Monthly Archives: March 2010

Google G1: Six Months On

So six months ago I bought my Google G1, my first impressions were excited and extremely positive. Has this phone stood the test of time though?

Physically

The phone is still in good physical condition, which is more than I could have said about my old XDA Atom Flame after six months. There are a few scratches on the screen, but I bought a screen protector for it so I can simply peel them off. Surprisingly the various crevices on the phone have avoided build ups of dust which commonly plagues my phones. The battery is beginning to fade, and can only last me around 12 hours with my ordinary usage (which is probably considered heavy usage). This makes weekends away from home interesting as I have to avoid using my phone to stretch the battery over 24 hours.

When I first got the phone I expected that the keyboard keys would fade, or that the keyboard snap mechanism would somehow break. I was wrong, the keys are still as visible as when I first got it, and the snap mechanism still works perfectly.

The OS

In the time I’ve had this phone Android has gone from 1.1 to 2.0. Sadly there haven’t been any official new releases of the phone software. There have however been releases of the well known mod for this phone called ‘CyanogenMod’. Currently CyanogenMod is at Android version 1.5 with parts of 2.0 ported across.

Since the first week I had the phone I’ve been using CyanogenMod and have seen the improvements in it take it from strength to strength. Originally it looks almost the exact same as the original OS but now it includes several features that I could not live without. My favorites would be:

  • Tethering to my Linux PC
  • OpenVPN settings
  • 360 degree rotation
  • Improved contacts screen with direct call links
  • Voice Search

The Applications

Like any mobile OS the best part is the applications. This is where an OS either make it or breaks it. While Google have been constantly improving the Android platform old apps have remained around and stayed compatible with the phone. Google has also held two developer competitions during the time I’ve had the phone which has brought loads of new apps and innovation. So as each application is its own entity I’m going to review my favorites separately.

Google Maps

When I got the phone Google Maps was simply a map, with limited search capability and able to give directions. Since then however Google have added Street View, Navigation (US Only sadly), Buzz and much better searching. For something I used once a month I now use it almost daily.

ConnectBot

One of the reasons I went for a phone with a hardware keyboard was to make SSHing into my Linux machines easier. ConnectBot handles this perfectly. I cannot stress enough how useful this application is. Recently it has been improved to include support for SSH agents too which improved things even further.

My Tracks

As someone who enjoys hiking and walking having a GPS logger can be extremely useful. My Tracks basically turns your Android phone into a GPS logger and displays the data for you on a map. It also allows you to export the logs in popular formats or simply upload them to My Maps on Google. It can also graph your elevation, speed and display interesting statistics.

Conclusion

All up I still enjoy this phone, and still use it daily. I am looking at moving to either an N900 or the Google Nexus One next. I haven’t moved because the N900 has been having trouble with the USB connectors breaking off, and the Nexus One is too expensive to import into Australia. I doubt I’ll be moving to another phone any time soon and this phone doesn’t look like it will give out any time in the near future.

Random Thought: What is the cell phone market going to look like five years from now? And where the hell is my wristwatch phone?