Santa Brought Me a New Phone

A G1. I’ve spent the last couple of days messing with it. Santa did good.

I like it and figured others, who may have seen one but not actually messed with one, might like to know a little more about it.

This model has both a hardware keyboard and a touch screen with a software keyboard; it is 3G and wireless capable.

Setting up the phone requires setting up a Google account and automatically turns on Gmail. I have no desire to use Gmail, but I figured, “Hey! I can use a throwaway account!” and went with the flow. I quickly got four welcome messages from the “Gmail team.” (They will probably be the last Gmail messages I get.) It also includes access to Google Docs, but regular readers will know I also have no interest in that.

This picture shows the three home screens. The middle one with the icons is the one that shows by default; I have customized it to be my personalized quick-start screen. Icons may also be added to the other two. You can change from one to the other by quickly sliding your finger to the left or right on the touchscreen. I’ve labeled the primary controls of the device (click on the image for a larger picture):

G1 Homescreens

The software button at the bottom of the screen activates the menu:


You start a program by tapping it with your finger or by selecting it with the trackball and pressing the trackball or a combination thereof.

When you slide out the hardware keyboard, the screen automatically reformats itself to a landscape orientation. When the keyboard is open, you can also start a program by selecting it with the trackball and pressing the enter key.

G1 Hardware Keyboard

There is also a software keyboard. If the hardware keyboard is not open, the software keyboard activates when you touch a text field:

G1 Software Keyboard

Pressing the menu button at the bottom of the screen activates a context-sensitive menu. This shows the menu for the FBReader ebook reader (I added the yellow box to the picture):

FBReader Menu

Your home folder exists on an SD card (an SD card comes with the phone). I was able to transfer the SD card from my old phone into this one, so I didn’t have to jump through hoops to move my existing pictures and documents to the new phone. When you jack it into a USB cable connected to the computer, a USB symbol appears in the notification bar.

You can open the list of notifications by dragging the notification bar open with your finger. Pressing the USB notification to open a menu asking whether you want to mount the drive on the computer. When you click mount, your home folder becomes visible in a file manager. (Note: Unmount the phone using the phone screen before disconnecting it from the computer.)

Mount Warning

Here is my home folder in Nautilus on my Linux laptop:

G1 in Gnome Nautilus File Manager

Here is my home folder in Windows explorer on an XP box:

G1 in Windows Explorer

(I transported that screen capture to my Linux box by copying it to my phone’s pictures folder in Windows explorer, just as if the phone were a thumb drive; walking it to my Linux box; and copying it to my hard drive so I could play with it in the GIMP. After struggling with Windows ActiveSync with my previous phone, this was a piece of cake.)

Oh, yeah. It is also a phone.

Pressing the dialer icon brings up the dialer screen, which includes a tabs for the call log, contact list, and favorite contacts.

G1 Dialer

So far, the phone calls have had great fidelity, both with and without the speaker feature turned on. The headset also has good clarity, but I have used it only once to leave a voicemail and haven’t heard back how it sounded on the other end.

Next: The Market and installing programs, with a note on security.

Technical info:

Firmware v. 1.6, Linux kernal v. 2.6.29, build DRC83.

You can get the manual here (PDF).

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