With the Cupcake update earlier this year, the G1 was improved with a Video Camera, Google Talk and an onscreen keyboard. We also got a Photo Gallery (instead of Pictures) and stereo Bluetooth support. Wish I had one of those headsets. We could also now add smilies to messages or put widgets on our home screens. There were a few other changes, too. I liked the G1 already, but Cupcake was an improvement.
Google has released another update, creatively call Donut. I got Donut on October 5th and was excited to see what all was new or changed.
I used to have two icons on my G1’s home screen for cameras. One for the regular camera (still pictures) and one for the video camera. The Donut update let me delete one of those, letting me see a bit more of Prague of the home screen. (The World Tour app let’s you put a web cam as your home screen. Mine is Charles Bridge in Prague.) This is because of a major change in the Camera app. Now it’s integrated with the video camera and the picture Gallery. So you can use just one icon to open the app, then flick a virtual switch to choose still pictures or video. A small icon above the switch gets you to the Gallery to see you photos or movies. You can even use an onscreen tap to take a photo now. Of course, you can also still use the hardware button.
Another big change with the Donut update is the Maps app. Maps is now called Google Maps as an icon label, and the icon itself is a little crisper. But the real change, is, of course, with the program. The zoom buttons are now in the lower right corner rather then lower center. This will help get them out of the way. I would sometimes zoom when I really just wanted to tap part of the map there. Google Maps (both on the phone and the computer) include StreetView, an option that lets you see a view from the street in all directions. You can look up to see the sky, down to see the street, and all around to see the buildings, trees, etc. Before Donut, to get StreetView, you’d click the Menu button and tap Map Mode and then StreetView. Now it’s integrated into the map. You only have to long-press on a point of the map to get the StreetView option.
And I just now found out that, yes, there are finally StreetViews for Old Town Prague! I can now virtually visit my favorite city on my phone! I’m not limited to just Charles Bridge from the Mala Strana side. Oh, I’ll be playing with this for days!
Another great addition to Google Maps are directions for walking and public transit. Previously, only driving directions were offered. Just click Menu then tap Directions. Below the fields for Start Point and End Point are three buttons. Tap the Car icon for driving directions. Tap the Bus icon for public transit. And tap the Walk icon (a man walking) for walking direction.
YouTube changed a bit, too, with Donut. There used to be a scroll of thumbnails for the most popular videos. That is gone. But there is a list of the Most Viewed three videos on the main screen when you first open YouTube. Scroll down for Most Discussed, Most Recent, and Top Rated. You can also choose to see a full list of each. Of course, you can still search for a video using the menu or an icon in the upper right corner. Menu will also give you options for Upload, My account, Categories, and Settings.
For those with a My Faves account, you have a handy app to find your Faves. Before Donut, when I would tap a Fave icon, nothing would happen. I had to click the trackball to get a menu of options like Call, Send SMS, etc. Now, with Donut, I can tap the icon to get that list. A minor change but one I like.
The Android Market has changed its looks significantly. The screen is now metallic silver and white instead of black. There is no scroll of popular app icons at the top. There is a search icon in the top right-hand corner. Three headers lead you to apps (Apps, Games, Downloads) while Featured apps are shown below. Downloads is the former My Downloads, of course, where you can see all the apps you’ve downloaded to update, open, or uninstall them. And now, when you tap an app to learn more, you get the summary and reviews as before, but you also get screen shots. A nice improvement.
It’s Not Just for G1 Anymore
While the G1 was the first Android phone on the market, the myTouch is the second such phone for T-Mobile. And, according to a CNet article, the Motorola Cliq and Samsung Bold II will be Android phones as well for T-Mobile. In addition, soon Sprint will introduce its first Android phone as the HTC Hero. On November 1st, Sprint will start selling the Samsung Moment, and Android phone, of course. Verizon is also planning a couple Android phones as well. AT&T is even expected to have an Android phone soon, produced by Dell.
The Google Android Party has Begun http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-12261_7-10370495-10356022.html