Turning Gingerbread into Jelly Bean

The time had finally come. How could I possibly label myself a geek of any sort if I voluntarily stuck with my old Android Gingerbread 2.3 operating system? My Samsung Galaxy Note needed to be updated and besides, I needed a nice, juicy project. I was waiting for Google to announce Android 5 at Google I/O 2013. When no announcement was forthcoming, it was time to take the bull by the horns and turn Gingerbread into Jelly Bean.

I have never upgraded a phone's operating system before. I was mildly afraid of bricking my phone, although I knew that if anything bad happened, I could take it to "a guy I know" to sort it out. But to be truly geeky (and to save the cash), I knew that I had to embark on the Android OS upgrade adventure on my own.

The first thing I did was look on-line for some instructions on how to perform an upgrade. There were a number of different flavors of Jelly Bean 4.2.2 available, but I settled on the ibtimes.co.uk website, which provided all of the files and instructions to complete this task. I read through the cautionary text and verified that my phone was compatible.

I downloaded the files.
Image: mobotechie.com
I performed a backup.
I followed the instructions to perform the upgrade.

Expecting the process to take hours, I was surprised that it was all over in 30 minutes. That half hour included time spent Googling terms that were not defined in the instructions. For example, I didn't know what it meant to take a Nandroid Backup.

The expectation level was at maximum as I watched a gentle beam of light caress the lower-case "android" text, presented in a futuristic, Start-Trekky font. As the phone blinked on, I knew instantly that I had done more than update an operating system, I had breathed new life into my phone, much like Dr Who regenerating. I had given birth to a brand new device.
Image: best-tablet-converter.com/

There is actually more truth to that than you may realize (um, it's not what it sounds like). Firstly, the Samsung Touch-Wiz overlay to Android was gone. The downside to that was that all of the Samsung applications disappeared. I was a bit sorry to see the S-Memo application go, but I quickly downloaded Papyrus, which does the same thing, and may even be better. Aside from the Samsung applications, all my data and apps remained on my phone. I didn't lose a single thing. Painless.

The phone's interface is different in almost every way. I installed the SlimBean Jelly Bean interface. It is slick, really slick. I love the fact that now I have to re-learn how to do everything. I know, most people would shy away from making changes that require them to re-learn how to perform basic functions like activating GPS, setting silent mode and making a phone call. But I'm not like that. New is better (obviously) and the more different it is from the old way, the more I like it. And I like it a lot.
Image: http://droidfirmwares.com

SlimBean (and Jelly Bean, itself) gives you a million ways to do everything faster. There are quick ways to access apps from the lock screen. You can access apps from SlimPIE, a futuristic, semi-circular menu that you pull from any side of the screen. You can customize the pull-down drawer to contain links to a myriad of apps and functions. In fact, everything is customizable. The best feature is the voice search, which is accurate, even with my Australian accent (I love calling Home without pressing any buttons - although my kids are getting sick of me prank-calling them). I'm still discovering lots of new features, which I hope will prove to be an endless source of fun.

What I like most is that everything works - and it works well. The interface is super-smooth. My year-and-a-half-old first generation Galaxy Note has no trouble whatsoever with running this latest version of Android. I seriously feel like it's a brand new phone. I had so much fun joining the 21st Century, I don't think I'll wait so long before upgrading again.

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