April 14, 2010

695 words 4 mins read

Wow, Android on an AT&T Tilt (HTC TyTN II)

My AT&T Tilt, picture taken before it was beat to shit for several years.

So I’ve been doing a bunch of Android development as of late. However, amusingly enough I don’t actually have an Android device. I bought a G1 for work the day it came out. I kept crashing it and was fairly disappointed with the unit and Android in general. For a short time it was my primary device, then I gave up using it and stuck it on a shelf. Later it got shipped to another employee who’s currently using it as his primary device (and has been for some time now). As I can’t steal it back, I’ve been really jonesing for something that runs Android. My desire, of course, was for something new and shiny like the Nexus One. Of course, the Nexus One is also $500 making it a little pricey for an “off the cuff” decision.

Well while I was mulling over the idea of buying a device, I remembered hearing about people who’d installed Android onto all sorts of different devices. Most of the devices they’ve managed to port Android to have been HTC devices, which is great for me because my last few WiMo devices (before I went to the iPhone darkside) were HTC units. After a few minutes of searching I managed to dig out my old AT&T Tilt (aka HTC TyTN II, aka Kaiser) from years gone by and surprisingly enough, it even powered on. I must admit, of all the phones I’ve had (and believe you me, I’ve had many) and played with, the AT&T tilt was by far my favorite device. I don’t know what exactly it was, but the unit was well built (it managed to survive two years of me), the keys were well placed, the keyboard worked great (until I wore out the left half of it) and the tilt functionality was actually quite nice. But enough of that, there is Android to be done!

After several hours of googling and fighting, I found a good series of instructions and downloads that worked. I’ll explain it briefly:

What works? What doesn’t? Well according to the port status page, basically everything works. As for me, most of the “useful” stuff doesn’t. I can make and receive phone calls, but have no sound. I, in fact, have no sound period. Wifi also doesn’t work and I don’t think Bluetooth does either. Overall, it is kinda slow — CPU wise. The graphics slide around all nice like, but it really struggles to keep up from the CPU side. Seeing as how 2.1 is running on devices like the Nexus One with 1Ghz Snapdragons, and the Tilt has a 400mhz processor… it’s making a valiant effort.

All that being said, I just got it up and running. I’ve really got no idea what I’m doing. Normally I’m not much of a hardware (at least on the phone level) type hacker. I’m sure in the next few days when I’ve got more time I’ll do more tinkering. Hopefully, I can get the device mostly working (Editor’s note: Does that mean it is mostly dead, which is of course slightly alive, right now?). I honestly don’t care about having it be a fully functional device; the iPhone isn’t going anywhere. Really, all I want is something I can play with and possibly load the Wikinews Reader onto for testing. Though, should it get more functional, I’ll report what I did and how I did it so others can follow. Right now the biggest obstacle for most tech savvy people is crappy documentation (as per usual). Those docs above took me hours to put together, in the “proper” combination.