Well, I received my “free” Motorola Droid phone from Google for attending Google I/O this year. Or more accurately, for having the intention to attend Google I/O 2010. Last year, in an attempt to help drive Android development, they gave every attendee of Google I/O 2009 with a Google ION phone (which is a branded version of the T-Mobile MyTouch). Since I use T-Mobile I was stoked to be able to upgrade from the G1 I was using to the MyTouch. It was a great phone and one that I’ll be using simultaneously with the Motorola Droid since I’m not ready to drop my T-Mobile coverage in favor of Verizon. You see the Droid is a CDMA device while T-Mobile’s network is the more world-friendly GSM technology.
However, the initial OOB (out of box) experience has led me to believe that I probably would jump ship given the chance. Of course it will take a while to get used to the location of buttons on this new beast but to me it can be summed up in two words: Speed and Eclair (or now Flan). Let’s jump into the latter first.
No sooner had I pulled the device out of the box and put a battery in it than it promptly announced that a new updated was available OTA (over the airwaves) and needs to be installed. Looking at the release notes before install, it showed that it was 2.1 update 1! My poor little ION device seems to be stuck at 1.6, which isn’t bad BUT to me, the biggest feature of 2.0 (and later) is the ability to have the device tied to two or more, Google accounts at once. This allows one (ok, me) to connect to my personal Google Apps account AND my business Google Apps account and NOT have to choose which one will be hampered by using the IMAP email application. Oh the joy of using the native Gmail client for both of the Gmail-based accounts!
The jump from 2.0 to 2.1 alleges to provide other fun items like Live Wallpapers (the native smoke is cool but my phone is currently sporting the The Matrix Live Wallpaper) but the majority of the improvements in 2.1 are geared towards developers. Interestingly enough, blogs are posting rumors that 2.2 (FroYo) will be released in time for the Google I/O event next month as they are already seeing the OS signature show up their server logs! htcpedia.com posted a report of a HTC Magic (the basis for the Google ION), running 2.2. That would be fantastic since it MIGHT indicate that HTC will provide an update for my ION device.
Of course, the version upgrade won’t make the ION anywhere near as fast as the Droid device. This bad boy is faaasssssssstttt! Granted, I haven’t started loading this device up with apps yet but the keyboard and applications just seem so much more responsive. It is making me fall in love with Android all over again.
Other niceties that I wish the ION had include a REAL headphone jack (as opposed to just the USB port that requires an adapter to plug in standard audio outputs) and a flash for the 5mp camera. This latter feature will probably get more use as a flashlight (using MotoTorch LED app) than actual flash photography but I’ll be giving it a try and see how it works. Another nice feature for corporate types is it’s support for Exchange servers. I’m not sure if this is a v2.x software feature or is specific to this particular device.
Anyway, this is a little long-winded for a quick first impression so time to sign off. One last point, if anyone out there has any pull with HTC, PLEASE GET THEM TO UPDATE THE ION DEVICE to 2.x.
Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Do you have something to say on the subject? Use the comments section below if you’ve got a LEGITIMATE comment. If you don’t, just keep your spam comments to yourself as I moderate the comments and will toss the chaff so my site visitors are only exposed to the wheat!
At Over The Top and Exhibit A Communications, I've programmed solutions for Google as well as at least one other company that was later acquired by Google.
I've been CTO of an Internet SaaS company and spent my time pretty evenly between guiding the future technical strategy of the company, architecting software solutions for my dev teams, designing and running a data center to service our clients world-wide as well as being a technical evangalist/sales engineer to our media clients large and small.
I've also been Chief Photographer of the Daily Sun/Post newspaper back when it was a 5-day a week daily newspaper.
I also spent a great many years as a beach lifeguardfor the City of San Clemente as well as Jr. Lifeguard instructor and then as it's program coordinator.
Private Pilot with Instrument rating and proud husband of soon to be 25 years (and counting).