Emotional rollercoaster: installing Jelly Bean on a Galaxy SII

Jelly Bean "about" screen on Samsung Galaxy S III’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:

    1. Yay, Sammobile reports Samsung started pushing out Jelly Bean for the Galaxy S II
    2. Damn, apparently the ROMS are only available for Spain & China, not for my region yet.
    3. Yay, the Spain version has support for my region after all, downloading.
    4. Damn, can’t shut down my phone to switch to “download mode”, it just reboots.
    5. Yay, re-inserting battery while holding Volume down, Home & Power switches the phone to download mode after all, flashing with Odin!
    6. Damn, flashed and rebooted, but installation wizard hangs, rebooting.
    7. Yay, installation wizard completes after all.
    8. Damn, ADW settings screwed (widgets & some shortcuts MIA)
    9. Yay, almost done configuring ADW (except for the tethering shortcut on my desktop, can’t seem to reinstate that).
    10. Damn, no keyboard selection in notification bar, so no Swype!
    11. 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!

Pimping my Samsung Galaxy S II

didn’t really like the look & feel of my Galaxy S II’s GUI, so I decided to customize my experience to feel a bit more at home on my “personal digital assistant”. One of the first things I did (after installing some apps) was extracting my old wallpaper from the Cyanogenmod 6 zip-file to replace the ugly Samsung wallpaper.
Next on my hitlist: getting rid of Samsung’s iPhoney TouchWiz. I was very fond of the simple elegance of the open source ADW launcher on my Cyanogenmod-ized HTC Magic  (which is for sale by the way), so I installed ADW.Launcher from the Android Market. I then configured ADW to display 5 instead of the default 4 rows to better use that incredible screen resolution.
A small inconvenience of ADW.Launcher is that you don’t get notification-bubbles that display the number of new mails, messages or missed calls on the icons of those applications. ADWNotifier, an ADW.Launcher plugin, solves that problem just fine.
What’s next? Rooting that fabulous GT9100, I guess. And maybe try this early Cyanogenmod 7 build for it?

The Magic’s gone, enter Samsung Galaxy S II

Two years ago I bought a HTC Hero, my first Android handset. I lost that great device about half a year ago and -after trying a very basic Acer e110– replaced it with a 2nd hand Belgacom HTC Magic which I upgraded to Cyanogenmod 6.
Now don’t get me wrong; me and my Magic, we got along real fine. But my employer likes the smell of a fresh smartphone in the morning and subsidizes to make that happen and when I saw a colleague with a Samsung Galaxy S II, I knew me and my Magic HTC had to part ways.
The Galaxy S II sports a huge, bright screen with vivid colors (Samsung’s super AMOLED screens are simply stunning), a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and 16Gb of internal storage (with an microSD-slot to be able to add up to 32Gb). There’s no hardware keyboard like on the HTC Desire Z I once was planning on buying, but the Galaxy does come with Swype, the virtual keyboard that takes most of the pain out of … not having a keyboard. I’ve installed all of the favorite apps from my HTC-days and as a bonus I can now finally also use Firefox Mobile (which is great, by the way).
So what’s not to like about it? Well, it’s huge, for starters. Big hands come in handy when using the S II, so I wouldn’t want to market it in China, except as a mini-tablet maybe. I’m not too thrilled about Samsung’s TouchWiz as seen on the homescreen. And battery-life isn’t that great, but that’s to be expected, with that humongous screen real estate I guess.
All in all my S II is a great smartphone. One probably doesn’t really need a dual-core handset with 16Gb of memory and a 800X480 screen, but it sure is nice little gadget to play around with for the next 2 years or so …