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Android 2.1 for the Motorola Droid - First impressions

Last response: in Cell Phones & Smartphones
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March 31, 2010 10:27:36 PM

Within this last hour I read the news article: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/Google-Android-Droid-smartp... and manually updated my Droid to 2.1. Rather than fill up the comments area with my thoughts I decided it is best to create a forum topic for discussion. I have not fully checked out all the described features but my initial impression is that the applications which saw updates feel more intuitive and polished than the previous 2.0 version.

Pinch to zoom works great in browser and in the new photo gallery as well. Speaking of the photo gallery, I am very pleased with the improvements made here. Navigating between photos or even collections of photos is much better. User rmmil978 asked in the article comments about speech to text and sadly, I have seen no updates or improvements there. I will have more to say after checking it out further. Has anyone else manually updated and what do you think? What did you want to see improved?
March 31, 2010 10:52:00 PM

One thing has bothered me but I do not know anyone else with a Moto Droid and have been to lazy to discuss it in forums till now. That is, people asking for speech-to-text in reference to being able to voice dial while driving. Perhaps it is not documented well enough or perhaps it is just not intuitive but using the Voice Search app you can voice dial and have the phone auto-dial. This seems somewhat odd given that the Droid has a Voice Dialer app but I will explain my experience on how these two perform:

The voice dialer app, when launched, displays a message window indicating that it is listening for a command. If you say 'Call Dad' it will (fairly quickly) find the contact named 'Dad' and display an alert box to call that contact. The problem with this is that it requires you to tap ok or cancel in order to proceed. It does not auto-dial the contact after you have spoken. Needless to say, 2 taps is one too many for dialing while driving.

The voice search app on the other hand handles this a little better and has the added bonus of being able to run easily from the interface you get when docking to the car mount/dock accessory. When you run this app you get a different window indicating the same as before (just phrased a little differently) and you speak your command. Say 'Call Dad Home' and it takes a moment (not nearly as fast as the voice dialer) to complete the search but it will find the contact and display a little bit different of an alert. AS before you get the contact that matched your query and two buttons. This time though, you have a small circular phone icon in the center with a progress bar that fills in a clockwise fashion. This takes 2-3 seconds to fill and when it does your phone will auto-dial the contact with no further input required. You can bypass the pause by tapping on the left button labeled dial or cancel on the right if it found the wrong contact.

I have found a few flaws with the voice search though. For starters, I have noticed that in general I must speak the label for the number to get the match and have the auto dial work. If I have only one number for 'Dad' and and it has the label 'Home' then I must say 'Call Dad Home'. In voice search if I just say 'Call Dad' I will get a results page with Dad as the top result and no auto-dial. Occasionally it works without speaking the label but it seems difficult as though you must say it just right. The other thing is the time, call me impatient but compared the speed of the voice dialer finding contacts, it is very slow. Part of this has to do with the fact that voice search can search contacts, the internet, music and otehr stuff too but I would like to have the option to tell voice search not to perform net searchs. I will have to check but I think I have seen an option fot this and I am pretty sure I chose not to perform net searchs but it does anyway. I will check for sure and update on that.

I was hoping that the voice dialer would get an update allowing it to auto-dial but alas we do not get this :( 

What are your experiences with this (if you have a Droid)? I should also mention that though android phone with an OS less than 2.0 also have voice search but that they are not capable of voice dial as described above. My GF and her Bro have Droid Eris's and I have tried on them.
March 31, 2010 11:04:32 PM

I was looking at the changes in the API for developers and came across an interesting addition to 2.1. In the new version of the OS, and app can register a callback function for when the signal strength changes or just test the signal strength in general. I can see some usefulness in this. For example, if your signal strength drops below a certain threshold it could turn off background refresh. Or This could be used to map coverage even by having the app remotely connect to a server and report strength and location. This could build a map of how the carriers coverage is.
April 1, 2010 6:38:52 PM

I have noticed fewer force closing on google maps with the 2.1 update. Prior to the 2.1 update I had already updated google maps but experienced frequent force closes. I was also surprised that my shortcut to the gallery app was broken after the update. The icon changed to the andriod icon and when tapping got a message that the app was not installed. Trashing this and dragging the new app (same icon tho) fixed this but the update should have been able to do this automatically.
April 1, 2010 9:34:43 PM

Im impressed with voice to text via the built in messenger app. Makes returning a text while driving only require a single button press.

Gallery like you pointed out is fantastic.

Battery life has been extended noticably. 9hrs+ here at work toying with it every chance I get and Im still at 60%.

LiveWallpapers... some can be more taxing then others. But the neutral roaming red dots is fantastic and only uses 5Mb of system resources. Magic Smoke on the other hand... that uses 15Mb or more.. also seems a bit laggy.

Built in weather widget is nice.. simple but gives you the info you need. I disabled the news update portion of the widget, that was a bit annoying since it didnt actually open up in the built in browser but in a single "page" window which you can only back out of.

If you have MP3s on your phone and use it as a music player, you'll notice the slight change in the layout of that as well. Which I feel is a plus.

**One tip I can pass on. If you have a taskiller app that you enjoy to use or are OCD like me and constantly click ( MAKE SURE YOU ADD THE LIVEWALLPAPER PROCESS TO THE IGNORE LIST ) or you'll be popping out the battery to reset the phone ;) 

Cheerz ~
April 1, 2010 10:24:37 PM

I was less than impressed with the included live wallpapers but am hoping to see some creative folks out there do something fun with this. For example, the live wallpaper with the leaves floating on water, it almost seemed like I should be able to rotate the phone and have the leaves change the direction they fall. I am uncertain though if live wallpapers can access the accelerometer. I would imagine they would have though considering the maps wallpaper can access your gps etc.
April 1, 2010 10:40:36 PM

I did not know that they added a new/weather widget until trion05 mentioned it. Handy! Just out of curiosity, does anyone else use Phone Fusion Voicemail instead of Verizon's voice mail offering? I tried to set theirs up initially but it refused to function so I gave up. PF voicemail has worked great ever since. Plus it only cost me a one time fee of $1.99 to disable ads rather than a monthly subscription fee. I like the widget too so I can see info about the last vm too.
a b Ë Android
April 2, 2010 6:54:03 AM

Thanks for testing it with 2.1 :) 
Does it run more fluid in 2.1 compared to 2.0? i mean does the 500MHz A8 CPU performs well in 2.1 ?
April 2, 2010 3:21:56 PM

You mean 550Mhz Cortex A8 ;)  with a dedicated Vpower GPU !

As long as your not running the "magic smoke" wallpaper.. it runs smooth. For some reason that particular Live Wallpaper lags out the interface a bit. *shrug*

I did notice less lag on web pages with the built in browser.. and images appear to load faster. Ill have to toy around with it more to find out for sure!
April 2, 2010 6:52:28 PM

Quote:
Thanks for testing it with 2.1 :) 
Does it run more fluid in 2.1 compared to 2.0? i mean does the 500MHz A8 CPU performs well in 2.1 ?


This is not really a significant update IMHO but rather just adds a little bit of spit and polish to the OS. It runs generally the same as before performance-wise with some minor improvements here and there. I am still waiting for some improvements to the voice dialing features. In particular, I'd like to see them alter the Voice Dialer app so that it auto-dials the matched contact without requiring the user to tap ok.
April 2, 2010 8:56:37 PM

I manually updated using the droid and Astro, so far not impressed, nothing I use seems any different. I love the droid I was just hoping for a bit snappier response.
a b Ë Android
April 2, 2010 9:14:49 PM

Triton05 said:
You mean 550Mhz Cortex A8 ;)  with a dedicated Vpower GPU !

As long as your not running the "magic smoke" wallpaper.. it runs smooth. For some reason that particular Live Wallpaper lags out the interface a bit. *shrug*

I did notice less lag on web pages with the built in browser.. and images appear to load faster. Ill have to toy around with it more to find out for sure!

oops right :D  its a 550Mhz Cortex(Some sites report 600Mhz though),thanks :) 
a b Ë Android
April 2, 2010 9:18:17 PM

Major7up said:
Quote:
Thanks for testing it with 2.1 :) 
Does it run more fluid in 2.1 compared to 2.0? i mean does the 500MHz A8 CPU performs well in 2.1 ?


This is not really a significant update IMHO but rather just adds a little bit of spit and polish to the OS. It runs generally the same as before performance-wise with some minor improvements here and there. I am still waiting for some improvements to the voice dialing features. In particular, I'd like to see them alter the Voice Dialer app so that it auto-dials the matched contact without requiring the user to tap ok.

I see.
I don't know if its possible for you to test this or not but when i read gsmarena's review,i found something about the video player:
http://www.gsmarena.com/motorola_milestone-review-441p6...
"You just hit the video player icon you get a list of all videos available on the phone. And the controls while playing a video boil down to play/pause, next and previous buttons, as well as a draggable progress bar.

The codecs support is also pretty limited with DivX and XviD nowhere to be seen. H.264 is as good as you are gonna get, but at least those ran okay with no hiccups. Still, if you are willing to spend some time converting your videos you might actually find the Milestone’s giant display pretty great for watching videos. Nevertheless, it is disappointing that such a powerful device can’t run unconverted video and has such a limited codec playback."

So what is the maximum video resolution that Droid can play without problems ?
April 2, 2010 9:44:03 PM

Maziar said:
So what is the maximum video resolution that Droid can play without problems ?


I dunno, I will try that this weekend and post my findings Monday morning. Aside from watching a few youtube clips I have not tried the video player but the controls on the video player sound like they have not changed if my memory serves me. I think a lot of people will be disappointed with the update, I know I have mixed feelings about it.
a b Ë Android
April 3, 2010 8:58:02 AM

OK then,when you tested let me know :) 
thanks a lot
April 7, 2010 12:14:17 AM

I tried out a couple of episodes of my favorite cartoon - The legend of Zelda which was shown as part of the Super Mario Bros Super Show. Though the resolution of the videos is lower than the resolution of the Moto Droid, I sized them to match the Droids native res for testing purposes. I made the conversion using VLC and once on my Droid, they played wonderfully. These videos have scenes where there is little movement though so I am going to try converting a movie such as Spiderman and see how that runs for comparison. I'd also like to see how long it can play before the batt runs dry. Stay tuned for more :) 
April 7, 2010 1:16:08 AM

I have the Milestone at work, I'll update it and give you some feedback.

I usually carry something on my hip until I'm given something new to replace it. I liked the Milestone, but it's been knock out of place.

Still keeping the Kyocera as my personal phone, cause it just works best while skiing in the back country. :sol: 

I'll try the update tomorrow and give you some feedback when done.
a b Ë Android
April 7, 2010 10:22:51 AM

Major7up said:
I tried out a couple of episodes of my favorite cartoon - The legend of Zelda which was shown as part of the Super Mario Bros Super Show. Though the resolution of the videos is lower than the resolution of the Moto Droid, I sized them to match the Droids native res for testing purposes. I made the conversion using VLC and once on my Droid, they played wonderfully. These videos have scenes where there is little movement though so I am going to try converting a movie such as Spiderman and see how that runs for comparison. I'd also like to see how long it can play before the batt runs dry. Stay tuned for more :) 

Thanks :) 
a b Ë Android
April 7, 2010 10:23:14 AM

TheGreatGrapeApe said:
I have the Milestone at work, I'll update it and give you some feedback.

I usually carry something on my hip until I'm given something new to replace it. I liked the Milestone, but it's been knock out of place.

Still keeping the Kyocera as my personal phone, cause it just works best while skiing in the back country. :sol: 

I'll try the update tomorrow and give you some feedback when done.

That would be great,thanks :) 
April 16, 2010 6:09:08 PM

Does anyone know how many phones there are out in the wild running Android 2.1? I'd like to create an app which would keep a log of signal strength for a specific gps coordinate at given intervals of say every 100 ft and then upload this log to a server each day. Then this information could be used to generate a map of a carriers signal quality. If I could get enough users to use such an app or to participate, we consumers could then use this info to our advantage against the carriers who all say that they have the best service. This could also be used to help people choose a carrier for their area.
a b Ë Android
April 17, 2010 6:35:58 AM

HTC Legend and Desire both run 2.1
X10 is supposed to run it with a firmware update
April 21, 2010 12:45:39 AM

And the HTC Droid Incredible will too I hear.
a b Ë Android
April 21, 2010 5:14:59 PM

Yes alongside HTC EVO 4G(AKA SuperSonic)
!