Tired of your old Windows Mobile phone? Well, if you own one of these HTC devices, you’re in luck! Android has been ported to the AT&t Tilt (HTC Kaiser), Verizon VX6900 / Sprint Touch (HTC Vogue), HTC Polaris a.k.a. HTC Touch Cruise as well as the HTC Raphael and HTC Diamond.
First off these ports are not completely working. For instance, I have used Android on my AT&T Tilt and it was pretty solid thought the camera and the wi-fi did not work. These ports are very much “works-in-progress” and there is a very active community engaged in bring us Android. Secondly, I want to make it clear that running Android on these phones DOES NOT require you to flash the firmware of the device.
To get the latest build of Android for your phone head over to Android on HTC and find the section for your phone. This link will take you to the “Installing Android” page. Before you put those files on your SD card you will need to edit the default.txt file to set boot options and carrier settings along with some other things. I needed to make sure that board-kaiser-keypad.atttilt = 1 in order have the keyboard work correctly (Set to 0 is the European lay-out). There should be a default-kaiser.txt file included and you can use that as a guide.
Once you have that all set the real fun begins. With the phone connected via ActiveSync drag and drop the unzipped files into the root directory of your SD card. Once the files are transferred you can disconnect the phone from the USB, you no longer need it. With my Tilt I had to make a data connection in WinMo in order for data to work inside of Android, so open IE and hit the web; ScifiandGadgets.com if you like. Make sure you have made the connection and open File Explorer and navigate to the SD card.
In the root directory lies a file called HaRET.exe (Handheld Reverse Engineering Tool), this is the Linux bootloader that launches Android. You will see a big ol’ Tux on the screen followed by a ton of output from Linux loading up (I love this part). The first time you boot Android it takes a good amount of time as it will create the data files and whatnot so put the phone down and have a sandwich or something (I watched and waited for it). Finally you will get Android running. The first time you run it you will be asked for your google account
information, skip that (Do it later, besides you don’t have any data connection running yet).
Once Android is running on the phone, the first thing I do is go into Settings and configure the APN information correctly. Again, you can find that information here. When that is complete you need to use the modem program in order to toggle your data connection on. Turn on the data and all is good, you can get to the market, download apps, browse the net… all that good stuff.
I really enjoy having the option to run Android on the Tilt for a number of reasons. It looks so much cleaner than WinMo and adding short cuts and widgets to the home screen is nice and easy. Android is much more finger friendly than WinMo and the whole experience feels snappier. The amount of apps that are in the market is terrific and most of them are free. I’m not a big fan of paid apps on Android but with the success of Apple’s AppStore I guess it is only logical. I didn’t bother buying any apps because the phone isn’t a straight-up Android device.
So, if you happen to have one of these device I would recommend giving this a try. Like I said the only aspects I didn’t like were the non-functional camera and wi-fi not working.