Android PlanetAs mentioned yesterday, I’ve been dealing with a sick kid for the past few days. Not a lot of free arms to play with much when you’re repurposed from human being to an infant bed and feeding station.

TL;DR this is just some reminiscing about five years in modern phones while I attempt to catch up at work for the couple of days I was just off (one for the sick baby, one for me as I hadn’t slept).

I had one project I wanted to do recently which was to remove my Nexus 9 running Android N preview from its duty as a baby sound machine and instead take one of the two EVO 4Gs I still own (one’s on loan oddly,) and make it make the speaker near baby make the raindrop and running water sounds that knock her out in two minutes flat.

I wanted to do this because if I move the Nexus any closer to where it might be usable, the bluetooth kicks out. I’m pretty sure there’re major issues with Android N bluetooth, I don’t think it’s my equipment.

I found out that I could no longer use the EVO 4G without a MICRO-SD card to install apps on because the default apps included with the system now were larger than the entire internal memory of the device.

Oh, I uninstalled all the updates I could, but still couldn’t install a 94 meg application. I needed a lot more storage and a 512MB partition would allow for.

Five and a half years ago I entered the Android ecosystem with the above HTC EVO 4G and Cupcake. This grudgingly after I had a Windows 6.5 phone short while in a shirt pocket and try to defibrillate me. Well, I mean it shocked my chest so hard I still sort of feel it.

I was happy with that phone, it gave me internet to my laptop, I had a GPS dongle I’d borrowed, I could navigate using it as long as I had an inverter, a laptop, a charging cable, the GPS dongle, the Internet app didn’t crash, etc. It took up the passenger seat, but meh, it was cool. Internet on the road.

I’ve got to admit. I liked what I saw when the EVO came out. It was the first Android experience I had that was enjoyable. I’d played with it and an iPhone before, never really cared for either and the phone I’d played with Android on was by today’s terms not even worth a penny.

But it had potential. Potential that was being squashed by most of the major carriers and manufacturers with their bloatware and badly tested updates. Remember when we lost the ability to use Google Navigation for over a year on the HTC 4G LTE? Still uncertain who caused it as nobody stepped forward to do anything other than offer other products as solutions.

When Chrome To Phone came out the IT department at my wife’s work was overjoyed that finally there was a way to get information from Chrome, to your phone. Of course now that’s integrated into the Chrome browser.

Google Voice and carrier integration with Sprint seemed to be the next big thing, but it looks like one or the other of the parties wandered away and Hangouts looked to be the future of Voice and SMS.

Two years on since that announcement I still have to use Google Voice to send text messages to certain people, carrier integration somehow got in a fight with Hangouts making SMS useless in some situations.

Cloud services rose like that $7 balloon you just got for your toddler who let it be free the instant it was in her hand. Dropbox, Facebook sync, Google Photos, everything showed up to get your data off the phone instantly because it seemed the important thing to do.

Root applications and ideas steadily made their way into Android code, along with more and more elaborate efforts to defeat rooting by exploit means (really, if you can one-click root a device it’s probably going to get malware from hell,) to the point we have very secure-sounding security. It’s still breakable, but by fewer and fewer people.

I remember a long time ago seeing multiwindow Android. Halo was a root app that did it beautifully, and a clunky multiwindow implementation will be rolling out with Android N soon enough. It’ll probably only be for tablets I’m guessing, except in the root world.

Carriers have been allowed to lie about coverage, purchase testing results, install spyware on their customer’s phones… pretty much the entire time. You’d have thought that the FCC would crack down on some of the bogus claims, or lawsuits would gain traction, but not really.

All devices got more sensors, more radios, more bands, more storage, more complications, more frustration, and that third thing I can never think of that would really make a great point here just for tempo and to hammer it home.

Cameras got better, worse, better, worse, and better again. HTC really did come out with something amazing with the Ultrapixel, but it required a different approach to photography. Abandoned, re-adopted, we’ll see how it works. Their 3D was pretty cool, but the color reproduction was so bad that I, a colorblind individual, could see it was bad.

Most of us now hold in our hands a 4K video recorder, a computer faster than anything on the market ten years ago, a boombox in some cases, a video player, an internet connection faster than required (*your carrier excluded,) the ability to videoconference with most of the planet, and a device that can track everything you do and really isn’t as secure as people want you to think.

When I started out in Android the thought of watching a movie via Netflix was sort of beyond the realm of possibility, and then it happened. The idea of broadcasting an event happening right now live to the world was reserved for networks, until Periscope happened and anyone could be a live news source.

I can change the channel with my phone, order a pizza with a text, group video chat with a ton of friends, remote video into a business conference, see my heart rate using the camera, navigate to places unknown while getting real time traffic updating and re-routing.

Details of my commute are shared (if I choose,) and my suffering helps others to not, and vice versa.

It’s now to the point I can do anything on the phone I can do on my computer, except play games comfortably. On screen controls are terrible, exterior controllers are good, but trying to watch a 5 inch screen without a phone-holding-hat or something still remains annoying.

Fingerprint scanners can unlock your phone with a touch, you can pay with your phone at so many places it’s insane, you can find where loved ones are, emulate another OS, or run a website off of your phone that’s completely accessible but hidden behind the TOR network.

That last part’s where things start getting interesting. With the right tools you can walk into a coffee shop, connect to your private VPN service over their WiFi, and download torrents to your heart’s content without leaving a trail.

Or coffee shop, VPN, TOR, and threaten people with near complete anonymity. The level of anonymity one can walk around with committing acts that are nearly untraceable is astounding. That the founder of The Silk Road was caught still is mind boggling (must have been sampling product,) and it still took an incredible series of “wtf, man”s in order for him to be caught two years ago.

Now we’re in the era of VR. I’ve got to say everything I witnessed headset-wise at CES looked like hot garbage on a stick, however I didn’t get to play with the major player’s headset. Your milage may vary.

What’s to come? Cheap garbage followed by neat things. New uses for unlimited anonymity and publicity. More of the selfie generation? Who knows. What my phone can do now is better than most of what I dreamed of during my childhood, but it still all seems so primitive, obvious. Foundation, not pinnacle.