For many months I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of Google’s next version of the Android operating system – code-named Cupcake.
I was excited this morning when I turned on the handset, to be greeted with a simple upgrade message:
“Android OS 1.5 (Cupcake release). This is an update for your HTC Dream. Enjoy several new features such as on-screen soft keyboard, video recording, faster browser and more.”
Okay okay, you don’t need to prompt me twice. Of course I did what every other self-respecting Google-phone owner would do: I tapped ’Upgrade’ with gay abandon.
In just a few moments I was sucking-down 44 megs of the best, all via the ’3′ data network.
The installer prompted me to restart the phone twice, and within a few minutes I was running Android OS 1.5 on my HTC Dream.
There are lots of User Interface (UI) improvements. In the ‘locked’ screen, the network type (3G or Roaming) is displayed, along with the carrier you’re connected to, and the date and time. Also the phone’s wallpaper is displayed under the lock message which looks nice, instead of just a black screen.
Importantly, all my applications were still installed and all of my user data and settings were left intact. Good work Google.
On-screen keyboard. This is great, and long overdue. Just tap wherever data-entry is required, and an on-screen soft keyboard appears, much like the Apple iPhone interface. Press the hard back / return key to hide the on-screen keyboard. It looks small, but seems to be quite accurate. There’s also a predictive spelling option which works well.
Video recorder. At last! A new application called ‘Camcorder’ lets you record audio and video. There’s a setting for high-quality (to write to the SD card) and low-quality (for quick snippets intended for MMS’ing).
Accelerometer. The in-built acceleromter was never used in first incarnations of Google’s Android. Now there’s a setting which automatically switches between landscape and portrait modes depending on the angle of the dangle.
Other tweaks and improvements.
Contacts. The Call Log, Contacts and Favourites menus are more polished. Contacts’ image thumbnails appear in your favourites, which is nice.
There are also new menu options to edit sync groups, and import contacts from your SIM card.
Calendar. More UI changes: nice, more polished.
Browser. Again, more UI changes. Looks good and loads everything a bit faster.
Battery Life. The much-bemoaned appalling battery life of the HTC Dream is said to be addressed in this release of Android. All I can say, after one day of experimenting, is watch this space!! The thing hasn’t died on me yet, but I’ve only made half-a-dozen calls today and haven’t given the Bluetooth or wireless features a good hammering.
In my “HTC Dream – first impressions” post in March this year, I listed several things which irked me:
Battery Life – see above. Stay tuned.
FM Radio – well that’s not going to happen in a software patch, is it? Actually I’ve been using a 3rd-party app called StreamFurious to listen to on-line radio stations. It works really well, and even has a bandwidth counter which runs in the foreground, so you’re always aware of the application’s ‘bandwidth footprint’.
Camera – video now supported, see above. The lag’s still there.
Microsoft Integration, File Browsing and Notepad - No, no and no.
Google Latitude – fixed in a ‘point release’ about two months back: see this post for details.
All in all, I’d say that Cupcake is a good effort, and worth the upgrade. The ability to record video, and tap an on-screen keyboard will be warmly welcomed. Support for the in-built accelerometer is also a nice improvement.
Google, keep the updates coming. Apple, pay attention to your competitors, I don’t think they’re that far behind.