This is Motorolla’s grab at the iPhone crown, and their top-end smartphone. Of course, as soon as I bought it, Google announced the Nexus One, due 5th Jan, but that’s tech for you..
This was my xmas present to myself. A little extravagant, but I’ve come to realise how useful a one handed computer with speaker can be when Fred-sitting, and the G1, bless it, was definitely an early adopter device (on an unrelated note, I have an excellent T-Mobile G1 – unlocked – available for sale..). I realised I loved the Android OS, but hated the phone itself – battery life was poor, even with the extended battery I bought (which turns it into a brick), I rarely got 2 days. The brain dead design decision to make the headphone socket require a mini-USB adaptor means I always had to carry converters (I’ve got several now), and the sound quality was never excellent. I ended up rooting it to get the ability to use it as a 3G modem with Wifi and Bluetooth tethering – a very useful tool, that I use on about a monthly basis (well, did until I got a work laptop with a 3G card and the work 3G Blackberry tethered (works out the box on Linux and Windows 7 with the bluetooth DUN profile – why cannot all other manufacturers do this?)). I even put a custom firmware on to give new features – but it was clear that technical limitations meant the G1 wouldn’t be getting Android 2.0.
Upgrade was super easy with MyBackupPro which dumps SMS, playlists and similar ephemera to the SD card (and because its Linux under the hood, can be cron jobbed to do so on a regular basis), and DoggCatcher (my podcast client), which can backup and restore its config (including current listening position in files!) to SD card. Once that was done I just swapped the card.
Once again I went through the Android device initial sync with Google pain (although you don’t have to with Android 2.0/Eclair – you can be Google Free if you want), which is where it gives you the option to set the time, including a ‘get from network’ option. If you chose this, it doesn’t get/set the time, and the connection to google fails (probably because the SSL can’t negotiate a handshake as it thinks its 1970..). Once you set the time manually, its all smooth sailing.
Apps I installed immediately;
- Aldiko (Open Source eBook reader with capability to download purchases from Orielly eBook shelf)
- Astrid (Open Source GTD app)
- Barcode Scanner (required for Shop Savvy and v. cool)
- DoggCatcher (Podcast client and player – I use this to download all my podcasts direct these days)
- Musical Pro (Metronome, tuner and assorted ‘instruments’
- MyTracks (GPS recorder and running tool)
- MyBackupPro (see above)
- NewsRob (Google Reader offline client for RSS feeds)
- Nru (cool positional lastminute.com client)
- Retro Defense (Desktop Tower Defence game)
- Scrobble Droid (last.fm integration with music player)
- Shop Savvy (scan barcodes and find local prices, web prices etc)
- Swift (Twidroid not available for Milestone it seems, but this is actually a better Twitter client)
- Wikitude (Augmented Reality Wikipedia App. V cool)
Most impressed with the ‘Phone Portal’ app that Motorolla have bundled – gives a web app that can be accessed via wifi to be able to add/remove/manipulate contacts, appontments, music etc – runs fine in Firefox 3.5 in Linux!
When connected via USB, you have four choices; sync, windows sync, mount card and no action (just charging I presume). When selecting sync, you get the very promising;
Dec 30 17:29:21 UncertianGuest kernel: [21711.212133] usb 1-3: new high speed USB device using ehci_hcd and address 32
Dec 30 17:29:21 UncertianGuest kernel: [21711.345245] usb 1-3: configuration #1 chosen from 1 choice
Dec 30 17:29:21 UncertianGuest kernel: [21711.425120] usbcore: registered new interface driver cdc_acm
Dec 30 17:29:21 UncertianGuest kernel: [21711.425128] cdc_acm: v0.26:USB Abstract Control Model driver for USB modems and ISDN adapters
Nothing else appeared, no magic 3G modems in Network Manager, so I may have to go digging into HCIConfig, or whatever the hell Linux/Ubuntu is using this week to manage its devices – expertise with this much appreciated!
(Update: just googled, and there is loads out there, just not as easy as the old WifiTether – this is a marked improvment on even a few weeks ago, when I had run the search prior).
Also comes with the Motorolla SatNav application MotoNav, which I’m looking forward to putting through its places. I went all out and also bought the car kit and cradle as well, but Expansys had no stock of the latter and mucked up shipping of the former by only shipping the cradle, no suction mount etc (The nice customer services lady said they’d had trouble with this before xmas and would ship me the remaining bits, but they haven’t turned up today..), so until I have the car kit I won’t be trialling the satnav. Also, its a ‘two months free’ type service IIRC, which we’ll have to see about, since I have a perfectly good Garmin Nuvi 310…
Hardware wise much nicer. The keyboard is just as usable, although the delete key is uncomfortably near the top edge of the case, so I keep hitting enter instead. Battery appears as good(?) as the G1 with the extended battery, but then the touchscreen is larger and (joy of joys) multitouch. Battery management tools built in tell me that its the display that’s used all of the power – I used it on 3G a lot inside buildings today researching Fob watches (another story), so am not surprised the battery is now low.
Its slimmer than the G1, although feels heavier, but MUCH sturdier.
Bluetooth has OBEX push I think, which is new to go along with the preexisting stereo headset profiles although I’ve not scanned the profiles yet..
5mp camera – haven’t uploaded any photos yet, so the jury is still out (and I’m not the worlds best photographer)..
In the last couple of days, the jailbreaking procedure to gain root has been posted. I’ll hold off for now, as Tethering was the only thing I used that for but good to know I could if I wanted.
Its not an iPhone beater, because Android still doesn’t have the user at its heart, but if you like being able to muck around with your phone, or want one that ‘just works’ while avoiding Apple this is the best I’ve found..
Right..that’s enough detail for now – managed to stay awake to see the new year in, I think! Happy New year All!