Dear Android: This is your final chance
iPhone 4S isn’t utterly what I’d hoped for: it’s too costly for a high-capacity models I’d prefer, we wish a bigger screen, there’s no 4G, and I’d hoped for integrated turn-by-turn directions. The 4S has left an opening for Android to reassert itself and win my continued loyalty…but it’s a tiny opening, indeed. This is Android’s final chance, and here’s why.
I’ve created about this problem before, and it’s still a problem. Sure, it’s a problem Google has affianced to address, by combining a Android Update Alliance behind in May. Google announced it would work with manufacturers and carriers to broach timelier updates on a standardised schedule, and to keep updating any device for during slightest 18 months after a creation. That seemed like good news, and a flattering candid confirmation that fragmentation was a critical problem, and one that was pushing consumers batty.
As of August, swell was spotty, and deplorable during T-Mobile and Verizon, where AndroidAndMe found that usually a fraction of phones with those carriers were using a latest chronicle of Android.
Just this month, Gingerbread adoption finally showed a quantifiable uptick (though essentially due to sales of new devices, one assumes), while Froyo invasion forsaken next 50 percent for a initial time. That’s a behind burn.
But developers have listened that before: Honeycomb, a tablet-specific chronicle of Android, was also ostensible to come with despotic hardware and program doing requirements, yet many developers contend it usually worsened fragmentation issues (not to discuss a tablets using it were a dud, sales-wise). Now, Honeycomb is being killed off to make room for ICS. That’s a correct after-the-fact decision, yet anguish be a ridiculous developer who spent a lot of time and income essay apps for Honeycomb behind when it was a fragmentation-killer du jour.
What’s a finish outcome of fragmentation for we and me? First, a consistent diversion of watchful for updates–some of your friends have Gingerbread, you’re still on Froyo, you’re angry about that and afterwards another crony comes adult behind we and says they haven’t even gotten Froyo. You never know when updates are coming, other than rumors on blogs and forums, and there never seems to be a reason for a delay. That’s usually a terrible patron experience–but it’s not a misfortune problem.
Fragmentation also leads to lukewarm developer support, that leaves us frustratingly behind a apps foe compared to a iTunes App Store. And it means delays on hotly preferred apps, like a Netflix app, that a association pronounced was scarcely impossible to develop deliberation a miss of a common DRM height opposite devices. Say what we will about DRM, Netflix can’t tide cinema but it–and that meant no app during all until usually recently. The app finally seemed in May, and usually worked on five devices, with a behind rollout to others function willy-nilly over a final few months.
And that behind rollout and uneven implementation, says Symantec, non-stop a doorway to the feign Netflix Trojan that this week masqueraded as a tangible Netflix app and afterwards stole users’ personal information.
To be honest, fragmentation alone is copiousness reason to desert a platform–I’m not shopping a new phone any year usually to keep up, and I’m sleepy of a guessing game and bullet lists about what’s entrance when and to whom, and what apps support what chronicle of a OS, down to a second decimal place. If usually that were a finish of a tale, though.
Lack of support
Smartphones are difficult devices, using difficult software. Android is serve difficult by, as we mentioned, fragmentation, and also a introduction of wild-card apps from mixed sources. Don’t get me wrong–I cite and conclude a open(ish) inlet of Android and a ability to get lots of kinds of apps. But when something goes wrong with my phone, we wish someone to call, and Verizon (or ATT, or T-Mobile, or Sprint) isn’t in a business or robe of ancillary software. The manufacturers seem good out of their depth, in terms of support. And Google is no assistance during all.
For example, Droid X users like myself waited months for a Gingerbread refurbish that came some-more than a year after a phone’s release. Sadly, when it landed in Jun 2011, it crippled many phones, including mine. The list of problems introduced by a update is unbelievable, trimming from a navigation app treacherous easterly and west to extemporaneous restarts to enervated or disintegrating 3G signals to Bluetooth unwell totally to pointless Wi-Fi disconnections, and on and on.
Motorola Owners’ Forum)
Forum threads were filled with complaints. Motorola promised it was looking into a issue, and an Android repair finally arrived in August, entirely dual months later. In a meantime, Verizon didn’t contend a word, strictly (although it did willingly bureau reset my phone as a probable “fix” that simply erased any app and environment and left me with a purify Gingerbread implement that was usually marginally reduction cart than a first), and conjunction did Google.
Now, we don’t indispensably design Google to wade into any Android-related ravel on interest of their production partners. But a standards-setting clearly isn’t working, if updates this cart are going out to customers, and if it can’t force a partners to understanding with problems some-more quickly, it should during slightest promulgate with a open about either Android is a infallible product on any platform.
This is a doubt of code equity and patron experience: Google needs to get control of it on some-more than usually pure-Android Nexus phones. The answer to any Android-related problem on any phone can’t be an army of proud Reddit readers revelation bland consumers that all they have to do is base their phones, implement Cyanogen Mod, and live happily ever after.
Android is always late
To live with Android is to learn to wait. Like an overdue baby creation a trusting mom violent with any flitting day, Android came into this world some-more than a year after it was approaching to launch, and it’s been using late ever since. Look:
- Android 1.5 (Cupcake) was behind on T-Mobile
- Donut was behind for Samsung users
- Eclair was delayed for roughly everyone–two full months for HTC (Cliq XT users got a bad news that a ascent was never entrance to their phones)
- Froyo was delayed
- Gingerbread was behind on a Droid Incredible and actually behind a launch of a Nexus S with a tardiness
- The Honeycomb inscription OS delays themselves behind a recover of a multiverse of would-be Honeycomb tablets that were anticipating to launch after CES 2011–possibly murdering off critical iPad foe in droves
- Now, Ice Cream Sandwich and a earnest sounding Galaxy Nexus/Nexus Prime have also been delayed, purportedly out of honour for a flitting of Steve Jobs. At slightest one blogger has speculated a true reason might be patent-related; certainly, given Android’s history, a advantage of a doubt is a bit harder to find.
In sum, life with Android has been an uncertain, buggy, frustrating mess.
There are times when we truly doubt Google’s joining to a whole enterprise, notwithstanding a burgeoning marketplace share. The proposed Motorola Mobility acquisition throws even some-more questions into a mix: will other hardware partners desert Android in preference of a some-more infallible bedfellow? If so, I’m undoubtedly out: Motorola hardware fails quick and hard, nonetheless it’s not utterly as awful as a crapware-laden Samsung Fascinate Verizon foisted on me–the usually phone we did root, usually to shun carrying Bing as my default search.
Perhaps Ice Cream Sandwich will be all that we hope: a peacemaker, a good uniter, a forger of a New Deal between handset makers and Google. The Galaxy Nexus could infer to be a ideal phone, with a entirely integrated apartment of extraordinary Google services operative in peace and delivering on a guarantee that Google done back in 2007. But let’s be clear: it will have to be accurately that.
As we said, a iPhone 4S gave Android an astonishing break: before that announcement, entirely 42 percent were prepared to switch to an iPhone. Those numbers might be reduce in a arise of a miss of 4G, a still-small screen, and a fact that Vlingo does a lot of what Siri promises. But a mangle is expected to be brief unless Google can put some critical flesh behind bringing a height adult to primary time. Me, personally, I’m still gripping a credit label prepared for a iPhone 5, usually in case.
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Dear Android: This is your final chance