REVIEW: A Day (and Night) with Froyo on HTC Desire

Yesterday on Twitter I mentioned that some devs over on XDA have managed to get hold of a test version of Froyo for the Desire and now made it available to the public – link.  I managed to install it without issue, and after trying it out for a full day here’s a review of it!

NOTE: Click any of the images to view in full size

New Features

Even though there’s no massive new features, there were a few nice things I found useful:

270 degree rotation – before you could only rotate your phone anti-clockwise to view in landscape.  Now you can turn in clockwise and the screen will rotate in that direction too.

App Sharing – this an application which lets you recommend applications that you’ve installed to your friends.  It doesn’t actually send the app itself, but a link to the Market where the recipient can download and try the app.  I see this is as being a very handy feature for quickly sharing a new app I discover including a download link via Twitter.

WiFi Hotspot – this lets you turn your phone behave like a wireless router.  It shares the mobile internet you receive from your network with any wireless device that connects to your phone via WiFi.  You can set secuirty on the network so that you don’t get strangers connecting and using up your data allowance. Of course this is only useful if you receive fast mobile internet.
WiFi Hotspot

Flashlight – this app lets you use your phone as a torch with varying brightness settings, plus an option to make it flash or set it in SOS mode.

Flashlight

New look messaging application – It now always shows the characters you’ve used and the message number you’re on.  Plus there’s a little menu that slides in which quickly lets you attach various things to your message: Photos, Music, Contact card, Calendar event and slideshow.

New SMS Design
720p Video Recording – The new ROM now supports video recording at 720p (1280×720) resolution.  I tried recording a video on the train and it came out at 16FPS according to VLC.  I’m sure the rate varies according to the surrounding conditions though.

720P Recording

A few more things I won’t go into much detail about, and no doubt plenty more things which I’ve missed!

  • Talk looks a bit better
  • Plurk – additional social networking service which I hear is popular in Asia
  • Dedicated shortcut to Videos in the menu
  • Recent apps now shows 8 apps, and looks better

Applications to SD Card (A2SD)

I know a lot of people were waiting for this and it is included.

Although it saves the application to the SD card, part of it (the dalvik-cache I’m told) is still stored on the phone memory and as a result you’ll still see your internal memory going down though each app won’t occupy as much space as it did so you can still install a lot more applications.  Additionally, when you mount your phone to your computer in Disk Drive mode, your applications are temporarily unavailable until your dismount the phone from your computer – this makes sense considering that the SD card can only be accessed by one thing at the time, if your PC is using it then your phone can’t.  On top of that, any widgets that come with an app you’ve installed on your SD card will disappear when you connect as Disk Drive, and you need to restart your phone to restore them.

The workaround is to install essential apps to your phone (it’s very easy to move them between internal and SD memory) and extras to SD.  This way your required apps/widgets are still available when you mount your phone.  Hopefully HTC will make it so that widgets are refreshed when you unmount the phone.

Verdict – it works.  You will save space and be able to install more apps.  It does have the downside of being unable to access apps on SD when you connect as Disk Drive but as explained above that can’t be helped – it’s a hardware limitation.

A2SD

The ability to move an app between SD and phone storage

Speed

Bear in mind that I already found my Desire really fast.  With this new update it does seem a bit faster and quicker to respond.  It opens apps a wee bit quicker too.  Flicking through homescreens doesn’t lag, and scrolling up and down the pages of applications is very smooth.  Tried loading up a couple of games on Snesoid and that seemed VERY responsive too.  In the web browser I tried loading up this site and it was the quickest I’ve seen it load up on my phone!

Battery Life

I used the phone a lot more than usual today:

  • made quite a few calls varying between 5-25 minutes
  • Played Earthworm Jim and F-Zero for an hour
  • Read a book on Laputa for an hour
  • Connected to mobile internet (no WiFi at work) to browse sites and test browser speed
  • Checking 11 email accounts regularly
  • Checking Twitter regularly
  • Generally playing around with this new ROM

The amount of battery left is a similar amount (22%) to what I used to get on 2.1, but the difference being I used the phone more than normal today.  Also bear in mind that being on a train for 2 hours uses more battery because of it constantly losing network due to tunnels and going through rural areas where the phone is trying to find reception.  The battery life would be even better if I put it in Airplane mode during the commute or on a weekend when I’m more likely to have a reception.

Adobe Flash

Remember, Flash 10.1 is an add-on for Froyo, and it also isn’t officially out yet.  It’s still in beta.  I tried two sites: mochigames (site dedicated to phone optimised Flash games) and BBC iPlayer (you get redirected to the mobile version of the site).  For both sites the content loaded up very quickly.  The games were very smooth on mochi, and the iPlayer video was played without any skips at good quality.  The only downside was that after a couple of minutes and lot of clicking the content did seem to become less responsive to screen-touches.

Chrome-to-Phone

Something I personally found very useful for quickly viewing websites on my phone.  It basically lets you send information from your computer to your phone at the click of a button.  For example, I found a site that contains Flash games and wanted to view it on my Desire.  All I had to do was click the little button pictured below in Firefox, and the link appeared on the Desire within seconds for me to open and view in the phone’s Internet browser.  You can also use it to send image links from your browser, or to send map locations that you have open in Google Maps on your computer.

It works on Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.  There’s a bit of setup required but it’s very easy and only takes a couple of minutes – I’ll post up a guide in the near future.

Chrome-To-Phone IconChrome-To-Phone

Summary

I’m very impressed with this new software update!  Considering that it’s just a test version means that the final version will be even better with optimisations and extra tweaks making it smoother and quicker than it already is!

It adds quite a few new features, performs well and I can honestly say that it’s lived up to my expectations.  Also, looking at how stable this test version actually is I have to credit HTC for being so quick to get a Sense version of Froyo within a couple of weeks of it’s official release for the Nexus One and hope that the final version isn’t too far off.

Finally, credits go out to udK who got hold of this leaked ROM and made it available for people to download and install!

If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments or via email.
If you want to install this and try for yourself then you’ll need a rooted phone and to follow these instructions