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Android G1 review (take 2)

Intro

As some of you may have read in my previous post, my first experience with a G1 was cut short. I bricked it updating the ROM. Well we shalln’t dwell on that now shall we 🙂 Moving on …

So one of the lessons I learned and now have confirmed, the Rogers G1 is custom to Rogers. This variant, DREA210, supports the UMTS 850 / 1900. So now with this I can actually do 3G speeds. On the previous one the best I could do was 163Kb/s. Now I have managed 2.3Mb/s! Suppose to be able to get 7.2 Mb/s but heh still better.

HTC Dream
Support page for Rogers Dream including software and ROM updates.

I have been spoiled

Ok I have to admit, I have been spoiled, maybe even ruined. The iPhone 3GS is such a smooth, elegant piece of hardware/software that work together, like a rear wheel drive V8 engine and a great manual transmission. They just sing together. Couple this with the incremental bump in processor power Apple gave the 3GS and this has set the bar so incredibly high it’s unlikely anything will bump it off anytime soon. And Apple insure that multimedia playback is always smooth. Interrupting or jerky music is unforgivable. Apple spent time tweaking the Web Kit browser. Everything from the revolutionary pinch to zoom, to hiding download windows the browser on the iPhone is a thing of beauty! There my biases are on the table. I really would like to hate evil Apple, but it’s hard with a device like the iPhone.

Smart phones

The length of this review as well as that of other reviews shows that these smart phones are becoming increasingly complex. They are integrating more and more into them. They have gone long beyond what phones use to be. The fact that these are even phones is almost an after thought! The number of programs written for these devices and the size of this market is dizzying. And it is moving fast (although not fast enough!).

Rogers ROM

Rogers has made some changes to the ROM as all carriers do. First and VERY welcome is that they do not force you to register with Google to get to the OS. You can just press cancel! Brilliant. So in seconds I was actually playing with the device even without a SIM. I assumed this would not be the case (always beware of allowing what you know getting in the way of what you don’t know!) so didn’t even try much at first.

Each carrier also chooses what to include and not. On the T-Mobile they included a converter from the goofy HTC extUSB to a standard 3.5 plug for the audio. I love that. The only thing missing was a volume control. Rogers on the other hand include a wired headset but it does include a volume control. So neither is perfect unfortunately.

Each carrier makes some small changes to the front of the device and Rogers has made a few as well. I find the buttons on the Rogers one too close to the roller bar and I keep hitting the home button. A little frustrating but I assume I will get use to it.

The Tmobile G1 could not do AD2P (streaming bluetooth for music). Happily the Rogers does! Yippie cause my car stereo supports it.

The T-Mobile dialer did not do a contact search when you started typing in numbers, the Rogers one does. This one is a HUGE improvement.

Overall the Rogers OS seems a little sluggish in comparison to the iPhone 3GS or the previous G1. Nothing horrible but noticeable.

The Rogers build includes Exchange/Active Sync built in. (The T-mobile did not). It also support IMAP and POP3 as well as Gmail. The Gmail client supports message threading just like their web interface and also support Google’s own push technology.

Rogers also include a PDF reader as well as Quickoffice.

Phone reception

The reception on the iPhone seems a little better than on the G1. In my basement coverage was spotty on the G1 while it usually is marginal on the iPhone.

Dialing

The stock dialer is reasonably well done, as you type numbers it starts to do lookups of what the name you might be looking for. Strangley enough there is no button to get to your favorites in contacts. Once connected it is very easy to transfer the phones audio to speakerphone, handset, headset whatever. They have done this well.
Update: Ah I found it, press the menu button and you can get to the favorites. I would have preferred a tab but heh it’s there.

Uninstalling aps

I finally figured out how to uninstall an application. Dragging it into the recycling box only delete the shortcut but does not delete the ap. To delete the ap you go into the marketplace, click on my downloads and click on the ap. Uninstall! They can also be uninstalled from Settings, Applications, Manage application.

What draws me to Android

There are a number of things that draw me to Andoid and to the G1 specifically. First of all interoperability. Because it has a microSD slot I can take pictures out of my camera (also microSD via a converter from SD) and send them or do whatever. Impossible on the iPhone. Second I love the whole idea of open. The Ap store on the iPhone is controlled by Apple. If Apple don’t like it, it ain’t gonna happen. Take flash player for example. Adobe wants to do it, the users want it, but Apple isn’t having anything to do with it.

The home screen on a iPhone is COMPLETELY unchangeable. On Andoid the choice is the users. There are tons of widgets (376 on the market place as of 11/6/2009) out there to add anything you want to you homescreen. I put birthdays in my calendar. Even on Windows mobile I can put the calendar on my homescreen. Not on an iPhone. It kinda reminds me of the Droid does ad from Verizon.

Apple believes the only programmers that can be trusted are there’s. What a joke. The only programs that can run in the background are the OS, email, and the browser. Nice little browser bug on the iPhone. On android programs can run in the background. Now the bad thing about this is it transfers the responsibility to you to close programs that have been left running. So you will need a program lik Advance Task Manager to keep your memory free and your system running well.

Be careful with the widgets you put on your home screens. These run in the background chewing battery life, data and sometimes making the phone sluggish.

Data Synchronization

By default Android assumes you will get you email, contacts and calendar from Google. One of the bad things is once these are in your phone getting them out is non trivial. I had to literally delete everything from Google, sync them, then turn sync back off and then upload them back to Google. Yuk.

The Rogers ROM also includes integration with Active Sync so Microsoft Exchange can provide email/contacts/calendar as well.

Lastly, HTC have come to rescue (well sort of) with a program called HTC Sync. This program is suppose to allow you to sync you calendar and contacts with Outlook. I had quite a struggle with this program. To call it goofy would be being nice. I eventually after a reboot was able to get it to see outlook for contacts but never calendar. Once i got it to see contacts I was able to sync my G1 with my outlook contacts. The nice thing about this is everything came over unlike my Google contacts which were created using a CSV export. So addresses, pictures for the contacts everything came over. Sweet. So from the contacts screen of a particular user you can call them, send an email (if it has there emaill address), send them a text SMS, and view there address on Google maps. All in all very comprehensive. If anything is missing it would be the ability to link in with say facebook, or twitter or MSN etc. Andoid 2.0 is suppose to add this capability.

Google offer a program to sync your calendar from Outlook to Gmail but not contacts. Its is free and you can setup a synchronization schedule as well. Seems to work fine. Google Outlook calendar Sync utility With this I was able to get my calendar into the phone.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth on this device is only partially implemented. It can be used for handsfree headsets, A2DP (streaming bluetooth for music etc) and that’s about it. No sending files over bluetooth, no connecting to a bluetooth GPS. On A2DP the pause, play, FF, and RWD worked perfectly (none of that works on the iPhone). My address book also transferred over bluetooth to my car stero. Streaming music over bluetooth can be easily interrupted so be careful what’s running in the background when doing this. This will also take a fair bit of battery life. I ran the battery from 96 down to 90 or 6% in a mere 15 minutes of listening to music over streaming bluetooth.

Misc ramblings

Even on the Rogers build there is no movie player. Odd given the codecs are there. I downloaded Cinema again. Great program and free. Simply drag on the movie to FF and RWD. Brilliant. Amazed Apple didn’t think of that! Now if your in the Gallery Ap and it finds a video it can play it from there. It just seems there is no program icon to start a movie player. Odd. The phone plays H264 MP4 formatted for iPod movies, but DIVX movies are not supported out of the box. I found a program in the marketplace called yxflash that will play DIVX’s but either the processor would not keep up of the flash interface is too slow because it was not smooth at all. Totally unwatchable. So it seems conversion is a necessary evil. Be sure and check out my post on encoding for how to do that free and fast.

One of the good things about the iPhone is that programs can use the amount of memory in the device. Out of the box the only memory allowed to used by programs is the built in phone memory. Aps can not be installed to the memory card. There are some aps that once you “root” your phone can fix that, but this seems like an oversight to me.

Background tasks

One of the fabulous things about Andoid is background tasks. Programs can run multi tasking in the background while you do other things. The bad thing about this is it can lead to memory full, sluggish response and poor battery life. This is likely one of the arguments Apple would use as to why they don’t allow them. Being a tekkie this doesn’t scare me, but you do need to be conscious. Strangely enough a lot of the programs do not have close options within them. This is bizarre to me. This means you need to trust that when they are in the background they will sleep nicely and free devices like the GPS (to be shut off) and the like. That or get use to manually closing programs. Some of the task managers even have auto close options scanning memory for programs that it should close at some interval. The flexibility this offers the end user to me is well worth the added complexity. However, I can understand why Apple would not want to burden a Grandma with that task 🙂 Maybe Grandma and Grandpa will be all that will be using iPhones in the future 🙂 Ok, that was a cheap shot …

On top of tasks that aren’t closed properly another one of the things you need to watch for is there are some programs that seem to start up on there own, likely to do some housekeeping. Some of them don’t close after they are done and stay in memory. I really dislike this and it smells of either bad programming at best or malicous aps, you pick. I have seen this on flickerdroid and photoshop mobile (and others). When I see this, I uninstall the program.

Widgets on the home screen also run in the background so you need to be cognizant of them and the amount of memory, processor power (thus battery) and data they may consume. The fancier they look, the more power they likely consume. It’s a necessary evil.

Built in aps

The camera Ap is quite good and includes a self timer, as well as some settings (resolution, white balance and a few others). You can take stills or motion. The picture can then be emailed or added to a contact. There is no built in Geotagging. Compared to the iPhone, the camera ap is pretty good. That said, it as usual sucks in quality (no optics, no flash etc) so won’t be replacing a real camera anytime soon. On the positive side the emailed picture is not be automatically shrunk and ruined.

The music player is very basic. It does support cover art and sorts the music efficiently. Don’t expect any cover flow magic like on the iPhone/iPods. This is a very basic player but it works fine and plays smooth (assuming background aps are under control). One of the things I really like about the music player (and the phone) is that from any MP3 there is always an option inside the music player to make it your ring tone. Contrast with the iPhone where they really want you to buy all your ring tones. Nough said.
Update: One of the things it does do well, is it remembers where you were last listening even through a reboot! Wow, even the iPhone does not do that!

The gallery ap for showing photos and other pictures is redumentary at best. And to make matters worse it even sees cover art in the subfolders making it cluttered with tons of pictures you may not care about. On the positive side this cover art can be used to make wallpapers of, one of my criticisms of the iPhone (you can’t do that).

Stability

The iPhone was stunningly stable. I suspect this had a lot to do with the lack of background aps and controlled marketplace, two of the things I don’t like about the iPhone. I would go weeks in between reboots. The G1 is reasonably stable and more so than Windows mobile. In most if not all cases the instability was aps and background tasks. Sometimes the device would be sluggish and a reboot would solve it. Sadly there is no reboot or automated reboot built into the OS. There should be!

Google maps

Google maps includes street view and latitude support. In Android 2.0 Google are also adding free turn by turn directions to the mix! Cell phone triangulation and GPS are supported and are individually controlled in the OS settings. I was not understanding one time why it was not getting my location when I figured out I had turned off wireless location awareness (this means cell phone tower triangulation). Street view is unbelievable on the iPhone 3GS. Smooth, elegant, very kewl. On the G1 it works and is quite good, but no where near as smooth or elegant as the iPhone. If you find a business you can then add it to your contacts easily. Google maps is done perfectly in that it goes into the background, turns off the GPS and comes back quickly. A model of how Google saw aps should work on Android. Google maps can be manually updated from the Marketplace, but for some reason it did not see that an update was available.

USB support

When you plug the phone into the USB port, as well as charging the phone, you can use HTC Sync (to sync your contacts and calendar) or it can mount the microUSB card to the PC as a drive. A notification for both comes up and you just choose which you want to do. You can mount the microSD card on Windows Mobile too, but the performance has always been abysmal. On Android it get’s 4MB/s which is not all bad. The same card on a card reader got 8MB/s as a reference. The latest version of the iPhone firmware has removed this feature for some bizarre reason. I missed that.

The built in aps are covered off by the marketplace and if there are upgrades available they will show there (or should).

GPS

The GPS on this device is actually useful. It is reasonably sensitive, locks up pretty quickly (almost as sensitive as my SIRF III), is accurate and can be used by aps in the background. Wow. For a look at accuracy I did a short ride on my bike and recorded it with RUNGPS on the Android as well as on my Garmin Foretrex 401:
Garmin
RunGPS

Try that on an iPhone using a program like iMapmyRide.

Screen sensitivity

The screen on the iPhone is wonderful. It picks up on very gentle touches and the OS was designed from the ground up to be used with fingers. Aps are written to give large enough buttons that you can easily get them with any size of finger. Windows Mobile by contrast still requires a stylus. HTC have done their best to hide Windows Mobile OS but eventually you get to the OS and need to pull out the stylus. Windows Mobile 7 is suppose to be a ground up rewrite to make it finger friendly but that is over a year away. The screen itself is bright enough and reasonably crisp even for e-Books.

Android is designed with fingers in mind. The phones don’t even come with a stylus. That said, all is not perfect. On my G1 (and I have two) it sometimes takes a firmer push. And some programs have not designed their buttons well and I find with my small fingers that I need to get out my thumb to get it to register. Things are even worse on the edges of the screen where the sensitivity is even less. This can be quite frustrating.

Tethering

Tethering is one of those things that brings fear into everyones minds. Tethering is using the phone as a modem for a laptop for example. Carriers are terrified of it, worrying it could bring their precious networks to the ground if everyone did it. AT&T has been particularly defensive on tethering. Rogers has embraced it for now and it is included with the iPhone data plan. Carriers to control it’s use have put heavy data rate charges on tethering so it’s something you will want to check on before playing with.

The iPhone has done a splendid job on tethering. You simply enable it, bring up itunes, connect your iPhone to your computer using the USB cable (or bluetooth although I have not done BT) and your surfing on your data plan. Sweet! I’ve used it and it works so well it’s amazing. Classic Apple. Your Grandma could do it!

Windows mobile also allows tether and it is also pretty simple.

For some reason even on the Rogers ROM tethering is not included. There are some clever aps that have been written that will allow your phone to become a wireless lan access point. The only issue with it is that your phone needs to be “rooted”.

Storage

Windows mobile does a pretty crap job of managing SD cards. When they are removed setting for things like camera and the like default back to the camera. Next thing you know your phone crashes, etc and you discover how many things had unknowingly been stored on the phone instead of the SD card.

Android by contrast does a fabulous job of always ensuring the default storage location is on the SD card. It even creates folders to keep it neat and tidy. Aps like the browser even store to the SD card by default. This does two things, keeps phone memory clean and insures you hopefully loose very little! Well done Google!

Low Battery

How a phone handles the inevitable low battery is vital. The iPhone is the worst. If the battery runs all the way down you have to wait until it charges back above 5% before the phone will even turn on. This even includes if it is plugged in. That sucks.

Windows mobile does an incredible job of starting to turn things off to maximize the length of time it can keep itself on. Powering off wireless lan, power off bluetooth, powering off SD card, disabling data etc. This tends to do a great job of keeping the phone on as long as possible. After all this is a phone first isn’t it?

Android does an ok job. It does not start to disable parts of the phone but does run the phone nicely all the way to the bottom of the charge. And it powers up immediately once it’s plugged in even on a dead battery.

Low memory

Eventually you load one too many programs and next thing you know you are getting the dreaded low memory alert. Windows mobile does not handle this well. Windows mobile at least allows you to install aps to the SD card, something Android does not. Windows mobile however, can get into almost paralysis, continuing to slow down as the memory gets full. Android also begins to get sluggish as memory gets full. I’ve noticed that at 9MB free the alert comes up and then gets slower and slower as the amount of free memory gets lower. Freeing memory is not as easy as one would expect. You can manually clear the browser cache, and uninstall programs, that’s it (that I have found). I have noticed that Google Sync (mail/calendar/contacts) freezes once the memory full altert has been raised.

Extended and replacement batteries for the G1

Smartphones eat batteries. Wireless lan, 3G networks, GPS, data etc all eat batteries. The G1 is particularly battery hungry. I would say even worse than an iPhone. The good thing is that there are lots of cheap batteries available on ebay. There are even extended life batteries that replace the back plate and replace it with a bump that doubles the size of the battery. The batteries are physically quite small so it’s easy to care a spare one (or two).

Security lock (someone has a sense of humour)

If you are going to be carrying around all your personal or corporate data you want a lock on the phone in case it gets lost of stolen. Andoid includes a VERY basic pattern lock. It brings up an array of 3×3 buttons and you have to trace out a shape with 4 buttons touched contiguously. This is mickey mouse at best … A bit of a joke actually.

Onscreen keyboard and the G1 keyboard

The G1 includes a physical keyboard and it’s pretty good. With the headphones or AC cable in place it is a little awkward to type on and being recessed rather than flat does not help. The keys are easy to type on and spacing is ok. Placement of keys is quite fine. HTC have lots of experience with the Titan and Titan II so they know how to make these. This one is pretty good. Add to that a very effective roller ball and it works well together. A HUGE oversight though is not adding an onscreen keyboard. This means you are constantly sliding out the keyboard to do simple things. Just to find someone in your contact list means you are sliding out the keyboard. It’s awkward and did not have to be. Even a rudimentary onscreen keyboard would have been VERY welcome.
Update: I found a program called Better Keyboard that works adequately to solve this omission.

Browser

The browser on the iPhone is hands down the best mobile browsing experience EVER. Lofty statement. And again Apple has set the bar quite high. I had high hopes for Android. Afterall they use the same Web Kit browser so it ought to be good right? Well it is definitely the second best mobile browser. But it is a distant second. That said, third is so far behind it … Android’s implementation of the browser lacks pinch to zoom, and does not have the spit and polish of the iPhone. It seems generally clunky and slow in comparison to the iPhone. Compatibility is good (once the web site comes up) and things pan and zoom well. Browsing on a busy site can interrupt music playback a HUGE fopa in my mind. Never happens on an iPhone. I am really flabbergasted at how much worse the browser is on Android than on the iPhone.

Aps

The Ap store on the iPhone was truely industry changing. Brilliant by Apple. So much so, everyone is doing it. Microsoft have added it to Windows Mobile 6.5, Blackberry has added it, and Android has the market place. This is a fabulous idea making it much easier for end users to find the programs they need while providing an easy way for developers to get there code out there. A win-win situation.

A phone’s OS is complemented by the aps that can be loaded. That’s why Apple has focused on the “there’s an ap for that campaign”. It’s interesting that something Apple was reluctant to embrace (third party aps running on the iPhone) has become the cornerstone of the smart phone industry.

Let’s face it, for now there are more iPhones out there than Android. So developers focus on where the install base is. So for now the (iPhone) Ap store is blowing away anything else. With over 10x the number of aps the sheer volume of aps is dizzying. Now some of them are so stupid it’s unbelievable. But heh, if people download them, you can’t really argue. So I guess making a gesture and having an ap make a farting sound is somehow worthy of the bits it takes to get it (Pull my finger).

To date there have really only been two Android devices the Magic and the Dream. That’s all going to change with over 6 ready to announce or to announce in Nov 2009. They are targeting the mass market with these phones. They need to hit critical mass of users. There are a lot of different companies working on Android devices. Rogers just announced another one bringing their suit to three with more to come I am sure. This will change the landscape and bring competition to the iPhone. Then developers will embrace Android! It is the underdog but catching up fast. Android has already surpassed Windows Mobile to the point that Windows Mobile will soon be irrelevant if it’s not already. Microsoft have truly blown this one and missed the boat. Too bad really.

I will talk about some of my favorite aps from the iPhone:
Facebook – now available on iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile (not sure about Blackberry). The iPhone version always has the latest and greatest features, but the Andoid version includes a Widget to add to your homescreen so you always know the latest that is going on with friends and can post quickly your status

Tweetdeck – (Twitter update utility) only on the iPhone. This ap defines simplicity making it simple to add pictures and your location to your tweet which in turn updates facebook. iTweet on Andoid has similar functionality. I have not found one on Windows Mobile or Blackberry that does the same but it may exist. Most twitter aps are text based status updates. Boring.

Fring – available on the iPhone, Windows, Android, but not on Blackberry. This ap is the King of all instant messengers covering off so many different IM protocols it’s all you ever wanted and more. With the lack of background aps the program has it’s hands tied behind it’s back by Apple but it does support background notifications. I also found IM+ lite on Android and it works Ok but has none of the elegance. It does however work in the background with no muss, no fuss! Fring. The ap strangely enough does not allow you to click on URLs sent in the IM window.

Bloomberg – (Financial news and stock prices) available on iPhone, and Blackberry. This ap is great but there is no Android version. Very useful ap to keep on top of all the latest and greatest news and stock prices.

Weathereye – available on iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Mobile and Android. This ap is a great weather ap. You get all the details you need to plan your day ahead. The iPhone version is of course the slickest. The one on Android does not seem to support the touch screen very well. The buttons on the bottom of the screen are so small they are difficult to press. So much so at first I thought they weren’t supported. Weathernetwork
Update: Now includes a Widget

Yelp – (restaraunt/bar find/review) – Available on the iPhone and Blackberry. Sadly not available for Android or Windows Mobile. Sigh. Yelp
Update: An email from Yelp says they are working on it. In the mean time there is an ap called XEEKU that gives access to some Yelp content.

Google Mobile – Available on the iPhone, but not Android. This is bizarre to me. Google own Android? Now I know Google Mobile on the iPhone really ends up being nothing more than a short cut to the web versions but come on, this looks bad. And the browsing experience for Google reader on Android is painful in comparison to the iPhone. This is also odd given webkits is the browser on both iPhone and Android. But take some simple tasks. I am reading an RSS feed, click on a link and it nicely spins off a separate browser session. On the iPhone I read that article, click on the Windows buttons showing all available browser session, close the new one that opened with the article and press close and I am taken right back to where I was in my feeds. Brilliant and efficient. On Android, once I am done reading the article I have press menu, then windows, then close the one i was reading and then wait while it for some reason refreshes the main feed screen I was browsing on. And if I save say an image from the article I was reading it’s even more painful on Android. It pulls up a download window to show me it has downloaded it (no shit) which I have to close, then follow the rest of the above procedure. Clumsy as hell.

Flixster – (Movie time, locations, reviews) This is a great program, showing movies, DVDs etc. This ap is the King of multimedia integration. With location aware, access to movie times, trailers, reviews and everything. Very well done. And the Android version also works well. Trailers play fine. This is one that shows Android CAN be everything the iPhone is. You can even add your own review to a movie you watch. Not available on Windows Mobile or Blackberry (to my knowledge). I also use Now playing but Flixster is actually better. Flixster

WordPress – (Blog update) available on iPhone this program allows you to update your blog on the go.

Metro – (public transit maps for lots of cities all over the world) available for Windows Mobile, Blackberry and iPhone. This is a fabulous ap allowing you to easily find a route across the public transit systems of the world. I used it in New York and Paris when I was there and found it indispensible! Not available for Android. Web site says under evaluation. pooh. If you ever travel and use public transit I highly recommend this program Metro

Inrix – (traffic alerts with accident and construction site) Available for the iPhone and Android. An ok program that can be helpful when traveling around on the roads.

Shazam – (music identification) This is another of those industry changing aps. Truly revolutionary. Available on iPhone, Android, Blackberry, no on Windows Mobile. This ap records a snipit of a song you are hearing and then uploads it to the web, identifies it and tells what song it is, links into discographies and the whole 9 yards. On the iPhone it even links in with iTunes to let you buy it. On the iPhone you can email yourself the details, twitter it. Incredible. On Android for some odd reason they have left out the ability to do much with it. A shame. Obviously still in progress. The best you can do is find it on Amazon web and then email yourself the link.

ebay – only available on the iPhone. Pooh. I love this program it allows me to be reminded of soon to expire bids, check on listings and even bid on the go. Fabulous. I miss it already. How am I going to find my next phone without this?
Update: There is a program called Pikt Auctions that works ok, but I would prefer a offical ebay ap.

Stanza – (ebook reader). I love having an ebook with me. Anytime I have a spare moment I can pick up my phone and get on to it. I don’t read a lot but this does help. Stanza is quite good in that it links up with the Google and other open book libraries. It’s an iPhone only ap. I did find a program called Aldiko (odd name) for Android that is actually quite good. It too links into open libraries. I really like the interface showing a book shelf with books on it. Nice bit of fluff. Remembers were you left off. A little on the sluggish side but not aweful.

Android Aps

I already mentioned Cinema which is a free movie player interface. Well done.

Droid live allows streaming internet radio powered by Shoutcast. One of the benefits of Android is it actually keeps running in the background while you do other things! The program allows you to tag songs you hear you like for you to remember for later. It amazes me that these programs do not put some kind of cover art on while the song is playing.

Shop Savvy – (Product search) available only on Android. This is one of those killer aps I heard about on Android. This program is amazing. You hold the phone over a bar code and the program scans it (detects on it’s own when it has the bar code) goes to the net and finds prices, reviews etc. Holy crap, amazing. This supports twitter but strangely no ability to email yourself the product. pic2shop was the closest I found on the iPhone and it is in a different league with only partial coverage of products.

Terminal emulator gives you a command prompt into the native OS.

ES File Manager allows complete access to the file structure. Something impossible on the iPhone unless it is Jailbroken.

Given you need to keep control of background aps you will need a task manager or two. I have found two good ones. TaskPanel and Advanced Task Manager. Both allow you to easily kill background programs.

RunGPS – (Exercise based GPS logger). I missed this program when I left Windows Mobile and went to the iPhone. Happy to have it back.

Netashare – a good offline (and online) Google (RSS) reader

Handcent – this is a SMS text messaging ap that you can use in place of the default Messaging ap. It gives you an interface that looks exactly like the iPhone text messaging ap. Sweet!

Beautiful Widgets – provides an HTC Sense UI like set of Widgets. Very nice add to your home screen. Their web site

Aloqa – this is a good location aware ap that can tell you lots about what is near you. Everything from Gas stations, to bars, to restaurants etc! Quite well done.

Handcent – is an SMS replacement program that looks exactly like an iPhones. Complete with message threading. Well done and a nice replacement for the built in basic text messaging ap.

Music players

I played with a couple music players (in addition to the built in one)
Rock On – this programs adds some fluff to your music collection. It’s not cover flow but is a little neat. It also adds the ability to see what bands that are in your collection have concerts in your area. Now that’s interesting.

MixZin – is an Ok music player that adds in an ability to see info on the song and band that you are listening to.

There are tons of games for Android. Even classics like Namco Pacman, Tetris, Military madness and the list goes on. Quite an impressive list. And these are from the companies that created them showing how well companies are starting to embrace Android.

Market place

One of the things I like is that the Marketplace includes updates to installed programs, not just new. This is fabulous and keeps you on top of the latest and greatest. One of the things I don’t like about Androids implementation is that if you install an ap and then uninstall it, the program is still left over in the my downloads section of the Ap store. Clutter. I also wonder if this is wasting precious phone memory. As well the way they they show aps that need to be updated is you need to scroll through the list and notice an update is available. Apple have been much smarter and have a tab called updates and highlight what needs updating. There is also a simple update all button. So Android has some improvement needed.
Update: I have found Market Enabler which now explains “Android market is separated into regions (country and carrier specific) and some apps are just enabled for a specific country and not available to the other countries.” Now that explains a LOT.

Other non Marketplace aps

On top of the aps available in the marketplace you can also get grey market aps. These might include aps not allowed into the marketplace or aps that have been cracked. There is even another Code repository for people who can’t be bothered with the marketplace. To load programs not from the market place you will need to change the security setting.

Turn by turn GPS navigation apps that support Canada as of Nov/2009

One of the things I missed on the iPhone was turn by turn GPS navigation. While there was eventually ones in the market place they were quite expensive. Reviews did not wax lyrical and my own personal experience with the iPhone GPS (which is that it wasn’t great) meant I never bought one. I had a number for my Windows mobile devices. I found a number available for Android. There is even an open source once called AndNav2 that uses Open maps but at this point they don’t support Canada. These do:
Sygic
CoPilot Live
Destinator

Sprint Navigator

I even found Sprint Navigator on 4 Shared as well as many other programs. Sprint navigator is a turn by turn over the air navigation system that supports text to speech. They have even incorporated traffic data and warn you on your route. Dynamic reroutes are supported as well. The tool has the ability to email your current location. It can also navigate to your contacts. Routing is slow on the device but works ok. The map view even uses the internal compass to try and figure out where you are pointing. All in all not a bad program.

Accessories for the G1

There are lots of different accessories for your G1. From converters to convert HTC’s extUSB to a standard USB port to Cradles etc. This particular cradle is interesting in that it breaks out the power, extUSB and audio on the back as well as giving a slot to charge a spare battery! Check ebay, expansys and many other places!

One thing you will want to be aware of is the G1 comes with a sleeve. You can use this to protect it to put it in your pocket. If your like me and your use to belt clips this phone presents some challenges. The chin on it is raised and does not fit well in most cases. It is also too long to fit in a blackberry case. So you will need to improvise if you want yours in a belt clip holster.

Great wallpapers formatted for the G1 screen
How to make your own wallpapers with Photoshop

Once your done this link will help you wipe the contents of your phone.

How to hide files from gallery and music player!
Rogers G1
rogers-g1

T-Mobile G1
t-mobile_g1

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November 12, 2009 - Posted by | Android, Electronic gadget reviews

1 Comment »

  1. interesting.I learned one more thing:)

    Comment by James Hynde | November 30, 2010 | Reply


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