Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

This is Why I Like Android

It’s not so much about being able to listen to FM radio that I’m excited about. In fact, I don’t imagine I would do much of radio listening. (Perhaps it might be because I couldn’t previously, and now that I can, maybe I might start doing so.) It is about this newfound FM radio functionality on the Nexus One that was not marketed to have such a feature, and until today, I couldn’t use to listen to FM radio.

It is also about the trackball light, which was only white colour when the Nexus One was launched, now giving me a choice of a multitude of colours. It is about the same thing also happening with the LED light. Or the 802.11n support, albeit only at 2.4GHz, that although briefly appearing in the Google technical specifications when the Nexus One was announced, was officially not a supported feature the rest of the time.

Then, there is this wonderful thing about AVS (Adaptive Voltage Scaling). It’s a third party thing, not in any official ROMs, that automatically adapts the voltage supplied to the CPU according to demanded frequency and other operating parameters. The technology behind AVS is really cool. On the Nexus One, there is hardware included that can provide feedback about the operating voltage. Software can find out if the supplied voltage is insufficient or too much for the current operating conditions, and make continuous real-time adjustments to conserve power while yet preserving stability of the hardware.

All these features are created or introduced by the community, not from Google or from the hardware manufacturers. That’s what makes community-driven software development so fun.

Of course, let’s not forget the fact some of these features actually require support in hardware to be there in the first place. For example, surely you cannot make a multi-colour trackball if the trackball didn’t have the appropriate LEDs. It’s nice to know that there is more hardware in the box than the manufacturer officially states in their specifications. It reminds me of how my N97 comes with an orientation sensor even though Nokia never listed this in their technical specifications. It’s probably the case that Nokia didn’t list this feature because their software could not demonstrate or utilize the hardware. No point saying you have an orientation sensor when the phone software doesn’t use it eh?

I still have my qualms about Android’s “opensource-ness” and the good-evil bit about Google. But clearly, the freedom given to the community to improve, enhance, fix bugs, or otherwise modify the software makes Android a very exciting platform to use and work on.

In fact, I am so pleased with the CyanogenMod work that I felt compelled to give back something. The easiest way was to make a small donation at www.cyanogenmod.com. This is even better than shareware. Give whatever amount you like, or not at all.

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