Tag Archive | "firmware"

Notes: Galaxy Tab upgrade to 2.3.5 (Stock, EU)

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A few people noticed that I upgraded to 2.3.5 on my original Galaxy Tab 7 and wanted to know how. Apparently the upgrade is rolling out and UK and NL owners of some variants have received the update through the standard Kies software. Try that first of course (you can download it from Samsung) but if you’re desperate to get it you’ll have to take the complex, risky route. Here are a few links to get you going.

The firmware I used was from here
ODIN, the flash upgrade software, is available here. Use V1.7
Generic instructions are available all over the net. Here’s one.

If you’re going to upgrade I recommend taking the change to do a full factory reset, clear all storage areas including your microsd card. You’ll have a much smoother device if you do this.

One more reference link. This is a report I did on an upgrade to 2.3 using the sane method.

Charge device fully before starting, back everything up, be aware that you are taking your own risks.

My upgrade has been 100% successful although there are very few significant changes!

Galaxy Tab Gingerbread Test Notes + Videos

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120520111538Last night I took the plunge and dumped the official 2.3.3 Gingerbread upgrade on my Galaxy Tab via the ‘side-loading’ method based on an copy of the firmware being rolled out in Europe (but not available here in Germany yet.) I used simple instructions from The Galaxy Tab Forum (Hat Tip XDA Developers) and flashed the firmware along with a full factory reset and spent about 4 hours late last night testing, restoring my apps and listening to music.

The music wasn’t just for fun. Previous builds of the Galaxy Tab were never that good at being an MP3 player due to stuttering under load. I’m please to report that this problem has gone. I had 8 programs running to the point where even text input was failing but the audio kept-on playing.

So what else is new?

If you’re happy with your Tab right now I don’t recommend going the side-loading route to get Gingerbread. It’s easy but risky and for what you’re getting it’s not worth the risk. I’m not saying the upgrade is underwhelming, I’m just saying that the upgrade isn’t a huge one in terms of instantly noticeable changes. A new, lighter font, greets you and as you swipe down the notification area and then across home screens you’ll notice that it is super smooth but that’s pretty much it for obvious changes.

The text select method has changed slightly (in-line with the new 2.3 text selection tool I beleive) but Samsung already had that on 2.2. They were also ahead of the curve on audio enhancements and a few other 2.3 features.

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There’s a few videos below showing part of the upgrade and a review of the upgrade below. Here are my notes so far.  I should note that if you’re into ‘rooting’ your Galaxy Tab,  please double-check that this upgrade doesn’t lock the bootloader.

  • Smoother transitions in some areas. Noticeable in notifications area and browser scrolling.
  • New sketch note app
  • SIP/VOIP support removed from Gingerbread (at least I can’t find it!)
  • Pulse app included
  • No new themes or backgrounds (a feature of Gingerbread)
  • Better battery usage section possibly not working properly. (screen, WiFi usage doesn’t appear to be correct)
  • No WiFi dropouts (i experienced this on a previous EU stock firmware)
  • No truly noticeable web speed improvements. Some checkerboarding when scrolling quickly while page is loading.
  • Modified indicator icons in top home-screens bar
  • New text selection tool (as per standard android 2.3 i believe)
  • Audio playback now stable under load. No stutter
  • One user interface crash/reboot experienced after playing Need For Speed.
  • Browser download manager

Overall the Tab has been stable and reliable. I’m looking forward to apps that take advantage of the new touch responsiveness APIs. (The browser does appear to be one of those apps.)

Android Honeycomb 3.1 Overview, Coming to Google TV This Summer

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At Google I/O 2011, Honeycomb 3.1, which brings a number of user and developer enhancements, has been officially announced and detailed. Google also says that Honeycomb 3.1 will be making its way to Google TV powered devices this summer; very exciting news as it means that Google TV devices will now have access to apps from the Android Market!

Android 3.1 is rolling out now to Motorla Xoom [tracking page] devices on Verizon’s network, however our Xoom still has no idea that an update is available, so it’s likely coming in waves. Nicole Scott of NetbookNews.com has a tip for forcing your Xoom to check for the update (though checking for it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll find it!).

Honeycomb 3.1 Major Changes

honeycomb logoResizable Widgets and UI Changes

resize widgetIn Android 3.1, widgets have support for dynamic resizing which is a great feature as I can only currently see a pathetic three emails in the Gmail widget. Google notes that it is really painless for developers to add dynamic-size capability to their widgets with just a few lines of code.

There has also been a number of minor adjustments to the UI. Google says that “UI transitions are improved throughout the system and across the standard apps” which will hopefully make homescreen swiping more smooth. I’ve been unimpressed with the fluidity of homescreen swiping (and general UI performance) thus far.

Other changes are aiming to make the experience more intuitive – something that Honeycomb desperately needs. Android 3.0 is really not the intuitive experience that you hope it would be. From my own observations, novice users have a hard time using the device because of this. Sometimes I too am unsure as to where to look for a particular button or function within an application because it just isn’t clear what certain buttons will do. Trial-and-error should not be the underlying philosophy of your interface. Any changes toward making the operating system “easier to see, understand, and use”, as Google says, will be an improvement to the OS.

Accessibility has also been enhanced, and I’m always happy to see that the industry is not skimping in this department. From Apple’s iOS to Android, accessibility options are there to help as many people as possible make use of these devices. Android 3.1 enhances accessibility with consistent voice-feedback throughout the UI.

The recent-apps button, which Google implemented in 3.0 to take place of the home-hold gesture in Android for phones, has been extended to show a greater number of recently used applications (rather than just 5) by allowing the user to scroll through the list.

USB Connectivity

Android 3.1 brings along robust USB-host support for peripherals and accessories. Google is touting support for keyboards, mice, game controllers, and digital cameras. Developers are also free to build on the USB support to add compatibility with additional devices for applications – great for more obscure USB devices, or support for specific types of devices (such as a game controller with proprietary buttons).

This also opens up the realm of controlling any number of USB accessories for more interesting uses. Google lists “robotics controllers, docking stations, diagnostic and musical equipment, kiosks, card readers, and much more,” as examples of such devices that could be controlled and interacted with using an Android device thanks to this new USB support.

Hopefully the Honeycomb 3.1 update will fixed the crashes that Chippy has been seeing when using the Acer Iconia A500 with a USB keyboard/mouse combo.

Updated Apps

Honeycomb 3.1 is also improving a number of built-in applications.

quick controls 3.1The browser’s “Quick Controls” have been improved. The well received Quick Controls, enabled through the labs section of the browser settings, allow the user to slide in from the left or right of the screen to get a radial menu that allows them to control the browser. Most notably, tab management has been moved into the Quick Controls which should free up even more space for web content and allow almost all browser functions to be performed from one place.

Some standards related enhancements have been made to the browser such as support for CSS 3D, animations, and CSS fixed position. There’s also support for embedded HTML5 video, and Google says that performance when zooming has been “dramatically” improved – I’m looking forward to that!

The Gallery app now supports something called Picture Transfer Protocol which will allow users to plug a USB camera into their 3.1 device and import photos directly into the Gallery app.

FLAC Support

flac logoExciting news for audiophiles: Android 3.1 now supports FLAC, the lossless audio codec (hat tip to Android Police)! I’m not sure whether or not the soundcards in most Android devices are really up to this task yet, but it’s good that the option is now available.

On the Xoom particularly, I hear a whole lot of popping and hissing coming from the device, even when no sound is playing. Even with lossless audio playback, the audio-bottleneck may well end up being the sound hardware. Perhaps we’ll see tablets pushing higher quality audio equipment to make use of FLAC and differentiate themselves from other devices down the road.

If you’re interested, here’s the technical bit that I am in no position to comment on:

Mono/Stereo (no multichannel). Sample rates up to 48 kHz (but up to 44.1 kHz is recommended on devices with 44.1 kHz output, as the 48 to 44.1 kHz downsampler does not include a low-pass filter). 16-bit recommended; no dither applied for 24-bit.

This would be a “take that!” moment from Google to Apple, but Apple has had lossless audio support in their iOS devices for quite some time. The format is a proprietary ALAC, which only serves to lock users further into the Apple ecosystem; still, Android isn’t the only lossless game in town.

The Rest

That’s the major stuff for now. We did bypass a few enterprise enhancements – if you’d like to check those out and/or geek-out with some developer improvements, be sure to swing by the official platform highlights section from Google.

Android Honeycomb 3.1 on Google TV

gogole tvIn an effort to un-fork the Android OS, which currently operates three builds (phone/tablet/TV), Google is bringing Honeycomb 3.1 to Google TV through an OTA update to existing devices this summer. This will open up the world of apps from the Android Market onto Google TV-powered devices which is exciting news for developers and users alike. New Google TV units are also in the works from Sony, Vizio, Samsung, and Logitech.

Availability

As mentioned, the Motorola Xoom on Verizon is the first device to get the 3.1 update. Google hasn’t made it clear when the rest of the world will see 3.1, and even the WiFi-only Xoom is left out in the rain at the time of writing. According to Engadget, Google has said that 3.1 would be hitting the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10 (which was given to attendees of Google I/O) in the “next couple of weeks.” There’s some hope that all Honeycomb devices will have access to the update at that time, depending on the whims of individual carriers and OEMS.

Galaxy Tab Firmware Update ‘JMG’ (Europe) – Worth Having!

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Update: See notes about wifi below. I’m still having problems.

I haven’t been keeping a close eye on Galaxy Tab firmware updates as I’ve been very happy with the stability but, in preparation for V2.3 which appears to be confirmed, I took the chance to set up Kies, the Samsung phone/tablet management software this evening. I downloaded and installed the latest firmware for my region and ended up with an update to the ‘JMG’ version which dates from late March.

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Interestingly, it did more than I thought it would.

The AllShare DNLA app seems to be updated (although it still doesn’t work with my Vista-based media center,) the Gmail app is updated to the latest version (supporting some great new features) and there’s a new Social Hub application. At least I think it’s new on my Tab!

More importantly though. The device is working more smoothly. it could be that a firmware re-build has deleted all the cache and temp files but there’s one other test that proves it’s more than just a clean-up. DrumKit is an application I use to test the touch latency of the Tab and other Android devices. It has steadily been getting better over time through developer optimisations but I have never seen it this responsive. It’s far from perfect (actually far from usable in any serious manner) due to the delay that still exists but it’s noticeably better. Version 2.3 has specific enhancements for touch responsiveness so it will be very interesting to see how it improves with the big 2.3 upgrade.

Other things I’ve noticed (that may or may not be new!) Take a look at the new Sunspider result.

  • The application library seems to be sorted by alphabet. (Or was it originally, with new apps just being added to the end of the list?) Update: No changes there.
  • My Wifi connectivity didn’t come up as default. Despite settings being saved it switched to 3G data. Update: It dropped my Wifi connection a few times while I wrote this article. That’s not good. Update 2 – After 2 hrs my wifi seems stable. Could be because 2 members of the family with 3 wifi devices have left the room. Will continue to monitor this. Update 3 – it dropped again and locked into 3g mode.
  • All screen layouts, widget setups were lost
  • Am I seeing a few new widgets? Date,Time,Weather – Dual Clock? Not too interesting though.
  • Fonts – Look smoother. Maybe the font even changed slightly. I noticed it when I went into WordPress. I’m also seeing some changes in color to improve contrast in some pre-installed apps. Calendar for example.
  • Sunspider 0.91 – Using Dolphin Browser – 5948ms.
  • Sunspider 0.91 – Using default Browser (All running applications closed) – 6009
  • Original sunspider result from my review – 8455ms. The results show a 30% improvement in JavaScript processing speed.
  • Quadrant –  1007 (Original result 1050)  The I/O part of the Quadrant result is still very poor.
  • Benchmark Pi – 1423ms –  (Original result 1387) Slight slow-down.
  • Linpack – 6.07  (Original result 5.94) Slight slow-down.
  • Readers Hub new design. (Clearly I need to update the apps within it though and that wood effect still looks very plastic to me!)

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I’m sure there are more changes under the skin too and many more aesthetic changes I haven’t seen yet. Maybe, however, you’ve already got these features. My Tab was an original from the first batch and has only seen one firmware update since launch and of course, while these updates are welcome, it’s Gingerbread we’re really waiting for right?

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