Upgraded G1 to Android v1.5

Well, I decided to take the plunge and perform a manual upgrade of my T-Mobile G1 phone to the recently released Android version 1.5 (cupcake). I was excited about some of the new features and didn’t want to wait until T-Mobile eventually pushes it out.

The manual install was pretty straight forward, using these simple steps

The hardest part was actually getting the update zip file to the microSD card on the G1! I was unable to get my Windows XP machine to properly see the SD card as a mounted drive via USB connection. So….I opted to go a different route. I ended up installing an FTP client application from the Android Market called “AndFTP”. The FTP app had no problems directing downloads to the SD card, so I connected the G1 to my WiFi network and pulled the nearly 50MB down file from the Windows box running an FTP server.

Once I had the file downloaded, it took about 5 minutes or so to do the upgrade, which went without a hitch.

The first thing I decided to check out was the camera. It was touted as being much faster taking pictures – and from my handful of tests, it was quite a bit faster. Unfortunately, the quality of the pictures still seem about the same – pretty poor. I was hoping for some options for manual adjustments, but no such luck. On the plus side, they did manage to include a “soft” shutter button on the touch screen, this can used to snap a picture instead of pressing down the button on the side of the phone – for me, this button was generally hard to press and hold down without causing camera shake resulting in blurry pictures. There are a couple of samples below.

The G1 also has the ability to capture video now. My initial video capture proved to be a bit choppy, but hey, it’s better than nothing.

Now on to my favorite two features: the soft keyboard and automatic screen orientation. The automatic screen orientation feature is not turned on by default. You have to go into Settings->Sound and Display-> Orientation and turn it on. I didn’t think it worked at first, however I quickly figured out that it doesn’t work on the home screen (or the dialer and contacts apps either). It seems to work just fine with all of the other apps I’ve tried.

So, what good is automatically switching to a landscape mode without sliding out the keyboard? That’s where the soft keyboard comes into play. Basically, if you tap your finger or press the trackball in a text box, a soft keyboard appears on the bottom of the screen. This makes it much easier for one-handed texting episodes.

Other than that, I haven’t had the chance to spend a whole lot of time checking out new features. I did notice that the GPS seems to update my location quicker than before and scrolling through all of my apps seems to be much more responsive and smooth.

So far so good, I’m impressed with the new features of the Android 1.5 update and hope Google keeps them coming.

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Android 1.5 update for the T-Mobile G1

I’ve had my T-Mobile G1 “Google” phone since it’s initial release back in October 2008.  Since then, I have received a couple of updates but nothing of real importance from my point of view.  Overall I’ve been fairly happy with the phone so far, however, there are a few things that have been on my wish list (besides T-mobile 3g coverage in my area, which still isn’t available).

After living with this phone for over 6 months now, one of my biggest complaints is the camera – granted, I don’t buy a phone for the built-in camera.  However, if a company is willing to include one, it should at least be able to perform somewhat reasonable.  The G1’s picture taking ability is average at best.  It boasts a 3.2mp camera with autofocus, but no manual adjustment settings.  The slightest bit of movement with the camera or within the scene will pretty much render the picture a useless blur.  After having an iPhone, I would say from a realistic use perspective, the iPhone takes much better pictures.

Well, I’m hoping that’s all about to change.  Google has released a new version of Android – 1.5.  There is a pretty big list of new features and improvements.  A couple of the new features that I’ve been anticipating:

  • An on-screen “soft” keyboard.  There are many times when I don’t want to slide out the keyboard for a quick sms, so this will be a huge benefit.
  • Video recording.  It will be very interesting to see how well this works, considering it’s using the  built-in camera that has proved to be lacking thus far.
  • Batch actions on Gmail messages.  There have been many times where I’ve wanted to delete or label multiple messages, but have to go through the process one message at a time.

As for performance improvements, the following were listed having been improved:

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

Now I’m just debating whether to manually update my phone this weekend or wait for T-mobile to push it down sometime in the next couple weeks.  It would be nice if T-mobile allowed you to pull down the update rather than pushing it down to customers…maybe when version 2.0 rolls around.