PhanMail Friday: Your Questions Answered [11/12/2010]


phanmailFriday, Friday, Friday! It’s time for PhanMail, and we’ve got some answers to some questions you’ve had throughout the week. Want to learn how to get those text messages printed up to use against your pesky ex in court? Having trouble with installing the Swype beta after switching phones? We’ve got all of the answers to the questions you’ve sent in right here. If you see your question below, congrats! If not, it was probably answered in a previous PhanMail Friday session or it just wasn’t a very good question. Either way, you’ll get a chance each week to send new questions in so be sure to jump over to that PhanMail contact form and let us know what’s on your mind. Without further ado:

I am in a huge legal battle right now and I need to print out the texts regarding the case. My sister is a police officer and says they use them in court all the time. Sony and Rogers have told me this is impossible. I have recorded the phone calls. Any help would be appreciated

That’s odd. Usually carriers are supposed to be able to print out text messages sent from and to your phone over their network if they are to be used as evidence in court. If they’re absolutely sure they can’t help you out, don’t fret. There are still a few different routes you can take here. First up: if your phone is rooted, you could take screenshots using ShootMe found in the Android market. This would probably be the best method because it’d be harder to dispute text messages as they appear on your phone than ones that look like you could’ve typed them up.

There are also reasons why this method would be undesirable, though. If the list of messages you need printed is longer than Rapunzel’s locks, you’ll want an easier way to get this. Cue the Android market. (Or apps in general.) I’ve done a bit of searching around and my first suggestion would be to try Txtract for Android. It can be found at the following site. Txtract will extract all of the conversations you specify onto an SD card and will allow you to view it in XML, CSV, or HTML format. From here, it’s as easy as loading the file up on your computer (CSV is for Excel, HTML for your browser of choice, and I wouldn’t bother with XML) and hitting that nice print button.

The nice thing about Txtract is that it even pulls the images in, displays proper timestamps, and any other information you’d need in court. Other things you can do is use an app like G-Backup to back your SMS messages up to your Gmail account and print them from there, but I can’t comment on how it outputs the information. Another app I can’t vouch for but looks VERY nice is PrinterShare which will allow you to send several pieces of data – including messages – from your phone directly to a wireless printer. Go ahead and check it out on AppBrain and see if it’s something you’d like to try out. There’s no shortage of “Does” in the Android market, as Verizon would have you know. Check this thread out at AndroidForums.com for some other nice suggestions.

I’m moving from the US to Spain shortly. I will have no choice but to dump my Sprint Hero when signing up with a new provider there since it won’t work at all. Will I still have access to apps that I’ve paid for? If not, is there some other kind of solution?

You know what’s so wonderful about Google Accounts? Everything Google ties into it. Your Google Reader, your Gmail, your Google Documents. And hopefully your music and books whenever Google’s ready to introduce those (we know you’re working on it Google. You can’t hide it from us!) So of course you should expect that all of your apps will come with you, as well. Move on over to Spain, get yourself a brand new phone, and have no worries about your apps because once you sign in with the same Google account you used to pay for them, they’ll show up in your downloads list as already purchased. From there, it’s as simple as downloading and installing them.

Whats with manufacurers not wanting to make a high end phone with a 5 row hardware keyboard? and whats with manufacurers wanting to go thinner with every phone? i want a comfortable grip, not hurt my hands with thin stuff!

It’s hard to tell what’s what with any given manufacturer. Some manufacturers will come up with the greatest keyboard layout ever then switch to something entirely different for the next phone in that same line (ie, HTC from the G1 to the G2.) A lot of factors can tie into a manufacturer’s decision to make their phones how they make them, and unless we sit in on the R&D process for each of them, we may never know why things are how they are.

As for slimmer phones? This one is easy as cake: going green means going sleek, and going sleek means you’re cool. And so does going green. Duh.

I have a Droid Eris. When I link people’s facebook birthdays to my phone or by hand put them into my phone why does it not have an option to show them on my widget calendar that came with my phone? My 8 year old phone posted the birthdays and notified me on the calendar. I never missed one then. I miss them all the time now.

Unfortunately, Android’s calendar doesn’t pull Birthdays in from Facebook, thus you won’t be able to be notified of that person’s birthday unless HTC’s Facebook sync is updated with the feature (which we doubt will happen.) Again, the Android market is always your friend if your phone doesn’t do something out of the box. EboBirthday is a great app to try out first to do exactly what you’re asking for. There are a lot of other options, as well. Search “Facebook Birthday” in the Android market and I’m sure you’ll end up finding exactly what you need, eventually.

Türkiyede distribütörünüz varmı? (Translation: Do you have a distributor in Turkey?)

No. Sorry.

Is the HTC EVO still worth getting at this point? Will it handle gingerbread smoothly? Is there anything that’s worth waiting for as far as sprint and android phones go?

The HTC EVO 4G is a fantastic phone, one which I still use as my primary phone to this day. Unfortunately, there are a couple of downsides to the EVO 4G. Firstly, the 1 GHz Snapdragon processor on the EVO doesn’t hold a candle to the Epic 4G. While it’s still ridiculously fast for apps, you’re not going to get anywhere near the performance you’ll get out of an Epic 4G. (This is based on my own quality time spent with both phones as I do own both.) As far as any other phones in the future? We’re hearing the Nexus S may make its way to all four carriers, eventually, but that’s still up in the air, at this point. Anything else we’ll have to wait until early 2011 to hear about.

Howdy ok I’ve had your phandroid app for quite some time and haven’t seen a post about the Droid T2 or Droid “Terminator” sorry if I have missed it but I have been waiting patiently for my upgrade to the DX and its finally nearing the 27th of Nov and what’s this? Oh looks like Dr Moto is creating a super Droid with a Tegra 2 chip and a 1.2 ghz dual core processor 8 gigs of RAM and going to be running with gingerbread 3.0 …sigh come on! I’m so fed up with my Eris I want the best phone I want the DX and now T2 is commin early 2011 if what I read was remotely true could yall shine more light on this so not only for myself but everyone else who is tired of getting a top of the line phone only to be obsolete in a few months I know smart phones are like desk tops lap tops technology is always evolving but the T2 would be the standard if the specs are true. BTW this took me 20 mins to type on the Eris yep its going to be destroyed after my upgrade. Thx for wat Yall do!

First order of business: we’ve posted about Motorola’s Tegra 2 phone (affectionately dubbed the “Terminator”). Many times. Next up, there will always be the next “ZOMGWTFBBQ” superphone headed your way right around the corner, whether they’re announced or not. We do still believe the Tegra 2-based device will be coming out sometime in 2011, but we can’t be sure on when Motorola will announce it, and when they’ll subsequently release it. We don’t even know if this Tegra 2 phone of theirs will be headed for Verizon whenever it does come out. (I know, that’s VERY hard to imagine.) So I’d say you have two clear choices: keep on waiting and deal with that Droid Eris, or just get yourself a Droid X.

Sure, something newer and better is going to come out that makes you wish you would’ve waited, but if you get the Tegra 2 device, something else is going to come out that makes you wish you would’ve waited on pulling the trigger on that. I was the same way with my G1 after we were hit with a sudden onslaught of high-end phones. Knowig the Galaxy S was coming out, I decided to bite on the EVO anyway. Had I waited for the Epic 4G that I just bought this past weekend, I’d be wondering why I just bought this when Samsung’s about to bring this newer super phone out to market. Wait all you want, but this cycle never ends. PS: be on the lookout for a nice upgrade to the Phandroid app coming VERY soon ;)

I’m look for an app to view my android display on a PC screen. i search online and not successful. please help

Take a gander at this thread on AndroidForums.com. There are always people in there trying to do new things with their phones, and there are just as many people who will help you find the best way to do that. It’s a great resource that becomes invaluable when Google just isn’t working out for you. Go ahead and sign up and start asking some questions! :)

What do you think are the best three android phones on the market and why?

This is a VERY tough question and any answer I provide simply can’t be taken as law. But my personal favorites – as of today – are the T-Mobile G2, the Samsung Epic 4G, and the Google Nexus One. The stock experience of the G2 combined with that nice spacious keyboard and the 800MHz scorpion processor makes for one hell of a phone that you can bet will be next in line to get the latest versions of Android after any Nexus phones (notice I said “phones” with an S, hehe.)

After that comes the Samsung Epic 4G. It’s not stock Android, and Samsung may be slow on bringing it up to speed with everyone else, but it still has one of the best keyboards on the market, one of the fastest processors for gaming and general application use, and that Super AMOLED screen is amazing. It’s also the only Galaxy S phone with a notification light, and the only Galaxy S phone in the UK with a front-facing camera. Win. Finally, the Nexus One due to software alone. Its internals might seem outdated up against the processors of today and tomorrow, but it still gets the job done quite nicely.

Do you believe we should be paying for android updates on our phones?

This is an iffy area that I’m sure many people feel strongly about. I feel like no one should have to pay for updates on mobile platforms, to be quite honest. Sure, we’ve all said smartphones and tablets are beginning to overtake the desktop and laptop market where users will gladly pay for (costly) updates to the latest and greatest versions, but there’s something about a mobile phone that I think should continue to get updates regardless of who pays what. But if it would ever come down to us having to pay for updates, then I won’t fight it if it’s truly justified and if it helps to continue innovation. Apple’s recently backed off of the paid updates model for their smaller iOS devices and it would be hard to ever see Google charging for updates to Android, though, so I don’t think we have anything to worry about.

Now if you were to ask me if I would pay to get updates to my phone faster, then yes. In a heartbeat. :-P

I’m deciding to stay with tmobile for a while. In your opinion which phone out-performs the other, the mytouch 4G or the G2? I’m not concerned with about having/not having a physical keyboard.

I’ve not yet used a functional MyTouch 4G (only a software-disabled model) and if keyboard is a non-factor, I’d still go with the T-Mobile G2. I don’t hate HTC Sense. I actually think it’s the better of the Android customizations out there. But if I had to choose between stock and customizations, I’d go with stock every time. I’m not even considering the MyTouch 4G’s front-facing camera here. Nor am I considering the fact that it has a bigger screen. (Even if only very slightly.) For me, it comes down to processor after software. And even though the MT4G’s processor is clocked at 1GHz compared to the G2’s 800MHz, the G2’s chipset is so efficient that it can and does outperform various 1GHz offerings on the market today.

Most of that is in part to the Adrena 205 GPU on the phone (up there with the PowerVR SGX540 on the Galaxy S’s Hummingbird), but most of it comes down to good ol’ fashioned core efficiency. And the fact that there’s not a lot of bloat to slow the G2 down makes it soar past the MT4G, in my books. (Note: opinions based on 10 minutes of use on a functional display unit of the T-Mobile G2, and 10 minutes with the MyTouch 4G, both in T-Mobile stores.)

That’s it! A lot of questions, and I had fun answering them all. Be sure to send your questions in for next week’s PhanMail Friday by heading to the contact form found here and spilling all of your curiosity into our inbox!

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. My coworker developed a great Facebook birthday app: “Birthday Box” (by Droidea). It’s only $0.99, and sends you a reminder (on the day or before, you set the time) and lets you post to their wall, send an email, call them, etc.

    Also brings in birthdays from your contacts, and he eventually will add importing birthdays from other sources too. He’s a very responsive dev. Give it a try.

  2. @Lukas I did see Birthday Box. It sounded nice, but couldn’t find anything on being able to sync them to your Google calendar, which would be even nicer. Does it have this functionality, as well?

  3. Your comments about paying for software updates to phones really got me thinking about it… I live in a world where I don’t pay for software updates at all, and, the thought of this just kinda hit me off-guard. I’m not a pirate, though, so, let me explain… First off, I’m an Android user. Updates to apps I’ve bought in the marketplace come in free, automagically. Updates to the OS come in free, from mirror.teamdouche.net every couple nights. Updates to my computer’s OS come in free, from rsync.us.gentoo.org since I run linux and have for 10 years. I don’t own a copy of Windows, and I don’t buy software for my computer that has ever charged for upgrades – patches are always free, etc.
    If T-Mobile, or Google, or whoever, started charging me for update X on my monthly bill with out my consent, I’d pitch a fit since I’m not using their software at all. They have no right to charge me for an update I’m not using. If they made it optional, no pay, no get, I’d still have a problem with that, unless they provided a way to install *whatever* I wanted on my phone, with out having to root or jailbreak it. Just like a computer I can buy from Dell, if I don’t want to pay for Windows 7 (lets say it came with XP), I can either choose to 1) remain on Windows XP, 2) Pay for 7, or 3) Replace Windows with Linux or BSD or whatever, and be on my merry. If the smartphone manufacturer or carrier doesn’t provide for that option to get software from another vendor while charging for software upgrades, they would have quite a fight on their hands because that doesn’t seem right at all to me.
    Apple’s done this in the past, and I honestly have no idea why they stopped doing it. Just because Apple does something, though, doesn’t make it right. Look at their long history of choices that are poor for consumers, though. Paying for upgrades is bogus, especially since if you don’t pay for service through the carrier, you don’t get the upgrades anyway. I have an EVO that I got at Google IO, and aside from the 30 days of free Sprint service it came with, it has never been activated. As a result, it never got a single OTA update from Sprint, even though they were “free”. I walked into a Sprint store to purchase a DVI cable for it, too, and asked if they could upgrade it for me, and they said no, it was OTA only, and that I had to be a paying subscriber to get it. So in a way, the carriers are charging for their OTAs anyway since they’re refusing them to non-subscribers. So long as they want to treat cell phones as a service, and not a product that I’m free to do whatever I want with, updates need to stay free. I don’t feel that carriers should be allowed to take the worst of both (for the consumer) and package them up, because that’s what makes them the most profit. Something’s got to give.

  4. Hey thanks a lot for having fan mail fridays, I had both of my questions answered and I’ve been waiting all week for your opinions. Thats why phandroid is my only android bookmark. Keep it up.

  5. I think I would pay if the update of for example Gingerbread would come to my Samsung Vibrant within a month instead of 6 months. If each person paid $1 who owns a Samsung Vibrant, and if there are 1 million Vibrant users out there, I would think that Samsung could get together a team of programmers for about $200,000 for a month programming and release a working version of the Gingerbread. Well worth it in my mind. And we could make it optional so people who paid the dollar gets the OS two three months ahead of time. I for one would gladly pay the money. They even would make a good profit of it.

  6. Quentyn: Just have to point this out. First, you say the EVO is a fantastic phone, and that it is your primary phone. Then, it is not in your top 3. You then say that the EVO doesn’t hold a candle to the Epic, and that the EVO’s performance is “nowhere near” that of the Epic. That is total bs, or a gross exaggeration at the least. Interestingly, after down-talking the EVO’s 1GH Snapdragon, you brag about the 800 MH Scorpion of the G2. Doesn’t seem too consistent to me. The Epic is clunky and feels like a toy, imo. Even if you like it, it does not smoke the EVO in performance. I’m wondering why the EVO is not in your top 3, yet you love it so. Buy yourself a new “toy” if you like the Epic so much haha

  7. @Tim I do have an Epic :-P
    Here’s my reasoning though. Performance wise (hardware), the EVO doesn’t hold a candle to the Epic. Neither does the Nexus One. That’s a fact. The GPU in the Epic trounces the Snapdragon’s in every way.
    A phone can be fantastic and not be in someone’s top 3. I think the Droid X, and the Droid Incredible are fantastic high-end devices, but they’re not in my top 3. And I use the EVO because I’m forced to. My Epic is currently being repaired by Samsung. (this is why you don’t buy on Craigslist, folks.)
    Finally, I state that it’s not all about the megahertz. When I mentioned the Scorpion, I specifically mentioned the GPU – the Adreno 205 it’s coupled with – that helps it along since all of Android’s graphical baggage isn’t dumped on the CPU alone.
    In my own personal experiences, it does smoke the EVO in performance. That’s not to say that the EVO is bad. That’s just to say that the Epic is better. Only my opinion, though.

  8. @swehes,

    If Samsung would do that, they would even become better at imitating apple.:p Also, I don’t think $200,000 is a lot of money for a company like Samsung.

  9. I love you guys but you’ve got to get a better Phanmail image. It just so happens I’m a graphic designer and would LOVE to get you guys something that doesn’t look like clipart. You have my email address tied to this post, please send me a working copy of your logo and I’ll send something to you guys as soon as I can no charge, just because I think you guys are the bomb.

  10. @Quentyn: For you to like the Epic better, and to say it has slightly better performance is understandable. But, to say it smokes the EVO is a gross overstatement. The difference isn’t that dramatic. Now, to say they both smoke the hero, that would be accurate, and not overstated at all. Just sayin.

  11. Just a heads up: the processor in the myTouch4G is the exact same as the G2, just clocked at 1Ghz. Both are awesome phones, but I got the MT4G. No regrets at all.

  12. BTW, the processor inside of the new mytouch is the same as the one in the G2….. just with a different clock rate. The changes to make a mytouch rom on the G2 are trivial at most. Why are they named different? Dunno, ask qualcomm.

    And the reason sense doesn’t feel as smooth is because it requires much more RAM than a stock android experience. For example, the rosie.apk (launcher) usually consumes 3-4 times the RAM as a stock launcher2.apk. Put CM on your evo and it will instantly feel faster.

  13. My evo feels pretty fast as is. Sometimes, people under/over state their speed experience. Fast is fast. If you think the evo is slow, you have issues. Try using a hero or moment for just a few minutes. Those are genuinely slow. I’ve never experienced a bit of lag on my evo.

  14. Facebook birthdays to your calendar is easy …

    1. Get your private iCal link from your Facebook Events page (click the Export Events” link to get the URL
    2. “Add by URL” a new calendar to your Google Account, using the iCal URL in step #1
    3. Display/Show the new calendar in your Google Calendar on computer browser and Android phone.



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