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

Waitin’ on my cupcake

Don’t let my negative posts against my G1 fool you. I like it, but it’s not perfect.

Some of the bugs/annoyances I’ve posted about are getting addressed in an upcoming “cupcake” update (should be next week):

Here’s a list of new features and improvements:

I love to see they are fixing the camera. Right now, it’s borderline useless unless you like blurry messes as pictures.

GPS too. I’m glad that was addressed. It was too unreliable.

I can do without the on screen keyboard. My fat fingers prefer the slide out.

I’m psyched about video feature. That’s a welcome addition that I have not heard about in the rumor mill.

I’m sad to see no mention of improvements to battery life. At least the short battery life has enforced some discipline in me to carry around a charger or have them accessible where I go. I haven’t been stuck with a dead phone yet–which used to happen to me too often before.

Hopefully this time around, my wife doesn’t get the update days before me–and proceed to rub it in the entire time.

Here is a video:

Categorized as G1

Thoughts on Producing and Marketing Complex Products

Lately I’ve been perusing message boards and blogs on the G1 phone. There is a tremendous debate among users as to their satisfaction levels. This, along with my own dissatisfaction with Microsoft Vista, led me to do some thinking. I think it might be impossible for companies with complicated products to produce products that will satisfy every one of their customers.

Take for example Vista. I hate it. Why? Because XP was easy to navigate and find files, folders, programs, etc. So why mess with it? I think, and I might be wrong, that Microsoft modeled Vista and produced it with a heavy slant towards users who want a {buzzword alert} rich multimedia experience. I think the casual user, like me, was left out. And my frustrations are some very basic things, like folder structure. Suddenly I had to click 3 times where it used to take me one click.

Now take the G1. I’m a Google addict. I use almost every one of their products and services. So going with the G1 was a no brainer. In my opinion, Is the G1 perfect? No. But it met my basic expectations.

This brings me to the message boards and blogs. It seems G1 users are divided into pretty distinct camps that range from the extremely technical to the very casual. You have Android fans that don’t mind using the phone with a beta mindset to more casual users who demand a finished product.

Who’s right and who’s wrong? Can Google/HTC/Tmobile produce something to satisfy everyone? Consider the phone is being judged by the following:

1) Phone service
2) Text messaging
3) E-mail client
4) Web Browser
5) MP3 Player
6) Camera
7) Everything else from GPS maps to games, the list is endless.

I do take exception to a few notions. The phone is/was marketed to the general public, so the notion that customers should put up with bugs/annoyances to me is an unreasonable response to complaints. Also, a LOT of advice on both the G1 and Vista require technical modifications. This does not suit a less technically savvy user or those who don’t have the time or desire to tinker.

How does a company take all of these considerations and produce a product that’ll be widely accepted? Do they just aim for the middle?