Infinite Element

The problem with Android

Bob buys a Samsung Galaxy S. It's a nifty Android phone, and he shows it off to his mates. Dave sees how awesome the Galaxy S is, and decides he wants one. He sees an Android phone for £100, and thinks Bob was a mug for paying £300.

The problem is, Dave's the mug, because his cheap alternative will be laggy, slow, buggy, uncomfortable to use and half the stuff on the Galaxy S won't work on his phone.

He will then whinge to developers for not supporting his cheap handset. He'll moan about his network for selling him a bad phone. He'll **** off Android and say it's a load of rubbish.

In actual fact, developers aren't to blame, because they can't afford to buy every phone on the market. The network technically did no wrong because he wanted an Android phone. And Android isn't actually a bad OS at all.

So, is Dave to blame for not realising his device's low specifications are to blame for his OS woes? Probably.

That's the problem with Android. Rather than making it open source with minimum requirements, they've released it into the wild and told manufacturers and developers: "Go nuts!"

This leads to assumptions on everyone's part. Developers assume their apps will run on any Android device. Manufacturers assume that, by implementing Android, their device will feel familiar to the end user. Consumers assume that if it's Android, it'll be a good user experience with a good ecosystem.

Perhaps Android needs an overhaul. Or perhaps we'll see a new OS emerge exclusively for high-end handsets. But surely that would defeat the object of a healthy ecosystem. Decisions, decisions...

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12 comments

JanSt / MOD  May. 24, 2011 at 13:38

Yeah.
You forgot the writers and so-called analysts who pit Android against the iPhone. iPhones are iPhones. Android phones are Desires and Spicas and beTouch and Galaxys...it's nonsense to compare the 2. And too many folks who should and do know better keep on doing it.
And personally, I can't entirely blame 'Dave' - he's got a billion dollar mindbending spin machine twisting his head in all directions. Not everyone has the time or inclination to become a shopping researcher. Windows on most PC's looks and functions the same. But fool a newcomer with a quadcore powerhorse and then watch him buy an msi wind...
Ubuntu fails and keeps failing for that reason. It can be stunning, but Canonical want everyone to be a hardcore geek with 24/7 web, and patient butt cheeks...

mrew42  May. 24, 2011 at 13:50

In reality I don't see anyone who buys a 'cheaper' Android phone thinking that those that buy more expensive ones are Mugs. And if the the Mug that buys the cheaper phone does just a little bit of homework then they can get themselves a 'decent' cheap handset that although slower, won't be buggy or uncomfortable to use. ANYONE who spends this sort of money on a phone without checking reviews or seeing what they DON'T get for their money, OR just listens to the sales patter of the Fones for Yu* sales bod and is taken in, is the Mug.
I haven't yet found an app that runs on the SGS that won't run on the OSF.
And both of the users of those respective phones laugh in the face of their iPhone friends who pay nearly £50 a month to 'under utilise' their handsets.
end Android Fanboi mode

And to those that jump up and down with 'upgradeitus' demanding Gingerbread for all, just take a moment. Does the phone you bought still do what it did when you bought it and were happy with it? (i'm looking at those iOS users who 'upgraded' their handsets to find that they actually were worse off)

If there was a 5 year investment at stake, yes i'd be worried about the supposed 'fragmentation' of the OS and handset support overall.
But bear in mind those than want the upgrades will get a new handset every couple of years anyway..... wheres the beef?

*Name changed to protect the guilty :)

Oh and Ice cream sammich is on the way so we'll see what comes out of the 'chaos'*

*TM Intel

JanSt / MOD  May. 24, 2011 at 14:03

true, too

jacksonliam  May. 24, 2011 at 19:43

I dunno, I think most novices still think a phone as an individual item in its own right. Each phone with its own set of features. I don't think many people take the initiative to know if a phone runs android, WP7, Bada, etc. Maybe in the future with smart phones and apps becoming more and more mainstream, but for now I still get asked "Which phone is that" or "Which mobile should I buy" referring to an individual handset.

And I know the suppliers, like Tesco mobile, will try their best to get you to take a cheap phone with loads of minutes and texts at what seems like a great price.

My answer to these clueless people is always the same, "Ask for any HTC with android". The reason is, the wildfire, cheapest of all HTC androids, is still a very capable and snappy little handset and will kick the ass of all the cheap crap they could've ended up with. Anything better than the wildfire is a plus.

The people that are a danger to themselves are the people that know 'A bit' about technology. The Dave's of the world. The people with a £20 500w PSU, £30 motherboard, Quad core and '1GB!!!!graphics' (presumably an 8500GT or something). But they'll learn from their mistakes and those of us slightly more knowledgeable will just have to keep correcting them on internet forums until they get the hang of it.

blizzard7  May. 24, 2011 at 22:08

Bob buys an Armani suit. Dave thinks he's a mug because he can get a suit from Primark... See where I'm going with this X)

CTPAHHIK  May. 25, 2011 at 08:14

I think you can make above claim with anything and it does not need to be Android. You get what you pay for. Buying cheap phone, laptop, TV, computer, car will eventually make you realize that there is better more expensive alternative.
So far only Microsoft set minimum system requirements for a phone capable of supporting Windows Mobile. Apple still sells 3GS on their website, when it does not offer acceptable level of user experience with latest OS update (it feels sluggish). All other phones with proprietary OSes do a very good job with supplied software, but there is no guarantee that future apps will work as good on same hardware.
It's guaranteed that latest and greatest galaxy S2 will be incapable to run some of the apps a year from now. There are a lot of apps that do not run on Galaxy S2 right now due to incompatibility with hardware (which is Samsung fault). You have to keep in mind level of support you get from manufacturer, besides the price.

You will have a healthy ecosystem when phone hardware will be a few generations above software. Take a look at Windows and how long it took for hardware to catch up. Now you can run it on any 2 year old laptop and have good user experience. Without good players (Intel, AMD, nVidia) phone hardware is up for a long run.

Smiff  Jul. 1, 2011 at 11:46

Hmm, I bought an OSF at xmas and everything works great.
Only a total idiot would expect a £100 phone to be exactly the same as a £400 one. Come on. Next article please..
edit: old articles sorry, mobot's related links.

equ  Jul. 16, 2011 at 15:53

In the UK the biggest problem is Iplayer wont run on the cheaper phones. Otherwise Im happy with my £100 GT540. And yes my friends Galaxy S2 is better then mine.

shuwaz  Sep. 27, 2011 at 19:08

Perhaps we'll see an Android 3: Home, Basic, Professional and Ultimate...? :p

CTPAHHIK  Sep. 27, 2011 at 22:29

And everyone would get activation tool that would allow you to run Ultimate ...

JanSt / MOD  Sep. 28, 2011 at 10:22

...really, the problem is that Android is the new Java/Brew... Despite the many similarities between the many Android devices, the Android-logo guarantees you exactly zip! So, shuwaz has a point:
If you can't stop fragmentation, organise it. Set certain standards for certain 'classes' of Android.

Otherwise, the confusion will lead to disappointment. My Android doesn't do screenshots, my Android doesn't make icecream :( :(

On the other hand, even the "Basic" label on Win 7 Basic can't prepare anyone for the sh*t you get :p

shuwaz  Sep. 28, 2011 at 10:30

It makes you wonder though...
Microsoft have been at it for this long and they've only just got it right (although some would still argue otherwise).

Can Google do any better? Will this Motorola deal signal the beginning of a true Android smartphone (and not just a smartphone with hardware produced by one manufacturer and software by another)? If so, will we finally see some stability with apps being designed whereby devs have one main phone in mind? I hope so cos I'd love to see more Android games being reviewed on Mobot, rather than just IOS ones (_;)

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