out of the RateBeer database, but again it is read-only.)

If any WinPhone users out there can suggest fixes for any of this, I'm all ears!


bryan_gb: (Default)

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