Where Did I Put My Old Droid?
I replaced my Droid with a Galaxy S3, and the Droid quickly faded from my memory. Then, not too long ago, my beloved iPod Classic crossed over to the electronic version of Valhalla. I was crushed. After carefully paying my last respects to the iPod, I knew I had to move on. What to do? Purchasing a new iPod had a serious drawback in that there was a cost associated in acquiring it. Spending money, – not an option. Then I remembered that buried in the bottom of a box in the Larry Talks Tech laboratories was my old Motorola 855A cellphone (the original Droid). I knew I could do something with this.
Introducing The Motorola 855A “Droid”
The original Droid, was released November 5, 2009, and became serious competition for Apple’s iPhone. The Droid has a 500 MHz ARM Cortex A8 processor; video resolution at 480 X 854 pixels on a diagonal 3.7″ screen with 16 million colors; and 256 MB of internal storage (there is also an available SD card storage slot that was filled by, depending on the cellphone vendor, a 16 GB SD card. The Android operating system installed on the smartphone, has a big brother called, Linux, – usually a very stable open source operating system that has been around for awhile.
In short, the Droid, like all smartphones, is really a small computer that also has cell phone capabilities.
Preparing The Droid for Its New Life
Before you place your Droid in any alternate role, there are a few things to do on the phone to make the transition go smoothly:
As the phone will no longer be attached to a “cell” system, you don’t need your Droid to be continually trying to contact it’s former phone company service provider. The best way to keep the Droid from attempting to phone home, and wasting both computer and battery resources in the process, is simply to turn off the telephone “cell” radio. Here’s a couple of ways to accomplish this: (a) You can type on your keypad *#*#4636#*#* or (b) go to Settings, and turn on Airplane Mode, then go again to Settings “Wireless and Networks“, and turn your Wi-Fi back on.
Next, as your phone is probably full of programs and data you no longer need (assuming your old Droid like mine was resting at the bottom of a box for a couple of years), you should clean up your internal storage areas. This clean-up process is called a Hard Reset. Go to Settings on your phone, and select the Privacy option. Then select Factory Data Reset. For those of you who want more detailed instruction on how to accomplish this, you can click here.
After the Hard Reset, you will need to bypass the Android Activation Screen in order to use your phone. Normally, the Android Activation Screen would be used to initiate the activation process with the cell carrier, but as you are not going to use a carrier with your Droid, simply press the “Droid” logo in the center of the screen, then starting with the upper lefthand corner, press each “Corner” then press the “Droid” again. See the graphic below:
Finally, reformat your SD card. Like your internal storage area, assuming this is an old and otherwise forgotten phone, it is likely that data on the SD card is no longer useful and/or needed. To be safe, check the card before you reformat, and remove anything you want to keep, then go to Settings, SD Card and Phone Storage, then Format SD Card.
Create A Droid-Pod Music/Media Player
All the hard work is now done. The fun part begins. If you are going to build a music player, then you need to get your music on the Droid. There are many ways to do this, the simplest is to copy your mp3’s to your Droid’s SD card through a USB cable, then download a music player from the Google Play Store, and point the player to your music. I have a iMac, and iTunes. To get “tunes” to my Droid, I use program called DoubleTwist. From the Play Store I install DoubleTwist on my Droid, and from Apple’s App Store, I install it on my iMac. Once installed, I can add all my iTunes music and videos to my Droid from my iMac, pretty much just like I had an iPhone attached to my iMac. Both devices sync via USB. Playlists travel over too.
Create A Wi-Fi Phone And Make Calls For Free
This is both a very useful application for your old phone, and a simple one to create. Here’s how its done:
- If you are one of the 18 people in the world of industrialized nations that does not have a Google account, this would be a good time to sign up.
- Next, do a Google Search for Google Voice, and set up a Google Voice account. The instructions are very straight forward. During the signup process, you can select a phone number (or allow Google to provide you randomly with one), and you can have the number ring a specific phone (I use my house phone number). You will also need a mobile phone that can receive text messages to authenticate the setup. Finally, once the setup process is complete, in the Google Voice Settings portion, be sure that Google Chat is checked (meaning it is turned on). By itself, Google Voice is an amazing program, with feature rich options rivaling many of the big VOIP carriers. Also, Google Voice is 100% FREE!!!
- Now, from the Google Play Store, add Google Voice to your Droid. Once installed, open it, and it will connect to your master Google Voice Account. You may have to provide your Google password initially to activate the program on your Droid (This later process seems to vary from Droid to Droid).
At this point, as it stands, you could probably receive calls, but to finish off your phone, you will need a dialer. Again, from the Play Store, download Groove IP (see graphic at left). There is a free version of Groove IP, as well as a paid version. I use the Free version, so you will find an ad or two at the bottom of your dial up screen (no big deal). Groove IP is not exactly full of features (no connection to your Contacts for example), and there are others that are more feature rich, for a price. After all, Groove IP Lite is FREE!!!
All you need now to make a call is to be attached to Wi-Fi.
There are many other uses for your old smartphone. As long as the phone is attached to Wi-Fi, it can still get your email; you can surf the net; play games; watch movies; listen to music; use it as a compass; a sound meter; and so on. Great for the kids too. For me, it was like getting another iPod Classic or an iPod Touch for free. Goodbye iPod and hello Droid-Pod.