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Google Phone Update: Android 1.5 'Cupcake' Reviewed

The latest release of the software platform for Google's Android phone supports a software keyboard, YouTube uploader, and voice search.




The HTC Magic and other announced Android devices all include a touch component.
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Stereo Bluetooth

Android 1.5 Cupcake adds the advanced audio distribution profile, A2DP, to the G1's Bluetooth radio. This permits stereo playback of music to stereo Bluetooth headphones.

I had no problem pairing with a pair of Motorola S9HDs that I have. Music playback was just OK. It wasn't great. It sounded a bit muffled to me, and not as clear as it would be through regular, wired headphones.

As a point of comparison, I tested the S9s with a Nokia N85, and the sound quality was much better than that of the G1.

Another caveat to remember, stereo Bluetooth is a battery hog. If you plan to stream music wirelessly for even one hour, I'd plan to have a charger handy. Drawbacks aside, the option is now there, and if you're a fan of stereo Bluetooth, you can get your A2DP fix with the G1.

General Bug Fixes

Along with adding features, Google made sure to take the time to fix some bugs that had plagued Android firmware 1.1. For example, e-mail gets a large list of significant bug fixes including: mail notifications for POP3 accounts; new accounts are now set to check every 15 minutes (instead of defaulting to "never"); and there's also a fix to IMAP manually created accounts so deleting messages works properly.

The music player will now fade playback back in after suspending for a phone call. It also has a new media search function that allows for third-party apps to launch or respond to media searches based on artist, album, or title.

The browser is also showing some new capabilities, which include an updated WebKit browser core; support for a new, optimized JavaScript engine; copy/paste and find enabled in the browser; and substantially faster drawing. Pages with animations will load five times faster, according to Google.

In testing these all out, I found that the browser improvements were most noticeable. In my experience, Web pages load and render far faster, and navigating around each page is more fluid and natural.

Conclusion

In sum, the 1.5 update to Android makes the platform much stronger. It adds a host of missing features, makes improvements to the overall usability of the operating system, and makes the platform feel more complete. That's not to say that Google and the Android developer community can't make more improvements, but they've done a good job with this first real update to the platform.

If your HTC G1 hasn't already updated to Android 1.5, don't worry, it will soon.


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