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Bunni

My Professional Opinion of the Android Platform and current Implimentations

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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 OS developers? The android os 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, thats 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 OS on a computer, and not being able to close naturally applications after you are through with them... Let me purpose the following scenario:
Your browsing the web, have 3 tabs open. Feel like checking your email, open your email app up. Reply to an email you received. Board 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, office application; are still up and running in the background.
Now before you say anything about having the need to keep ___ application open for notifications 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 operating system, 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 equipt (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... 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 on 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
    • dont 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. 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 its constantly checking if its 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 Nortain Antivirus, yahoo instant messenger, AIM, and a whole bunch of other junk you do really not 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 advertis'inal 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 on 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, chat a lot. Well your 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, youll 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 then get 60 notifications of hour (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 its discouraged, voids your phones warranty (if they can prove it) i believe, and depending on the phones 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 releases 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. truely, truely 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 are dictated a necessity for customization at the OS level. For example, locking process (and buttons) of your phone when entering and existing locked. Making it very, very difficult for apps to override/step into this process. Many preinstalled apps. For example car dock:
Ive 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. Theres 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 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 a 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 sleep 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 theres always the fact that android uses java... don't get me started about that.




All in all, VERY disappointed and im not hopeful because fixes would require major redirection....

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Updated 12-30-10 at 06:36 PM by Bunni

Categories
Provocative Thought , Programming , Technology

Comments

    Bunni's Avatar
    should probably turn this in to an article...
    Dusk's Avatar
    Basically what this boils down to is a lack of proper coding on the Android platform. All except for root, which I totally agree with. They should have no right to control what goes on what you purchased from them, yet this is what manufacturers insist on doing.
    WileECyte's Avatar
    I definitely see what you're saying Bunni, and I feel your pain. Most of my apps have an option to quit/exit from the menu button. I used advanced task killer to clean up what doesn't exit cleanly.
    [CoFR]SirMoo's Avatar
    I'm frankly surprised that you first start out by saying you are a linux guy, and then suddenly you demand a bunch of stuff that, sorry to say, is relevant to noobs and what they look for in a phone. Having followed the "this is the year of Linux on the Desktop" ongoing fail for the past decade and a half, I've come to realization that the demand for both hackability and a photo-finish end-user experience (everything you complained about) are almost mutually exclusive. You demand a good user experience, and yet you want app writers to have freedom over their UI. Bemoaning carrier-lockout of access to the rom and complaining about the Efuse BS is fine, but opining "I wish these apps didn't suck" is irrelevant to whether the phone actually runs linux or not. You have to realize that android became a platform precisely because it's free for the carriers to deploy and develop on.
    [CoFR]SirMoo's Avatar
    If Apple users want to say "the apps on my iphone/ipad suck" then I'm totally supportive, since Apple more or less is solely responsible for the UI and experience on their closed platform. But here, all you're saying is "Motorola and Verizon suck at Android deployment and they suck for locking their phones," but fortunately, some of that can be changed without involving them. You are also welcome to switch to the Nexus One or G2.
    [CoFR]SirMoo's Avatar
    But if you want to stick with motorola, as long as you can hack the phone to allow a custom rom, you can ditch most of those crappy apps and get better ones. Sure, you can't install cyanogenmod on the new motorolas, but you should still be able to make do with custom apps that do not require custom kernels. However, you did helpfully point out why you do not OTA update your phone without the applicable SBF on the sdcard. In fact, I don't even recommend OTA update even on an unrooted phone. I did that to my unrooted d2 and a lot of apps ended up half broken. But fortunately, since I waited for the complete 2.3.20 SBF to be released, I just reflashed the whole thing to the latest firmware, and it's a lot more stable, and then I rooted it.
    [CoFR]SirMoo's Avatar
    Finally, I actually don't want close-on-idle. That was the original problem with iphone apps. Having a quit/exit from the menu button is fine, and many apps already have that, except for the ones that don't make sense to have them (apps that should still receive push from the network). How many times do you actually close communications-related items in your windows system tray (like steam or xfire or instant messaging)?
    [CoFR]SirMoo's Avatar
    I use my phone as a comms platform, for which it is intended, which means I will always want mail, facebook, aim, irc, ssh, etc running in the backgrond so I can get notifications even if if the app does not current have focus. Having the browser running is also a good thing, the last thing I want is for the phone to have to reload the page I was on just because I was responding to an email. Having an ssh client kill my session is lame when I just wanted to answer mail or actually use the browser to copypasta into my ssh session. I remember that was the terrific failure of the Ipad I played with last year. I'd be in irc, then I'd go look at a map then I'd have to reconnect. Made no sense. It's already annoying that Verizon hasn't deployed SVDO so every time a voice call comes in, or I have to make a voice call, all my data drops out (although thankfully if the call is short, the wonders of tcp/ip means that I have a 50/50 chance I might not have to reconnect to everything).
    Updated 01-02-11 at 01:48 AM by [CoFR]SirMoo
    DancingCorpse's Avatar
    The Samsung smart phones do have a close button. It will close and stop the currently running program (if it is not a web browser, don't know if it has been fixed in the newer Android versions, my Vibrant is still stuck with 2.1...). Most of the time the programs aren't doing anything to use up battery power at all or slow the device down, so it is almost a non-issue.
    Bunni's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by [CoFR]SirMoo
    If Apple users want to say "the apps on my iphone/ipad suck" then I'm totally supportive, since Apple more or less is solely responsible for the UI and experience on their closed platform. But here, all you're saying is "Motorola and Verizon suck at Android deployment and they suck for locking their phones,"
    That seriously competes as one of the most ignorant statements I've ever heard. you dont build a platform with standards and expect developers to actually use rational. We are talking about the human race, lazy, short sighted, and error prone. Seriously though, i suggest you reread my OP, only 1/3 was addressed at manufactures who pull the root crap, which at the moment happens to be everyone except google (nexus phone series), so no, not just verizon and motorola.....
    Updated 01-13-11 at 09:51 PM by Bunni
    Bunni's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by [CoFR]SirMoo
    "Motorola and Verizon suck at Android deployment and they suck for locking their phones," but fortunately, some of that can be changed without involving them.

    Unless you permitted root via root exploits that YOU developed, that makes you a script kiddie ;). I dont know about you, but the act does not sit well with me. So no as long as rooting can only be done VIA a security exploit, locked droid states are unacceptable. If they dont want the everyday users botching their phones fine, but they need alternatives for people who have a brain. I do not want to jump through hoops everytime I have to update my phone.

    And expecially need to learn how the fuck to write updates which dont fatally crit when they discover madden nfl is no longer installed.

    Which wouldnt be a problem if google could figure out how to write a proper package manager through which updates can by applied to the damn os packages, independent of the manufacturer.
    Updated 01-13-11 at 09:59 PM by Bunni
    Bunni's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by [CoFR]SirMoo
    But if you want to stick with motorola, as long as you can hack the phone to allow a custom rom, you can ditch most of those crappy apps and get better ones. Sure, you can't install cyanogenmod on the new motorolas, but you should still be able to make do with custom apps that do not require custom kernels. However, you did helpfully point out why you do not OTA update your phone without the applicable SBF on the sdcard. In fact, I don't even recommend OTA update even on an unrooted phone. I did that to my unrooted d2 and a lot of apps ended up half broken. But fortunately, since I waited for the complete 2.3.20 SBF to be released, I just reflashed the whole thing to the latest firmware, and it's a lot more stable, and then I rooted it.
    case in point about the hoops. back when i had time to dink with shit it was interesting, now its annoying.
    Bunni's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by [CoFR]SirMoo
    Finally, I actually don't want close-on-idle. That was the original problem with iphone apps. Having a quit/exit from the menu button is fine, and many apps already have that, except for the ones that don't make sense to have them (apps that should still receive push from the network). How many times do you actually close communications-related items in your windows system tray (like steam or xfire or instant messaging)?
    Never said close on idle, i want a way to close apps intuitively and natively through the os should i choose to close the app, relying on developers is idiotic. But really? Which apps? Can you count them on one hand? Hell even the PREINSTALLED calculator app does not have a exit button. I have a shit load of apps i use and when i am done with them i want to close them, i want to close the calculator when i am done with it, i dont want it sitting in the background, doing what?
    Bunni's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by [CoFR]SirMoo
    I use my phone as a comms platform, for which it is intended, which mean.... that was the terrific failure of the Ipad I played with last year. I'd be in irc, then I'd go look at a map then I'd have to reconnect. Made no sense. It's already annoying that Verizon hasn't deployed SVDO so every time a voice call comes in, or I have to make a voice call, all my data drops out (although thankfully if the call is short, the wonders of tcp/ip means that I have a 50/50 chance I might not have to reconnect to everything).
    Great awsome, good example of apps that should continue running, yes communication apps, duh , now for the other 75% of apps in the market place?

    Im not talking about forcing apps to close, I am requesting a os implemented, NATIVE, intuitive way to close apps if i WANT close them QED I conclude I am done using X app for the moment and want to close it...
    Walkerxes's Avatar
    damnit Bunni.. PM me when you write a blog like this so I can promote it to article!
    [CoFR]SirMoo's Avatar
    Ok the 1000 character limit is getting annoying
    You wrote "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 operating system, for closing these applications after you are through with them." Why is this the toolkit's responsibility? I can write crappy windows or linux programs that don't have a close button either. I think only Apple's UI standard locks you into something that doesn't let you do it (and if not programmatically, then their app store review process certainly checks for UI standard compliance).
    [CoFR]SirMoo's Avatar
    You seem to be confused between the design of the API compared to the way other programmers are implementing their apps. You can always add a menu button to terminate. "Natively" speaking, there are 4 hard-buttons on the phone, you want google to rewrite the entire spec so that manufacturers have to supply get a close-app button, so that it will always be there? Anything else will be too crappy to implement, or take up too much screen space. The 4-hard-buttons bound to sending their respective messages via the Android API to the app is all the UI standardization that is there (and quite honestly, all you probably really want, unless you really want to force a UI design-lockin just like with Apple or Microsoft, but that would again, destroy the freedom you're looking for on Linux, aren't you?).
    Updated 01-16-11 at 09:33 PM by [CoFR]SirMoo