Dan Connolly's tinkering lab notebook

going back to the sidekick

G1 is so disappointing, I'm going back to the sidekick. Yes, the sidekick

I've been a happy sidekick user since December 2002. In fact, what really got me interested in the android/G1 was that Andy Rubin, the danger/sidekick lead designer, was working on it.

My first few minutes with the G1 were lots of fun: google street view with the accelerometer blew me away and I had downloaded a dozen apps in no time.

But while technically all these apps can do everything all at the same time, in practice, the experience sucks. When I have a thought to capture, as Nielsen's research shows, if I don't get .1 second response time from the home button, I become conscious of the mechanics, and after 1 second, I lose my train of thought.

Other critical day-to-day features such as "get my attention when I have an appointment or a text message comes in" don't work either. The G1 gives one little beep and puts an icon in the notification bar and then goes idle. If I happen to be in noisy traffic at the time, I lose. The sidekick continues to beep every 2 minutes, so that when I eventually get somewhere quiet, I'll notice.

And speaking of quiet, sound profile management on the G1 sucks. To put the phone in silent mode, you can hold down the red/end button until a menu appears. In big letters, it says "Silent Mode"; then it tiny letters under that, it says "sound is: on". Details, details, people!

Then, when you flip it to "sound is: off", it goes silent, but it doesn't vibrate. To put it in vibrate mode, you use the button on the side that controls the ringer volume, but you have to look at the screen to see when you've held it long enough. There's no one reliable gesture sequence for managing sound profiles.

Also, I'm forever forgetting to take the G1 back *out* of silent mode. I'm spoiled by the sidekick's scheduled sound profiles; every night at 11pm, it goes into "alarm clock" profile (where appointments that I set up ring loudly but incoming messages from others don't) and every morning at 8am, it goes back to normal mode. So even if I forget to take it out of silent mode, it's all set to go the next morning.

There's an award-winning 3rd party app (locale) for managing not just sound profiles but all sorts of other stuff like wifi and gps power-saving settings... and it's configurable not just by time, but also by GPS location, nearby wifi stations, and such. But... it doesn't work. That is: I couldn't recreate the simple "be quiet at night" configuration from the sidekick. Plus, it seemed to gunk up the performance of the gizmo.

As to the roach motel, no, I don't trust t-mobile/danger/Microsoft to manage my data; I keep my own copy using some homebrew software that uses their XMLRPC interface (in fact, I keep multiple copies sync'd with hg/mercurial).

The t-mobile web interface isn't nearly as nice as google's; that's probably the main thing I'll miss as I switch back to the sidekick. That and google maps (though the GPS stopped working about the 3rd time I dropped the G1).

The backlight on the screen was intermittent for a while, but power-cycling it would bring it back. Then, with the recent software update, the screen is dark all the time. So it's a choice between replacing the G1 and going back to the sidekick. (I'm keeping an eye on the palm pre and the iPhone is ubiquitous, but I extended my t-mobile contract by two years when I bought the G1 in Feb.)

Well, I just called T-Mobile customer service and asked them to switch me to the sidekick data plan. I guess we'll see how long it lasts.

see also: The Forgotten Sidekick

tags: mobile, android

p.s. older WearableGizmo notes suffer from in-progress get-out-of-Zope migration.