Anyone else getting sick of Android?

Anyone else getting sick of Android?Android really was everywhere at Mobile World Congress. In just a couple of years Google's sci-fi-inspired OS has risen from rough-edged tinkerer's toy to the world's most popular smartphone OS. It's the stuff electric dreams are made of.

Just about everyone at all the big stalls at MWC seemed to be banging on about Honeycomb this, and Gingerbread that, all while munching (ironically) apple-flavoured green sweets from a big Android robot-shaped bowl.

Google just about had Barcelona all to itself. Apple wasn't there, after all, WinPho 7 was wrapped up in learning Finnish for new lover Nokia, and both Palm and BlackBerry had done their business for the year already.

So we were left with Google's green giant. And somewhere on the journey between LG and HTC, or Samsung and Sony Ericsson, the thought struck me: I'm really starting to go off Android.

Just this morning I was reading comments from INQ boss Frank Meehan – INQ being another on the Android bandwagon, naturally – saying an Android phone is perceived as a “geek device” and Google has to work harder at providing “better experiences”.

I can see where he's coming from, but mixing it up on the Barcelona show floor you start to get a sense of just how difficult that job is. Everywhere we went well-meaning PRs and product managers did their best to highlight that “better experience” they've managed to wean from the exact same OS as the company on the stall next to them.

Most of the time they revolved around a single feature – such as 3D from LG – that we largely don't need, or one whose importance is over-emphasised, such as the Facebook button on the HTC Salsa and ChaCha. It's not like the rest of us can't get on Facebook pretty quickly, after all.

It's a tough job, because lurking not far under the surface in every case is a device that is 70-80% identical. Android 2.2 or 2.3; 5- or 8-megapixel camera; front-facing cam or, er, not. These are some of the few choices we've got. The powerful ones have dual-core processors, the less powerful single-core (I wish we'd started a drinking game for every time we heard “Tegra” or “Snapdragon”).

Don't get me wrong – I'm not criticising these features at all, or the quality of the phones they're found on. I'm simply pointing out that while Windows Phone 7 is criticised for requiring too much conformity from handsets running it, it's not like the Android brigade are all quirky individualists each offering something totally unique.

It's simply not possible, because for the most part as end users we all want fairly similar things from our phones. So I say let's rather focus on the geekiness of Android, instead of the “experiences” it offers. Because the alternative is starting to get a bit depressing.

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7 comments

Bradder  Feb. 19, 2011 at 14:06

Id disagree with a few points, users tend NOT to all want similar things as we would still all be buying Nokia phones wouldn't we? And look what happened there when they got lazy and decided to sit firmly on the fence!
The other side of the coin is while 20-30% of the phones are not the identical, Wheres with an Apple/Blackberry phone you get one choice, if you dont like something tough you stick it out till the new one, where at least you got more then a few company's with Android who can have a go and maybe even get it right in areas where others dont, ie. more competition tends to give out more creativity.

JanSt / MOD  Feb. 19, 2011 at 14:46

Bradder, I think I agree with you, though I THINK the Nokia snipe is sort of missing the target. There's miles more diversity in Nokia's range of, say the last 2 years than between all Android phones - just pick up an N900 and an E71, or N97 Mini and E75...
I'm looking forward to the HTC Cha Cha - it looksodd, okay, but at least it adds a new form factor to Android (even if that form is as old as the Blackberry)

Admin  Feb. 19, 2011 at 15:38

It's a good point to ponder though - if the OS is pretty much the same and the hardware pretty similar where is the incentive to upgrade? Personally, in the last 4 years I've been incredibly motivated to upgrade my handset b/c of the big jumps in features and OS (whether between iPhone models or Nexus One/S etc).

In some ways this is like pre-smartphone days but if there was no OS difference between the hardware... basically it's down to form factor races (like the old who has the smallest flip phone) or fringe features like camera specs.

I do wonder if hardware manufacturers won't start releasing some kind of feature apps which only work on their handset. I don't know what that would be... could you have an Instagram that only worked on Samsung and still be popular? Maybe music/video/content access/sharing like Zune has? End of day the hardware guys are going to want something to lock in users now that they have let go of the OS.

JanSt / MOD  Feb. 19, 2011 at 16:28

Well, admin, you have iTunes only working directly on iPhones, so you are on to something ;) - and WP7 and the XBox connection... Nokia have OviMaps and good cameras...
But reading loads and loads of Android phone reviews/spec sheets after a while it all becomes a blur

Bradder  Feb. 19, 2011 at 20:19

@JanSt - The N900 and N97 could be the same phone at first glance! and The E71 and E75 one has a bigger screen the other a Keyboard, but the size and shape is very similar and they are hardly leaps and bounds in the design stakes.

jake6  Feb. 19, 2011 at 20:54

yes we all are

JanSt / MOD  Feb. 27, 2011 at 19:51

Bradder, sorry, you are so very wrong with regards to the N97 and N900 - neither hardware nor software are in any way similar.

E71 and 75 are very different, too - though not, as you suggest, in screen size. The E75 has dedicated audio drivers and chipsets making it a very competent mp3 player (in tests on par with the IPod classic)...

You are, accidentally, making my point: to the casual observer all Android devices are the same - more so than, say, the N900 and N97... ;)

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