Posted by: Frank | June 6, 2009

After One Week Digesting Cupcake

It is just a little under one week since my G1 was updated to the “Cupcake” version (version 1.5) of the Google Android operating system. So far one of the conclusions that I have drawn is that this version of the operating system is a lot less stable on my G1. I am seeing far more “Force Quit / Wait” messages popping up while using both downloaded and built-in applications. My gut says that there is simply not enough memory on the G1 to support all the new features that Cupcake adds. My understanding is that Android is largely based on Java, in which case garbage collection is an important function to optimizing memory. Hopefully the situation can be improved through optimization of the applications that I run, and that is going to take time.

I suspect that there are two big contributors to this situation: auto screen rotation and animations. Screen rotation may be the main culprit because something has to be continuously running to detect the position of the device and rotate the screen. Likewise, animations have to be taking up some resources.

Amongst the new features that I have tried this past week are the new home screen widgets. One of my favorite features of Android is the home screen, which is actually three home screens that you switch to by swiping your finger left or right across the screen. Just like on the desktop of a PC, you can add icons to launch applications, folders to contain application icons, and widgets, which are tiny programs that provide a quick way to access information without loading a larger application. Widgets were one of the things hyped about Android when it was first announced, but never really realized that hype in the first major release of the operating system.

Initially Android came with just a few widgets. A analog clock, a picture widget to display thumbnail size pictures, and a search widget to quick do a search on Google. Not many widgets were developed by third parties and made available in the Android Market. Cupcake intends to change this by including more widgets with the operating system to generate more interest. I now have the Calendar widget on the main home screen, which displays the next appointment on my calendar, and that is handy for quickly providing at-a-glance information on the phone.

There is a media player widget that have placed on the “right” home screen to try it out, but I don’t have much music on my G1 so I have removed it. I have downloaded two widgets from the Android Market, the Dilbert widget that displays the day’s Dilbert strip, and the Yahoo News widget that displays headlines of the Yahoo News RSS feed. The Dilbert widget is cool with the auto screen rotation because it enables you to quickly display the strip in landscape to that you can see the entire strip on the screen.

The next feature that I am going to explorer is Live Folders, which I think is supposed to provide RSS feeds in a folder on the Android home screens, however, so far all that I have found are folders for displaying different views of my Contacts.

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