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T-Mobile finally rolling out Cupcake for G1 – first impressions

May 29th, 2009 by James in Phone Reviews

Today, I had a little surprise waiting for me when I turned on my T-Mobile G1 phone. Cupcake, vs. 1.5 of the Android firmware, had arrived and was installing! I couldn’t wait to try out the new features including the Android virtual keyboard, the automatic orientation feature and the new camcorder application.

In addition, Cupcake has made booting up a lot quicker after the initial install, the browser seems faster, For the orientation contol, you have to enable it in the menu settings. Once you’ve done that and changed orientation, the screen dims for a brief second and then the orientation changes. It’s not instantaneous, but still, it’s cool to have.

Cupcake touchscreen is easier to use than I expected.

Cupcake touchscreen is easier to use than I expected.

The virtual keyboard also delays for a brief second when placing your finger into a text field. Then, it’ll pop up lickety split. It also responds when changing orientation just as quickly. So far, the virtual keyboard works in the Gmail application, the Browser, just about everything. At first, I tried the same method for accessing it as you would for copying and past … pushing into the text area with your finger and waiting a second. But all I got was an input text method pull down with the Android keyboard option to select from. Then nothing. But if you just quickly tap into the text area … very briefly … the keyboard pops right up.

But the “piece de resistance” was to test out the video camera. I was actually quite surprised by the quality of it. The aspect ratio is rather odd. Almost a square with letterboxing on the sides, and the audio quality is what you would expect from a cellphone microphone – tinny and over modulated – but the video quality is much better than I expected as it takes full advantage of the phone’s MP 3.2 MP. It will, however, stream a tad fast on Youtube. Check it out here:

There are a few other improvements that Cupcake brings to the G1 including faster picture taking. There’s still a slight lag as it focuses, but no where near the abysmal lag the still camera had when it was first released. And what is really cool is you can switch from the camcorder mode to still and back within each app. Just hit the menu bar and the switch button. Very good thinking on HTCs part including that little diddy.

Select multiple messages in Gmail and delete or archive them.

Select multiple messages in Gmail and delete or archive them.

The Native Gmail client has also gotten a few tweaks including the ability to check multiple emails and then either delete them, label them, or archive them. Nice. SMS Texting has been reworked for easier use and much improved intuitive auto complete functions.

Additionally, according to the android forums, a majority of G1 users are reporting improved battery life with the Cupcake update. That’s a very encouraging sign indeed.

All in all, the Cupcake upgrade has been well worth the wait. The phone is far superior in functionality to when we first reviewed it here. I can’t wait to see what other improvements I find as I use the phone.

Still Photo Hat Tip – Lifehacker

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