After some initial concerns about if this process requires Windows — and it does — I managed to install a modified Android to my aging HTC Legend. The end result is excellent especially given that the manufacturer has not updated operating system for almost two years.
To do the modification, I followed the instructions in this link.
The good thing is that HTC has opened the process of unlocking your phone’s bootloader. You no longer need to format a special SD card (a “gold card”) with hex editors or such — which was slightly difficult to begin with. The somewhat less fortunate thing is that these tools by HTC require a real computer with Windows. No tinkering with a virtual computer on Mac OS X seemed to help here.
Somewhat ironically, getting a Windows to run turned to be the most time-consuming part. I finally decided to let go of my six-year old Asus Mini laptop, where Windows XP installs and runs but not very fast. Therefore, the above tools — including the unlocker as well as a programme called HTC Sync which is essential for communications — took two to three hours to install albeit they did their tasks eventually.
After that, however, all went fluidly. I won’t repeat the instructions above as they worked fine.
During the past few days, I have been very happy to have a modified Android for several reasons:
- The phone runs slightly faster especially with the Launcher Pro interface.
- More memory is now available as most programmes can be installed on the SD card and there seems to be little software that is “enforced” (unlike before). I installed a couple of games I would not have before and even bought my first game for the phone (Canabalt HD) — I never felt like buying before even after having it for 2.5 years.
- The phone now has a much more modern operating system and software (e.g. Youtube, browsers, games).
- There are new ring tones and themes, which makes the phone feel new.
- The operating system shall be updated also in the future.
- It was a good opportunity to learn about how Android works.
All in all, I am satisfied with going through this process. It is good to be in control of your own phone that you use all the time. And excluding the two afternoons I spent doing this also with help of a friend, all of this was for free (and legit). As Christmas approaches, television and newspapers are bombarding us with advertisements about new tabs and smart phones. No doubt they would be glad to supply me with one if I pay. However, my old HTC just got an extension probably for many years. For many practical purposes, it feels like a new phone. Rather than buying new phone and throwing the old out with garbage, I could for instance buy quite a many games from the App Store with the money I just saved. Or save money to travel, for instance.
Just a few caveats should be mentioned. The operating system or maybe the launcher is slightly buggy, does odd things every once in a while (restarts, loses icons), and the whole phone had to be rebooted once. Similar glitchiness is true for the picture gallery (which is nice other wise). Also, the battery life has not improved, but it was pretty bad to begin with. I may just have to change the battery. Anyway these are minor caveats — for the bugs, they are something one accepts when running experimental software.