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HTC Desire: tips and tricks

Some of you will find yourselves sporting a brand new HTC Desire this weekend. If you find yourself in this enviable situation, this guide will help you tweak the Desire and get a head start on your new smartphone life.

Telstra's announcement of its early release for the HTC Desire means that you might find yourself in a T-Life store this weekend pawing over that sweet, Android goodness.

For some of you, this pawing will extend to the home, after the necessary forms are signed and bank accounts debited. If you find yourself in this enviable situation the following guide will help you tweak the Desire and get a head start on your new smartphone life.

SlideScreen on the Desire(Credit: Larva Labs/CBSi)

Sense or SlideScreen?

We're sorry to give you this difficult decision, but after you download SlideScreen from the Android Market you are bound to be plagued by this question thereafter. SlideScreen is a fantastic app that aggregates all of your most important communication in one place; calls, SMS, emails, calendar, Facebook, Twitter, RSS, weather and stocks (if you're into that sort of thing). It's like Sony Ericsson's TimeScape but better.

SlideScreen is designed to be used as either a stand-alone app or as an entire home screen makeover. If you were using a stock Android build, like what you find on the Samsung Galaxy Icon, we'd suggest running SlideScreen all day long. But HTC's Sense UI is a different kettle of fish, and while it doesn't offer info in such a clean and user-friendly way, the glitz of Sense is enough to keep it as our default home screen.

Alternative input and the case of the disappearing multi-touch

You may have read our recent story about alternative input methods for the Android. Our favourites from the Android Market include: SlideIT Lite, a swipe-to-type keyboard replacement; and Thick Buttons, a keyboard that enlarges letters (and makes other smaller) based on the sequence of letters you type. Both are fantastic additions to your Desire, but there's something you should know...

Installing any input mod is simple, and they can be activated by going in the Settings menu "Language and Keyboard" and then by long-pressing in any text entry field until the "Input Method" option appears. But once activated you will lose access to multi-touch for zooming in on web pages, photos and maps, and for using the Desire's awesome "leap" home screen selector. To reactivate multi-touch you simply have to disable the new input method by going back into the Settings menu as listed above.

Google's Voice Search in action(Credit: Google)

Voice Search

For all of the Google Nexus One comparisons you can draw from the size and speed of the Desire, the one notable exception is its lack of Google's Voice Search capability. When we reviewed the Desire we assumed that was the end of the story, no voice search, but we were wrong.

Thanks to the generosity of a user contributing to Google's repository of open source code, Voice Search, and a few other tricks, are available to download. You can either download the linked file (an .apk application package) to your PC first and side-load it to the SD memory card, or you can direct your browser on the phone to download it directly.

You can find Voice Search at

Pimp yo Desire

Once you set up your Desire we bet the first thing you'll want to do is wag it in the face of someone who owns a boring, old iPhone, so make sure you've got a bit of bling to dangle in front of them before you do it.

On the Android Market, download Zedge, an app featuring a huge collection of free wallpapers and ringtones to download. Connect to a Wi-Fi network (we don't want you wasting precious 3G data) and download a swag of awesome new wallpapers.

Next, download Wallpaper Rotator. This app will automatically switch your wallpapers at a user-set time period, anywhere from once a minute to once a week. In the Wallpaper Rotator settings check the "Get images from phone" option, then manually enter the wallpaper folder. If you are using Zedge enter /sdcard/zedge/wallpapers into the dialog box.

These are our top tips, and as you may have noticed, many of these tips are applicable to all Android phones, not just the Desire. If you have any tips for new Android phone owners we'd love to hear them. Drop us a line in the comments below.