A few weeks ago, there were murmurs on the various Sidekick forums that there was a sizable update coming, in the form of hiptop OS 2.3.
Waiting for Sidekick updates is sort of like the lottery; after Danger finishes an update, T-Mobile has to approve it through their QA, and then it’s slowly seeded, randomly, to the userbase. Everyone doesn’t receive it at the same time because apparently that would blow out the servers – so one day, out of the blue, you just magically see you need to update your software and get to do some sort of joyous dance.
Today, in the middle of taking copious notes about a project, I got notification that my Sidekick was ready to update. I installed the update, and then another update immediately after it, and then took a few minutes to examine the new feature set.
I have to say, I’m tremendously happy. Here’s the new features I’ve personally found useful:
– Less publicized to the point of not being in the release notes for reasons I can’t understand: considerably better CSS support. My blog now actually renders in proper colors, as does Bloglines.
– There’s now Find functionality, which was also sorely needed. Has case matching and whole word switches.
– You can finally highlight a link and copy the link location, or directly email/SMS it, from within the browser. After having to click through links I can’t properly view just to IM them to people, this is a godsend.
– You can change document encoding. There aren’t a lot of options, but Unicode is there, so that’s a big plus regardless.
– A slight behavior tweak that helps a lot: previously, the browser would load the page straight through, loading images in order before loading any text below it. Now, image placeholders show up and the images load inline after the text shows up. This helps tremendously when pulling my RSS feeds.
## AIM Client
– Buddy icon support, both for your contacts (icons show up small when you select them in the list, and in the top right corner of the screen during conversations) and for you (you can pick any picture out of your Camera app).
– Timestamps in conversations, which were hugely needed, are now available.
– Idle times, away messages, and available messages are shown inline in the buddy list.
– There’s a setting to reconnect automatically.
– Chat buffers have grown from 4k to 10k.
– Links are clickable in an email, at long last.
– You can hold Shift to multi-select messages. After having found my email box flooded with errant page mails from our monitoring server, this will supplant me playing Track And Field with the delete key.
– You can now send text messages from the Call Log,
– Sadly, the Phone app has lost the nifty “icon shows if you’ve flipped open your Sidekick” behavior. Oh well.
– Text messages can be saved as Drafts. No more forcing to send or discard!
– You can have a list of prewritten messages, which are easily inserted into any new text message.
## Address Book
– You can now add screen names to address book entries. Of particular interest is that you can set it to any of the big five messaging types – AIM, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, and Yahoo. I can only hope this means there’ll be a Jabber client soon.
– The icon picker now is 3×3, which makes selecting one a little easier.
– There’s easier management for moving contacts to and from your SIM card.
– It’s now considerably easier to remove an existing phone or email entry from a user – you can just hit delete, rather than having to open it and tap the Delete button with the cursor.
Auto-saving of photos! No more having to remember to click another button to get them to store to my phone. **This was apparently there before, I just wasn’t aware of it.**
– In-app photo rotation. No more sideways uploads to Flickr.
– You can watch a slideshow on your phone, although I’m not particularly sure how useful this is.
– There’s now a little loading animation so you’re not just staring at black as you wait for the phone to power up.
– You can change the thumbnail size in the Gallery view.
– You can now assign an icon for each event. They feel a little like clip-art throwbacks, but it’s nice to be able to do some sort of categorization of events.
– You can now uninstall applications to preserve space in a supported manner, rather than deleting apps and hoping it remembers you bought them.
– The notification area at the top of the screen when something loads, or you get a new email or IM or what have you, is about twice as long, allowing you to actually read the thing at a glance.
– You can use an image from the camera as a lock screen image. Hurrah for customization of security screens.
– The fonts have been tweaked slightly for ease of legibility.
– The easter egg game, Snowbored, actually plays at a good framerate now.
– Network status now has a dedicated screen.
– There’s a help screen with some connection tips, useful for reference if your connection dies. The user’s manual has changed to a web page that has to load off dngr.net.
This isn’t a complete list; Danger has [an extensive list of their own](http://help.sidekick.dngr.com/en-us/#updatenotes). But I have to say, kudos to their engineers for adding so many useful features and new functionality as part of a regular OS release. It’s really impressive, and makes me feel like my Sidekick is reborn; like I want to use it even more than I already do.
(Not that this is possible, from what I’ve been told.)