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Published: November 4, 2008 at 3:15 PM
The Android Market has been growing steadily since the T-Mobile G1 launched this October. Thanks to the five-star rating system and user comments, in the market, it's been relatively easy to identify the applications worth downloading and those that should be avoided altogether. Here's a list of the top 5 Android applications that every G1 shouldn't be without.
- Locale (and Locations): Locale dynamically manages your phone settings based on conditions such as location and time. Locale works in conjunction with Locations—an application that pinpoints your GPS coordinates—and requires Locations if you're using geographic rules in your settings. You'll never have to worry about your ringer going off in the wrong place or at the wrong time. I personally use Locale to set my G1 to use my wireless Internet connection whenever I'm at home.
- ShopSavvy and CompareEverywhere: I've found that both ShopSavvy and CompareEverywhere have their unique upsides and are most effective when used in tandem. Use the camera in your phone to scan the barcode of any product to find the best prices on the Internet and at nearby, local stores. You can then read product reviews to find what others think as well as keep track of your items in a shopping list.
- Twidroid: If you tweet, Twidroid is for you. Twidroid a full-featured, mobile Twitter client that includes direct messaging, photo posting and background notifications. Twidroid is still in beta so not all of the features work flawlessly, but it boasts a clean, easy-to-use interface and has a lot of promise.
- WeatherBug: WeatherBug uses your GPS location information to provide live, local weather information featuring location-based forecasts, severe weather alerts, radar and satellite maps, camera views and more. WeatherBug is the most comprehensive weather tool in the Android Market.
- Dial Zero: Dial Zero allows you to quickly dial the customer service number of over 600 companies and skip the prompts to speak directly with a person. No more menu trees or annoying voice recognition software to stand in your way!
Published: October 28, 2008 at 6:04 PM
I’ve been at it for one week with my Android-based, T-Mobile G1. I admit that every time I get a new cell phone I either get a tinge of buyer’s remorse or end up comparing it to my previous phone more than I should. The G1 is no exception. When I pulled the G1 out of the box, my initial impression was that it was a bit clunky, bulky and even heavy. I know comparing the G1’s size to a Motorola RAZR (which it’s replacing) isn’t exactly fair considering what the G1 is capable of, but a precedence had been set.
What the G1 lacks in aesthetics, it more than makes up for in functionality. Sure I would love the G1 to be the same size as the RAZR, but my concerns that the G1 would be a brick in my pocket subsided as I familiarized myself with the Android interface and started making use of the features that I cursed my RAZR for not having. I also felt better when I had a chance to compare the G1’s vitals to a friend’s iPhone. The weight of the two devices is very similar and though the G1 is thicker, the QWERTY keyboard that adds to the extra thickness is totally worth it.
Once I got over the dimension shock, the only real issue I had with the G1 is battery life. If you’ll be using your G1 heavily throughout the day, you’ll need to keep a charger handy. Even with recommended settings to extend the battery life (GPS, brightness, WiFi and auto sync settings turned down or off) the phone eats up the charge quickly. I would imagine that if you took the phone on a trip to use as a reference guide and were out of the hotel all day sightseeing, you wouldn’t make it into the evening without needing a charge. I’m not sure how this compares to the battery life on an iPhone, but I could definitely see it being an issue at some point.
What I don’t see being an issue is the Android Market. There have been dozens of new applications added since theG1 launched on the 22nd and every time I check the Android Market, the application and game libraries seems to be growing. Obviously some of the applications are more useful than others, but it’s nice to know there’s no shortage of developers working on the Android platform. I’ll blog a more detailed account of some of my favorite applications later in the week, but want to include a quick real world example of how the G1 is making a difference in my life.
I downloaded one of the first applications available in the Android Market, named QuickList, to create a running grocery list throughout the week. If you’re wondering why I don’t just write a list out, I’ve tried and since my list isn’t at my hip at all times—like my phone—I always seem to forget something. As I navigated the aisles of my local Publix this weekend, checking off the list items as I add them to my cart, I didn’t have that usual “I’m forgetting something” feeling that comes over me right before I check out. When I cleared those automatic doors I not only felt confident that I got everything I needed, I also realized that for once, I didn’t forget the garbage bags!
In the end, my week with the G1 was as much of a learning experience as a realization that the device has the ability to change the way people live their lives. It’s not that the G1 can make you a better shopper, a healthier eater, an accurate tipper or even more productive, but it gives you the tools that put you on the right track.
Published: October 20, 2008 at 8:28 PM
If you follow me on Twitter, about a month ago I tweeted about a 16GB microSDHC card by SanDisk. The card just hit the market in the UK and at the time was available for around $80 shipped to the U.S. I decided to buy one of these cards since I pre-ordered the T-Mobile G1 and it only comes with a measly 1GB microSD card, but supports microSDHC. My order was shipped (dispatched if you're in the U.K.) quickly and arrived with plenty of time to spare for the G1, so I snapped a few photos.
For those of you unfamiliar with SDHC, it's a flash memory card format that supports capacities of 4GB and beyond. Chances are you're most likely using an SD (under 4GB) or SDHC (over 4GB) card in your digital camera. microSD—used mostly for cell phones—is a teeny-tiny version of SD memory. So a microSDHC card is basically a mini SDHC card that supports high capacity memory. Not to make matters any more confusing, but you can use an adapter and plug a microSDHC card into an SDHC fitting to create an SDHC card and there are USB adapters that allow you to plug an SDHC card into them, creating what equates to a flash memory stick. The last photo in the set will help differentiate between the types and gives you a size comparison so you have a better idea of what's what. Now that I've got my memory, I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that UPS gets my G1 to me in one piece.
Published: October 18, 2008 at 10:43 AM
I've pulled the plug on cable television. I called to cancel my television service on Thursday and dropped off my HD-DVR this morning to make it official. I decided to stop paying for cable for because it was costing me about a $100 a month and I only watched a few stations that weren't the major networks. Now that most television content and shows are available online—be it on the networks' Web sites, Hulu.com or marketplaces like Xbox Live, Zune and iTunes—I shouldn't miss much of anything, if anything at all. As a trade off, I decided to pay an extra $10 a month to increase the speed of my Internet connection, since I'll be doing a lot of downloading. I think the hardest part will be the ESPN and Fox Soccer Channel withdraws, but I figure I can always drop into a bar and catch a game. This reminds me of when I dumped my land-line phone several years back and used my cell phone as my primary phone. It took a bit of adjustment getting used to monitoring my minutes, just as I imagine downloading shows will takes some getting used to, but in the end it was a good decision that felt quite liberating.
Published: September 25, 2008 at 8:16 PM
Yesterday I touched on some of the disappointing aspects of the T-Mobile G1. Though the G1 isn't flawless, it does have several key features that will make it a viable competitor in the mobile market. And so I give you the 7 haves of the T-Mobile G1.
- Android: The reason for all the buzz. Because Android is open source, it gives developers unlimited possibilities. This means that, hardware permitting, there really isn't anything the software can't conceivably do.
- Android Market: Yes, the iPhone has its own App Store, but the Cupertino-clan clamps down on the content. T-Mobile and Google have pledged a no-policing policy for the Android Market, so if you want to flash your status by blowing a grand on a real gem of an application, go for it!
- micoSDHC: Equipped with only 1 GB out of the box, the G1's memory is easily upgraded by swapping in a higher capacity microSDHC card. Currently, most 8 GB microSDHC cards run for under $30, 16 GB cards are starting to hit the market at around $70, and higher capacity cards are in the works.
- QWERTY Keyboard: The inclusion of a slide-out QWERTY keyboard frees up on-screen real estate and maximizes the application viewing area. It's also a nice addition for those who prefer the feel of buttons when keying in text.
- Service: When the G1's 1GB, monthly, data-transfer limit raised customer concerns, T-Mobile quickly lifted the cap. When asked about tethering capabilities, T-Mobile CTO Cole Brodman didn't encourage the practice, but acknowledged the possibility existed through potential third-party applications. T-Mobile has a track record of great customer service, but they actually seem to understand and embrace the Pandora's Box they're opening with Andriod.
- Accelerometer: The G1's built-in accelerometer gives you more control of your device, literally. In addition to powering the Compass tool in Google Maps' Street View mode by panning the on-screen view of a city street with your physical movements (up, down, right and left), the accelerometer helped Google co-founder Sergey Brin develop an application clocking the time it took him to catch his G1 after tossing it in the air. Laughingly, Brin didn't think throwing the application up on Android Marketplace was a good idea.
- Wi-Fi Connectivity: Having to rely on Wi-Fi for your broadband connectivity negates the mobility of the G1, but T-Mobile's fledgling 3G network isn't available in all areas. In those instances, Wi-Fi broadband connectivity is better than no connectivity. The real benefit of Wi-Fi on the G1 is that it opens the possibility of cross-network communication between itself and other devices, third-party software permitting.
Published: September 24, 2008 at 1:29 PM
Now that everyone has had time to digest the full specs for the T-mobile G1, here is a list of 7 missing or incomplete features. My biggest gripes are the omission of GPS and the exclusion of a built-in headphone jack, but there are a few more that will undoubtedly prove to be nuisances.
- GPS: Sure there's Google Maps, but how are you supposed to take full advantage of ShopSavvy's results for best prices and inventories of nearby stores?
- Desktop Sync Software: So you can play music on the device, but you can't sync the music (or anything else for that matter such as photos, contacts, etc.) with a computer?
- 3.5mm Headphone Jack: So you can play music on the device, but you can't listen to it without an adapter? I dislike proprietary cables on gaming consoles and I dislike them even more on cell phones. Proprietary cables and adapters need to go!
- 1 GB Memory: So you can load applications, music and photos on the G1 but you only get 1 GB of memory? I like the idea of the microSD card slot for expansion, but 1 GB included memory is not enough considering the G1 is being marketed as what equates to a phoputer (coined!).
- Flash: It's surprising that Flash wasn't included out of the gate considering one of the biggest complaints about the iPhone (besides the inability to copy and paste) is the lack of Flash support.
- Multi-Touch Screen: We double-click with our mice, why not let us double tap with our fingers? This isn't a huge omission, but one that didn't consider usability.
- Video Recording: The marketing team for the G1 was sure to tout the 3 megapixel camera's auto-focus feature—a veiled reference to the blurry picture problems with the iPhone—but until someone develops video recording software, you'll have to settle for those crisp, in-focus stills.
Published: September 23, 2008 at 4:32 PM
My order for the T-Mobile G1 (a.k.a. Google Phone, a.k.a. gPhone, a.k.a. Android Phone, a.k.a. HTC Dream, a.k.a. iPhone Killer) is in. As luck would have it my 2-year agreement was expiring so I was able to get the G1 at the upgrade price of $179.99—with tax and the other obligatory fees it rings up at about $202 bottom line. So why, with an expiring contract, would I choose the G1 over the iPhone? Android. One word; simple as that.
The iPhone is an elegant device that is maturing nicely thanks to its dedicated following and growing application library. That noted, the reason I opted not to get the iPhone is the same reason I don't own an iPod or a Mac—I feel as though I have no control over the device, its OS or its software. In justification to the previous comment, I've used Macs extensively, I've used iTunes, and I just don't get that sense of freedom that I get with other non-Mac devices. I realize there are (warranty voiding) options that will allow me to make modifications (jailbreak) to the iPhone, but I prefer to avoid anything with a connotation to jail.
In all seriousness, a perfect example of the freedom empowered by Android was illustrated during T-Mobile's G1 unveiling. During the Q-and-A session of the press conference, a reporter asked whether the G1 would be capable of acting as an Internet gateway for a laptop or other device (also known as tethering). The panel suggested that the G1 wasn't intended to be tethered, however, since both Google and T-Mobile have confirmed they will not be policing the Android application store it's possible for someone to develop an application capable of allowing device tethering. And tethering is just the beginning of the possibilities thanks to the flexibility of the open source operating system.
In the end, my decision to go with the G1 instead of the iPhone was based on my newly-discovered fondness of open source software. I'm finding myself to be a firm believer that the community is better at addressing the needs of its users than a proprietary entity is at calling the shots. Yeah, the iPhone is a sleek and attractive device, but the beauty of the T-Mobile G1 isn't on the outside, it's the Android on the inside.