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The INQUIRER Android Experiment: Episode one

Javascript hijinks, multi window mayhem and how you just can't get a good video editor nowadays
Fri Jan 03 2014, 16:49

WELCOME to my first "defenestration diary". From now until the end of January, I have vowed to put aside all operating systems except Android and report on my progress. You can read more about it here. In today's report, the return to work after the Christmas break presents some challenges.

Wednesday, 1 January

Apart from checking Gmail and Chrome through my phone there's very little to do on the tech side today, though we do cast a film from Netflix to the television via Chromecast. I'm still in awe of this little dongle and can't believe that no one thought of something so simple before. The picture quality is phenomenal and ease of use is so simple that I can manage it, even in my brain fuddled, hungover state.

At around 8pm I remember that I have a very important email to draft and so dive into...

Thursday, 2 January

First day back at work. Set an alarm for BBC iPlayer Radio (free) to wake me to BBC 6Music, which it duly does, via a Phillips Fidelio AS111, a great little docking station with lousy software, hence I use the BBC's instead.

I'm used to having Skype (free) in a floating window. However, multitasking isn't great in Android and so I have to improvise, with Skype taking up my phablet - a Samsung Galaxy Mega i9205 running Android 4.4 Kitkat via a Cyanogenmod ROM - leaving the screen of the Asus Transformer Pad TF701T free for typing. The Asus is a wonder and a joy, which I shall document more next week.

Unfortunately, it quickly becomes clear that Skype for Android doesn't poll for new messages as quickly as its desktop counterpart, so my conversation with the office in London becomes quite stilted.

I write my first article of the day using Quickoffice. It's a bit fiddly switching between the press release and my work, but I manage.

None of the dropdowns in our CMS work. I literally can't file a story without them, and so the web browser quest is on. Chrome doesn't work, neither does the stock browser, Firefox, and Opera is no help, but then I finally stumble upon Dolphin Browser (free). Now to me, Dolphin is best known for supporting embedded Flash video when no other Android browser did. Will it help me too?

It takes a lot of fiddling. The cut and paste process in Android is like an alien world to me, but two hours and seven minutes after first trying, I am able to file my story. Dolphin does support the Javascript dropdowns intermittently, and doesn't even flinch at the pop-up windows that the CMS throws at it to render.

Apparently, Javascript might behave better with a more solid internet connection. Does Android even support an Ethernet connection? It turns out that the answer is yes. As soon as I connect the USB a hidden menu appears inviting me to configure the Ethernet connection, and it does help things, if only a bit.

I spend my evening taking on my first challenge, filming and editing a video. Filming was the easy bit - I had filmed the footage on my Samsung Galaxy Mega i9205 smartphone over Christmas, with some help from my long suffering partner.

I finally found an editing suite that did everything that I wanted it to do. Vivavideo (free) is beautifully simple to use, has a wide range of transitions, captioning and effects, but I should have read the comments field. It was only when I finished that I discovered that it had added a watermark and cut the video off at five minutes! I checked to see if there was a premium option to remove these limits, but seemingly not, so it's back to the drawing board.


A huge thank you for all your support and feedback on the experiment so far - it seems to have really captured the agile minds of The INQUIRER's readers. If you'd like to suggest a challenge to me, recommend an app or a piece of hardware that you think we and our readers should know about, you can tweet @INQ using the hashtag #INQAndroid, or use the Disqus comments below. I check them and respond to them when I can. µ


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