The Downside of Googles Android
In a previous article I wrote about the downside of Apple and in this article I decided to pick on Google a bit. As most of you know, Android is Googles answer to Apple’s iOS and it honestly was a fairly good answer. In this article however, I’m going to talk about areas of the OS that need serious attention and reasons I’m seriously considering going back to the iPhone if I don’t find some answers soon.
First, lets talk about the hardware it can operate on. OK, lets not, as it would take too long. It runs on everything! This, however, might not be a good thing when you consider things like programmers that need to deal with all the different size screens, layouts, keyboards and so on. Sure, programming for Android has the ability to scale apps to whatever screen size the user happens to be running, but this doesn’t always present the best possible solution for them to use. As an example, running a program designed for a 3″ screen might look totally different if the developer had been doing it for a 7″ screen. But Google suggests writing one app and letting it scale which causes applications that run on the larger screens to look bad when set next to those of an iOS program.
But, lets stop picking on this issue because there is no easy answer to fixing the problem. Let’s just stick to things that can and should be fixed. However, after years of running droid, many issues still have not been addressed.
1) Music. Since the introduction of the iPhone, people have come to expect, on demand, that their music be with them at all times. The iPhone answers this demand with one of the best music players and stores of all time. It is my opinion that nothing comes close to offering the level of integration and simplicity that you get with the iPhone. But, Android seems to try to take this to a totally wrong level. They actually seem to strive to make managing and working with your music as difficult as possible.
First, there is no worthy music player that comes with the phone. The cool thing about Android is there are a 100 different solutions for everything. We just have to find one! After years of searching, I’ve not found anything that lets me purchase music with a single click on the Droid. We can listen to a song in the car, identify its name and try to find it on Google Music, but, more times than not, it’s not there to purchase. I then have to resort to Amazon but that introduces a whole other set of problems.
Purchasing music on the phone also causes problems because I have no easy way to get it over to my iPad or computer because there are NO applications that can sync the phone. I have to resort to manually copying and pasting. From my Samsung phone, you can’t even do that as they’ve changed the OS to not be recognized as a USB device. This causes you to have to download even more software to work with it. On Mac, the software doesn’t work and I have to go to a Linux box to copy the songs off and then use a thumb drive to get back to my Mac.
I think at this point you should get the point. Music on Droid? Well, Droid Does… NOT!
2) The phone book. On my iPhone, I literally NEVER had to think about managing contacts, calling people, making changes to their contact record or creating new records. Locating contacts was simple and the phone did a very good job of thinking just where it should.
Let’s go through an exercise in Android. First, I’m running the latest version of the OS. I open my phone app and click on the address book that lists all my contacts. I click the search button and enter “Amy” as an example. This brings up a list of contacts matching that name and their phone records. So far, so good.
I click to call the first number (as my contact has 3). The phone dials the number and she doesn’t answer. I’d like to call her other number so I click to go back to the address book. But, the system has taken me back to the default list again. No problem, I can click the search icon again but even this returns me to an empty search box, forcing me to have to repeat the entire exercise again!
The next issue isn’t one of function but of ridiculous frustration. I realize one of the numbers on her contact list is old and needs to be removed. Hmm, how do I do this? In each version of Droid, they tend to move things around that used to be done one way now another. They’ve added 3 dots to represent other options where they used to accomplish this with a long press, but I can deal with that. I have my search list up but I can’t long press or click the numbers because it will dial the phone. I can’t use the menu buttons because I technically haven’t selected a contact yet. Hmm!
It turns out if you click the picture (that I don’t have for this contact), it will open a view form that we now have selected the contact. This is a popup window of sorts, so trying to click the menu on it won’t work as it closes it and returns us to our search list again.
There are no visible edit buttons or really anything to let me know I can edit the record. It turns out there is an icon of a person (looks nothing like a button or anything you’d have any reason to click on) that will take you to the actual contact record where you can finally edit by using those new menu dots at the top, well, bottom, well top…… they keep moving in every app!
My real problem with Droid is that to do anything at all, it takes time and effort. On the iPhone, I never had to think. The phone was always there to perform just what I needed and I had no problems from music to using the dialer. It just worked. On Droid, I find myself constantly having to hunt for even the most basic of features. Sure, its much more customizable and can do a little more than the iPhone, but the real question is at what expense?
This led me to listing out exactly what I could do on my Droid that I can’t do on the iPhone. Here is my short list. Perhaps you have a longer one.
I can replace the keyboard with other keyboards. However, you have to ask yourself, why would I do this if the one I’m using was functional to begin with?
I can replace my music player with any number of different options. Again, why would I do this if the one that came on the phone was fully functional and did everything imaginable?
I can make another browser my default browser and it actually becomes my default. This one is a real issue because Chrome now far exceeds Safari in usefulness and I really would like it to be my default. This gets back to the whole “Apple knows best” complaint in my previous article.
I can load any number of boot loaders on the phone without much thought. This allows me to customize the phone in all sorts of ways but, at the end of the day, I don’t really do this because I just want a phone that lets me play my music, manage it, make calls and deal with my contacts and email. These are the main things most people do with their phones and the Droid fails in every single area, in my opinion.
I can easily root the Droid, but literally, the only reason I do this is so that I can tether my phone to my computer on the rare cases I need Internet access and have no other way to get it. Now that Verizon has been forced to allow us to perform this without paying an extra $60 a month, there really isn’t a need to root the phone at all.
The only thing I can really do on my Droid that I absolutely can’t do on my iPhone or iPad is being able to run a few networking applications such as the ability to see visually all the wireless networks and strengths in my area. This is an extremely handy tool and it really irks me that Apple doesn’t allow these sorts of applications on its hardware. This gets me back to the Apple control freaks that make me hate their platform so much. Honestly, the iPhone does 99% of everything a user needs and it just works.
Android is missing something in every major aspect of using a smart phone and it leaves me with the same feeling I have every time I attempt to switch over to Linux as my primary OS. It has great open features and makes you want to use it, but it wastes so much of your time that you eventually grow tired of all the trying and just give up. I’m almost to the point of giving up and going back to the iPhone. I have great reservation though because of the huge issues with Apple’s closed nature and “I know better than you attitude”.
Will there ever be a perfect solution? It depends on whether or not either of the two big players wakes up. They could solve the problem with ease but who knows if one will make the effort. Apple is positioned to take over for good if they could break outside their years of ignorant beliefs. They’ve already got the solid platform, the music, the store and the credit cards. They just need to stop being a dictator and let us use our hardware the way we want. Be open to people hacking their phones and making them do cool things. Hire some developers to write apps for Android to enable users to see what iTunes and the Apple store are all about.
Google could almost as easily take over if they could somehow work on the things that matter most. Focus on a phone application that kicks butt and just works. Find a music player that rocks, build it into the store and integrate with Amazon where we could have one click music purchases that download immediately to the phone then backup to Google Music. Allow the music player to create playlists that sync up and down from the phone. I purchase most of my music from my phone, but with Google, I have no way to get that song to Google Music without first copying it manually to a computer (which we’ve already seen is next to impossible to accomplish).
So which could solve the problem faster? I’d say Google, but just like Apple, Google doesn’t listen to its users either. In fact, I’d say Google is even worse than Apple with respect to users. They don’t even have a way for us to communicate with them directly about anything. You buy Android and have a problem and you’re just going to have a problem. You can open a bug report and hope they fix it but there really isn’t a central place to go to offer suggestions and get feed back. But they do have a really awesome OS with lots of cool features. Just finish it already!
And Apple? Google is really close to offering an OS that truly rivals iOS and they’ve accomplished it in record time. If you think you know better just point to Chrome for what they can do when they put their minds to it. Once they reach these few simple goals, customers will be forced to ask themselves if they want a closed system or an open system. If it ever reaches that point, you’ve lost!
This is something we pride ourselves on here at nizeX, Inc. We listen to our customers and let them help drive our products. Customers really do know best.