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T-Mobile G1, BlackBerry Storm Get Software Updates

Two smartphones I've reviewed over the last year are getting a little smarter this week, thanks to a pair of long-awaited software updates.

One is the T-Mobile G1, the phone running Google's Android software that I covered last fall. That wireless carrier is now starting to deliver the 1.5 version of Android, also known by the cutesy nickname of "Cupcake."

This upgrade could fairly be called Android 2.0: It adds a wide variety of new features, such as the ability to copy and paste text in its Web browser, make a video recording with the G1's camera and type on an onscreen keyboard. It also upgrades the G1's Bluetooth support to enable stereo audio output, but using that wireless technology to connect the G1 to a computer remains problematic: Both Mac OS X and Windows Vista systems failed to find any usable Bluetooth services on the phone.

Android 1.5 also provides new capabilities for developers to play with, like interactive home-screen widgets and "live folders" that can present an application's data. To see if 1.5 is available on a G1, open the Settings application, scroll down to the "About phone" category and tap "System updates."

The second update covers the Verizon Wireless edition of the BlackBerry Storm -- by many accounts, the buggiest BlackBerry Research In Motion has ever shipped, and certainly not the most impressive smartphone I've tried.

RIM's new 4.7.0.148 software (quite a memorable version number, eh?) only adds one major new feature: the ability to type on a normal QWERTY-layout onscreen keyboard when you hold the phone in portrait mode, instead of being stuck with RIM's condensed "SureType" two-letters-per-key layout. But it also seems to make the Storm significantly more responsive and less sluggish, to judge from my own brief testing and the reaction from other users so far.

To get this update, open the Storm's Options application, select "Advanced Options" and then "Wireless Update." You may have to clear out some memory on your device first.

Have you installed either of these updates? Post your report in the comments...

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 4, 2009; 5:21 PM ET
Categories:  Gadgets  
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Comments

I have a G1 and while I like the new features, cupcake has royally screwed up my Motorola H505 bluetooth. I had to unpair it and re-pair it to get it to work at all and you have to hit the call button after a call connects to use the headset. T-mobile tech support was no help and didn't have an updated list of bluetooth headsets that are compatible with Android 1.5

Posted by: DocHolliday1906 | June 5, 2009 6:52 AM | Report abuse

I have the G1 and I just got the "Cupcake" update, and I see why they call it "Cupcake" . . . because it is sooooo sweeeeet! :-) The graphics and display are sharper and crisper, the software response time is faster (although battery life didn't seem to get addressed). They added word suggestion when using the Android keyboard (not sure why they didn't do this for the physical keyboard) and a bunch of other features that make this phone rock!

Posted by: rustyhonor | June 6, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I upgraded my Blackberry storm today, and somehow lost 72 contacts in the process. Luckily I use google sync for my calendar and contacts, so nothing was lost forever.

Posted by: meh213 | June 6, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Rob:

Rarely do these updates you publish seem to really work. I realize that computers are temperamental machines... but your suggestion for download a few weeks back removed not only registry problems but crashed my computer and removed all info. This is not your fault or anything... just please be aware that sometimes we have bad repurcussions.

By the way, I am still waiting for you to contact Astak in San Jose, California about their two lines of eBook Readers: "EZ Reader" and "Mentor". The Washington Post seems to feel there are only two eBook Readers available worldwide and that is not the case.

Robert B

Posted by: EZReader1 | June 8, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

EZReader1: If the updates I write about here worked as "rarely" as you suggest, we all would have reverted to the telegraph and the abacus a long time ago. You have to allow for the possibility that you just had bad luck or some other preexisting condition.

Bear in mind that when I see an update go bad--yes, it does happen--I warn people upfront. When I'm talking about Windows updates in particular, I further warn people that even though it worked for me, as a general rule Windows is... not entirely stable. What else do you want me to do?

As for the e-book reader you mentioned, you're welcome to explain why somebody new to e-books--which is pretty much all of the consumer market--would want to go with a device from a company they've never heard of, and which seems to offer no usability or book-inventory advantages of its own, instead of the Kindle or the Sony reader.

- RP

Posted by: robpegoraro | June 8, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

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