For the past few months, there has been lots of talks about Android Cupcake. There have been many changes throughout the OS. This is a list of some of the changes documented for 1.5. Apart from those changes, there have been more changes that have gone unnoticed for the most part. For one, the batter life seems to have been improved. These are some of the changes that I have noticed. If you find other gems that I missed please feel free to let me know and I’ll add them to the list.
The Gmail app received a few welcomed changes. One of the most noticeable change is the checkbox next to each email, which allows you to perform bulk actions suck as Mark as Spam, Mark Unread, Add Star, Archive, Change Labels and a new feature called Mute. If you mute a conversation further emails received in that conversation will skip the inbox and go straight to your All Mail folder. The labels screen also got a minor change as well, instead of the confusing +/- icons, you have a checkbox next to each label.
Something that I welcome is the ability to restore a message from the recycle bin back to the Inbox. There have been a few times where I had to use the online version to restore some emails that I deleted by accident. It also seems like more formats are supported when previewing attachments, and you can directly install .apk files from emails.
The browser has received a set of changes as well. Now you have the ability to find page and select text. The bookmarks screen has been updated as well. Now you get 3 tabs for the Bookmarks, Most Visited and your History. You can add pages from your Most Visited and History to your bookmarks. Just press the star next to each item. The menu also has changed, the Forward button is now part of the main menu. The Windows button received a minor change. If you just have one window open it will say “New Window” instead of “Windows”. On the windows screen now you don’t get a confirmation when closing a window, it just closes it. The Search and Url fields have been merged and it works like the address bar in Chrome. As you type you get url and search suggestions in the same place. Something that didn’t change in the browser is the file download. Most files are still being restricted. I really had hope they would remove these restrictions or have an option to disable it.
It’s nice to finally see autorotate built in. Has some lightbox effect where the screen grays out while it’s changing oriantations. I’m running the JF 1.5 build and not sure if the T-Mobile version will include the spare parts app but there is a setting to change the animation for the autorotate. The other option is where the screen zooms out rotates and rocks back and forth while the app is being re-rendered and zooms back in. Seems pretty responsive to me. Takes 3-4 seconds to rotate, but depends on the app also.
Something that impressed me was the virtual keyboard. I’m not fond of them but the Android one works nicely. It’s able to detect what key you inteded to press. On top of that you get auto suggestions as you type ignoring typos. You can enable haptic feedback and sound as you type away. Over all I’m really impressed and feels smooth. I can type as fast as I want to and it will just miss a few letters but rarely get dropped and if they do the suggestions are there to help. If you are like me that type in English and Spanish having the auto replace becomes annoying since it will change certain words to what it thinks you intended to write. I endedup turning the auto replace off.
Call Logs and Contacts
The call log screen has been changed a bit. If you press the phone button on the left, a call is made to that contact. If you press on the contact itself you are taken to a new screen that was added. There wou get more details about the call. Time, date, duration, call again, senf SMS and add to contacts. The other new and welcomes feature is a change to the dial pad when in a call. Now instead of the number 5 it says “Diapad”. The other big change is that if you are in a call and leave the dialpad open, after a few seconds the pad is still up but locked now. The screen no longer times out. Instead it tells you to double tap to keep dialing. This should improve things quite a bit when calling companies with automated systems and so on.
Messaging, Music Player, Widgets and Others
The text message app received a few changes. When viewing a consation, now you you can call the recepient via the main menu. Also now you can see your friends GTalk status next to each text message converstation in the main window.
Now to that lovely Music Player. Seems like they haven’t abandoned this one completly. There were some color changes in this department. The player still sucks but something that I welcome is the alphabeticall scrollbar. It makes it easier to scroll through a large collection of music. Wish they had focussed on this a bit more.
The notification area got minor changes. The button to clear notifications is now smaller. Also the are where the button resides has been separated from the notifications so when you scroll the bar will be possitioned in it’s place and wont move. The Lock Screen and Pattern Lock Screen have been updated as well. Now they take on your regular background instead of the plain black background. Also for the Pattern Lock you can change the setting to get haptic feedback as you enter the pattern. App Tray is no longer transparent. I miss the transparency, I got used to the old style.
Overall I love all the changes. Things feel smoother and much faster now than pervious versions. I feel that this update will put Android back on track with the competition. One minor anoyance/bug is that now you can only play one sound source at a time. So if you are listening to music and a notitication comes in, the music will skip a second and the notification will play. For those familiar with Linux distros, it feels like having the sound device set to OSS over ALSA. Gets annoying after a while.
I would like to thanks JesusFreke for all his contributions. I finally rooted my phone and when with his JF 1.5 build. Kudos to him and everybody involved in taking Android to new lengths and making it better.
Thanks to Eliana for the great title suggestion. Also thanks to Leeds from the Android IRC channel for proofreading.