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Ten Features To Love About Android 1.5 384

Posted by kdawson
from the catchup-and-leapfrog dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Last month, Google officially announced the Android 1.5 update, dubbed 'cupcake.' The new software is apparently ready to roll out to Android-powered devices beginning tomorrow. Make no mistake, Android 1.5 is a major upgrade — they could have called it 2.0. The software brings a host of new capabilities, some of which can't be found on rival mobile platforms, including video recording and sharing."
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Ten Features To Love About Android 1.5

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  • Cupcake (Score:5, Funny)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @08:44PM (#27901347)
    And people think admitting that installing "Jaunty Jackalope" is embarrasing. Cupcake.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've tried numerous times to program for this platform but I hate it so much.

    • by HeronBlademaster (1079477) <heron@xnapid.com> on Sunday May 10, 2009 @09:22PM (#27901591) Homepage

      I find it difficult to program for the Android platform, but only because it's a *very* different programming paradigm. Rather than a single entry point, as with a standard computer program, there are half a dozen entry points. This isn't really a bad thing - having a single entry point would just mean you'd have to figure out which task needs to be done at the beginning of the program.

      In other words, the OS does the hard part for you.

      You might hate that style of programming, but it doesn't make it bad - and it certainly doesn't mean there are a million things to hate about the Android platform.

      (There may, in fact, actually be a million things to hate about Android. I don't have an Android-based device, so I wouldn't know; I've only fiddled with the emulator in the SDK. My point is simply that the programming paradigm needed to write software for the Android platform isn't one of the things you should be hating.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by moon3 (1530265)
        There is no native code (C/C++) SDK for it last time I've checked, that was about a half year ago. That is a show stopper for lot of people.
        • by HeronBlademaster (1079477) <heron@xnapid.com> on Sunday May 10, 2009 @11:24PM (#27902391) Homepage

          That is correct, all application development is done in Java. Yes, that is a show-stopper for some people, but that doesn't make Android a "bad" thing.

        • by binarylarry (1338699) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @11:41PM (#27902485)

          Actually, nothing prevents you from writing applications with native code.

          In fact, parts of the SDK explicitly allow this.

          However, it's generally bad idea because Android runs on a variety of hardware platforms, making native code "fun" to deal with in the future. I just hope they add proper JIT at some point, so Android's performance isn't fucking atrocious like it is now.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by moon3 (1530265)
            Do not forget that Google's own applications run native, that means your applications is penalized by using inferior interface.

            In other words your application will always be a second rate application, serious developers avoids such a scenario. I've never seen a platform that would run smooth without native environment tweaking.

            Give me a native support (C/C++) and there is not a problem to port the code to ARM or Atom.

            Java was never really cross platform, there were quirks and problems that unlike (C++)
            • Not true (Score:5, Informative)

              by SenseiLeNoir (699164) on Monday May 11, 2009 @03:50AM (#27903569)

              parent is false....

              Only Webkit, and its direct connectors run native, the wrapper around the browser runs in the DVM.

              This is more due to Webkit itself not based on Java, and allows for performance.
              most other apps, including the dialer do NOT use native code.

              Of course, some libraries use native Code too (like the DB, etc) but you have access to the same libraries via the same API.

        • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday May 11, 2009 @12:24AM (#27902721)

          There is no native code (C/C++) SDK for it last time I've checked, that was about a half year ago. That is a show stopper for lot of people.

          I'm not sure who, since on Android devices the code produced is highly performant.

          You can do games on Android after all... and as we see with the update real time video recording and encoding. I mean, just what is holding people back here?

          The only people who this bothers are those still scared of Java 1.1 and Applets. Java moved past that point long, long ago.

      • by Zigurd (3528) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @11:09PM (#27902273) Homepage

        Not only is the application structure and lifecycle unique and structured around a unique UI flow, Android has unique UI classes in an otherwise mostly standard Java runtime, it uses binder for inter-process communication, it has a unique graphics stack relative to most other Linux systems, and it makes it difficult to put programs other than those written to the Android programming model on the screen, among other differences relative to most Linux-based systems.

        But it has already overtaken the Nokia 8xx Web pads, which use Hildon, in user acceptance. Google gambled on establishing an entirely different application layer in the userland for Android and appears to have succeeded.

        Android answers the question: "What if Linux had a userland based on a managed language runtime and every application used the same UI classes (and what if a company with sufficient resourced to do it right did it)?"

        If Android perplexes you, try this:
        http://www.amazon.com/Android-Application-Development-Programming-Google/dp/0596521472

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Sunday May 10, 2009 @08:47PM (#27901377)

    Wow! Video recording?!

    What's next? Broadcast TV? True SMTP email? Intuitive UIs?

    • by Achromatic1978 (916097) <robertNO@SPAMchromablue.net> on Sunday May 10, 2009 @11:35PM (#27902461)
      I love how "other mobile platforms" has become a synonym for "what the iPhone has/has not". My Nokia N95 has recorded video since the day it came out, 2 years ago. It allows 1 click publishing to Youtube. Hell, FOUR YEARS AGO, the N90 [wikipedia.org] had a 270 degree swivel screen, and a separately 270 degree swivel lens capable of recording video. For that matter, the screen res was 352x416, the highest at the time, and still higher than most cells...

      Just because something has a feature the Jesusphone doesn't, doesn't mean it is mindblowing and revolutionary...

      • by 10Ghz (453478) on Monday May 11, 2009 @12:00AM (#27902577)

        There's a difference between "having a feature" and "having a feature that's actually usable".

        My Nokia E71 has loads of features. And most of them are so crummy and hard to use, that they might as well not exist. It has GPS. Which is so cumbersome to use that I never use it. It has web-browser. But browsing with it is so frustrating and clumsy that I only use it when I desperately need to check something online.

        The thing is that when the iPhone was released, people compared it to other phones (like Nokias) and said "my phone has had those features for a long time already, how exactly is the iPhone "revolutioary?". But they fail to understand that it's not about list of checkboxes called "features", it's about features that people can actually use.

        Like I said, my E71 has a web-browser. It also has WiFI. But for some reason I never use it for web-browsing at home through my Wifi, I use my iPod touch for that.

        You can't compare phones (or any other devices for that matter) by staring at a piece of paper that lists their specs. You need to actually USE the devices to make that judgement. And the thing is that iPhone might not have every single bell and whistle some other phone has, but the bells and whistles it has. are so usable that people actually use them. Nokia has been piling features to their phones for years, but since they are implemented in such a crappy way, they go mostly unused.

        If your phone has a feature that no-one uses, is it really a feature?

        • by bytesex (112972) on Monday May 11, 2009 @12:58AM (#27902853) Homepage

          If your phone has a feature that no-one uses, is it really a feature?

          Eh yes. Because sometimes, the use of a feature is also a function of the user's intelligence, training, awareness or needs. My mother might use my PC, but I'm pretty sure /she/ wouldn't touch the gcc installed on it. Yet my PC continues to 'feature' gcc.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mdwh2 (535323)

          Ah yes, it's the grumpy featurism claim.

          Well my Motorola V980 phone is better than the Iphone. No, it doesn't do touchscreen or wifi, but that's just a "list of checkboxes", right? (It also does video recording simply by pointing and clicking - it Just Works.)

          but since they are implemented in such a crappy way

          * Installing an application from any site on my phone Just Works, it doesn't need the phone to be hacked.
          * Tethering on my phone Just Works, it doesn't need the phone to be hacked.
          * Copy and paste on m

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10, 2009 @08:53PM (#27901403)

    The IPhone has a lot of limitations, but the amount of apps for it makes it the killer device. The iphone has more quality apps than all other platforms have total apps combined. and the new hardware/software combo coming out in the next 2 months will make it even better.

    until Android, winmo and BB get more and better apps and the ability to install over 10-20 apps on the device i'll probably buy a new iphone come july to complement my wife's iphone. even with all it's limitations.

    this is almost exactly like the story with Windows in the 1990's. it was far from the best OS, but the amount of apps for it clinched it's success.

    • by Nerdfest (867930) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @09:04PM (#27901469)
      There were (and still are) plenty of apps for the Palm devices, but ultimately its limitations did it in. In many ways it had fewer limitations that the current iPhone does as well. The iPhone has better marketing though.
    • by ornil (33732) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @09:04PM (#27901471)

      You must be joking. There's lots of apps for Android. Probably fewer than for iPhone, but not dramatically so. I was able to find an app for any task I needed.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by alen (225700)

        I looked at the android market website since I have an open mind until the new iPhone comes out next month. App store beats it. My wife's iphone has kids games on it along with flash cards for our son to play with. And come this summer you will be able to USe the iPhone to measure blood pressure and cholesterol.
        I like listening to slacker and reading a book at the same time on my bb curve, but for a new personal cell I'll probably take the iPhone. New version will have nice 3d graphics almost as good as a c

        • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Sunday May 10, 2009 @09:26PM (#27901613)

          New version will have nice 3d graphics almost as good as a console. Games suck on all the other phones

          Funny you mention that -- Android includes an embedded OpenGL implementation.

          I upgraded from a first-gen iPhone to an Android dev unit, and am generally quite pleased. It's unfortunate that support for the Bluetooth RFCOMM profile isn't exposed to application level yet -- but one of the things about Android is that it's reasonably straightforward to build a custom version of the firmware with the "hidden" flag turned off for those classes; on the iPhone, I'd just be waiting for 3.0, and then hoping they wouldn't require any device I want to make a serial connection to from my phone to be licensed as an iPhone accessory.

          • by Qwavel (733416)

            I agree with you that the lack of RFCOMM (and bluetooth in general) support for applications is too bad, and pretty wierd actually. All Nokia, SE, and Blackberry phones have supported this for years now. Even the iPhone will be getting this soon.

            All I can do is wait and hope they add this to Android 2.0. The fact that I can rebuild the OS to fix that doesn't really help me.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by cduffy (652)

              I agree with you that the lack of RFCOMM (and bluetooth in general) support for applications is too bad, and pretty wierd actually. [...]
              All I can do is wait and hope they add this to Android 2.0. The fact that I can rebuild the OS to fix that doesn't really help me.

              It does help me, as it means I can build the rest of my app on a "real phone", then port it to the final public API when that becomes available. Then again, your project may be more time-critical -- mine is more of a hobby, so it can afford to b

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by lostmongoose (1094523)
          You do realize you're not limited to just the apps on the android market right?
      • You must be joking. There's lots of apps for Android. Probably fewer than for iPhone, but not dramatically so. I was able to find an app for any task I needed.

        On all major mobile platforms I've used, I've been able to get apps for all the tasks I've needed. I don't have an iphone due to all the restrictions on the device, but whenever I see brilliantly made apps like this [theisnort.com], I really want to go out and get one.

        The success on the platform is due to the fact that there is a lot of choices in apps, and only very few of them suck. It's become the marketleader, and as much as I hate it, I have better success browsing the net using the Iphone user agent on my N810. The N

      • by fractoid (1076465)

        You must be joking. There's lots of apps for Android. Probably fewer than for iPhone, but not dramatically so. I was able to find an app for any task I needed.

        And about gaming, I have plenty of games! Myst, Marathon... photoshop... :/

    • by salesgeek (263995) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @09:16PM (#27901549) Homepage

      Insightful? LOL. There was a time when there were more applications for Macintosh. From 1986 until 1990, Windows was irrelevant. Mac was the future.... Then Windows 3.x happened. History is repeating itself in front of our very eyes.

      Flash forward to now. Apple has met it's match. And unlike with windows where Apple faced an cheaper, inferior product that was just barely good enough (Windows 3.x), Apple is facing a product that is it's equal in Android (yes, it's that good). As Samsung, Motorola, HTC, and others bring more Android hardware to market and Verizon, Sprint and other carriers offer Android to theri customers, the tide will turn quickly on software development as well.

      • by cyn1c77 (928549) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @09:54PM (#27901801)

        Apple has met it's match... As Samsung, Motorola, HTC, and others bring more Android hardware to market and Verizon, Sprint and other carriers offer Android to their customers, the tide will turn quickly on software development as well.

        People have been saying this since before the G1 came out, but the market numbers just aren't meeting these predictions yet. When are all these amazing phones going to arrive at my carrier (Verizon)? And how open is this Android thing really going to be? Google has already demonstrated that it is willing to pull certain apps that T-mobile doesn't like.

        Verizon is one of the big players in the industry and last I heard, it was backing away from Android. But think of the carnage Verizon would wreak on an open-source platform. (We both know they would lock it down so hard you couldn't do anything useful with it anyway.)

        AT&T is the other big player and they have a conflict of interest with their iPhone, for now at least.

        Currently, Android seems a lot like Linux. It's theoretically open source, but it has limited industry support and is only available on (extremely) limited hardware. But the key difference is that the cell phone industry is dominated by the carriers, who don't seem fully sold on it yet and it's not like we can just go ahead and replace our phone's OS without voiding all sorts of warranties and support.

        I do hope this changes with time though. And for what it's worth, I have emailed Verizon and urged them to adopt the OS, but I am not holding my breath.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by salesgeek (263995)

          We'll see in the next eight weeks as Samsung and Motorola roll out their products. Android is not what a lot of people think, so far as openness - it can be as open or closed as any other phone. The value prop on Android is more to hardware manufacturers who no longer want to manager their own OS or pay tons of royalties to for an OS.

        • by xant (99438) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @10:42PM (#27902085) Homepage

          > Google has already demonstrated that it is willing to pull certain apps that T-mobile doesn't like.

          Except it doesn't matter, because on an Android phone you can install an apk package from anywhere on the web without rooting your phone. (There is a single checkbox in the settings you need to check first.) The Market actually has a strong incentive to be less fascist than the app store, because if it is perceived as hampering developers, developers will simply go elsewhere. I have no doubt that Google knew this when they designed the OS, and that they intend to be more egalitarian in the future. They're also still getting used to this thing, so I'm cutting a little slack. Have no doubt that if, in the future, Google decides to be dicks about the Market, I will put the apps I develop for Android online somewhere else.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Yfrwlf (998822)
            I just want VoIP apps. The government refused to force this monopolistic industry to offer regular internet access plans and VoIP applications to circumvent their precious traditional cell phone plans, something that they should have done eons ago had there been proper competition in the industry. Once again, advancements in technology which have been around for ages take a back seat to greed and corruption.

            Imagine if you could use a completely open device, not tied to any one company like with cell ph
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by R3d M3rcury (871886)

          Well, one difference is that you could buy a CDMA Android Phone and take it to Verizon and buy a plan. You don't have to do the "bundled" phone thing.

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      I like how the "killer feature" (according to T-Mobile's flash site on the phone) is that it tracks your carbon impact and you can buy carbon credits right from the phone! That's going to get me off my iPhone? That's seriously the best you got?

    • by Buelldozer (713671) <cliff@@@gindulis...net> on Sunday May 10, 2009 @10:00PM (#27901835)

      "The iphone has more quality apps than all other platforms have total apps combined."

      No. Not even close. In your utterance of that hyperbole you've given away your fanboi status.

      The numbers on this are a bit difficult to track down but it's very clear that the IPhone is nowhere near WinMo and you can absolutely forget about it if you combine Palm and Symbian application numbers.

      Here's a quick rundown.

      In late July of LAST year WinMo _alone_ had 18K applications.

      http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2008/07/windows_mobile_7.html [informationweek.com]

      Some estimates put Palm at 80,000 back in ***2005***.

      http://www.pocketprof.org/running_palm_os_software.htm [pocketprof.org]

      Symbian numbers are very difficult to come up with but a low ballpark would be 10,000 of them.

      The IPhone currently has about 15,000 applications listed in the app store ( http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/05/so-many-iphone-apps-so-little-time/ [nytimes.com] ).

      It's clear that your statement isn't anywhere near true.

      Please leave some of Mr. Jobs AHEM for his wife, sir.

    • The IPhone has a lot of limitations, but the amount of apps for it makes it the killer device. The iphone has more quality apps than all other platforms have total apps combined.

      You're right. Until I can make my Android phone into a fart machine, a tip calculator, or a flashlight, I'm buying an iPhone.

    • by enjo13 (444114)

      Simply not true. Nokia S60 has a veritable ton of apps available. Palm has roughly a billion.

      It's not quantity, it's quality of experience. Neither Nokia nor Palm have really made the process of locating and buying apps very easy. The iPhone has.

      Google has built a promising system for Android, and as they get more phones to market you'll see more and more applications built for it. I think this battle is going to be fought on balancing 'open' versus 'reliable'. Is apple right? Can developers not be trusted

  • by blahbooboo (839709) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @09:17PM (#27901557)

    I really like Android as concept. Unfortunately, in the USA the number of devices are not very appealing (the ones that are available). My carrier doesn't even have android phones. Strange, because the whole point of Android I figured was to allow manufacturers to focus on innovative cell phone designs. Maybe manufacturers will eventually make more phones with Android, but right now they are kinda lousy IMHO.

    Until better hardware, the future is Palm Pre or iPhone

  • I would love to have and develop for one of these, but the various service plans required to use them seem murky, incomprehensible, and extremely risky.

    • Murky and Incomprehensible: Can anyone surf one of the Android sites and figure out WTF plans you actually need to run these phones and what it will cost per year? It's worse than buying a house. I'd rather try to figure out the federal deficit.
    • Risky: I keep reading these stories about people who traveled and came home to discover a phone bill larger th
    • !Troll (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Max Littlemore (1001285) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @11:00PM (#27902201)

      The parent makes some good points

      I own an HTC Dream (called TMobile G1 in the US). My first phone bill after I bought the phone was $200 more than usual. It is now dropped because I changed my plan to allow for more mobile data, but buying the phone to start with, I had no idea that when I first turned it on it would start downloading a crap load of my gmail. It took me a little bit to figure out how to get the data usage down.

      I really like the phone, but I wish there was clearer pre-sales on how much data it was going to use and how to make it cheaper to operate. I also would like a "turn data off - just be a phone" mode. Also the fact that it's advertised as having bluetooth but still - even with cupcake - can't do bluetooth file transfer is just stupid.

    • by shmlco (594907)

      Ummm... you can do a significant portion of iPhone development on an iPod Touch, which needs no service plan whatsoever. Depends on the type of application you want to do, of course. Something GPS-related, say, requires the iPhone.

      Most games, OTOH, you want to be Touch-ready anyway. Half the market right there.

    • Murky and Incomprehensible: Can anyone surf one of the Android sites and figure out WTF plans you actually need to run these phones and what it will cost per year? It's worse than buying a house. I'd rather try to figure out the federal deficit.

      The ADB-1 is $399, has no contract, and is unlocked. It works with any GSM carrier in the world (which is most mobile carriers in the world); in the US it will work with AT&T and T-Mobile (Verizon/Sprint use CDMA2000, which is incompatible).

      The ADB-1 has UMTS Ban

  • works for me (Score:5, Informative)

    by soundguy (415780) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @10:11PM (#27901911) Homepage

    The G-1 has all the "killer apps" I need at the moment - Accuweather, Google Maps with GPS, an IP Cam viewer so I can monitor my security cams at home and at my datacenter, SSH client, voice recorder, handy tools like data conversions, a level, a ruler and of course the Magic 8-ball. The browser works for the kind of things I need every day - my MRTG graphs, logging into my switches, routers, and remote-reboot controllers. It doesn't do SlashDot for shit though...someone needs to work on that.

    Seriously, anyone judging a smart phone based solely on the camera, eye-candy, and "gaming experience" is probably 12 years old. Mine is a tool to help me earn a living first, and a toy second.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MrCrassic (994046)
      Unfortunately, several thousand iPhone owners would probably disagree with your ideology. Most people use their cell phones as tools too, except not in the same light as you use yours. To some, having a cameraphone or gaming capability is of utmost importance; that doesn't make them any more of an immature customer.

      I owned an iPhone for a while, and while I was mostly pleased with it, I found it to be very premature as a smart-phone. It met the general requirements for everything except internet browsing
    • It doesn't do SlashDot for shit though...someone needs to work on that.

      Someone already did. Make a new account, go to the homepage, click 'Help & Account' at the top-right, click 'Index', then check the 'Simple Design' checkbox.

      Go to your phone and go to http://slashdot.org/index.pl [slashdot.org]
      If you use index2.pl, then you'll get back the new (slow) design. Log in and voila, a perfectly browsable slashdot on your phone.

    • by mgblst (80109)

      I Pee Cam viewer so I can monitor my security cams at home

      Really? Can't you just look down?

      • I Pee Cam viewer so I can monitor my security cams at home

        Really? Can't you just look down?

        Some people have to lean too far forward to make that practical.

    • Re:works for me (Score:5, Insightful)

      by slyn (1111419) <ozzietheowl@gmail.com> on Monday May 11, 2009 @02:50AM (#27903379)

      Your concept of a smartphone is that of companies like Blackberry and Palm's 24 months ago.

      Apple saw a market for a consumer smartphone and exploited the fuck out of it. Now all the traditional business smartphone companies are trying to catch up.

  • If I could apt-get install any Debian or Ubuntu package that runs on the Android phone's HW, perhaps from my desktop cross-compiling it to the phone, I'd be really psyched.

  • I'm sorry, I started reading the article and I stopped here:

    First of all, the updated operating system now runs on the Linux kernel 2.6.27, meaning stronger security, improved stability and a range of core applications enhancements

    What was the older version using as a kernel? My research tells me Linux, version 2.6. So what is it about the new one versus the old one that brings appreciable 'security', 'stability' and 'applications enhancements' to Android?

  • I've been waiting for an android thread! Before I go buy one...

    1. Does it have an IMAP client that supports IDLE?
    2. Do the IMAP and SMTP protocols support SSL/TLS from personal CAs?
    3. Does the email client support identities (like thunderbird)?
    4. Can I use my own Openfire XMPP server with my personal CA?
    5. Can I use my own iCal/CalDAV server for my calendar? Is there another app besides google's calendar?

    Those are my criteria for buying a new phone. Who's got the answers?

  • A list of 10 things, then couch it with the term "things to love". Fuck off with the Digg style shit. It's clearly marketing for google.

  • How did they miss the ability to read .pdf and MS Office documents?? They're pretty basic to anyone using the phone for business of any size. Sigh... r

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