October 30th, 2008


G1, a balanced review

Ok, I lied. I was going to post a "Good, Bad, Ugly" report on the G1, but then OVFF happened, and my opinion, for reasons that will be obvious, drifted.

So, I've had the G1 for about a week now. As a long-time sidekick user, what do I think of it? I hate it.

I primarily use a mobile device as a writing tool, as an email device, and as an always-accessable instant messenger. Secondarily, it's nice to have a phone, and a platform for games and other applications can be nice.

With that in mind:

  • As an instant messenger client, the G1 is unusuable. It "cleans up" long running processes that aren't written for long use, and the instant messenger client...isn't. Nor does it notify on cleanup. So expect to only be on instant messenger as long as you explicitly connected within the ten minutes or so (an hour is slightly more realistic, but not consistent). FAIL
  • The email client is not only clunky, but can only send replies with the entire quoted text of messages at the bottom of them. IE, the "I'm a dork" button is hardwired to true. Moreover, there's no way to copy the text of messages, so "lets edit this text until it shines" conversations are a non-starter. Also, you can only attach pictures, despite having an entire SD card of files to play with. Oh, and Gmail seems to mess with your messages, putting two spaces between paragraphs despite what you've carefully done to, say, craft a file you can run through a script to format it. FAIL.
  • See above for email, plus there's no note application (useful for quick jot writing), plus email applications have insanely large "accidentally send this message" buttons displayed on the screen, plus there's no way to resent accidentally sent messages, so you can't recover gracefully from accidentally sending a message. FAIL

In top of all this, it's missing many, many hugely useful features of the SK -- per-user instant messenging, a slightly better keyboard, hotkeys for page/word/line based navigation.

That said, I'm probably not going to return the phone. Because having gone through the insane amount of work it was to import my contacts/email into gmail (because the sidekick locks down your data, and because gmail/the phone won't read a vcard directly, so you have to (gah!) save all your vcards and then import them (though you can concatinate them, at least) through a separate interface into contacts, I'm hopeful that eventually there will be applications and fixes that deal with these problems -- and in the meanwhile, I can probably muddle along. If I HAVE TO WRITE THEM MYSELF! Because, well, unlike the SK, I can, and without having to jump through hoops, at that. And I can install applications written by random developers, and can even give feedback back to the actual G1 developers rather than having them isolated within a plastic tower.

Not to mention features the SK doesn't have -- G3, a full web browser with AJAX (though it looks like image taps always get sent from the top of the image, breaking, among other things, various google AJAX applications), a touch sensitive screen that works pretty well, a nice, clear display, a fast CPU, some good games available and probably available in the future, and the ability to install my own bloody ringtones, if you please, not being held hostage to one company's short sighted greed.

But actual usage so far? HATE.

G1, fun bug report

This isn't actually a G1 bug report, but one on k9, an alternative IMAP client forked off the G1's IMAP client (which is itself basically the same as the Gmail client, but slightly worse). That said, most of the issues are actually present in the stock G1 email applications as well.

I include it here because, well, it's funny.

[b]Bug: Sending accidentally far too easy, unrecoverable. When disconnected, even worse.[/b]

This is actually a multi-issue bug, and I'll submit the individual bits of Fail later, but I figured it was worth having an issue for the initial issue with the whole story.

While I was working on some non-fiction this morning (one of the things I use a mobile device for is writing fairly long things, and emailing them to myself for later work), I accidentally sent it. Three times.

The problem is, 10% of the screen when working on a draft is devoted to what I'm going to call "accidentally send the draft I'm working on" button. Why do I call it that? Because if I want to send a draft, I don't need to tap the "send" button; I can hit menu, then send (though the menu send should be the leftmost control; CC/BCC just isn't that important), or just hist menu-s. So any time I'm a bit casual about how I touch the screen, or put the damned thing down, I risk accidentally sending my message. Really, those three controls don't serve any purpose at all; they're duplicated with menu options and they take up valuable screen real estate, and really, they don't get used enough to be displayed.

So, what's worse than accidentally sending the mail you're working on? Well, not that much if you're sending it to yourself, right? Well...

First, you can't "resend" a sent message. This is a key feature; it lets you fix little problems like this, not to mention resend things that bounced, not to mention using sent messages as templates for future messages. But with a lot of work, you can reply to a sent message, then save the draft, then restore the draft see , then delete all the > jaggies (see bug #30), and you have your message back.

In fact, that's what I did the first two times I accidentally sent.

Of course, nothing could make it worse, right? Except...the third time I accidentally sent my mail, I was in a subway, underground. So what happened?

Well, I ended up with my nice draft sitting, not in the sent folder where I could go through the "reply to it" dance, but in the "Outbox" folder. Could I cancel sending and go back to my draft from the outbox? No. Could I treat my outbox message like a sent message and reply-to-dance with it? No, I couldn't. Was it going to move from my outbox while I was underground? Indeed, it was not going to do that, not until I had a good solid connection, as one is unlikely to have when undeground. Was I well and truly screwed? Yup. Did I get any more work done? No, I pulled out a book and read for the rest of my trip.

So our bugs, as documented above, are:

  • Accidental sends too easy. There's no reason to have Send/Save as Draft/Discard appearing in the edit screen at all, given that you can easily hotkey them and they're easy menu key buttons. Save as draft happens more or less automatically, whereas the others should never happen automaticlaly. (this issue)
  • Sent messages cannot be resent.
  • Outbox messages cannot be canceled and turned back into drafts again, even when disconnected.
  • Outbox messages cannot be replied to/resent, either. Or even viewed. This is a mobile device.

    While I'm at it, might as well throw in:
  • Drafts cannot be cancelled, reverting to the current state. This is a key feature, particularly since the G1 doesn't have undo yet.