Oct 28 AT 8:00 AM Taylor Wimberly 84 Comments

G1 owners could miss out on Android 2.0

Remember those rumors that the G1 might not be able to receive future updates? I’m the guy who caused all that mess.

Thankfully, I was wrong and T-Mobile rolled out Android 1.6 to the G1. Google was able to optimize their code and squeeze the update into the limited space of the G1.

Unfortunately, the problematic storage issues of the G1 remain (and they are not going away). I know I’m going to take some more heat for this, but I want to make sure our readers are informed and fully understand the matter at hand.

The numbers don’t lie

I will try and keep this short and simple. If you are interested in the back story you can find my original posts here and here.

  • G1 system partition: 69120K
  • T-Mobile Android 1.5: 68780k
  • T-Mobile Android 1.6: 68800k

The G1 has about 70 MB available for the operating system to be installed. Android 1.5 used 99.5% of that space and Android 1.6 was no different.

  • Emulator Android 1.6: 61216k
  • T-Mobile Android 1.6: 68800k
  • Emulator Android 2.0: 70964k
  • T-Mobile Android 2.0: ???

Above you can see the difference between the vanilla Android size and the T-Mobile Android size. The vanilla Android that you can get from the SDK and run with the emulator does not include the Google apps, T-Mobile apps, or all the ringtones and notification sizes.

Android 2.0 running in the emulator already goes over the G1 system partition limit. The T-Mobile version will likely be 7-8 MB larger. For those of you who are curious, the myTouch 3G (and most other Android phones) feature a 90 MB system partition and will have no problem with Android 2.0.

What happens next

T-Mobile is committed to supporting the G1 with future software updates. They told us so when we posted our last story on this issue.

We plan to continue working with Google to introduce future software updates to the T-Mobile G1. Reports to the contrary are inaccurate. -T-Mobile USA

With that being said, there are still huge obstacles ahead for T-Mobile. Check out this old quote from an Android engineer.

“Where the situation is really tricky is that the system partition on the US G1 was already filled to the brim with cupcake, and we were routinely flirting with build sizes that were a few dozen kB under the limit (or several MB over…), which means that even small changes to the core platform could very easily push the system size over the limit and staying under the limit took some effort”. -Jean-Baptiste Queru

As the Android operating system continues to evolve, the code base will continue to grow. The G1′s days are limited because its storage space is already maxed out.

Will Google find a way to make Android 2.0 fit on the G1? I honestly don’t know. I hope I’m wrong again, but there is no denying that Google and T-Mobile have some major hurdles in front of them to make this work.

A special note to the hackers

Yes, I know you can hack the G1 and load whatever the heck you want on it. Chances are you will be running Android 2.0 sometime next week. I know it is possible to change the partition sizes by loading a new SPL, but there is no way in hell it is extremely unlikely that T-Mobile will attempt this over the air. Flashing a new SPL also presents new problems because it erases all data on the device (which is a big no-no when it comes to everyday customers).

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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