The G1 Gets Turn by Turn Navigation

I was bummed out when the new Droid hype hit and I saw all the cool features of Android 2.0 that are rumored not to be coming to the G1 (the original Android phone which is on Android 1.6). Especially turn by turn navigation. I had turned a corner prior to the Droid promos and was actually starting to really dig the phone. Updates 1.5 and 1.6 really ironed out a lot of issues I had posted about earlier on this blog. But when I see something I can’t have, suddenly buyer’s remorse starts to set in again–even if it’s a year later. I’m really not the type to keep buying the latest and greatest gadgets. I took a gamble on the G1. Yesterday Goggle issued and update to the Google Maps app. I ran the update but didn’t get a chance to kick the tires on it right away. Then I read some blog posts and tweets this morning that the update included turn by turn navigation. Wait, WHAT!?!?! I tested that bad boy out and sure enough, there it is. I’m now completely satisfied with the G1 purchase (again). For now.

Inconsistency, My Frustration with the G1 Phone

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I log into forums, some people are having the same problem, some people aren’t. Some people had the issue before Cupcake, other the issue started after.

That sums up my frustration with this phone. Since the problems aren’t consistent, there is never a consensus. This is a major headache since the causes of the problems are hard to isolate and identify. Also this makes it impossible to avoid the problems.

My phone recently started to randomly shut itself off. Luckily it does not shut down when it is in use, but in sleep mode. Still, it would stink to miss an important call because the phone just decided to turn itself off. I searched and people are having varying levels of the same issue. Not one person (including me) can identify any conclusive repro steps. I called T-Mobile, and they are sending me a new battery. Based on my experience with it, and reading others’, I really doubt it’s the battery. But I’ll give it a shot.

Here are some other sporadic issues/problems:

  • GPS doesn’t always “hone in” quickly on maps. But it does after a reboot.
  • Compass, which had worked, suddenly is flipped (north is south and south is north)
  • Battery charge percentage not accurately displayed. After charging for hours, it appears like it’s not fully charged. But then after a reboot, it’s at 100%.
  • Camera crashes / loses “connection” to SD card. Fixes after reboot of phone.

I touched on a similar point about marketing complex products. Perhaps troubleshooting complex products has the same challenges.

Does the iPhone have these annoyances? I’m satisfied enough with the G1 to get my money’s worth out of it and honor my service commitment. I’ll have to see over time if future generations of Android phones have these kinks worked out. If not, Apple here I come. By that time I’m sure I’ll be tired of a work in progress (if Android isn’t perfected by then). There is something to be said about Jobs’ insistence on excellence.

Also, I’m surprised how many Google loving Microsoft hating people put up with bugs—when they are quick to call out Microsoft for their bugs.

Categorized as android, G1

Another Welcome G1 “Cupcake” Improvement

I just noticed yesterday that the YouTube app now is linked to my live YouTube account. This is great. Before the app was a standalone, so there were different favorites on the phone than in the account. Now I can go to and manage my subscriptions, videos, favorites, and playlists right from the phone.

Well done Google.

Categorized as android, G1

G1 1.5 “Cupcake” Bugs

I’ll follow up my last post highlighting my quick take on all of the improvements. I thought I’d take a moment and write about some bugs I see. So far I notice two.

First. The app Scoreboard has a number of issues. I’ll put this in with G1 bugs since it’s a native Google app. First the updating is sporadic again (it used to be like this, they updated it, but now it’s broken again). Also, the view of the day’s scores is all messed up. It’s not very useful at all in this state.

Second. In the Market under “my downloads,” all my installed apps are showing a status of “free” (or “purchased”) when they should be listed as “installed.” Also there are no alerts when the apps have an updated build to download. I read on the t-mobile forum that you should just “simply reinstall” all the apps. C’mon. I have over 40 of them. A few I updated, and they show right. I hope there is a fix on their end before I have to go in and reinstall all of them.

All in all I love the improvements. I guess there will be a constant ironing of issues. I’m going to keep updating this post as I find more bugs.

Categorized as android, G1

Got Cupcake, Here’s My First Take

I finally got the G1 1.5 “Cupcake” update on Saturday. Here are my thoughts on all of the improvements.

I found a list of every improvement on T-Mobile’s message board:

I copied and pasted all of the improvements below, and added my comments in bold, italic, & red.

User interface refinements

  • System-wide:
  • Refinement of all core UI elements
  • Animated window transitions (off by default)
  • Accelerometer-based application rotations

I didn’t think this would make such a difference. But I’m loving these improvements.

  • UI polish for:
  • In-call experience
  • Contacts, Call log, and Favorites
  • SMS & MMS
  • Browser
  • Gmail
  • Calendar
  • Email
  • Camera & Gallery
  • Application management

Like my last comment, these seemingly small tweaks make for a much better user experience.

Performance improvements

  • Faster Camera start-up and image capture
  • Much faster acquisition of GPS location (powered by SUPL AGPS)
  • Smoother page scrolling in Browser
  • Speedier GMail conversation list scrolling

I don’t see one single improvement in performance. GPS is still painfully slow to locate. The camera start up is much SLOWER if at all possible–but it does snap pictures faster if there is adequate lighting (still slow with low light). I don’t notice any difference in browser or GMail scrolling, although I never noticed them as being an issue for me (that’s good I guess).

New features

  • On-screen soft keyboard:
  • Works in both portrait and landscape orientation
  • Support for user installation of 3rd party keyboards
  • User dictionary for custom words

I don’t understand the craze. It’s ok, but my fat thumbs hit the wrong keys. I like the built in keyboard much better. It’s not that much extra time to slide the built in keyboard open to use.

  • Home screen:
  • Widgets: Bundled home screen widgets include: analog clock, calendar, music player, picture frame, and search
  • Live folders

I like the Calendar widget, but it doesn’t have any customization features. The music player widget is nice too. All in all these make the phone that much more complete and easy to use/customize.

  • Camera & Gallery:
  • Video recording
  • Video playback (MPEG-4 & 3GP formats)

This is a welcome addition. Like the camera, the video takes long to boot up, which is ok. I don’t know if it’s my phone or not, but sound recording is horrible. Not only on this app, but other sound recording apps as well.

  • Bluetooth:
  • Stereo Bluetooth support (A2DP and AVCRP profiles)
  • Auto-pairingImproved handsfree experience

I haven’t messed with Bluetooth yet.

  • Browser:
  • Updated with latest Webkit browser & Squirrelfish Javascript engines
  • Copy ‘n paste in browser
  • Search within a page
  • User-selectable text-encoding
  • UI changes include:
  • Unified Go and Search box
  • Tabbed bookmarks/history/most-visited screen

I can’t seem to figure out how to use the copy and paste. The bookmark improvements are nice–all it needs now is a way to better sort and/or label.

  • Contacts
  • Shows user picture for Favorites
  • Specific date/time stamp for events in call log
  • One-touch access to a contact card from call log event

The one touch access is a major improvement. Now I can save incoming call to contacts much easier than before.

  • System
  • New Linux kernel (version 2.6.27)
  • SD card filesystem auto-checking and repair
  • SIM Application Toolkit 1.0

I’ll take their word for it. I don’t know how to tell if this stuff improved the phone or not.

  • Google applications
  • View Google Talk friends’ status in Contacts, MMS, GMail, and Email applications
  • Batch actions such as archive, delete, and label on Gmail messages
  • Upload videos to YouTube
  • Upload photos on Picasa

They had an app to upload to Picasa before, but it’s nice now that it’s built in. Like that you can upload straight to YouTube. I did a quick test and YouTube uploading is quick and painless. The improvements to the GMail app are great.

Categorized as android, G1