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Confessions of a Gingerbread man


It has been a very long wait, but I finally have Gingerbread (Android 2.3.x) on my Nexus One!

A while ago, I was able to give you my impressions of Gingerbread based on the emulator Google released. It is all very well playing around with a mobile OS on an emulator, but it was never going to be the same experience as using it day to day on my phone. So here are my impressions of using Gingerbread in anger!

First of all, it looks much better than previous versions – or, at least, I think so.  I have spoken to other people who are not so impressed with Gingerbread’s new look. To my mind, however, it looks more “grown up” and professional.

We have already seen that Gingerbread includes a new approach to selecting text. Apparently some users didn’t like the existing approach in which you press the trackball, click on “Select  Text”, move the trackball before pressing it again and clicking “Copy” – or whatever action you want to take. When written down it does seem like quite a long-winded approach; but, personally, I quite liked it. I do not like the new system for selecting text. It is not obvious how to bring up the selection handles.

Also, as a user of Swype, it is very annoying. Whenever I try to correct Swype after it inserted the wrong word, the selection tools ‘helpfully’ jump in and make it difficult to actually correct Swype’s mistake.  There are ways around this but, having become used to one approach, it now takes more thought to force myself to use a different one.

There are also one or two apps which now appear broken with Gingerbread.  For instance Weatherbug Elite does not seem to display the temperature correctly in my notification bar.

Most annoying of all, is that Tasker (and, presumably, other apps) is no longer able to toggle the GPS. I had several apps set up so Tasker would automatically activate GPS when I opened them and deactivate it when they exited. Now it just pops up a little apology. This would appear to be due to a change Google has made in the OS and, therefore, may not be easy – or even possible-  to fix.

While I am waiting (possibly forever) for such a fix, I can use Powerstrip as a workaround. I simply need to add the Setting widget to Powerstrip and I can then toggle the GPS from within another app.

Overall, Gingerbread seems to be more attractive, but does not provide the same quality of user experience as previous versions of Android – which is very disappointing. That said, it is still my personal opinion that Android remains the best mobile OS available at the moment.

I just hope the next version is not too far away and gives us some of the lovely Honeycomb goodness.

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