Stephen Hyde (aka DJ_Steve) is a name that every Dell Streak owner should know. He's the guy behind the unofficial Froyo (Android 2.2) ROM that many of us have been enjoying on our devices; without him, we'd all be running Eclair (Android 2.1) at best, Donut (Android 1.6) at worst, and biding our time until Dell rolled out an update.
With the new Froyo V1 ROM, Stephen brings the Streak to where it should have been upon release. And he's done so at an alarming pace. In a little over a week, he's released three updates to the build, which is now out of beta.
Stephen was kind enough to offer me a quick Q&A session last week, so I emailed him a list of questions that I thought would be of interest to Streak Smart readers. Check out his answers below.
How long have you been developing ROMs?
I've been playing with Android porting since version 0.9 and have worked on porting to the HTC TyTN II and HTC Polaris (Touch Cruise). I also still work slightly on the NITDroid project to port Android to the Nokia N800, N810, and N900.
How many hours have you spent on the Froyo ROM for the Streak so far?
Far too many! Probably a good 100+ hours to get it to the v3 beta release. I also do this around my main job, which strangely has nothing at at all to do with computers or mobile devices. I just have a lot of free time around it to work on things.
Why did you take it upon yourself to develop it?
I got tired of trying to fix issues in Dell's 1.6 and 2.1 builds, so I decided to just go all out and jump up to 2.2 myself. I think I've done a better job than Dell will do if/when they actually release the OS that I believe the Streak should have started life using.
What has been the most challenging aspect of the work so far?
Actually getting the device to boot properly without random errors. Getting sound and some other items working took some extra time too.
You've been releasing new builds at a rapid pace. Are you constantly thinking of ways to improve them (i.e., are you already thinking of the next version immediately after you release a build)?
That's the unfortunate thing about me. I'm almost never happy with something. Performance and battery life were my primary targets for the first few releases. When those were better, I moved on to trying to sort out the niggling issues with Android Market, etc. I'm satisfied enough that there are no serious bugs in V1 now, but I don't know if that means the pace of updates will slow down.
What are your future plans for the Froyo ROM?
My main target hopefully is to possibly keep two ROMs going: one stock vanilla (dev of V1) and a CyanogenMod version that will likely be built up from scratch. That is going to take time due to the way Dell has used a lot of non-standard layouts and interfaces on Streak.
Other than those layouts and interfaces, is there anything unique about developing for the Streak versus developing for other Android devices?
The Streak is not a very popular device, so the community is fairly small compared to the likes of HTC and Nokia Internet Tablet devices. The feeling of community you get from Streak users feels a lot closer. People seem more passionate about the Streak and want to make it perform as best as it can.
What do you need from the community to help you take the ROM where you want it to go?
Any help from other Android devs is always appreciated as it lessens my workload somewhat. Donations are always welcome; I am looking to get some other devices to examine the code, etc. and test items on the Streak. Bug reports are, of course, a needed requirement of any ROM.
Has Dell been in touch with you about this ROM?
I have had some contact with Dell regarding the Streak but nothing directly aimed at the ROM itself.
Is the Streak your primary phone?
No, the Nokia N900 is my primary device. My Streak is on a data-only contract with O2 due to its size and the expense.