Some welcome relief upgrade Android…Fail

From a day of dealing with legal agreement, high stakes discussions and generally stressful stuff.
Let’s take something simpler. Upgrade a random T-mobile Android device to the latest release. I’m way too use to the iPhone ecosystem where there is an update system for all of this. Instead with Android, devices come out and then they don’t get upgrades, so you are then relying on folks to take the open source Android and port them to your machine. The one in question is a T-mobile phone and here is how to do it:

  1. Figure out the model number. It is basically impossible to figure out the model number of random phones. They don’t put the model numbers on them anymore on the case. Probably because they are updating all the time. In this device’s case is the logo, Samsung Galaxy S. So you’d think that was the model. In fact, the way to do it is to go to Setting/Model Number and then you see it is actually an SGH-T959.
  2. Next you have to figure out the latest release of android. Unlike most things, a google query doesn’t do it. You in fact get a hit for Android Jelly Bean 4.1 (the lastest is 4.2). The easiest way to figure it out is to google Android Wikipedia and then wade through what looks like advertising copy to finally get to the releases at the bottom. In this case it is 4.2.x
  3. Now you need to figure out how to get it to the latest official release. In this case there is a Samsung site and they have something called Kies which does update. They support only up to Froyo, the 2.2 release.

So how do you get beyond that to the latest jelly bean 4.2.1? You need to install a user mod to do this. There seem to be a bunch of different flavors. CyanogenMod seems to be the thing to use:

  1. Root your SGH-T959 so you can do all the difficult installs.
  2. Install Busybox which is required for the backup tools to modify and delete on the SD card.
  3. Install Titanium Backup from the Google Play Store and backup. Run a backup to get everything in internal memory backed up. The device needs to be rooted for it to work (fortunately whoever hacked this phone did that already, otherwise you have to learn to root your Android device). The manual for it is almost impossible to find but lives on a wiki. Basically, it takes things in memory and dumps them onto your SD card.
    • Click the Backup/Restore tab
    • Click Menu (the button), Batch
    • Click “Backup all user apps” (if you want just your apps) or “Backup all user apps + system data” if you want everything backed up. This doesn’t seem to always backup SMS and contact history.
    • Let it run, then go back to the main backup tab.
    • Individually backup the system data you want. That is most green-colored items. This will be bookmarks, call log, calendar, launcher, WiFi, etc.
    • Now your backups are in the “TitaniumBackup” directory on your SD card.
    • You restore by the way by taking your SD card and then installing Titanium Restore from Google Play and running that.
  4. Backup the SD card by mounting the Sd card as a disk. Connect the microUSB cable and then by going to Setting/USB and selecting Mass Storage
  5. The SD card will now appear as a hard drive. Copy its contents over to your machine.

Now you have to install the entire development kit for Android (eg Java, Eclipse). Man this is overkill, but here  goes on a Mac:

  1. Download the Java Development Kit
  2. Download Eclipse
  3. Download the Android Development Kit
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