• My Professional Opinion of the Android Platform and Current Implimentations

    Let me start off by saying that I am a Linux guy. I have been waiting for Linux to reach cell phones since the day I got my first cell phone.



    Android rather disappoints me:
    Applications are left running?:
    Why? What was going through the head of the operating systems developers? The Android operating system needs to place a standard "X" button at the top right of the screen or FORCE all applications to have a "EXIT AND CLOSE" option in the apps menu. I can see the intended application of this serious lack of natural closing of applications; it integrates nicely with the back button, that's about it. Your applications are left running on the chance you may want to navigate back through their states via the back button.

    If you've never used an Android phone or tablet, let me draw you an analogy. Imagine using your choice of operating system (OS for short) on a computer, and not being able to close applications after you are through with them. Let me propose the following scenario:
    You're browsing the web, have 3 tabs open. Feel like checking your email, open your email app up. Reply to an email you received. Bored and need to kill a few minutes so you play a round of solitaire. Get on ___ instant messaging application. Colleague comes in: open up ___ office application to review a document and finalize it.
    Returning to your desktop, on the android your web-browser with 3 tabs open, email application, instant messaging application, solitaire, and office application are all still up and running in the background.
    Now before you say anything about having the need to keep ___ application open for notifications, the argument is moot because notifications are checked by a service, so there is no need to leave the apps open.

    Now, Android applications programmed by a smart programmer(s) will automatically close when they go idle. However, as it stands, there is no method managed/provided by the OS for closing these applications after you are through with them. That means there is no close button at the top right of the window, no task-bar to right click and close, only a task-manager which requires an excessive amount of clicks to close a single application. Instead you have to download a 3rd party application to ease this process.
    Installed application services:
    I suppose the software developers are more to blame for this, but the Android OS ultimately is the one which equips (and encourages) software developers to have data collecting services for their applications.

    For example, I got the PayPal app thinking "sure I might use this ONCE a month." However simply having the PayPal application installed has a service running in the background sucking up memory, but for what?

    Sure it may not be much, but they add up quick. Real quick. Hell my old HTC Touch did not freeze up, lockup, and slug like my current Droid. And for me, a serious windows (and especially windows mobile) HATER to say that, truly says something.

    NEARLY EVERYTHING has a service:

    • Blink 2.7mb
      • background services using up memory to check if it needs to inform you that your low on memory....
    • Dictionary.com 2.9
    • ICE 1.7
    • Paypal
      • what on earth could this be doing?
    • Advanced task killer 14mb
    • Lookout 2x 4.6mb total
    • Switch-pro widget 2.6mb
    • battery watcher
    • Weather 5.9mb
      • Not sure what this does, definitly not check for weather updates, as they are NEVER up-to-date when I check the weather widigit...
    • Backup assistant
      • I wish this app would burn in a firey pit. The concept of the Android centrializes most of your important data in your google account. So what this app does is usless because Google does it for you. Though this may be an app used by Google for that purpose, if it is, thats utterly stupid. I expect Google syncs when you make changes (ex: add a contact), which is how it should be done. Not a service running in the background to constantly check if you need to sync.

    • News, 3 services 6.9mb
      • I do not have any news widgets or anything news related, so this is utterly wasting memory.
    • Motorola photowidget
      • Don't use it, yet it its sucking up memory.
    • Skype
    See, how quickly they add up? And those are just the services I do not want! Constantly running, bogging my phone down. It's so assinine to leave the choice up to app developers because clearly the majority need to revealuate their applications' architecture. For example, why does dictionary.com have a service for word of the day? Please dont tell me it's constantly checking if it has been a day and subsequently needs to update the word of the day? And dont give me that crap about "lets see you do better", you do NOT get credit for trying.
    Root:
    My only guess to this is that Google was forced to allow phone/tablet manufacturers to deny customers root privileges on their devices, when the manufacturers saw the potential for free advertising. My best example of this is: imagine buying a laptop or a prebuilt PC, which came with preinstalled software like Norton Antivirus, Yahoo instant messenger, AIM, and a whole bunch of other junk you do not really want. The kicker: you cannot uninstall the applications or disable the applications from autostarting. So they (the applications) and/or their services are always running, bogging your phone down. The best part is, they are advertisinal software: Pre-installed on your phone for the single purpose of encouraging you to buy the full application OR pay-to-use service the application offers. That is to say, its not even software you will always use, its software, you MIGHT use and if you choose to do so, HAVE to pay for (with the exception of Skype, which does have pay to use features, however does have some free features [skype to skype calling and chat]).

    For example one verison the droidx comes preinstalled with:

    1. Blockbuster
    2. Skype
      1. Don't get me wrong, I love Skype and probably use it more than 90% of people that use Skype (let alone just regular Android users... perhaps this is why i dislike it?). There are many features of Skype on the Android which drive me insane. For example, the inability to customize notifications. Now say you have Skype on your PC, and chat a lot. Well you're going to get super delayed notifications of your chat on your phone, in patches, LONG after you've had the conversation. Each chat message results in a notification, which your phone syncs in batches, grabbing only X lines per each sync. That means if you had a chat longer than X lines, you'll only get a part of it on your phone, and will get the rest later. At this point, I would rather disable Skype on my phone than get 60 notifications of hour-old (if not day-old) chats every X minutes. But I cannot because Motorola dictated it so.
    3. Verizon Navigator
      1. A pay-to-use service, that royally sucks. Best part, Android comes with Google Maps and beta navigator, which ARE FREE and royally kick the snot out of Verizon Navigator. Why any sane person would want it is beyond me.
    4. "My Verizon Mobile"
    5. City Id
    6. Madden NFL 11
    7. Media Share
    8. Fm radio
    Sure, you can root your device, but it's discouraged, it voids your phone's warranty (if they can prove it) I believe, and depending on the phone's manufacturer, give them a reason to not support your phone for updates. This is something I just don't get. Most Linux distributions have a package managing application. Which updates all states/instances of that distribution, regardless of the user customization. This inherit feature in Linux was evidently discarded, most likely as a result of manufacturers forcing Google to enable them to prohibit root access.
    My phone was rooted, sure. I am a Linux user, I breath software freedom, so naturally. The first thing I did after rooting was to thoroughly enjoy deleting the applications which had been forced upon me. However, later down the road, Motorola released an update for the platform. I shortly learned the success of these updates is dependent upon having the manufacturer installed applications still installed. So upon trying to apply the update, the update failed during the process, always yielding my phone in a state between platform versions: royally botched. I.E. I could receive some calls, and those I did, I could not hear the caller nor could they ever hear me. The fix for this, was a ROYAL, finger crossing pain. Since I did not have the files for the applications I removed to restore them for the update.
    All of the aforementioned pet-peves summate into a phone that runs depressingly slow for such a powerful device. Truly, truly an embarrassment to the Linux community.

    Finally, considering Linux's axiom of open source, the Android OS has many close source sections. Many of these sections are ones which have dictated a necessity for customization at the OS level. For example, locking process (and buttons) of your phone when entering an existing locked. Making it very, very difficult for apps to override/step into this process. Many preinstalled apps.

    For example car dock:
    I've boasted about maps.google.com on the PC for a while now. So of course I was looking forward to selling my Garmin after I got my droidx. Well this is not the case. There's a huge buzz kill if you want to use your droidx for music and navigation. If your in navigation mode, you cannot change the song playing, without exiting the navigation mod. Which means after you change the song, you have to reconfigure and input your destination, hope your not driving while doing this because the process is anything but user friendly.

    I would love to extend the alarm app on the Android, just ever so much, and allow the Android to randomly select an mp3 to play from a selection, instead of always playing the same song. Also a side note: I've had days when the alarm fails to go off (luckily I have a backup alarm, ie: a physical old school alarm clock that goes off 10 minutes after my Android alarm should have gone off). Hours later, I look at my notifications and come to find the alarms been asleep for several HOURS. Which is strange considering that my sleep time is only 5 minutes... But I cannot extend this, because its not open source AND I cannot replace this application with another application for features at a system level; instead you have to override everything to mimic similar functionality.
    I suppose this is done for security, because people are evidently (from windows) incapable of filtering the applications they install for virus's. Then there's always the fact that Android uses java... don't get me started about that.




    All in all, VERY disappointed and I'm not hopeful because fixes would require major redirection....
    This article was originally published in blog: My Professional Opinion of the Android Platform and current Implimentations started by Bunni
    Comments 23 Comments
    1. Knee of Justice's Avatar
      Knee of Justice -
      Great review. I was thinking of getting an android phone, but this changed my mind. Thanks, Bunni!
    1. Radarrat's Avatar
      Radarrat -
      I agree with alot of what you said...but given the lessor of the 5 or 6 evils available...I think its the best choice.
      All of the others I have major problems with as well. I think the I-Phone is the worst.
      My omnia was a great phone as far as the operating system goes...atleast I could delete all of the apps I didnt want, and nothin ran in the background unless i started it...however the screen was too small to use effectivly and not enough apps.
      I love the Droid X, but like you said I wish I could make some changes and delete some unwanted apps.
    1. TxKicker's Avatar
      TxKicker -
      I have a Droid Eris and had a lot of battery issues because of apps running all the time. I installed Advanced Task Manager to shut down programs automatically. However, I found that the best thing I did for the battery was to turn off auto sync for programs. Also I keep shortcuts to turn off services on my main home screen.

      I agree there are a lot if issues with Android at this point. No system is perfect though. It makes calls, texts, and receives emails so I'm happy.
    1. Jonas Quin's Avatar
      Jonas Quin -
      Great review bunni,

      I was gifted an Iphone a little more than a year ago, and by in large it does what it needs to, i.e. make phone calls and play music. When the new OS came out last summer i saw a similar drop in battery and app performance. Fortunately it was quickly made so you could force quit any program.

      At this point im just happy if it plays some music, does actual phone stuff and has the occasional useful app.
    1. roadhog0's Avatar
      roadhog0 -
      Guess I aint getting an Android phone. Gotta look for a different one.
    1. Imisnew2's Avatar
      Imisnew2 -
      Jonas, I just picked up the Droid X this past December and I've already had the Camera and Music crash on me (forcing me to restart the phone). It kind-of surprises me that the lack-luster / bug-filled / overall low level of quality is being accepted so widely on the market.
    1. Image's Avatar
      Image -
      Great review bunni, any chance you or the community have any phone recommendations for an AT&T customer?
    1. Potemkine's Avatar
      Potemkine -
      VERY thorough review Bunni. I like it. However, there are a series of things that I disagree with on your article, and will address with a blog/article of my own from written by someone who has the Samsung Captivate (the AT&T Galaxy S phone). I'll try and have that done at some point in the near future because I feel that you may be having a different experience than I because it is the "Droid" by Verizon platform as opposed to the native "Android" experience I am receiving from AT&T. Don't get me wrong, I have MORE than my fair share of gripes with AT&T and Samsung with my phone.
    1. Bunni's Avatar
      Bunni -
      Oh wow, when did this get promoted to an article? O.o The blog entry is literally only a quarter (could not post the entire article due to blog length limitations) of the full article and that was the first rough draft O.o
    1. Potemkine's Avatar
      Potemkine -
      Bunni, if you think its not ready, we can always de-list it and work with you to get it up to your snuf. The editors thought it was article worthy and so they promoted it to article. Such is the power of the mighty all seeing editors
    1. Bunni's Avatar
      Bunni -
      Quote Originally Posted by Potemkine View Post
      VERY thorough review Bunni. I like it. However, there are a series of things that I disagree with on your article, and will address with a blog/article of my own from written by someone who has the Samsung Captivate (the AT&T Galaxy S phone). I'll try and have that done at some point in the near future because I feel that you may be having a different experience than I because it is the "Droid" by Verizon platform as opposed to the native "Android" experience I am receiving from AT&T. Don't get me wrong, I have MORE than my fair share of gripes with AT&T and Samsung with my phone.
      True the root denial sounds directed at verizon, but even more so directed at the natural platform (along with the remaining points) and googles approach.

      Keep in mind that i do prefer the android platform over alternative mobile platforms. The blog was only meant to voice my disappointments and critiques with the platform at face value.


      That said, i am very interested in hearing your opinion from a different angle!
    1. WileECyte's Avatar
      WileECyte -
      My Android experience was a bit colored by the fact that the original Motorola Droid got 'stock' Android. There's no crapware on there mandated by Verizon. There's no custom interface like Motorola's "Motoblur" or HTC's "Sense". Unfortunately, there's no phone on the market anymore where you can get this experience, short of paying through the nose for one of the Google developer platforms.
    1. Alundil's Avatar
      Alundil -
      I've been looking, more and more, into Android based phones as well. Excellent article, though i am not discouraged. I fully plan to root the device (whichever the lucky one is) and make hay with the latest android OS 2.3 at this point. Since I've never gone to warranty on any of my phones previously I am not terribly concerned about the loss of it (potentially).

      But, with other smart phones that I've rooted (both on Verizon though Windows Phones XV6700 and XV6800 respectively) I was always able to grab a copy of the factory ROM just in case I needed to flash it back for some reason.

      If the same thing is possible on the Android side then no worries. As for the different handset makers' UI crap. I really haven't seen any of them that I like. They all look like they are trying to "iphone" their phone. If I wanted an iphone I'd have bought an iphone.

      Look for other faux paus in the news over the coming months like that from Sony and the PS3 root "key" built directly into the hardware. Can you say DOH.....and now a mod/root free for all on the PS3?

      Bunni (and others), if there are additional thoughts, comments about android as a platform keep em coming.
    1. Walkerxes's Avatar
      Walkerxes -
      Quote Originally Posted by Bunni View Post
      Oh wow, when did this get promoted to an article? O.o The blog entry is literally only a quarter (could not post the entire article due to blog length limitations) of the full article and that was the first rough draft O.o
      Good. Then there will be a part 2
    1. Gumby's Avatar
      Gumby -
      nice review Bunni,
      I just recently got a Motorola Defy (AMAZING hardware, ok software) and I agree with much of what you have said. I think you may be able to get a better review though by not using a Motorola phone. MotoBlur is responsible for many of your complaints. You should root that and try an unofficial ROM without the MotoBlur. I think a lot of your complaints would go away.
    1. king_of_hearts's Avatar
      king_of_hearts -
      What Gumby said.

      I love my HTC Hero. Sure it's dated now, but rooted and running Cyanogen Mod 6.1 (Android 2.2) has given new life to my device. [HTC said the Hero wasn't powerful enough for 2.2, it's all about the marketing.]

      A strictly 'Google experience' phone like the Nexus one provides the newest updates for the phone, basically cutting out the middle man (HTC, Motorola, et al). Those middle men are the creators of this 'fragmentation' issue. Hardware manufactures want you to upgrade your device every time a new update is released from Google.

      The phone manufactures are the ones holding back android, not Google. Considering Android is open source (you can do your own compile if you so choose), Google has no choice but to let the manufactures do what they want with it.

      The most difficult part of all this Android business is the device drivers. Basically the modders must reverse engineer drivers for devices because the drivers aren't released under the same license (GPL) as Android, thus hardware manufactures aren't required to release them.

      As long as devices keep getting rooted, and the mod community keeps releasing updates, I will continue to use Android in all the greatness that Google intended.
    1. ...bigdog...'s Avatar
      ...bigdog... -
      my girls' windows 7 phone is a joke for apps and utilities compared to my droid phone. And good luck with the whole "root" freedom on an iphone.

      dogging on droid...when droid is the only game in town that even gives you a remote chance at having some openness and freedom on your smart phone.....is ridiculous.

      google maps navigation......makes iphone and windows7....on its own....a joke.

      and a 4G droid......hot damn. Load in easytether, or pay for hotspotting.....and you're set at cellular 25Mbps on the laptop.
    1. asianator365's Avatar
      asianator365 -
      I love my Droid...haven't had any problems with it.
    1. kANG's Avatar
      kANG -
      Droid is the shit...this article is ridiculous....what can you compare a Droid with...nothing...besides maybe an iphone...Android is better because they give you hardware options which is key when it comes to phones because people need different options....Software is smooth and VERY customizable...You are knit picking at every little minor thing you can find...Android is the best operating system on the market plain and simple...
    1. Bunni's Avatar
      Bunni -
      Quote Originally Posted by ...bigdog... View Post
      dogging on droid...when droid is the only game in town that even gives you a remote chance at having some openness and freedom on your smart phone.....is ridiculous.
      .
      as i said in the OP. I prefer the android OS over all alternativies. But again, as i said in the op, I am critiquing the platform. Giving points for improvement.



      Quote Originally Posted by |dN|jOHNSON View Post
      Droid is the shit...this article is ridiculous....what can you compare a Droid with...nothing...besides maybe an iphone...Android is better because they give you hardware options which is key when it comes to phones because people need different options....Software is smooth and VERY customizable...You are knit picking at every little minor thing you can find...Android is the best operating system on the market plain and simple...
      and to infer that one cannot critique something just because its the best choice out of a given subset its moronic and "ridiculous". If that methodology prevailed we'd still be rolling with Edison original light bulb.

      And denial if root is HARDLY knit picking. Imagine buying a windows laptop and being denied administrative privileges, unable to uninstall bloat-ware bogging down your machine... Oh wait i explained this in the article, why am i even bothering.

      Damn trolls, wheres my troll spray. Shoo