General gripes about Android

We have a couple of customers that use Android tablets (mix of Samsung and Lenovo in 8 inch and 10 inch sizes) in conjunction with our custom devices as a way to download and analyze the data they collect.

These same devices are used in very remote areas and so rarely if ever have any type of “live” internet connections.

So last week as part of an app update for our devices we brought in 10 of the devices to install and verify our app as well as get the tablet OS and on board apps up to date.

With the Lenovo devices, there were multiple gigabytes of app updates as well as two OS security updates.

And when we started to update them, all five of the Lenovo tablets hard crashed as they were attempting to update. The Samungs did better in this regard, though they still had gigabytes of app updates and one major security update to install. In total, it took the better part of a day for the techs to get all of the tablets up to date.

Where I’m going with this, is that this runs utterly counter to what both the customer and me as well had gotten used to in the days of dedicated devices, most notably things like HP calculators and test instruments where if there was typically one annual update at most.

Of course you can somewhat convincingly argue that both that these are much more flexible general purpose devices, and also considerably cheaper, but OTOH the customers experience yesterday had both direct costs in the labor and downtime, but also inherent risks associated with the security vulnerabilities that the OS updates address.

As I opened up my Fold 3 this morning and went through the now standard ritual for me and my engineers of making sure that OS and apps are up to date before venturing out, I started thinking about the costs and risks myself. For instance, today is the fifth consecutive day my fold had multiple app updates to install.

Honestly that just seems utterly counter to everything I learned in school about proper hardware and software design and that the number of bugs that get put off or even worse, knowingly allowed with the idea of “we’ll fix it in a later release” just astounds me (and to be totally honest, both justifies and complicates my own job.

The truest ethos for better or worse that Facebook unleashed on the world IMHO is “move fast and break things”…

And yes, I realize that all of the major OS and app systems are guilty of this to varying degrees, but Android seems to be the poster child for it. I have theories as to why that is, but I’ll leave that to later as this is already getting long winded :frowning:

So end of Friday mini rant :slight_smile:

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This is precisely why I was so sad back in my Brighthand forum days when Windows Mobile rode off into the sunset and Android quickly rose to become the power user choice among mobile OSes. If anything, Android then was even worse in the ways you describe and yet people seemed to be coalescing around the platform at breakneck speeds. If we could get an option C OS that is well supported and provides power user control or maybe something that finds a happy medium, that would be a boon to users. Instead, users are forced into choosing between Apple’s showroom quality and constrained configurability and Google’s lackluster quality and options to spare. I have tried before to like Android, and I just can’t stand the OS for all the above plus it being a total memory hog. So counter to being a power user, I am forced to use iOS until Google gets its act together or Apple unveils a toggleable power user mode.

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Amen. The never ending daily update thing is a huge pain. The change management burden (especially managing patches in security sensitive systems) aggravates the issue creating increasing end user burdens on training, downtime for production systems, etc.

Programming for updates has to be better than just whack-a-mole with the bug of the day.

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Android is, and always will be a bloated OS. Google have done a decent job trimming it down, and more powerful hardware makes the point moot on all but smartwatches (let me laugh at the wasteful mess that WearOS still is), but I’m not a fan of just wasting resources like that. It doesn’t help that it’s developed by the ADHD poster child of tech.

I too miss the days of Windows Mobile and Symbian (yeah, yeah, it was too much of a mess to make it over to multicore SoCs). Maemo too (and it’s a shame that Meego got axed - even Sailfish is going nowhere).

I’ll take my rose-tinted glasses off now.

Really though, my main issues with Android these days are that there’s so much potential, but instead Google are messing about making different automatic colour schemes and changing shapes here and there.

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@Hifihedgehog

Yeah I find it somewhat disingenuous that Android somehow has the reputation as being the “Power User choice” . The only way i can sort of see it is in the levels of customization and to be honest, hackability (which also has huge downsides).

But it’s also been my observation that those same “power users” have systems that are so far from the norm in terms of usability conventions that they are only usable or even make logical sense to those same owners.

Not to mention the almost constant “care and feeding” they have to maintain them.

I might be an outlier, but my definitions of “power user” have come around having the most performant and secure device and Apple leads Android in both categories by orders of magnitude.

Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of beefs with Apple starting with the “Gulag” approach you have to accept when using their devices

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One of the Problem with Android is, that most of the Libraries we ( as developer ) use are local to your app.
So when google updates one of their libraries for whatever reason, you have to make an update to your app as well.

While DLL-■■■■ was something bad in old Windows days, they at least had it fixed, with Android it is still there.

But MS has done it now again with NET5 and up, most Libraries are App local again, so security updates for .NET are only for the Engine, not the libraries anymore.
With that we will see a lot more updates on Windows as well.

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Or until Microsoft reveals a Win11 Surface Pro “MicroPhone” that supports Android apps. Let’s not give up hope! :slight_smile:

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The ultimate sleight of hand of the century: Surface Duo 3 uses the same Fluent UI that Microsoft has built for Android, but Panos gets up on stage and says, “It may look like Android, but you would only be partially right. [Shows full Adobe Photoshop running in the palm of his hand and the crowd goes wild.] Under the hood, it is now all Windows 11 thanks to the Android subsystem technology we have meticulously built into our platform. And it is so good, we have gotten a host of partners onboard who will also be rolling out Windows 11. Yes, you can run all your favorite Windows programs from the freedom of your smartphone.”

That would be my dream, at least.

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Exactly. And with the proliferation of USC-C docks, the possibility of hooking up your Surface Phone to a full-blown desk setup becomes accessible to many users.

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Until a few days ago - the Safari tracking disclosure to be exact - I would have agreed with you 100%, but it looks like everybody has a version of this problem. Still, I prefer the Apple approach to the Android solution/disaster.

Which leaves me with another cold feeling - how is this all going to play out with the Windows Android Subsystem and patch Tuesday?

You are lucky that you actually get updates on Android Phone. Buy an unbranded Android and you are stuck with what it came with forever, and security ? What security?

I can’t afford expensive phone, but want S-Pen and being able to tinker with my devices, so I buy older note and pretty much forgo security concerns. I just can’t let go of the S-pen after getting used to being able to doddle anytime. Android is also better that you can actually save a file with uncommon file extensions and email it ( and I can’t understand why Apple is still not treating PNG as a standard image format in 2022). I use my Android phone as a productivity and tinkering machine.

The remaining problem is security. With Covid going on, it’s hard to avoid online banking and e-wallet. My solution is buying a cheap, used iPhone for that purpose alone ( as iPhone system is pretty locked up and get more updates). I’m still using a first gen iPhone SE as my e-wallet and it is still serving its purpose well. :grin:
This way I’m free to play around with my no longer updated Note phone.

This probably sound regressive but I hope company give longer lifecycles of their OS upgrade. One year for a newer OS version is just too much, especially when the “improvements features” are something I either don’t care about or even cause inconvenient. But the “newer OS” is also bundled with security update. You would either have to deal with work space change frequently if the manufacturer is responsible, or stuck with outdated OS on devices just 1-2 years old because it is too much work for smaller manufacturers to provide a full OS update. If the OS is upgraded every 3 years ( while they still provide security update), the Android OS in the market would be much less marginalized, and most devices could enjoy a stable, safe OS for a 3 years life time.

Of course I would wish Windows to do the same, but it’s highly impossible.

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i am new to android, just have a basic Nokia phone for work, which i am not currently using.
and now i have a surface duo 1.

there was one huge update, since i got it just recently, and that was it. i don’t use any other
apps. (except for a screen rotation lock). its clunky, and basic, but everything works as
expected.

i know there’s an update to android 11, from 10. but i’m on att unlocked, and that update
is not out.

so i would say for the system, 2 big updates is not really an issue for me.

its no match for windows phone, which i have upgraded from windows phone 7.0 → 7.5
which is what i’m currently using. it’s been rock solid through the 6 years i’ve been using it.

i’ve also got a backup windows phone that went from 8->10, and that seems fine too.

later
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