How I got Amazon’s app store on my AT&T phone

AT&T doesn’t enable side-loading apps. They want you to go through their app marketplace. I’m sure it’s a control thing, but I’m a big boy, I can decide what I want to download and what I don’t. Since Amazon launched their Android App Store today, I thought get my phone (Samsung Captivate) enabled to run other apps. Even as one blog points out that it takes 8 steps, I’ll show you here that it’s worse for some! I found instructions here (or here) that were very helpful (follow the link on the 3rd post). In a nutshell, you root the phone, install busybox, copy the settings.db file to the sd card, move it to your computer and use an SQLite plugin to edit it, move it back to the phone and reboot. It was almost that simple. Rooting worked fine for me. I couldn’t get busybox installed. I even tried pulling it from another source and installing it manually. In any case, all you need from it is the “cp” (or copy) utility. I got around that using cat with redirect.

Once you get to the step where you’re supposed to copy files to the sd card, run these commands instead

cat /dbdata/databases/ >/sdcard/settings.db
cat /dbdata/databases/ >/sdcard/settings.db.backup

I found the SQLite plugin for Firefox easy to use. Once you copy the file back to the sd card, you’ll need to move it back to the system location, so use the same “cat” trick I used above.
Once you reboot, you’ll be able to follow the instructions on the Amazon site to download their app store app (and it will work now).
So, enjoy Angry Birds, or whatever other app of the day you grab. Oh, and we (the collective we) should probably buy a few apps to keep new apps coming!

iPhone ushers us back to heavy-weight apps

OK, if you can call an iPhone app, heavy weight… Just when you thought the rest of the cool apps would all run in a browser, here comes the iPhone. Before this, I thought mobile apps were pretty silly and too much of a pain to distribute. I tried my hand at J2ME, but the carriers have distribution of those really locked down and it is hard for anyone at a grass roots level to get a J2ME app distributed. All of the cool features require special signing certificates that are very carrier specific. (damn you, mobile carriers!!)
In comes the iPhone. Here is a mobile platform that offers a very consistent set of features and has a very large installed base. It has a huge cool factor (yes, even this long after it originally launched). The app store really changed the model for distributing mobile applications. Now, anyone (given a $99 entry fee) can become an iPhone developer. OK, I’m hearing people say $99 isn’t all, because you need to invest at least $1400 (rough figure) for a development box and device. This is exactly what I started with, and 20″ iMac and iPod touch. OK, but you don’t have to be anyone special to sign up, that’s the point. Anyone with about 1500 bucks and a little skill, creativity and ambition can become an iPhone developer. By all accounts, a lot of people have! 800 million app downloads to 30 million devices and 25,000 apps available in the app store! Holy cow! Now, that’s a markeplace! Developers keep 70% of the revenue. Good for Apple, good for us.
Today, I was watching a video on crunchgear about the NIN iPhone app and think this really drives home something I’ve been thinking about for a while. People don’t bother doing a really nice web app that runs on the iPhone, they write an iPhone app specifically for their service/movie/band, whatever. I recommend watching the video, just to see the really excellent integration of features on the iPhone and then in their regular web site. Very cool stuff!
I wonder, did the lack of Flash on the iPhone help boost iPhone apps? I certainly didn’t hurt. With Flash, there are a lot of developers who would have been ready to build apps sized for the iPhone. There would have been some really nifty, media-heavy/interactive apps built and deployed over the web (no need for the app store). The one thing that would have been missing is the tight integration with iPhone OS features. Things like geo-location, access to camera/photos/music, accelerometer, etc. I think Flash would have meant fewer native iPhone apps, but the native apps would have been built anyway.
I say, welcome back to the client applications! With a well-managed distribution/update system in place, client apps can be managed very easily. The app store does that reasonably well. I just hope I can build the next iShoot!