Linked by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on Thu 7th May 2009 00:13 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless For users in the United Kingdom, the Cupcake update has already started rolling and will continue to throughout the month. Users in the United States will have to wait until late next week for the updates to begin rolling, but patience is, after all, a virtue. New features include Picasa and YouTube uploads directly from one's phone, and that's spiffy. Cupcakes are quite tasty, so I think.
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My thoughts on the Cupcake Update
by MrWeeble on Thu 7th May 2009 14:13 UTC
MrWeeble
Member since:
2007-04-18

Well, I installed it last night onto my G1 on T-Mobile UK, and overall my impression of it is positive. The first noticeable change is that they have modified the themes somewhat, for instance the lock screen now is slightly translucent showing through to the home screen background. I would hesitate to say the theme is any particular improvement over the old one, but they do say that a change is as good as a rest. One improvement is that the slide outs and screen transitions do seem smoother. I would struggle to say what about the old system was un-smooth, but there is an improvement there.

As for features the most obvious addition is the new on-screen keyboard. We knew this was coming due to the imminent introduction of Android based mobile phones without physical keyboards (small clarification to what, the HTC Magic is not the successor to to the HTC Dream/G1, it is a new line. Both models will be available at the same time - from different operators.

Even though I have a physical keyboard, I have found it useful to use this, for minor text entry, like replying "ok" to an SMS for instance. It is one of the features I most missed when coming from a Windows Mobile, so I am glad that it has been added to Android. The predictive text element of it is useful, though I have not used it enough to determine if it learns, which would of course make it more useful.

Another new feature is the camcorder app, which allows you to record video with the phone's camera. This was a much needed feature that seemed a glaring ommision to me. Obviously no-one is going to be making films with this, but if you want to capture an event in video then your phone is usually a hell of a lot closer than your camcorder. A nice little integration is the ability to upload your videos directly to YouTube. I don't use YouTube myself, but I am sure it would be useful for those who do. A similar integration has been added to the camera app to enable pictures to be uploaded to Picasa. While I also don't use Picasa, I might actually be persuaded to do so thanks to this feature, which is, I am sure, why Google added it. There is no Picasa client app, like there is a YouTube app, so I guess you just access it via the browser on the phone.

The original Android had a rather paltry selection of widgets for placing on the screens, an analogue clock, a photo frame and a search bar. None of these were particularly useful, but served to show that such things were possible. This update has improved matters with a new couple of widgets to add. The calendar app is the most useful for me, allowing be to see the next event in my Google Calendars at a glance without needing to open the app. A tap on the widget opens the full app, so removing the need for the separate app shortcut that used to be on my home screen. The other new widget is a cut down interface for the music app, it allows play/pause skip to next and show the currently playing song. Similarly a tap on the widget will open the full app for when you need more control.

While not widgets, the update has also added a few new items to be added to the home screens. There is the possibility to add shortcuts to Google Mail labels, contacts or bookmarked websites. Also you can now add folders to the home screen. The can contain app shortcuts (I have all of my games in a single folder now) or a subset of your contacts, useful if your contacts contain a lot of contacts but you will only need to call some of them. One issue I have with the folders is when apps are placed in there, they are in the order in which they were added and this can not be changed. The ability to reorganise within the folder would be, for me at least, desirable.

The final change I have noticed is that the former Instant Messaging app, which in the States I understand to support multiple protocols, but over here in Blighty, only ever supported Google Talk has been replaced with a dedicated Google Talk app. This of course may be UK specific.

I am sure there are other changes that are not apparent, and to me that is the hallmark of a good update, features that make your life easier in little ways that when you use them you have to wonder, is this new, or did I just never use it before?

Blimey I waffled on for a hell of a lot longer that I expected, sorry if I bored you.

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