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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Android v 1.5 a.k.a Cup Cake Review(Part I)



Today is the age of Touch screen smart phones and the competition is getting very tight. Windows and the Symbians are some of the oldest Mobile OS, which couldn’t fit to the demanding touch screen technology. It was iPhone OS who took over this touch screen arena by giving the user the simplest of GUI and the application support it is well known for. When things started to look like a monopoly, the internet search giant Google formed a Open Handset Alliance and came up with a new Mobile OS called the Android (In fact Google had acquired the small firm Android). The OHA consisted of many mobile players like HTC, Motorola, Samsung and many more. (To cope up with the competition Microsoft is completely redesigning their platform & coming up with Windows Mobile 7 And Symbian is made Open Source and called Symbian ^ 3).



The Android OS as you all know is derived from Linux, which is well structured. The OS was aimed at providing a flexible, upgradeable system that would meet the ever-demanding touch screen mobile market, which was gaining lot of attention. The first stable Android came in the form of Android V1.5 and Google called it the Cup Cake. And subsequent releases were called as Donut (v 1.6), Éclair (v2.1) and the yet to be released Froyo (v2.2). A recent census (in US) shows that Android has increased its 6 % share in Q3 2009 to 28 % share in Q1 2010, which is quite an achievement considering how well the RIM and iPhone has ruled the US market.(Census source: NPO Group)



So in this post I will try to cover some of the important aspects of the Android OS with Samsung Galaxy SPICA as the host mobile device. Unlike other devices on which Android OS has a customized look, the SPICA doesn’t come with any make over but for plain Android Cup Cake.




Lock/Unlock Screen:

As mentioned in the review post, when you press the lock screen button once, Android will display a summary information of the mobile including the service provider, date and charging status.

Long press the lock/unlock key and you will be presented with a pattern on the screen to
unlock the phone.
This unlock feature works like this: You have to supply in a pattern by atleast joining four dots. Once you set that up, every time you long press the lock/unlock key, you will be presented with this menu. The dots are joined in darkish pin color if the pattern your supplying is incorrect but then in green if you are supplying the correct combinations. If you incorrectly supply pattern for more than 5 attempts, then you need to wait for 30 seconds to supply a pattern.

On a first unlock, this feature will be disabled, you can enable/disable this feature from the settings.

*Warning: There is a critical bug in this pattern unlock. After multiple incorrect unlocks the phone will ask you to wait for 30 secs and giving you an option to select forgot password. There is no problem if you wait for 30 secs after which you can go ahead with the pattern. But if you press the forgot pattern bang!!!!! Theres the bug. From there on whenever you try to unlock the phone you will be presented with a login screen to login to a gmail account which is tied with this phone. No matter what combination you give in the phone simply says invalid username/password. And there after you will be able to use the phone just to receive call. And there is the solution. Attend an incoming call, press the cancel button(not the call end button) which will take you to the desktop. From there go to the settings and remove the unlock feature from the security settings. And now you can use your phone as normal. Would you like to use a buggy feature???? Not to worry if you are aware of what your doing!!!!

The Desktop:

Cupcake supports upto 3 desktops and as you can see the wallpaper is stretched to fit to all the desktops. On the main desktop you can see a pointer like icon, clicking on it will take you to the gadgets available on the phone. The gadgets are: Alarm Clock, Browser, Calculator, Calendar, Camcoder, Camera , Contacts , Dialer , Email, FaceBook, Gallery, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Talk, JAVA ME Apps, Market, Messaging, Music, My Space, Orkut, Settings , Switchers and YouTube.


When you press the menu key on the desktop, you will be presented with options to add shortcuts(to widgets as well),wallpaper from where you can browse through some of the custom wallpapers from android, Settings from where you can set system wide settings and a notification area which gives notifications of user as well as application widgets.

Notification area:

So when the phone is connected to the PC, the phone notifies that the phone is connected as USB. This can be viewed in the notification area by pressing the menu key from the desktop and then selecting notification.

The phone then displays a button to select to copy files/folders to/from PC to your Memory card. Once this is done, your card will be identified as a drive in your computer. And simultaneously the phone also gets charged. Once file transfers are complete you need to unmount both on the computer and in the phone from the same notification area.

And now there’s no way to access your phones memory, not even using the PC studio CD bundle given with the phone. PC studio as of now only supports to update the Phone to new firmware. This would simply mean that you cannot Sync your phone to your PC. The only way to get your contacts to your new phone is by importing from the SIM card or from the gmail account. There are some more work arounds that work which I will discuss later.

Dialer/Contacts:

Now lets concentrate on the aspects that are required for a phone to function as a phone. Clicking the Dialler launches the dialer application which displays an onscreen dialer similar to the ones found on non-touch screen phones. Just dial the number and press the call icon to the left of numbers just dialed to call. On top of the dialer there are three more tabs.

The call log displays all the incoming/outgoing and missed calls. Incoming calls are indicated by an incoming arrow and an outgoing arrow for out going call. Missed calls are indicated by reflective arrow. Missed call is also alerted in the notifications area. Unfortunately the phone does not beep or remind you of missed call other than notifying. I have missed many calls and noticed only when I looked at the notification area. There are work arounds for this too which I will do it later.


The next tab is the contacts tab, which is actually your phone book. A single contact can have multiple numbers,
multiple email ids, ring tone for each contact and an option to specify call divert as well. You can add photos as well to your contacts.

You can select some of your contacts to be favourites, something similar to marking your important mails as starred in gmail for easy retrieval. The favourites tab will display all the contacts marked as favourite. Just press the star next to the contact and your contact will be marked as favourite. Other than this, the favourite tab also lists most frequently called contacts.

Browsing through the contacts is breezy. On just scrolling down, you will notice a small bar, which just tells you on which alphabet (contacts starting with) you currently are. Dragging that bar will take you to the desired alphabet quickly.

There is also options to import contacts from the SIM card. You can either import all the contacts/ import only selected contacts. Now Android does not recognize the numbers stored in your SIM card. To recognize a contact you have to import it to your mobile.

Messaging:

Android identifies whether you are creating a SMS or MMS on the fly based on the attachments. There is no separate provision for Inbox/Outbox/Sent messages. All the messages are stored together in the log. All the SMS/MMS are showed in threaded view meaning all the SMS/MMS from a user are clubbed together in a single view.


On composing a message you have two text boxes namely To (Recipient number) and one for the message. Tapping on any of these text boxes will launch the numpad/keypad respy. If the mobile has an accelerometer (most of them have) then you can type/view on both portrait and landscape mode.



On long pressing any of these input textboxes, will show you a list of options including cut, copy, paste and input options. From here you can select the input method. Android Keyboard, Samsung keyboard and Hindi keyboard were some of the pre installed input methods. The Samsung keyboard has layouts similar to the non-touch screen phones.

continues in Part 2.

1 comment:

Free As In Freedom - Not Like Free Beer said...

I'll better wait for cupcake to get cooked :-)