Questioning the G1's future

John Walton
Cell Phone Editor
| August 19, 2009

It's no secret that HTC's G1 - the first device to ship with Android - has become a hacker and modder playground. As far as I know, it is the most tweaked and twiddled phone in the annals of (somewhat) mainstream consumer-grade gadgetdom. People who couldn't wait for highly-anticipated features or accept the limitations imposed by security concerns made the G1 exactly what they wanted it to be; perhaps what it should have been from the start.

Now, it appears that a brick wall - in the form of  maxed-out memory - may cement the G1's place in history as the ultimate hacker's phone. Why? Because the G1 isn't likely to get the Eclair update expected to bring officially supported multi-touch to Android. In addition, thanks to the "with Google" branding, G1s will never see the ultra-hyped Sense UI that HTC debuted on the Hero. Without that luscious ROM, it's unlikely that Hero would have been much more noteworthy than any other forthcoming Android handset. The people want both of these things, and the people will have them.

While it has probably received too much attention, the following August 14th tweet from French Google coder, @jbqueru, gives us an inside look on what Android devs are thinking behind the scenes:

?As much as I?m hoping that it?ll be possible to somehow continue updating the G1, I can't promise anything.?

That doesn't sound good. But his retweet on the 18th calms fears that there are *no* G1 updates in store: 

"RT @morrildl Rumors of the G1's demise are greatly exaggerated."

So the G1 won't die in accordance with its end-of-life schedule. Still, I think a boost or addon here and there will do little to alleviate public demand for multi-touch - a prerequisite for top-of-the-line virtual keyboard action, and the future of Android gaming, browsing, media management, etc. It's also the *only* way to roll with HTC's Sense keyboard.

So where does that leave us? My best guess is, in the forums of hackers and modders who are unwilling to settle. The Hero OS just received (what I consider to be) a major update that kicks the phone into high gear - the qualms of many-a-reviewer thereby appeased. But hackers have been providing this improved performance for some time now - not to mention they've been offering it on G1's... with multi-touch, no less. 

The popularity of G1 modding has grown exponentially since the first cooked Hero ROM made the scene. When multi-touch hits the net, I think many G1owners, previously weary of mods, will be looking to hack their old device. While still a risky procedure, there won't be much left to lose. The benefits are beginning to outweigh potential problems. So while some of you are looking to sell, there are plenty of us waiting to buy - if only for a hack-friendly back-up.

One last tweet from that French developer to leave this post on a high note for the by-the-book consumers out there: "
funny, market is where we're hiring the most for android." Oh, man. That is music to my ears. Though my favorite Market apps require root access.

Via jkOnTheRun

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