Upgrading to Donut (Android 1.6)

This summer, I got a Google Ion, I’ve been mostly happy with it. It sometimes seems a little sluggish, and the camera lag and performance hasn’t been somewhat disappointing.  Enter Donut, the latest release of Android. HTC has a special page devoted to support of the Ion, which was handed out at the Google IO conference. It provides details of how to upgrade. This isn’t nearly as easy as iPhone OS updates which are managed pretty much hands-off via iTunes. So, I downloaded the latest Android SDK. I didn’t want to be an early adopter of Donut since there is a certain fear of bricking the phone. (btw, this is the same reason most companies wait till SP1 to install a new Windows OS!) Thankfully, there is a really nice forum for owners of the Ion (aka, the Google IO device). Once I saw that some other people had sorted out the initial wrinkles, I downloaded the image and forged on. I used the “recovery” image and the adb tool from the SDK to copy the image to the phone’s SD card. Then, restarted the phone with “home” held down. then, at the “!” prompt, press “home-end” and select the SD card image to upgrade from. (follow the directions on the HTC page above).

I was happy to see the new features that everyone’s been talking about were now available on my phone! The camera interface is nice, and I swear, a little faster. I noticed the universal search, which turns out to be nicer than I initially thought! It not only searches on the phone, but at google as well. Watch the video for examples. I can search for pizza here instead of in maps. I get the option to use maps at that point, but I can call the pizza joint directly, thereby saving time! There is also text-to-speach, which sounds cool, but I just am not sure where I’ll use it. I suppose if I were driving, and it could read new e-mails or tweets, that might be cool (not cool, awesome!). Then, I discovered the voice search. I can say “Call Wendy Mobile” and it will select her number and start dialing! I’m sure there is more this can do, but I need time to play with it.

The android marketplace has also been updated. Browsing and finding apps on the device is much nicer. They make it easier to look through top apps and give more information about each app (like screenshots right on the app summary). They’ve also added gesture support. It looks like it will make it easier for app developers to include gesture support in their apps. I played around in the photo gallery and it didn’t seem like swipe or pinch work, so bah! Of course, I’m not sure how much IP Apple has protecting those gestures.

Summary: Worthwhile upgrade. Wish it was easier, less angst-filled process.