Samsung Galaxy Ace: Getting the Android Market to Work in Turkey & More

Android Market in TurkeySo, how disappointed would you be to find out that your Android phone doesn’t have the Android Market? It’s crazy isn’t it? It’s like iPhone without the App Store, and doesn’t really matter what alternatives there are, because there’s nothing better than the real Market in Android. And this post isn’t related to Turkey only, I guess it works for any other country that’s blocked the Android Market for one reason or another.

I’m now on a work-related trip in Istanbul and my colleagues here are literally obsessed with Macs (yes, I now have one too, but that’s another blog post) and of course they’re iPhone users. A Samsung Galaxy Ace has been bought to the Istanbul office a few weeks ago, and the peeps here were like “wha? what the hell is this?”. We figured it had some Samsung store with 4 apps that you can get, and no sign of the original Android Market. After googling and tweeting, tonnes of posts came up from people with the same kind of problems, most of them were suggesting to root the phone.

Rooting the Samsung Galaxy Ace is quite simple for anyone to handle just in a few downloads and mouse clicks, but the good news is that you don’t have to!

Eventually we figured out this was not a Samsung problem, but the problem with Turkey and the Android Market in general, and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to trick your Samsung phone into thinking it’s from somewhere else rather than Turkey. Ready?

Type: *#272*IMEI#*, of course replacing IMEI with your phone’s IMEI number. To get your IMEI simply type *#06# or look behind the battery on your phone. After typing that first combination, your Samsung Galaxy should give you a choice of country regions, so go ahead and pick CET to make it “worldwide”. Please note that after doing this, there’s a big chance that your phone will wipe clean, meaning that you’ll loose all the data on the phone, and probably some from the SD card, this is like a “factory settings” reset, so make sure you backup before you do that.

The same trick will work on the Samsung Galaxy S and probably the S2. Might also work on other Samsung phones, but unlikely on devices from other manufacturers like HTC. Their “change region” code is probably different, but you can easily figure out by searching.

So, apologies to Samsung for thinking they were promoting their own market by removing the original one, and yes, with all the cool apps out there in the Android Market, you can make your Samsung Galaxy Ace look (and behave in some sense) like the Google Nexus One and S. Yes, the first thing I downloaded from the Market were the Nexus S live wallpapers ;)

Cheers to and from Istanbul! And don’t forget to retweet this if you find it useful.

Feeding My Mind with Feedly for Android

Feedly for AndroidA few weeks ago Feedly for Android was released, first in beta, then in the Android Market. I’ve been running around with it for a few days now and today I’d like to tell you about it. If you’re here for the short story, three words — I love it!

I’ve been using Feedly ever since it became popular I guess. Bugs, glitches, but okay, it was a cool interface on top of Google Reader and the folks at Feedly have done a great job at keeping it up to date and working in Chrome and Chromium, so yeah, I was wondering when I’d see the Android version, and then finally they spoke about it. I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to see it in the Market and then bam!.

As much as I was familiar with the Feedly interface on my PC, it took me some time to get around on the Android app, and their getting started tours were fascinating. I especially loved the horizontal scrolling featured, never seen such a thing before, it was quite unusual, and probably risky for Feedly to do that. But hey, Feedly for Android was nominated Gizmodo App of the Day so I guess it was all worthed ;)

So now I’m tweeting my stories from both my PC and my Android, though it takes one click to share a story on my Feedly for Chromium, but it takes three taps to share one on my mobile, and that is one thing that should definitely be fixed, because the “like” and “save” buttons at the bottom make no sense to me. A share (on Feedly and Google Reader) just like in the desktop version would make my stories automatically drive to Twitter, with one tap. Oh I’d really, really love that!

And if you were wondering what app I used to read my feeds before — Google Reader, of course ;)

Review: Nexus One, Android & Software Freedom

The first time I mentioned I wanted a Nexus One phone was on January 21st, 2010. That’s almost a year ago and I was ready to trade in my iPhone for a Google phone. This Christmas I made myself a present and got that Nexus One from some “not so legal” Internet store here in Moscow. I guess they’re (Nexus One & Nexus S) not yet or ever will be certified for the Russian market, so I had a hard time finding one, but I did, and I’m glad I did.

I was an iPhone 3G user for over a year and was quite satisfied with everything that it offered. I didn’t jailbreak it, updated the iOS frequently and used the free applications from the App Store. That’s right, I never spent a cent on software for my iPhone, since most applications had an ad-driven free version available, and I’m quite greedy — I can’t remember the last time I payed for software.

I opened up the Nexus One box and figured that Facebook and Twitter applications were pre-installed, gorgeous! So I instantly tweeted, and posted a photo and the fact that it has a flashlight surprised me. I then found out it came with a 4GB SD card, which is awesome. Yeah, my iPhone had 16 gigs but you can get a 16 GB SD card for around $130 when you run out of the 4GB.

Next up was my e-mail and contacts. Honestly I was a little scared here, since as soon as I added my Gmail account, my phone had all my contacts, and not only! It linked my Twitter and Facebook contacts to my Google ones, and then I installed Skype, and there too, everything was linked and merged, so there’s no longer copying contacts from SIM cards, syncing by connecting to your PC and what not. This is definitely more user-friendly than Apple, way to go Google. And there’s more! When I started texting, Google’s dictionary recognized all the names from my contacts, so I never had to spell my or my girlfriend’s last name again — input three letters and voila!

Then I took a few hours to explore the Android Market. I never knew they had such a place, which could have made me miss my iPhone, but they did, and it was quite easy to navigate around, since it looked very much like the App Store on iPhone. I didn’t try the paid apps but I did give a go at a few dozen free and ad-driven ones, including Angry Birds ;) The Market syncs very well, giving instant applications updates when they’re available.

Next thing to surprise me was Google Voice Recognition, they got their TV ads running around here in Russia. It’s not as good as the TV says, but they get most of the stuff right. There are some language configurations which have to be done in order to recognize both English and Russian. I got that working when writing text, but not Google Voice Search, which keeps giving me junk in English when I speak Russian. Anyways, that’ll be fixed I’m sure.

Battery. Definitely better than the iPhone 3G here, and could be boosted even better with some utilities from the Market. Just make sure you don’t have Sync, Wifi and 3G turned on when you don’t really need them. Multimedia? Ah you’ll love Android if you’d like to read books, watch videos or listen to music, iPod? Meh!

Below is a list of applications that I, as a novice Android user recommend. Some might be pre-installed on your phone. Can’t get you direct links to these, but searching by names in the Android Market will get you going:

  • Foursquare — obviously!
  • Google Reader — still waiting for Feedly for Android, but this is okay I guess.
  • Chrome to Phone — I don’t use it much, but certainly a time-saver.
  • Dropbox — sync files and multimedia to the cloud.
  • ConnectBot — an easy to use SSH/telnet client. Good way to reboot your servers when in the metro ;)
  • Adobe Reader — books save you from being bored.
  • MySettings — quickly turn on and off stuff like sync, wifi, rotate and other settings.
  • OI File Manager — surely one of the best file managers for Android.
  • Thinking Space — create neat mindmaps on the fly and export them to various formats to email, Dropbox, etc.
  • WordPress — of course, it’s where I’m writing this post from ;)

There are also a bunch of interesting widgets, one of which is the Google Analytics Widget that can display pageviews or visitors directly on your home screen. Nice thing to check out waking up in the morning haha ;)

So anyways, the bottom line is yeah — I fell in love with Android. I’m not really looking forward to getting the Nexus S model, although I believe it’s better than Nexus One, and it’s been to outer-space too, but Nexus One is really a first, so I’ll sell that for a couple of thousand after a couple of decades. Besides, I think HTC’s better than Samsung anyway ;)

Google Unveils Nexus S and Android Gingerbread

I couldn’t go without posting this great video of the new Nexus S phone from Google. Boy I love Google’s video marketing! And Nexus? Ah, I’m still excited about Nexus One and now bam! The new generation Nexus S phone is out, and Gingebread! Holy shmoly, Android’s taking over the world ;)

Read more at the official Google Mobile blog: Introducing Nexus S with Gingerbread

Google Developer Day Moscow 2010

It’s been a good Friday last week, although I was a little bit late for the show. The event was held in Crocus City Hall in Moscow, which is quite wicked unless you drive there by car. Google Developer Day Moscow 2010, we all waited so long for it (one whole year actually) and it turned out to be… fascinating, as usual!

Starting early morning we got some coffee (which I was late for) and took our place in the main hall for the keynote by Eric Tholome and Gene Sokolov and a few other speakers who introduced their sections: Chrome & HTML5 was amazing, 2d and 3d graphics, filesystem API and hardware access, thus – speech recognition, device orientation and more. Chrome Web Store is coming soon (developer preview available). Cloud Computing with the new AppEngine for Business, plus a short introduction to Spring Roo. The Android introduction was quite boring. Other sections (Monetization and Social Web) didn’t get their five minutes during the keynote.

After that we all went out to have some fun, drank coke, played MindBall, PS3 and air hockey. This part turned out to be much more exciting than last year ;) and then came the presentations. I’ll list below the ones I’ve been at, others were promised to be listed on Google Code Blog.

Google Web Toolkit

Fred Sauer (@fredsa) gave us yet another short intro to GWT, mentioned again that the Google AdWords interface is built completely using their toolkit which is wonderful. Yeah, we heard that last year, did anything change? Well yeah, Fred spoke a little bit more about Spring Roo and then off to Eclipse. We’ve seen Eclipse last year too, but it seems that they made some improvements on the Google Plugin for Eclipse and introduced Speed Tracer which is quite exciting.

We went once more through the features of GWT, a brief GWT 2.1 introduction and yet another MVP presentation (for the ones that missed it last year).

This whole presentation made me install Eclipse immediately. I downloaded and installed the Google Plugin with AppEngine and GWT enabled, I switched my workspace to PyDev, created a new Google AppEngine Hello-World project, hit Deploy to AppEngine and bang! It told me that Eclipse cannot deploy my project to AppEngine since it’s not an AppEngine project. What? Goodbye Eclipse, see you next year! ;)

AppEngine for Business

I miseed the first “What’s new in AppEngine” topic by Fred, but Patrick Chanezon (@chanezon) outlined some of the exciting bits in his topic. Patrick introduced us to AppEngine for Business: SLA, Support, Hosted SQL, Custom Domain SSL and Enterprise Admin Console (sounds awesome, doesn’t it) – but yet again, I’m not that keen on trying it, especially with the feeling that they’ve done everything right, but only for Java, while Python is lacking behind. I’m okay with the current console and limitations, so thank you Google ;)

Once again, we’ve been told about Eclipse, the Google Plugin for Eclipse and how easy it is to deploy an application to AppEngine (Java, *sigh*). Patrick then gave us a short intro to the Google Apps Marketplace and took questions, which were mostly about feeds, comissions, etc.

VC Investment for Your Company

This was quite interesting with Ilya Ponomarev (@iponomarev) and Don Dodge (@dondodge) on stage. They discussed doing business in Russia, startups, business incubators and Skolkovo Innovation Center. Surprisingly Ilya mentioned Timothy Post (@timothypost) and Runet Labs as the ones launching Techstars in Russia.

Ilya and Don took many questions, most of which were either boring, or from journalists ;) At the end of the session, Don disappeared and Ilya gathered a group outside in the main hall and spent another hour answering questions (some of which were silly again). But yeah, it’s good to hear that stuff like this is at least being discussed. A good quote from Don about looking for VC investment in your startup:

One person can have a delusion. But if three people are crazy, okay, we’ll give you the money!

Don Dodge at Google Developer Day Moscow 2010

Well, that’s quite it! At the end of all the sessions we got Google Developer Day and Google Chrome t-shirts, beer and wine, again, this seems to be a tradition. I’ve gathered a Twitter list of people I met, heard about and seen at Google Developer Day, you can find it right over here: @kovshenin/gddru – feel free to poke me if there’s somebody I forgot to add to that list.

Anyways, it’s been a great day, hope to be there next year!