One day with Android 2.2 (Froyo) on the Dell Streak – better, but far from perfect
After the 2.1 update debacle, and a slightly misleading announcement a week ago, I finally received the OTA update to Android 2.2 this morning on my Dell Streak. Against all reason and sanity, I hit install and went for my breakfast, knowing full well I would spend the rest of the morning trying to fix my phone.
You know what they say about pessimists. They’re never disappointed.
Crash crash crash
As soon as the update finished applying, the Calendar Storage application crashed.
The application Calendar Storage (process.com.android.calendar) has stopped unexpectedly. Please try again.
I pressed Force stop. Then it crashed again. And again. And again.
After a short burst of expletives, I fired up my desktop and quickly found a solution: in between the storm of crashes and Force stop button-presses, I managed to get to Settings » Applications » Manage Applications » Calendar Storage and hit the Clear data button.
Update: In the comments, Phil notes that putting the phone into Airplane mode via the power button will temporarily halt the crashing so you can get to the Clear data button easier.
Part of the upgrade procedure is to use the new on-device backup application to backup your data and settings to the SD card, then restore them once the upgrade has finished. The restore didn’t restore everything it was supposed to, most notably my contact list. I didn’t bother troubleshooting this since all my contacts are synchronised from other sources anyway. In my opinion, not syncing contacts is a mug’s game, and I laugh cold-heartedly every time someone on my Facebook news feed pitifully cries out for phone numbers after losing their phone on a bus for the 5th time.
It also didn’t recreate my data connection. Restoring it was thankfully very simple: I went to Settings » Wireless & networks » Mobile networks » Access Point Names » hit the menu button » Restore to default. I’m guessing it pulls them off the SIM card.
No Outlook Calendar Sync
Of course, since synchronising is an important feature, no update would be complete without screwing it up in some way. After Dell dropped support for the Dell PC Suite (not surprising given the slightly shonky coding), they replaced it with a Dell-branded application from Nero called Dell Mobile Sync. At first, this seemed like a good thing: I’ve generally had nothing but good experiences with Nero software. Unfortunately, the desktop Outlook sync functionality has been utterly emasculated, losing support for To-Do, Notes, and Calendar syncing, as well as any way to synchronise automatically on a schedule.
Not impressed, Dell. NOT IMPRESSED.
Only contact syncing remains, and even that didn’t work properly on the first attempt.
I love useless error messages. A second attempt went off without a hitch, so I guess time will tell how reliable this turns out to be.
On the other hand, one of the features I was most looking forward to was native Exchange support, since I was too cheap to pay for Touchdown when I knew that 2.2 would make it largely redundant. Of course, it didn’t work properly: after putting in all my settings, I was met with a blistering unhelpful error of “Unable to open connection to server“.
It seems there are plenty of things that can trip up Exchange in 2.2, and almost all of them cannot be fixed unless you happen to be the Exchange admin for your organisation. Luckily for me, I am. In my case it was neither a problem with self-signed certificates (I have a certificate that Android recognises as valid), nor a problem with the EAS site accepting client certificates (apparently it has to be set to Ignore them). The eventual fix was more drastic:
- Remove the Android mobile devices affected from each users mailboxes in the EMC (Recipient Configuration » Mailbox » right-click on user » Manage Mobile Phone).
- Remove the Default (and any other ActiveSync) policy using EMS — Remove-ActiveSyncMailboxPolicy -id Default
- Set up the Android phones to sync and let them get past the initial synchronisation.
- Recreate the ActiveSync Policy and set it back to default. This will reapply the policy to all mailboxes.
I really hope I don’t have to do this every time…
Update: It turns out I don’t (at least not for this device) as I found out the very next day after writing this:
It continued to do this most days since, combined with a crash of the email application (com.android.email) until I finally worked out that the Dell Stage email widget was the culprit.
Aha, finally something that’s gone right. I can now authenticate to my WPA2-Enterprise wireless network! This worked on the very first attempt with minimal configuration using PEAP. In celebration, I finally retired the PSK SSID I was keeping around, as this was the last device I own that used it.
Stage UI drops its pants
A major UI addition in the 2.2 update for the Streak is the Dell Stage UI. Engadget’s review tells you pretty much all you need to know. It’s pretty enough, and after making an effort not to chuck it at the first opportunity, there are definitely bits of it I like. I didn’t like the Home widget, party due to the inaccurate weather data it insists on displaying, and partly because any full-screen widget on the first home screen obscures almost all of my nice background images. Whoever designed the Music widget also didn’t think too hard about how the Albums icon would look when you see the edge of it when on a right-adjacent home screen:
Now it looks like Lily Allen is mooning me. Thanks, Dell.
Still worth it
Overall, I’m happy with the update. There’s almost certainly something broken I haven’t found yet, but so far none of the problems were insurmountable, even if the crippled Outlook sync is disappointing. Still, the upgrade from Android 1.6 is a refreshing one, and overdue. Hopefully Dell have now learned their lessons and will be a bit more on the ball with the next update.