Okay, I get it. By buying the first device of its kind (i.e. an Android-powered smartphone), I’m an early adopter. In a sense I was helping out in a massive public beta as Google, mobile phone carriers, and handset manufacturers worked out the kinks in the design and realized things like, “Oh, we really do need more memory than that, don’t we?”
But it’s still annoying to read the early reports that Android 2.0 “Eclair” won’t fit on the G1.
We have done this dance before, when rumors surfaced that the G1 wouldn’t be able to handle Android 1.6 “Donut.” Fortunately, engineers managed to squeeze it into the space available, and T-Mobile sent out Donut as an OTA (over the air) update to MyTouch and G1 devices alike. But I’ve had time to think about the issue, and my thoughts basically come down to this:
- New software eventually reaches a point when it can no longer support old hardware. You can’t run Snow Leopard on a G4 or Windows 7 on a Pentium II.
- When the hardware is usually tied to a fixed-term service contract (in this case, 2 years), the provider really ought to fully support it for the length of that contract. The G1 launched 1 year ago with (in most cases) a 2-year contract.
- Even if this is the last major update, my phone is still better now than it was when I bought it.
It will be very nice if history repeats itself, and Google and/or T-Mobile finds a way to cram Eclair onto the G1. Even if it means dropping the convenience of OTA updates and instead requiring you to download it to a PC and update over a USB cable. More likely, though, they’ll freeze the G1 on Android 1.6 except for bugfix and security updates, and it’ll be up to unofficial distributions like cyanogen to bring a newer OS to the older phone.
Because I don’t really want to mess with rooting my phone and installing a third-party distribution, if this is the end of the line for the G1, well…Android 2 has some really nice features that I’d really like to be able to use, but nothing that screams “must have!” The only real worry I have at this point is that app developers might start requiring newer versions of Android.
The other option: buy a newer phone. I’ll probably want to do that anyway in a year or so, but I’m not there yet. It still feels like I just got this one.
Update (February 26): It turns out the G1 will get Android 2.1 after all, but will probably require wiping the phone. That makes sense, because it would allow developers to reassign some of the space set aside for over-the-air updates and use it for a larger system instead — and maybe more space for apps.