Thursday, May 27, 2010

A killer Android app

I've been running the Vanilladroid firmware for my HTC Eris for a few weeks now. Beside the phone spontaneously rebooting itself every few hours, its run great, and with built in wifi tethering.

Tonight it proved potentially fatal for one young man. While walking home it appeared like I interupted a mugging near HacDC. The victim was being kicked by a man who ran away as I got closer. He was laying sprawled out on the concrete, face right on the sidewalk and shirt ripped off. I pulled out my phone, hit the icon for Dialer One (which comes with Vanilladroid), dialed 911, dial key, and... nothing. Dial key again, nothing. Checked, it says 911 in the number box, but the app isn't dialing it. I closed the app and tried again, notta. I can't believe it would refuse to dial 911 so I hard reset the phone and try again, still the dialer just sits there as I press the dial key.

I finally had to go on the web, look up the number for Dc Police, and have them transfer me to 911.

I take partial blame for not looking into this app and switching it out sooner. Hopefully Google removes it before someone dies while trying to call for help.


HyperHacker said...

I suppose it was waiting for you to press OK on a popup window that never appeared. This is why phone functionality needs to be low-level and un-interruptible. If I press 9, 1, 1, send, it needs to initiate a call no matter what the rest of the software is doing.

Too Smart Guys said...

So, because you used a Third-party application, that is neither screened, tested nor approved by Google/HTC, you're blaming them? Thats like blaming Yamaha for the making the engine in your Acura, that let you reach 120 mph before you hit a wall.

You're also not using Google's and/or HTC's intended firmware on your phone, but rather an apparently buggy custom firmware. Thats like drinking moonshine and complaining to Jack Daniel's that it made you blind.

You accepted that you were running two thoroughly unvetted items, and now are complaining. Also, I'm sure the default Phone application was included in Vanilladroid. The combination of your lack of thought, the lack of vetting and the overall lack of Google or HTC's input in YOUR choice of systems and applications does not a case for removal make. Only makes the case that you should have read up on what you were doing and realized that its not their problem if you choose something that they don't control.

Arc Riley said...

Dialers available on the app store should be screened by Google to ensure they comply with US laws. Either that, or we need to start building Android distributions (similar as we do for Linux) which serve the purpose of checking apps on a community basis. Every phone owner should not have to dial "911" to see if it works, not to mention this would be a problem for emergency centers nationwide.

I'm using VanillaDroid because its the only firmware image I could find for this phone that did not include HTC's horrendously slow and often incompatible "improvements" to Android.

The only thing HTC is guilty of in this picture is calling it an "Android" phone and not telling buyers, "oh, yea, we replaced a large portion of Android with what we think you'll like more".

shantanu said...

@Arc: The dialer is written by a non-US guy (czeck) so he might not have known about 911. Plus the android market is for the world, not just US..
BTW< did you file a bug report with the developer?

shantanu said...

btw i just checked dialing 911 from dialerone and it invokes the regular phone dialer to dial it (probably all short codes) so that is the reason why it didn't work for you.. So, blame your custom rom builder..

Corey said...

"Dialers available on the app store should be screened by Google to ensure they comply with US laws."

What laws would apply to such a piece of software?

What did you expect from an application that doesn't have a license? If you were to check the DialerOne home page you might be able to find this information.

When you chose to run software that comes with no guarantees, the custom rom, and the custom dialer. You must accept the consequences of your choices.

It's irresponsible to ask the 'Government' to become responsible for your choices.

Trung said...

"I'm using VanillaDroid because its the only firmware image I could find for this phone that did not include HTC's horrendously slow and often incompatible "improvements" to Android."

So you chose "spontaneously rebooting" over slow version from HTC? Also, it seems that your app choice is no more "compatible" to Android than that's chosen by HTC

Too Smart Guys said...


DialerOne (like most dialers on the marketplace) pushes you to the phone app for USDD and other carrier and region specific codes and "short numbers"

Also, how is a Vanilladroid any better than HTC's sense framework (which can be disabled just by using a different launcher) if it reboots randomly? All applications on the Marketplace are built only for stock android and only work on other implementations if stated or if you're lucky

Arc Riley said...

@Corey; I know its hard to understand the difference sometimes, but Google is not the US Government. Your reply is the first time 'government' appears in this thread.

@Too Smart Guys; HTC's Sense is not just a Home replacement, but a pretty radical replacement for most of the UI including the keyboard. For example, apps which allow alternative keyboards as I require do not work on HTC phones unless you replace the firmware. When someone buys an "Android" phone, they expect to find the Android OS on it.

Too Smart Guys said...

Actually, the sense UI is in the end a home replacement."Sense" is only active when using the sense launcher, since everything else cannot access the ROSIE framework, which is a layer ON TOP of Android. Further, if you're running a 2.0r2 or higher firmware (stock or not) you can run a 3rd party keyboard even on sense.

You do have an android phone, no one said it'd look or feel like an adroid. Just work like one.

ps. the keyboard is not sense, its just HTC's IMI verse the google one.

JPorter said...

I contacted the developer directly shortly after this blog post was published.

He responded finally today with this:

"Thank you i contacted with author. Problem was in custom ROM. I fixed this behavior. Now all works fine.

Yermek Zhumagulov

I hope this helped some... best of luck to you.