My Droid Eris is rocking Android 2.1

Verizon's Droid Eris finally gets Android 2.1. It's a much-needed upgrade but is it too late to the game?

I turned on my Droid Eris today and was greeted with an offer to update to the latest version of the OS. I had heard that the updates started rolling out last week, but since my Eris isn't my primary phone, I hadn't paid much attention. Today, however, I was excited by the notice.

Included in the message that an update was now available was a warning that I may lose my contacts after performing the update. This wasn't a concern for me, since I back up and sync to the Google cloud already, but I have heard that some folks at droid-eris.com were a bit surprised by the contacts disappearing. Did Verizon just recently add the warning about contacts being deleted or do some people just click update without thinking twice?

In the past, when performing an update I have always been warned to make sure to keep my phone plugged into power and to have at least 75 percent of power at the time of update. Not so with this upgrade. This time I started the download via Wi-Fi, completed the download and then was prompted to perform the install. My battery was at about 50 percent and at no point was I warned about that fact.

Once the update was just about complete it appeared to have crashed my phone as it hung on the Verizon Wireless screen for a bit. I resisted the urge to reboot and finally witnessed the new home screen being populated, and then a windshield wiper removing the rain from the internals of the screen--welcome to 2.1 on the Droid Eris!

As for the new features, I'm just starting to play around but I have verified that it's definitely the latest build and according to this feature PDF on Verizon's site, I should now be able to enjoy:

  • New Leap thumbnail view, which lets you pinch to jump between panels on your home screen (I hit that one by accident already)
  • Additional calendar views and easier access to contacts
  • Google Maps with Navigation (free, traffic-enhanced, turn-by-turn navigation) - I'll be putting that one to the test tomorrow
  • Android Market, now including more applications since I'm running 2.1
  • Ability to log onto multiple Google accounts at once
  • Support for 19 Microsoft Exchange Server policies
  • Desk Clock that dims your screen and displays the current time while charging--that's worth the update all by itself! ;-)
  • Location-based cinematic full screen weather--um … ok, I guess that's cool?

And … a bunch of improvements:

  • Free Yahoo Mail support
  • Longer battery life--I know many users who will be very happy with that one
  • Improved YouTube playback--believe it or not, that's cool, since I do a fair amount of YouTubing on my iPhone at night
  • Better Bluetooth support, including contact transfer
  • Automatic settings for POP3 Verizon.net email accounts--yeah, great
  • Added support for stand alone Wi-Fi when device is in airplane mode--I stumbled on that one on my iPhone the other day, too
  • Improved handset audio when disconnecting a wired headset--I'm wondering how it supports switching back and forth between a bluetooth headset, more than disconnecting a wired one--does anyone use a wired one these days?
  • Faster power up--always a nice addition
  • Improved swipe unlock functionality--what's improved? Now it works better?
  • Added support for Office 2007 documents--I can see value there

If you're a Droid Eris user, this is great news. If you're not a Droid Eris user, you can pick one up for $79.99 (with a 2yr contract and a $100 discount), but you run the risk of buying a phone that is rumored to be discontinued in the next month or so. Of course, you could spend a bit more--$199.99 to be exact--and get the Droid Incredible, which Matt Miller loves.

I'll be playing around with my new toy (well, new now that it has a much-needed OS refresh) and I'll be reporting back as the week goes on.

One more thing: the OS update experience also reminded me of how we all think that the iPhone is so advanced, yet it requires you to tether it to your computer for updates. Not only that but during the update process it wipes your phone, puts a new OS on it, and then restores your phone to its previous settings. Compare that to the experience I just had and score another one for Android.

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