Smartphones optimize

10 things Android must change to become a long-term player

Android could lose its top-dog status if it doesn't address some serious flaws. Justin James runs through some areas that are sorely in need of improvement.

Google's Android is now the #1 selling smartphone OS. But if there is one thing the phone market has proven, it is that success is fleeting. Despite its current big sales numbers, Android and its ecosystem have a number of critical shortcomings that must be addressed if Android is to be a success in the long-term.

1: The UI

The Android UI is absolutely miserable to use. It does not matter what add-ons you include to spruce it up, the base functionality of the operating system is just a train wreck. Every minor piece of functionality requires significant numbers of gestures, and many of those gestures are poorly chosen. You sometimes wonder if the same company that made the Google search engine and Gmail also produces Android. Every competing product I've used (other than Windows Mobile 6.X) has an easier-to-use interface. And as phones achieve feature set parity, the UI becomes an important selling point.

2: Resource management

Android phones have horrible resource management, and it is because Android has a wide open development model. It is not unusual to see phones requiring reboots multiple times a week (if not in a day) because of the resource crunch. Android is the first mainstream OS since Windows 3.1 or perhaps Windows 95 that has required "average users" to know how to forcibly close processes to avoid reboots. That is not a good sign.

3: Application sandboxing

Another problem with the application model is that applications can trample all over the operating system and files. As both iOS and WP7 have proven, proper sandboxing can lead to excellent reliability and a much more secure phone.

4: Sync

The sync experience of Android is stuck in the stone age as far as I am concerned. Both the iTunes and Zune experiences with iOS and WP7 are flawed to be sure, but Android does not even have that. On my last Android phone, I had to treat it like an external hard drive and then attempt to find the camera's pictures each time. While it can be argued that the wired sync to a PC is becoming less important with the cloud's rise and the PC's declining use, you still have to ask, "Where's the Android cloud sync?" Windows 8 is automatically syncing application information to the cloud, Amazon's new tablets do cloud sync, iOS has iCloud, but Android isn't even talking "cloud" yet.

5: The marketplace

The Android marketplace is messy. It's not just hard to find applications that interest you, but the contents of the marketplace are a disaster. Malware? Check. Buggy apps? Check. Incompatible apps? Check. Look through the Android marketplace, and you'll see that far too many apps are filled with reviews along the line of "doesn't work with the arrow button on my phone" and "screen size is wrong for my phone." While these issues are due to fragmentation of the Android ecosystem, the Android marketplace does not do anything to test applications or provide system requirements beyond bare minimum details.

6: Content partnerships

Android's competitors are working hard to deliver content directly to the phones. Even if Google does not want to run a music and video store, it could be partnering with someone else to do it. Not developing a close relationship with Amazon was a big mistake I think, and now the only major independent content provider left to work with is Netflix, which lacks music. The lack of partners for content is what fundamentally sank Google TV's debut, along with significant UI issues.

7: The patent mess

In the last year or so, the patent situation around Android has gotten downright frightening. The most troubling is the Java suit with Oracle. Google was forced to buy Motorola Mobility not because it wanted a hardware arm, but because it needed patents. Can it turn about Motorola Mobility and make it a big profit center? Possibly, but that's not the point. Google is now spending billions of dollars to stop the bleeding from the patent disaster, and it is scaring away potential partners. These patent lawsuits are so bad that it looks like Microsoft makes more money from Android than anyone else, and some OEMs pay more to use Android than they would to license WP7. That is not a healthy situation, and Google needs to fix it pronto.

8: Form factors

Google has spent a lot of time trying to penetrate the tablet market, and meanwhile, its smartphone progress has stalled. At the same time, Google poured a ton of resources into the Google TV fiasco. Those resources could have (and should have) gone into tablets and phones. Google needs to realize that it can do only so many things at once, and in this case, it isn't handling the basics properly so it can't be messing around with things like TVs.

9: Support

With a system as wide open as Android, support issues are fairly common. Between the customizations that OEMs are making, the customizations that carriers are adding, and the application model that lets customers add all sorts of system-level functionality, it is no surprise that determining the root cause of a problem is virtually impossible. To make matters worse, if you want an answer beyond resetting the phone to factory defaults, the best you can do is to hit Google's forums. This may be acceptable for a free phone, but not for people who are spending big bucks on premium devices, particularly tablets. Google needs to step it up on the support side if it wants to avoid alienating customers.

10: Security

Android's Windows 95 development model has given it Windows 95 security issues. The Android security model is (barely) appropriate for a non-networked operating system that can run only one application at a time (think MS-DOS). But like MS-DOS, when multiple applications can run at once and the device is plugged into a network, all the security holes become quickly apparent.

Viruses for Android are now running wild; some are even in applications bought from the Android marketplace. Applications can do all sorts of things to run up a big data bill or access private information without the user even realizing it. It's hard to believe, but Google managed to create an insecure Linux distribution! While the damage is still fairly limited, Android does not enjoy the monopoly position that Windows had in the 1990s, which allowed it to be riddled with security bugs without losing market share. How many widespread public security breaches will it take before IT administrators ban Android from their networks and consumers won't touch it either?

About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

61 comments
NerdHerder
NerdHerder

UI: I disagree with your "train wreck" claim. The widgets allow a flexibility to customize your UI. I like having the home, menu, back and search buttons available instead of just a single home button. I can make the UI fit me. Sync: "Wheres the Android cloud sync?" Its always been there. When I bought my first G1, my email, contacts and calendar appeared within five minutes of logging in. If youre using Google products, buy an Android. If you use Outlook, buy Windows Phone 7. If you love iTunes, buy an iPhone. The heartache comes from trying to sync systems from competitors. As for using an Android as an external hard drive, its nice to have as an option. Switch to the tools that work best with your phone. By the way, my work officially supports iPhones on their Exchange server but not Android. However, Exchange does not realize my Samsung Vibrant is not an iPhone and syncs just fine. Marketplace: I have never had trouble finding interesting apps. I also love the market.android.com web page that lets me browse on my computer and send the app or book to the phone. Your point about not having a gatekeeper for the market is valid for security but not for censorship. You make valid points about the patent, fragmentation, security and support issues. Although Ice Cream Sandwich should take care of most fragmentation issues, its nice to have hardware options. Here are some things that I hope Android does not change: - Swype: Best phone keyboard period. - Big screens: Four inches is barely enough; I want bigger. - Micro-USB: Standard for chargers and data connections. - Freedom: Never start censoring.

redpro24
redpro24

I truly hate the way Apple operates so I recently bought a Motorola Defy running Android. It is the best software i've ever used.

320vu50
320vu50

Sprint Samsung Intercept. 1 year old and it drives me insane. When I got it I could select the messages and calls I wanted to drop from the list. Then an Upgrade(?) came along and it turned into all or none. Plus messages I wanted to archive went away. I found a real problem with making phone calls, 1 push button; 2 drag circle across screen; 3 select phone symbol; 4 either dial number or; 5 select option; then dial number or; 6 locate contact; then 7 select number to call. (The slide feature on the contact list sucks - if you hover over a name for 2 seconds it selects that contact.) Now for the serious problem area. It takes the first four or five operations to get to where you can enter the numbers to dial, in an emergency they are three - 911. But, the preliminary operations are difficult to manage when the emergency occurs. Sync - with what. I use Outlook for my contacts and calendar. I have a hotmail account with them on it. But, my phone won't sync with the calendar (because it is Microsoft) and I haven't checked up on a couple of contact changes lately. The Android insists on my posting the info on Google to allow the sync operation. But, as I have found out, the Google data is publicly available. I can't find a way to lock everyone out of it. So, I don't post it to Google. At first it was private then that changed when they went into the Social Network phase of thinking. Sudden changes in screen sensitivity and more. I get an alarm notification and I pickup the phone, the alarm cancels. I have not touched the screen. Other times I tap the dismiss selection and nothing happens, takes three to five taps to get it shut off. I have the display gyro feature set to go horizontal when the keyboard is in the out position only. Yet, it suddenly goes horizontal in vertical or when i turn it horizontal with the keyboard still in. There are other bizare things that just happen. The screen scrolls to the last one to the left as soon as I open the lockout slide to open the screen. It selects several apps when I have made no selections at all. These are about once a week - so I do a weekly battery change reboot to fix it. I have had a lot of phones in the past and this is my first Android experience. I am not very happy with it and will be very wary of it in future purchases. I want something that will sync with my computer and not require a mega service provider in the sky that can distribute my data at their will. And Android does not do that.

grayknight
grayknight

Looking at the smart phone market, this article is pretty much my thoughts on Android. What I see is that Android is like Windows Mobile 6, they can do anything you want, but the standard install is less than ideal and the flexibility leads to awkward interfaces. The iPhone is pretty much the standard for smart phones and is like PalmOS was. Windows Phone 7 is like the Blackberry OS was. So I see Windows Phone overtaking iPhone (now that they merely released an iPhone 4s rather than an iPhone 5) and like blackberries were great for texting/emailing, WP7 will be how to connect with people quickly via Facebook, Twitter, texting, email, IMing, calling, etc.

John K.R.
John K.R.

I'll hold my comments to a minimum.... First off, what phone were you using that you've had such a horrible experience? I'd appreciate a follow up article. The UI is horrible to use and requires a significant number of poorly chosen gestures? Really? I can get to 99% of the places I need within like 3, all of which make perfect sense. I'd really like to know what phone (UI) you were using. Resource Management? Seriously? My phone stays powered on for MONTHS before being rebooted and I've yet to know one single android user that even has to reboot once a week. Sync? Umm, it does it all that for me with the exception of my music which I prefer to manually do just by dragging and dropping after plugging my phone into my computer like a usb drive. Nor is the music folder difficult to get to. Its the one titled My Music on the root of the sdcard. I agree the marketplace was messy back in the day but it has gotten better. And for the nearly 2 years I've had my phone the marketplace has always only displayed what was compatible with my phone. I've always had great support in the android forums on the net. Only once did I actually need help and my problem was resolved in 15min. Should the average user have to visit a forum to have a problem resolved? Arguably no, but I'm sure a quick trip to the phone store would have fixed this problem for any user. I do agree with Security. While I'm not sure its as wild west like some people would like us to believe I do wish there was better protection out there. Yes common sense says look at the app before downloading but most people lack common sense... Anyway, I've read most of the comments to this article and believe a follow up article would really help me and some of the other folks understand your position a bit more as most of what you said is pretty surprising and raises a few eyebrows.

TonyReilly
TonyReilly

I recently moved from an Android phone onto an IPhone, I didnt do it because I was that unhappy with Android but I was due an upgrade and didn't see and Android phone I liked the look of so thought id try something new. I went into the whole Iphone saga with an open mind and have to say I am impressed with what it can do (Especially since IOS5). The points made in the article are the authors opinions, I agree with some of the points and not other. Those people writing "You mut be paid by Apple" are being a little defensive over the android, are we not allowed our own opinions any more? If asked to you would have written an article about how good the android was compared to the IPhone. Each of use uses our phone for different purposes, I happen to use mine for a wide variety of tasks and both the Android and IPhone have worked well for me. At the end of the day, enjoy the phone you have got and read the articles while keeping in mind its someone elses opinion and not a personal vendetta against you and your Android phone!

maxxx13
maxxx13

Specifically regarding cloud computing, I am all synched up with music, video, pictures, documents, email, and calendar items and stored "in the cloud" using Android and a Google suite of applications (Gmail, GDocs, Google Music Beta, YouTube, Picasa...). It all works fine, and I'm on an "ancient" HTC Eris. Regarding problems with synching via a cable, I've never had problems because I set the phone to be recognized as I wanted in the settings. I also installed the free FTP app that allows me to move my files around without the cable, and my mail and calendar synch over the air. Regarding music: I've been using my Android phone for music for a year and a half with no requirement to change anything or use iTunes (I also refuse to use iTunes after a bad experience). I simply copied music files over to the phone initially using a cable, then using the wireless ftp. Now I usually stream them. No big deal. Using Android does require a heightened requirement for the user to learn to use it and to configure it. That is a trade off - individual open source configurability versus out of the box proprietary reliable standardization. I can go either way. It should be recognized as a difference in approach rather than simply a "better vs worse" evaluation.

maj37
maj37

Thanks for the article you have strengthened my resolve not to buy a "Smart Phone" anytime soon, if ever. It sounds like the only ones worth having are the iPhones but I just can't stand the thought of installing iTunes on any of my computers.

earlbo
earlbo

This is my option: When somebody airs his opinion, and it is so void of truth, you cannot but label that opinion with a big negative (add any curse word here). Problem though, it is done under TechRepublics banner, meaning this is there opinion as well - well screw the lot of you then. Don't send me email - don't waste my time.

brian.smith
brian.smith

The author and his commenters are having different conversations. Justin is describing a need for a utility device, most of the people replying are arguing for a computing system. IMHO Justin is right. While a percentage of any systems' users will be happy to fiddle, most phone system buyers just want a phone that makes calls, takes pictures and plays music, video etc. Reading some of the comments it's clear they're coming from people who have great fluency with software and many seem very happy with a UNIX/Linux environment. The people that wander into Carphone Warehouse to buy a smartphone don't come into that category. Android needs to take on board that less is more and phone suppliers need to strattify their buyers into those that want a good, probably never changed, set of key functions and the small fraction who want to be able to get the drains up and do stuff. It appears that Windows Mobile is going down that route and the Apple iOS has always supported that approach. Android's "I can do anything" capability could easily be its downfall if it ever gets a reputation for being "difficult".

halilozan
halilozan

I use it and almost all "10 things" seems to be a joke.. must be.. I mean it is confusing to read something that tells what you are feeling - touching, kissing :) - is not like you think it is.. Thanks to t3chn0m4nc3r04@.. for being interpreter for my feelings :)

T3CHN0M4NC3R
T3CHN0M4NC3R

1: The UI Well, Android is well known for inconsistent UI development. Meaning you get different feel and different experiences for different devices. It's true what you mentioned but you can't use just YOUR devices to represent the rest of Android devices. There are options out there like Go Launcher, ADW, SPB Mobile Shell, etc. They give a far better experience than the stock once. If Android were plain with no widgets like some obvious OS, yes it would have greater response and run faster. Unfortunately, like Windows, Android is being made to satisfy the world from all perspective and not just usability. Tried custom ROMs such as MiUi? For my experience, I think MiUi is simply awesome and what iPhone should have been. Too bad it's for Android now. 2: Resource management Now you gotta be shitting me on this one. I have most managers in my company using iPads and they need to restart their iPad after their kids twiddle around some games and/or surf the net. Furthermore, this is also highly dependent on the UI. Meaning widgets, monitoring apps, etc. So far, I had bad experience on the Samsung's Touchwiz and HTC's Sense UI 3.0. They hog a hell load of resource which I still fail to figure why they still do it. 3: Application sandboxing It's being reviewed now and you should check on it again and again before commenting on something that is ongoing. As far as we are concern, mobile OS's still have a long way to go before they stabilize. iOS and WP7 does this better? More like lock downs to me. Try it on a jailbroken device. 4: Sync Now, like the UI(although not exactly dependent on the UI, most hardware manufacturers make crappy and crippled software for syncing. Well, I don like any sync software that requires my Phone to be connected to my computer. It's the cloud era now. So I sync my contacts to Google, my files with Dropbox(Not that I really need it), my mail on stock, my calendar along with it, my pictures on facebook(prefer to do this manually due to privacy) and so on. Usually though, I'd just plug my phone to my computer and use the USB mass storage mode to transfer my files to and from my phone. Just like how you'd do with a thumbdrive or an external hard drive. I prefer to do it this way rather than having to drag and drop on sync software which can't even detect duplicates and DRM(GOD I HATE THAT) issues. 5: The marketplace Haven't you heard? It's got improved few months ago and only compatible apps will be shown to you. The search function works as good as Google's search but then again, I can use the search button on my phone to search for market apps on Google.com. Never had issues on them. 6: Content partnerships This is more of a business matter. I believe most of us have our music from alternative sources. I don't think I'd want to talk about it. But I think there are enough on Android which I don use any of them. 7: The patent mess Who started this mess again? It was Steve Jobs who started suing all phone manufacturers like Nokia and Blackberry. They even sued their original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Samsung and backfired. But then Google is the last one being left out in the patent wars and was required to pay for some of their contents without even knowing the reason besides the "patent mess". Luckily they bought Motorola Mobility. 8: Form factors I don't know if you come from an IT background but you can't blame this on Android. Android is a software and software don't exactly control how your hardware look like. For an EXAMPLE, you can't expect Mac Book Air to run on an Intel Xeon octacore processor just because it runs Mac OS right? Put the blame on the OEM'ers who have their unique form factors. But you are right about Google trying to be everything at a time. But then do you know Google's ultimate objective or their vision and mission? Please do check that out. They are onto something big. They NEED to be everything. 9: Support This is funny, as far as I know, the only support for mobile devices are, probably configurations, faulty hardware and app problems. Configuration is not a responsibly of the device makers. Faulty hardware usually dependent on where u bought it. App problems are usually supported by the devs or the online community. So what support are you talking about? As if iPad's support is any better? Try asking why you can't start your device after jailbreaking it. 10: Security iOS is voted the most easily hacked OS and was hacked by kids. So what security on what devices again?

angatia
angatia

My biggest problem with Android is that there's no one source of upgrades. Some devices are running Eclair, others Froyo, some already on Gingerbread. There needs to be a centralised source of upgrades, not really leaving it to the different manufacturers to bless us with their upgrades when they feel like

andmark
andmark

"While it can be argued that the wired sync to a PC is becoming less important with the cloud???s rise and the PC???s declining use, you still have to ask, ???Where???s the Android cloud sync???? " For the functions that you would reasonably need cloud connectivity Google has already provided (earlier post by doug montgomery). You lose credibility when you assume that the PC is declining in use. Tablets and phones do not amount to a decline in PC use because the productivity advantage of a PC format will take a very long time to challenge. At best, portable devices, synced to the cloud will only ever be accessories that plug into my PC network base station infrastructure. That is how I have always considered it and there are many that would also have that same point of view for a variety of different reasons. Blanket assumptions are never good journalism - just troll bait.

nikunjbhatt84
nikunjbhatt84

Android is lacking a good Task Manager and resource management features. User has to go down to more than four levels to see how many applications are running or to force close app(s). It should be a 1 or 2 touch/click away. Resource management is a bit *confusing* (I don't mean it is bad). I have learned a little Android app development and I came to know that it is not actually Android's problem. Developers do not understand basics of Android and start developing apps for it. In Android, on pressing the back button, the active app is not closed but it goes in background (it is default behaviour), which leads to resource occupation by that, most probably, unused app. However, when developing an Android app, the programmer can catch the back button event and can ask the user to what action to perform (close or continue or sleep in background). Most of apps from well-known developers are nowadays providing this feature. Security problems is there because Android phones are very much higher in use than iPhone, Windows phone, BlackBerry etc. Compare the desktop OSes: Linux, Mac OS and other such OSes have little viruses built than that for Windows OSes, because Windows is used widely than other. The more features a system provides, the more security holes could be there. Security is also a problem because of the open nature of the Android. But openness is not a problem, it is there is for flexible use. User may find some application running slower. It may be because the app requires higher hardware specs and he may be running the application on a low end device. This could be a problem that Android has not defined high hardware specs for the devices on which the Android is going to be installed. But think of it an advantage that more than 180 models of Android based phones are available in markets, providing varying ranges of hardware specs, prices, features, brands etc. Windows, BlackBerry, iPhone and some other devices aren't available in low and mid-medium budget, because of their devices' higher hardware specs and proprietary OSes.

JJFitz
JJFitz

The UI Please be more specific and less emotional. The UI's on my Androids work fine. The back, home, and menu buttons are always in the same orientation and do the same thing in all Android apps. Resource Management New higher end Androids come with their own built in resource managers provided by the manufacturer which seem to work well. Buy cheap junk and you get well... cheap junk. Sync One of the greatest strengths of Android is that it does not require a computer to set it up and sync it. Contacts sync wirelessly with your GMail accounts. That being said, Motorola has a free desktop application called Media Link that syncs your photos, music, videos and more. It even grabs your music stored in iTunes. DoubleTwist, Amazon MP3, and Google Music all sync music Syncing files of any kind using GoodSync on your desktop also works well. Support I find Android forums more useful than Google or the vendor sites. Search and post to XDA Developers, Droid Life, Android Central and Android Police and you will find what you need. Security Research the app before you install it. Think! Androids are for people who do not want to be boxed into a one size fits all environment. Yes they do require thinking and thinking can be hard.

brentstimmel
brentstimmel

most off base thing I have ever read here. Sync - you are talking about plugging in your phone with a usb cable to sync it. Why would you do that Android does not need to by synced on cable. Everything from task, to pics to music syncs or streams over the air. If you still have to plug your phone in via usb cable you are doing some wrong. Itunes, seriously, why are you using itunes Security- You have a point here but to me this is also Android's main strength. Openness does lead to some security vulnerabilities but it also leads to doing awesome things that the iphone can't or won't allow. I agree if you are a user that doesn't need to do cool stuff and just needs a phone that is easy to use then the iphone is the way to go. If WiFi calling from google voice or Multiperson video chat over 3G interest you then android wins hands down. Android is freedom for developers, users, manufactures and yes virus makers too. Much like windows was. It is what drives innovation. Personlay I don't want apple deciding what I am allowed to do with my phone, let me and the app developers work that out. The patent thing is a mess I will agree, have you used a gingerbread phone yet, many of the issues have been addressed in this new version. It only gets better with each release.

IndianaTux
IndianaTux

Point 4 and 5 are about the only ones that hold water. The rest is simply not true. I have a DROID X2, and my only issues have been hardware related. The OS is rock solid, I never have to reboot, and the UI is barely any different than an iPhone. Battery life is phenomenal when stacked up against an iPhone 4. There is no need to forcibly close apps. That is simply a rampant, untrue Internet myth/meme. I am not anti-Apple in any way. My work device is an iPhone 4 and I am just as happy with it as with my DROID. The whole security/rampant virus argument is complete rubbish. The problem is not that it is less secure, it's just that no one is writing viruses for iOS. Those writing them for Android are either [speculation] working for Apple, or are Apple fanboys or just anti-Android. [/speculation]. Besides, why would you attack an OS that, according to Apple's own numbers, only accounts for 5% of the smartphone market? This is the same baseless argument the Mac fanboys use to try and say Mac OS X is more secure than Windows. Not developing a close relationship with Amazon? Do you not realize that Amazon MP3 comes bundled in Gingerbread? Please, do a little research with actual Android users who use current devices before you start spewing anti-Android garbage.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

Seriously, what is wrong with the UI? I press one button and see all my apps. Now I can run any program... I press two buttons and I see settings. Now I can change all my settings... This is too complicated? Gestures work intuitively. Back always takes me back. Home always takes me home. Menu button? It brings up a menu. The only valid points here are the sandboxing and security. These are directly related. With proper sandboxing and a system to control what each application can do on a detailed level would allow for very high security in the hands of an experienced user. I know all of the iHumans will scream that they don't want to know what is going on they just want it to work and that's fine. I would like detailed information and control.

nikolay.tonev
nikolay.tonev

I stopped reading your post after the second point. Nothing from what you said is fully correct and the way you are saying it is with the purpose to turn the things upside down. I believe you underestimate your audience. Pity!

aiellenon
aiellenon

I reboot my android phone only when there is an OS/Rom update (yes it is rooted now), My HTC Evo 4G ran for 996 days before I restarted it due to an OTA update from sprint (before rooting it), and again for another 976 days after that before I decided to root the phone. Since then I still only restart the phone when I update the Rom I am using (MikG - www.themikmik.com) there is no need to restart an android device, just like there is no need to restart an iPhone. When upgrading the Rom on my Evo it takes me 18 minutes to Download the new version, 30 min-1 hour to customize the included applications, add a blocking hosts file (to prevent connections to known malware, phishing, spam, and advertising web addresses), then 10-20 minutes to install the Rom and boot the first time. Then I let the phone sit for 1-2 hours to complete all the installations (I add about 40-60 applications to the Rom and typically remove 5-10 before installing), and reboot again. This second restart tends to take a little longer than a normal one as the phone finishes up the app setups, about 5-7 minutes before the lock screen appears. Then, "IF" I am still using the same OS version (which I have not changed recently as I have been sticking with the same Rom for the last 4.5 months), I setup my google account and run Titanium Backup, within 30 minutes ALL of my 186+ applications are reinstalled (I have gone as high as 243 apps installed on my phone) and set exactly the way they were before I flashed the new Rom version. Save games are in place, most customized settings are configured, all is good. The only thing I have not figured out how to do yet is to keep my custom ringtones assigned to specific users between Rom flashes, I am sure I could google it and figure that out in 10-30 minutes, but I don't mind setting up ringtones for the 8-12 people I actually customize that for. Using the larger numbers in the ranges I gave, it takes me "up to" 4:15 to to download and install an OS on my phone and have the phone running again exactly as it was before the process started. (this is not something I have practiced and I have only updated my Rom about 7 times since I rooted it (read >5 but

zoso967
zoso967

1: The UI: I'll give you that one 2: Resource management: Android Assistant 3: Application sandboxing: Ok 4: Sync: Titanium Backup 5: The marketplace: AVN Antivirus 6: Content partnerships: Not required. User has own services. hulu, netflix, pandora etc 7: The patent mess: What does this have to do with Android functionality? 8: Form factors: needed something to round out the "top 10"? 9: Support: lots free online forums for anyone who can read 10: Security: haven't heard of a single issue. again AVN Antivirus

raydog1111
raydog1111

This must be a joke. I agree on the app securtiy issue. But that's about it.

doug.montgomery
doug.montgomery

You must be paid by Apple. Love all the emotional words, excellent journalism. Everything you wrote was just emotionally charged words, without much content. The UI - The UI in Android is more consistant than the iphone. Where is the back button? Android has one. Apple moves it around the screen depending on what screen your on. How about a week view? Turn the phone sideways, but then the buttons are gone, and you cant do anything. I really cant understand why people think this is intuitive. Sync - Were are you getting your information that Android doesn't sync? Picassa, gmail, contacts, calendars, they all sync "in the cloud" The thing that doesn't sync is the iphone to my google contacts. Getting my music onto the phone. Well, I could just copy it with an android. Same with pictures. I haven't figured out how to do this simple action yet on an iphone. I could spend as much time you did writting this marketing document, poking holes in your statements. Why bother, people who have used both devices know this article is slanted, emotional and its content is untrue.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"If asked to you would have written an article about how good the android was compared to the IPhone." No, if asked to, Justin would have written an article COMPARING Android devices and iPhones, without accepting a pre-assigned determination that one of them was 'better'. Otherwise, I agree with you. Some people just can't accept that others can develop different opinions without being on someone's payroll.

apotheon
apotheon

iPhones aren't worth it either. I actually get quite a bit of use out of my Android device -- use that I wouldn't be able to get out of either an iPhone or a WP7 smartphone. It still falls well short of what a smartphone should be, though. We're in the dark ages of smartphones right now, where control over the hearts, minds, and lives of the general populace is the subject of wars perpetrated by kings, bishops, and imams (edit: metaphorically speaking, of course). I'm still waiting for the renaissance period of pocket-sized computing and communication devices, where brilliant artists and thinkers push the boundaries of orthodoxy and break us free of authoritarian hierarchies whose collective purpose to keep us ignorant and dependent.

janitorman
janitorman

I agree. And I've tried to use these "touch devices" and they don't work for me. "slide" "tap" whatever, and I wind up somewhere I don't want to be. A phone is for talking on, and should have buttons with tactile feel. I also think a finger is a poor tool for using a computational device, therefore any tablet I might get MUST come with a pen type device with the equivalent of left and right mouse buttons and possible a scroll wheel. I know it's possible. Besides who would want to dirty up the surface you're trying to view with fingerprints, grease, dirt, etc. That is a big turn-off for me for touch sensitive devices. I get very annoyed if someone touches a screen I'm working on.

deusXmchna
deusXmchna

Ah, a fine, measured response to a tech discussion. I can't believe people get in such a tizzy when someone else doesn't feel the same kind of love for the piece of tech you have in your pocket.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"...it is done under TechRepublics banner, meaning this is there opinion as well..." Media outlets will often publish opinion pieces that don't agree with the opinions of the editorial board or publisher. TR has presented web log posts for and against Android, iOS, WP7, and others.

T3CHN0M4NC3R
T3CHN0M4NC3R

There's still Nokia and Sony Ericsson. Why pay more for less?

apotheon
apotheon

> Haven't you heard? It's got improved few months ago and only compatible apps will be shown to you. A few months . . . ? This must be understatement. A year ago I wasn't able to find an application because it wasn't compatible.

RobertMoore12
RobertMoore12

I agree, I have the "cloud" but I still want my PC simply because I've seen the loss of data from the internet not working for whatever reason. I don't like losing all my data even for a short time. I am still tryin g to learn Android but it isn't as intuitive as people would like you to believe.

tommy
tommy

"User has to go down to more than four levels to see how many applications are running or to force close app(s). It should be a 1 or 2 touch/click away." HTC Desire: Press and hold the Home key; All the running apps are displayed. Click on the running app you want to use. If you want to close it, click menu > close. Not that difficult really. I don't find the Android Resource management confusing, and the idea that I can have more then one app open at a time is a big plus for me. I frequently wish to cross reference internet content with maps for example. That would be made quite difficult if I could only run one app at a time, or was plagued with messages asking me if I can close something.

RobertMoore12
RobertMoore12

Why should you have to have a gmail account to get sync? I don't use gmail, hence it would not work.

JJFitz
JJFitz

"My HTC Evo 4G ran for 996 days before I restarted it ..." The EVO 4G was released last year. How can you have owned one for 5.4 years? 996 days + 976 days = about 5.4 years Did you mean 996 hours?

apotheon
apotheon

> 1: The UI: I'll give you that one Android, iOS, and WP7 all suffer this problem. I think Justin thinks iOS is "better" in this regard because it does a few very common things a little more slickly, but it makes other things harder. I think Justin thinks WP7 is "better" in this regard because he's used to the way Microsoft developers design interfaces, and more tolerant of it. All three of them have utterly atrocious interfaces. > 2: Resource management: Android Assistant All three of the above mentioned OSes have their own special problems in these areas, too. 'Nuff said. > 3: Application sandboxing: Ok I agree that more needs to be done in this regard. I don't know the state of sandboxing on iOS or WP7 sufficiently well to be able to comment authoritatively on them where this issue is concerned. > 6: Content partnerships: Not required. User has own services. hulu, netflix, pandora etc 7: The patent mess: What does this have to do with Android functionality? Agreed. > 8: Form factors: needed something to round out the "top 10"? Some of the physical form factors for Android devices are better than anything available for WP7, and the iOS form factor is awful -- it just happens to be above average for smartphones overall, and is consistently so because there aren't really any options from which to choose. The best device form factor I've seen was the HTC Desire Z, also marketed with some altered hardware specs as the T-Mobile G2. > 9: Support: lots free online forums for anyone who can read As for official support, that depends on the service carrier and device manufacturer. To varying extents, the same applies to WP7 and (to a substantially lesser degree, because there's only one manufacturer and it maintains autocratic control over service carrier options) iOS. > 10: Security: haven't heard of a single issue. again AVN Antivirus I have yet to see a major-league smartphone OS that isn't a security nightmare. The only smartphone OSes that are, by default, anything close to reasonably secure are fringe players (see the Debian derivatives on devices like the Nokia N9000, for example) that don't tend to gain any traction in the market.

Justin James
Justin James

... is that all of the solutions you present come from third parties. Other platforms have these built-in, or don't need them. Why don't iPhone, BlackBerry, Symbian, WP7, etc. owners need antivirus? Because their phones aren't liable to get them. Why don't they need third party sync? Because they sync well with the included software. Etc. The customer expect better than what Android delivers as an "out of the box" experience. Other makers are raising the bar constantly to provide a better experience from the moment you turn it on, with Android you need to invest a lot of time looking into various apps to compensate for the shortcomings of the platform. That's not a long-term winner for Android. J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

Feel free to peruse my detailed writer disclosure. You'll see that I have zero ties to Apple, and very minimal ties to Microsoft (ie: I've won Microsoft swag at conferences): http://www.thesophist.com/disclosures.html I owned Android phones for about a year (ending around February/March this year), and I still follow them closely. The syncing on the phone is awful, I'd plug it in and it would be treated as a USB drive. That's not "sync". Yes, some content syncs to the cloud, but hardly all of it. Compare that to other platforms, and you'll see what I mean. The UI may be consistent, but it is a usability nightmare. With my Android phone, it took two hands to unlock it because of the precise finger drag required, while a WP7 device can be unlocked with a simple flick of the thumb. I didn't realize just how frustrating the Android UI was until I moved to WP7, and it was night and day. For example, viewing a text message on Android from the notification bar takes three gestures (drag down the notifications, tap the new message to view the messages window, select the message you want to view), as opposed to one simple tap on WP7 (tap the notification). It's stuff like that, you realize that Android is far, far behind. J.Ja

dulhanr
dulhanr

When I read this article i was like, what horse s**t is this!, I'm pretty sure that the writer of this article has virtually no idea what the android platform offers!, I'm a proud owner of HTC Desire and as said by the user of this original comment, The UI is pretty pretty good to begin with, i have a dad who is avid phone user who have jumped O/S and from phone to phone, so i get to use the new apple releases too, and from experience, a user of android know that what wonder the android UI does in term of accessibility and menu options that seems to be ever more severely limited in the iPhone. The Sync! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT! NO Sync! what world are you in?, as said above, loads of ways! and having an iTunes is a nightmare, i was a iPod frequent user and i HATED it, but with android, just put the songs to the folder of your choosing and with an excellent app such as Power Amp u can do wonders! Resources??? seriously?, android does resource management pretty well, I HAVE NO LAGS, or needed ANY reboot after i switch on my phone, i have had the need to shutdown my phone only in battery scares! THAT'S IT! Marketplace!?, it is crowded i agree but the rating, reviews and the amount of download help us chose what app suits us the most and as a user who purchases applications, i absolutely adore the 15-min refund offered by Google! and on the other stuff, I'm not gonna comment, cos that just BS, oh BTW patent problems seems to be solved eh? the purchase by Google did them good! Long Live ANDROID! with the newly announced Android 4.0 ICS, we shall see what next android has to offer! not like the BS voice recognition Siri that apple rolled out with but we android users have been using voice recognition for a lonnnnng TIME!

apotheon
apotheon

I don't think Justin's bought and paid for, as some here seem to claim. I think that, at most, he might agree to not write about something if asked; I really think he has too much integrity to write something he doesn't believe. On the other hand, I think he suffers some confirmation bias. He tells the truth as he sees it, but his perspective is a bit limited in some respects. This is not, after all, solely a matter of opinion; some of what Justin said could actually be misleading, though not (I believe) through any malicious intent of Justin's. No offense, Justin. We all have our blind spots.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

While I agree, I think using the word 'phone' for these devices is a legacy term derived from their origins. Consumers want a device that does more than make phone calls; some don't even use the voice capability. 'Communications device' or even 'communicator' would be more appropriate, but it is probably too late to replace the term 'smart phone' in the public lexicon. It's like 'hacker' vs. 'cracker'.

apotheon
apotheon

> HTC Desire: Press and hold the Home key; All the running apps are displayed. Click on the running app you want to use. If you want to close it, click menu > close. Not that difficult really. This doesn't actually kill the process. Hold down the Home key again, and the app will still be there, at least on my Android smartphone. Of course, mine says "Exit", not "Close", so maybe yours is different somehow.

JJFitz
JJFitz

The home key works the same way for all android phones. Hold it down and you will see all of the apps that are currently open. HTC also shows every open app when you pull down the notification bar. (one swipe away) HTC does a good job managing resources without the need of any non-HTC third party application. Simply pull down the notification bar and choose the (HTC) task manager application to manually kill an app. (not that I find that necessary that often)

JJFitz
JJFitz

You can sync your contacts from your GMail account if you have one. You can also sync contacts from other accounts. The point is Android does not lock you into one way of doing things.

Sixball
Sixball

Of all the points made, the issue of sync-ing and AV are all that are reiterated.. Sync on Droids and even the Acer Iconia work fine out-of-the-box. And your statement " Why don't iPhone, BlackBerry, Symbian, WP7, etc. owners need antivirus? Because their phones aren't liable to get them" is a complete fallacy Contestants at the hacker contest Pwn2Own demonstrated that the Safari Mobile Browser was among the FIRST to be hacked due to a vulnerability, in spite of several updates from Apple - followed closely by IE - Whoops... - http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9214002/Safari_IE_hacked_first_at_Pwn2Own - The "platform" is solid, flexible, customizable, and really fairly secure given its READ-ONLY default mounting. If a user is foolish or careless enough to download an app that requests, and somehow receives, root-level priveleges, then it sucks to be them, reagardless of "operating system" Just remember - every education has its price tag...

apotheon
apotheon

I don't understand complaints about the fact that free third-party apps provide functionality that some other system has built into it inextricably. Unless there's an actual architectural problem with having a third-party application do something, that's a superior approach, because it allows you to choose the functionality you want and choose best of breed options rather than being essentially forced to deal with an inferior built-in tool that can't be removed. If you doubt, try taking a closer look at Firefox. It was the extension system that made Firefox awesome, once upon a time. It is the monolithic growth of Firefox that has been destroying it. As someone else mentioned in a response to this, believing that only Android is vulnerable to malware is naive in the extreme. There are security issues with the way iOS and WP7 have been implemented that leave them wide open to malware of various sorts as well. In fact, in some respects they come with malware built in (no need to add a third-party app to meet your malware needs).

zoso967
zoso967

... that's the ADVANTAGE of Android over Apple's platform ... btw, all the platforms are vulnerable to viruses etc ... the open eco system of android makes it a little easier to exploit but id rather have functionality witha small inherent risk than pay a premium for a AOL type experience. think "walled garden" ... you wanted a full internet experience you didn't use AOL like 99% of people did. if you want a full smartphone experience it has to be an Android ..........

ZazieLavender
ZazieLavender

I will admit, as someone who was an early adopter of Android, things back in the 1.x days were sucky. The OoBE was horrible. I remember buying my first Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 from AT&T and the first phone I got was in shambles before I even got it out of the store...it literally came out of the box broken. But as you well know, ALL phone manufacturers experience that phenomenon. As someone who came from the 1.x days of Android I grant that some of what you post were indeed problems back then. Not anymore. Right now, I still own that Xperia and it's running Android 2.3.5 (Gingerbread) and it has none of the problems you list. I dumped the firmware the carrier left on it ages ago, because AT&T is notorious for slowing down updates from the manufacturer. I was running 2.0 just about as soon as Sony Ericsson released it. Sync? Who needs it? I've got Dropbox, Gmail, G+ and more. I've got a ton of 'backups' of contact data and I need never worry of losing it. Titanium Backup ensures that I can restore such info easily, even to a new phone. I don't suffer security issues. Lookout, AdAway, and DroidWall take care of that pretty darn easily. JuiceDefender helps one to reign in the power problem. And it works. You claim all of these are 3rd party tools. Yes. Yes, they are. If you understood ANYTHING about Linux, which is the grand OS that this platform is based on, you'd realize that EVERYTHING that makes Linux what it is...is from a third party. That my friend, is the beauty and power of Open Source Software. You aren't locked into one program for something...you've got a choice. If one package fails, fire it and find a new one. If one package fails to support you properly, fire it and find a new one.

RobertMoore12
RobertMoore12

I have an android tablet and I am ready to throw it in the garbage. Admittedly it is not one of the sleek, new tablets but it will NOT sync with anything, even with 3rd party software. I can't get it to upgrade anything or even "Root" it. It is a piece of junk. And "NO", before you ask. I do not own anything apple either. They are too overpriced and hyped.

Julie9009
Julie9009

Please be cautious about bagging the whole Android product range based on just one phone. It sounds like you particular phone may have had a very bad and/or old UI put on by either the phone manufacturer or carrier. My Samsung Galaxy S came "out of the box" as a fully usable phone (including syncing to the cloud and local PC). Additionally, being Android, I can choose from a whole swag of third party apps to provide alternative ways to sync, as well as many additional services. That is a POSITIVE for Android! I think that this highlights the major difference between the target audiences for iPhone versus Android. iPhone users want a device that does what it says out of the box, and don't mind if that is all that it does. I can say this confidently as I have many iPhone-owning friends, most of whom are happy with them. I have in fact recommended the iPhone to several people. I would recommend an iPhone over Android to my mum. On the other hand, if you want an almost infinitely customisable phone, get an Android. Yes, there is some technological complexity, but that same complexity releases the flexibility and power of the platform.

Sixball
Sixball

Sounds like an issue of serious id10t errors. Have had the original Moto Droid since release. Rooted it, running CM7 currently The UI is easy enough for my 9y/o daughter to thumb through quickly. The unlock takes a whopping 1 inch movement to open the phone, or - and the kids love this - a few seconds to draw the unlock code Does android have a "lock-you-into-this" app like iTunes? nope.. Sync? yup. Redo my ROM from time to time - always get my emails and contacts and calendars within minutes. Cant help the fragmentation - thats what happens when you try to make a one-size-fits-all anything. Apple makes their software for THEIR hardware. Wonder how iOS would fare on phones from Motorola, HTC, LG, Acer, Samsung, etc... (BTW, iOS 5 looks kinda cool on a Droid) Can do more - as a Network Admin - with my droid than i've seen or heard of anyone doing with an iPhone. Root 'n' scoot gents... :)

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

Or maybe you never took the time to learn all you could do with it. When I plug my Android in I get 4 options of what it's behaviour could be: 1. Charge only (act dumb) 2. Mass Storage (My favorite and what yours did) 3. Web Portal (Hosts a website where you can do all sorts of functions from your PC web browser) 4. Manufacturer specific sync software (Something you certainly didn't have) Not all Androids are created equal. It is unfair to slam a whole ecosystem based on one device and compare it to an ecosystem that consists of one device. It's like comparing Apples to fruit stores.

JJFitz
JJFitz

"viewing a text message on Android from the notification bar takes three gestures (drag down the notifications, tap the new message to view the messages window, select the message you want to view), " The Bionic requires 2 gestures. Swipe the notification bar and tap the message. It also allows me to close any messages I don't want hanging around in my notifications bar. - not like the old Droid where it was clear all or nothing. You might want to try some of the newer higher end Androids.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

If someone is critical of a product, why do you assume he's paid by a competitor? It's possible (probable) Justin is pointing out what he perceives as problems without receiving any compensation besides what he gets for his regularly scheduled TR blogging. And why single out Apple? IF (and it's a big one) he was receiving outside compensation to knock Android, couldn't it just as easily have come from MS or RIM? It's possible to dislike something without getting paid to do so.

maxxx13
maxxx13

I also found I could set the default behavior...

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

is why I worried about the opinions of one member who only shows up every three or four months, and another who posts a 'Ditto' as his first ever. Stupid Palmetto; go to your room.