After updating my Samsung Galaxy SII to Jelly Bean a couple of weeks ago, Samsung pushed even newer firmware (I9100XWLSD) to my phone which is the best of all official Samsung ROM’s to date: with the update JuiceDefender was able to squeeze over 50 hours out of my Samsung Galaxy S II battery:
I’m happy! Here’s why; when I bought my Samsung Galaxy S II a year and a half ago, it came with Android 2.3 aka Gingerbread. Last year Samsung released an official update for Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). And while most manufacturers stop after one major upgrade, Samsung promised Android 4.1 Jelly Bean for the aging SII a couple of months ago. And so early this week I took a ride on this Jelly Bean rollercoaster:
- Yay, Sammobile reports Samsung started pushing out Jelly Bean for the Galaxy S II
- Damn, apparently the ROMS are only available for Spain & China, not for my region yet.
- Yay, the Spain version has support for my region after all, downloading.
- Damn, can’t shut down my phone to switch to “download mode”, it just reboots.
- Yay, re-inserting battery while holding Volume down, Home & Power switches the phone to download mode after all, flashing with Odin!
- Damn, flashed and rebooted, but installation wizard hangs, rebooting.
- Yay, installation wizard completes after all.
- Damn, ADW settings screwed (widgets & some shortcuts MIA)
- Yay, almost done configuring ADW (except for the tethering shortcut on my desktop, can’t seem to reinstate that).
- Damn, no keyboard selection in notification bar, so no Swype!
- Yay, Swype available after all, hidden in “Language & Input” configuration.
So does Jelly Bean put the old S2 on the same level as the S3? Not really, some advanced S3-features aren’t included, think the ones in the Premium Suite for S3 that Samsung released a couple of months ago, especially “multi-window” (which might make less sense the smaller S2 display anyway). Both the Calender application and the mail-client (for my Exchange-mail) changed. Samsung replaced Calender with their own S Planner, which has a more skeuomorphic UI which doesn’t fit with the rest of the OS. Good thing you can install the default Android Calendar from Google Play. Mail got slightly better, with a nice little refresh-button and a timestamp showing when the last connection occurred (I don’t do push mail). But most importantly: Jelly Bean does feel more smooth (thanks to Project Butter) and at first sight battery life seems better as well. So, yeah, I’m happy!
Being slightly obsessed with security, I was delighted to discover that two factor-authentication (OTP) using Google Authenticator client is not restricted to Google applications, but is fully standardized and as such can be implemented without dependency on Google services on any system. There is code (off course varying in quality and scope) available for PHP, .NET, Java and Python (and I’m sure there are others).
As you might expect after reading the title, there is a great Google Authenticator WordPress plugin which I installed in 5 minutes time earlier today. For the Drupal-heads; Antwerp-based Attiks have a module that implements Google Authenticator OTP which looks worth checking out as well (and I’m interested in your experiences with it, actually).
It’s been almost a year since I volunteered to give my readers my Google password, after enabling 2-step verification that is. I ended the blogpost on that topic with
And now off to Facebook security settings, to enable login notifications & approvals.
And although I did activate “login notifications” at that point, I did not enable approvals (for reasons I don’t remember, maybe I was just being lazy).
Fast-forward to yesterday evening, when I received a mail from Facebook that stated that my account was temporarily locked because my is was logged into from a location I had never used before. I immediately changed my password and finally enabled “login approvals” this morning as well. “Approvals” sends a security code via SMS when logging in from an unknown location, which you’ll have to enter before effectively logging in. I was pleasantly surprised to see Facebook added a Google Authenticator-like code generator to their Android and iOS apps that you can use to generate a security code as well. Adding the extra security of login approval is easy enough. If you’re on Facebook or Google, you really should consider enabling those (with or without their respective smartphone-based security code generators).
One downside though; using an external chat client (Mozilla Thunderbird in my case) to access Facebook Chat over XMPP doesn’t work any more as Facebook doesn’t provide “application specific passwords” like Google does. Update: as Jensen points out in the comments below Facebook does have application passwords, so I reenabled Facebook Chat in Thunderbird. But that might be a good thing anyway, as the warning mail I received from Facebook seems to refer to the use of Facebook chat over XMPP;
It looks like someone logged into “Rtgw_xmpp_username_password_
login” on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 9:04pm.
Not 100% sure if this was a real login attempt or a false positive, but apparently I’m not the first one to receive such a warning.
Although the battery of my Samsung Galaxy SII lasted approximately 1 day (which I considered a success, after having battled Firefox Sync, Soundcloud and Exchange mail fetching), a couple of weeks ago I started to manually disable the data network mode at night. Who needs their phones online all of the time after all? This worked like a charm, which made me start thinking about an application that could automate toggling of the data connection. I did a quick search on the web and found this article on Stack Overflow with sample code to access the (hidden) dataconnection API’s.
While reading the comments I understood I didn’t need to find me someone to build such an application; Juice Defender does just that. The basic version is free and although it allows only limited configuration, just activating it with default settings almost doubled my SGS II’s battery life. So if you want your Android phone’s battery to last longer, you really should try out Juice Defender.
I updated Firefox Mobile Beta on my Samsung Galaxy SII a couple of days ago to version 16 and out of curiosity I participated in the pissing-contest which is html5test.com. It scored a whopping 372 points, which apparently makes it the best mobile browser (for now).
More important, as it is an immediate and noticeable advantage: reader mode. Reader mode, as seen in the screenshots on the right, allows me see articles on e.g. the chaotic, non-responsive dewereldmorgen.be in a non-crowded context which is optimal for reading the article.
I also installed the latest Firefox Mobile Aurora (version 17) and I’m pretty pleased to see support for iFrame sandboxing (which would up the html5test.com score to 377) and integration with a.o. the upcoming Firefox Marketplace (which will also be core to Firefox OS).
So yeah, for me Firefox Mobile remains the best mobile browser no-one uses.
Never mind my initial enthusiasm about SoundCloud on Android; I uninstalled the bugger after noticing extreme battery drain, which seems linked to its background synchronization. Before uninstalling, I tried to:
- switch on “wifi only syncing”, which did not help
- disable all 4 items (left part of image) being synced, which did not help
- disable SoundCloud sync altogether, which did not seem to help either
- remove the SoundCloud-item from the list of synchronization sources, which inconveniently also logged me out of the app rendering it pretty useless
I contacted SoundCloud support, who confirmed they are working on a fix (although the release notes mentions battery drain a couple of times, guess this is not an entirely new issue). But until then I guess I’ll have to download the individual tracks from the SoundCloud website to listen to “It is what it is” on my Galaxy SII, no?