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From Cupcake To Ice Cream Sandwich: My Android Journey

Eric McBride
4

(picture from Cnet)

I remember a few years back when I purchased my first Android phone. It was actually THE first Android phone, the HTC Dream aka T-Mobile G1. It had a slide out keyboard, 192MB RAM, 256MB ROM, a 528MHz processor and was running Android Cupcake. I absolutely loved the phone.... AFTER I rooted it. Since then, I've been lucky enough to own quite a few Android devices, and it's amazing to me how much Android has evolved and improved, while at the same time how many of the same old problems still exist.

I'll be the first to admit that with my G1, I really HAD to root it in order to make it live up to my expectations. It didn't run that smoothly at all, and what actually introduced me to the rooting community whas when I Googled "how to speed up T-Mobile G1“. That was the beginning of my addiction, and a different story all together. However, with the help of CyanogenMod, I saw optimized versions of Android Donut and Android Eclair, making me absolutely fall in love with the phone. It was faster, snappier, and had sooooo many more features. I saw right away, even before rooting, the massive potential that Android truly had. It was not however, as snappy as the then current iPhone, which was at times admittantly frustrating.

Then I started hearing rumors about a phone called the Nexus One. I pretty much got on board rumor mill as soon as it started, and saw leaked pictures and specs way before its release. This phone was being sold DIRECTLY by Google, and was meant to change the way mobile phones were pushed in the market. Well, that didn't happen, and on paper the phone was a huge flop. And that's a pity, as it was an AWESOME phone. When I got mine and opened it up, I was treated to Android Froyo, and oh what a beautiful site it was. A big beautiful screen, 1ghz processor, a cool trackball for highlighting words with ease that fired up different color notification lights when I would get an email or message. When I fired it up, there was a live wallpaper running on it, which impressed the hell out of me. It was then that I began to see that Android was thinking outside the box, with so many more features and customization options then what I previously had on older Android versions. To this day, it's one of the best phones I ever had. Sad that a poor marketing strategy killed its sales numbers. The phone however was a huge success, as it demonstrated Android's true power and potential. 

But, again, I still have to admit that rooting it was what made me keep the Nexus One for such a long time, as it really, again, brought the device to another level. It was again faster, snappier, and feature packed with features that iPhone users could only wish for. But it still had times where it would lag a lot when compared to the then current iPhone. It didn't switch to portrait mode as quickly, or swipe through homescreens as fast. I then learned a bit about how Android distributes memory, which made me understand why that happened. It wasn't that the iPhone was simply a "faster“ phone, but because of the way it managed processes. Android managed them MUCH better, but at a cost of a little speed. Now that I knew, I didn't care as much, as I could blow iPhone users out of the water with TRUE multitasking all the other functions they didn't have at the time (copy and paste anyone?)!

Then something crazy happened...dual core smartphones started being announced. WTF? Unheard of. Couldn't be true...but when they came, boy oh boy did they come! Android devices started popping up left and right, with Motorola, Samsung, and HTC spitting out devices so fast that you couldn't choose what to buy! From there I got lucky enough to get my hands on an Xiamoi MI One, and an HTC Sensation. Both phones ran dual core processors and were running Gingerbread, which again brought improvements. They both had around (or more) than a gig of memory, along with big beautiful screens. I naturally rooted both of them, and again..heaven. The MI One honestly outperformed the iPhone. It had dual core 1.5ghz processors and a custom made version of Android made specifically for it called MIUI. It had an 8MP camera that was INSANE. The Sensation, when rooted and stripped down of HTC Sense, delivered a similiar experience. Android was evolving again. It was faster, stronger, and finally keeping up with the iPhone in terms of speed, and killing it in terms of possibilities.

Then they came....tablets. Right off the bat, the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 caught my eye, and I became the proud owner of a Galaxy Tab 10.1 a few months later. Android Honeycomb, the first version of Android optimzed only for tabletslooked AMAZING, but didn't run nearly as smooth as it should of. Rooting helped ALOT, but it simply didn't match the iPad in terms of consistent speed and zero lag. This was also frustrating, considering it boasted hardware superior to the iPad2. 

But now, I'm proud to say that I'm running early Ice Cream Sandwich test builds on my now rooted Galaxy Tab 10.1, and I can honestly say that the speed is finally there. Snappy as an iPad with better multitasking, and an interface so beautiful and customizable that it's hard to imagine how it can get much better. When the final builds come around, I have no doubt that it will kill the iPad 2 in terms of...well...everything actually. My phones are now also running ICS as well (custom ROMS), and I couldn't be happier.

Android has certainly came a long way since Cupcake. My oh my how you've grown up, and I can't wait to see your evolution continue.

What about you guys? Which devices have you personally watched Android evolve on? Share your experience in the comments or on the forums!

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Comments

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  • chinu Feb 4, 2012 Link

    i purchased samsung galaxy 5 having android 2.1 eclair.... after that i rooted it and installed 2.2 rom and still using with it.

    After that i started using wildfire S having 2.3 gingerbread....

    nw m w8ting 4 S-III wid ICS im it........ Dats my journey f android

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  • Eric McBride Feb 6, 2012 Link

    Not bad not bad! Hope the journey continues! :-D

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  • Sean Foster Mar 12, 2012 Link

    After using windows phones (HTC) I decided to jump to android about a year and a half ago. I got a HTC Wild fire on 2.2 and have been very happy with it. So much so that when I looked at replacing an old laptop I ended up getting a XOOM on 3.2 and have really liked it (I'm using it to post this).

    As much as I have liked the experience from both of these devices I've been aware that you can get more from rooted devices. So I am freeing myself from contracts and taken the plunge, I'm going with a sim only deal and purchased a HTC Sensation that intend to root with the help of the HTCDev site. I then want to try an ICS custom ROM without sense (which I like) to see how much better Android might be.

    If it goes we'll then I'll probably root the XOOM with ICS as well.

    Short journey so far, but I've enjoyed it.

    I have friends that are fanbois, and I like the interface, but the price is to high and the package is overhyped. For me, it's not everything it makes itself out to be. That's why I'm continuing my Android journey and seeing how much I can get out my devices by rooting in future and tapping into the creative ingenuity of the Android development community. Something that Apple will never boast.

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  • Eric McBride Mar 13, 2012 Link

    Bro..I tell you, I have a sensation and a galaxy tab 10.1, and you NEED to root them. They run soooooooooooooooo much faster. You have no idea!!!

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