I'm glad the author's mom found a smartphone she likes, but this isn't an Android problem. It may very well be a Google problem, since Apple was indeed successful in keeping the kruft off the iPhone, but Android devices come to market in a completely different way than iPhones, and as long as we sign over our rights in exchange for a $400 device discount we're going to have to deal with some of it.
Only this time the problem is more perwasive. With PC an average user did not get botherd by all this trash, the machine was good enough for surfing and email, which is what they used it for. Only advanced users and techies would get frustrated. However, with smartphones it seems to be a real problem even for an everyday user.
What I don't understand though, is all this fat that providers pile on the phones and PC really worth it for them. They spend time and money to develop all these custom themes and apps, than users remove them. Even if users don't remove them and find them good enough to use, where is the profit to the provider? Branding and recognition?
For wireless companies, the custom branding is how they hope to be considered more than just a dumb pipe by providing additional "value" to users. This is why Verizon bundles their Vcast music store, and AT&T includes their custom Navigation and Yellow Pages apps. They desperately want to be seen as content companies. This is not a reasonable business strategy though, because the more they frustrate their customers with this nonsense, the more those users will flock to the pristine shores of iOS, where carriers have even less control, thereby cementing their position as a simple utility.
So the PC experience has gotten a lot better in recent years. I don't know why though, perhaps the industry learned? Perhaps it's not worth it to pre-load it with crap anymore?
The crappy first use experience was ruining Microsoft's image, because people associated the cruft with them.
I agree that unremoveable and unkillable apps are a huge problem with Android. This is why I switched to Linux in the first place and Google needs to fix it, ASAP.
Maybe it's different now?
It still absolutely amazes me that you guys usually pay for incoming SMS messages.
I mean come on. W T F? If the carriers started charging each time you charge your battery the US public would just bend over and take it.
Contrary to most the promises politicians make, this one costs no money and simply involves signing the right bills into law. It will even be good for the economy. Of course, they would have to withstand the rich and powerful lobby of said behemoths, which is of course why such a politician will be very hard to find.
What? I've never seen a carrier charge for incoming SMS.
Many people have a plan addon that includes receiving some SMS for free, but the basic stock plans do not.
For the last few years, texting to the US had always been at the same rate as Canada (and covered by texting plans). Rogers decided to switch that on me when I wasn't paying attention... although I'm pretty sure I asked, and the Sales guy lied.
In either case. One complaint to the FCC in the USA, or CCTS in Canada will get things your way. Both countries, from my experience, has pretty terrible customer service. I can barely understand half of Verizon's CS team, and one guy at Roger's CS actually told me I should just do nothing, even though I felt cheated, because "if you sue, our company has more money than you, and you'll lose for sure". Sigh.
I called Bell to have them block all incoming text messages and they said that they could not do it because it was somehow tied to their emergency 911 location determination service. After much prodding they said they could turn off incoming texts (but I should hope that I never have to call 911 with my mobile) but came back with a $3/month plan for like 500 text messages so I just took that instead.
I switched to Rogers and am now on an iPhone plan which has text messaging but I would love to be able to block incoming texts again if iOS 5 and Google+ gets serious traction.
Verizon: "20¢ per text sent (per recipient) or received (including Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands)"
AT&T: "All AT&T customers with Text Messaging-capable phones are pre-activated to send and receive messages at $0.20 per message with no monthly charge."
Straight from their websites.
Also it could quite possibly be that I am indeed living under a rock as I am very satisfied with my carrier so I don't actively look at plans of others.
How about the only sane option is to not buy a phone with crapware on it? This is what markets are for - so that crappy products can die. If Verizon sells phones with crapware and T-Mobile sells phones without, choose T-Mobile.
Even better, if the US market finally wakes up to buying unlocked phones from electronics vendors rather than locked phones from carriers, you can actually choose between handset brands like consumer electronics is meant to work.
If I buy a digital camera, I have to do a bit of research to find out which one is good. If I'm not that demanding, then the extent of the research can be asking my friend who just bought a camera which one she bought. It would be an easier choice if only two companies made decent cameras and I just had to choose one or the other, but that's not how it is, and I suspect the camera market would also stagnate in that situation.
Sorta gives me a bit of hope on capitalism. I stay with them on principle.
the problem is CTS tests API consistency with the goal of preventing platform fragmentation for app developers. there is also a separate set of tests that specify minimum hardware requirements for each version of android, and specs such as battery life, etc.
compatibility and android brand licensing also requires a certain set of minimum apps, such as the phone dialer, calendar, contacts, music player, etc. but (and quote):
> The Android upstream project defines a number of core applications, such as a phone dialer, calendar, contacts book, music player, and so on. Device implementers MAY replace these applications with alternative versions.
and further -- the gmail, chat etc. apps are proprietary Google apps, and there are various licensing reasons why they can not be enforced as part of 'compatibility'.
API compatibility is good, but UI and app compatibility is very flexible - and given such flexibility, carriers will almost always go the crawpware route.
Clearly this phone is one example, if the battery is discharging itself so quickly (and generating so much heat) in an hour.
Give me a break. Just get a phone "with Google" and use the pure Google experience and it's a breeze. All of this spinning and complaining about what OEMs are doing to an open source OS is like complaining about the DIY boxcar racer you bought and put together turned out like shit. (and you want your money back.)
The "with Google" branding meaning nothing in terms of actual phone experience, and Samsung isn't the only vendor at fault here. After my experience, and dozens of similar accounts like this blog post, I don't recommend anyone buy an Android phone that isn't a "by Google", like the Nexus line, and even then, only if they have some strong objection to getting the iPhone, which I would recommend over any current Android device.
I really, really, really wanted to like Android, but you can damn-near put an 18 month countdown on the majority of the Android phones before the manufacturer abandons it and you're stuck using XDA developers or the like for updates, patches and improvements, or just to fix the stock crap they ship. On a 24 month contract cycle, that's just unacceptable.
Somewhat broad generalization ahead...
About once a year, Apple comes out with ONE new phone, an iPhone. If the phone is bad, Apple goes out of business. Apple bets the company every year on that new iPhone, and to make that a reasonable bet, they spend tons and tons of marketing on design, engineering, quality, and customer support. Apples knows a bad iPhone makes WSJ / New York Times front pages. Apple knows that to make a bad iPhone loses them iPad, iPod, Macbook,... customers.
And so ... by and large, Apple does not make bad iPhones.
Four times a year, each, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, LG, Kyocera, Huawei, Sony, and others, come out with a new Android phone. This phone is one of many many products made by each of these companies. The success or failure of any of these phones means almost nothing to the company. And so, the product development and rollout of any of these phones is not a bet-the-company gamble. Accordingly, very little effort is made on design, engineering, and customer support. None of these companies have terribly loyal customers, most seem to buy a given phone based on carrier affiliation, or based on costs. Losing a customer here is bad, but does not carry the long term cost as losing a customer at Apple does.
And so there is very little incentive to make anything but competitive (in all the wrong meanings) phones here. There is a race to the bottom mentality going on.
"We think the phone we make is good, at least as good as the phone they make. Let's get some more marketing dollars from our partners for it and we will all be happy"
In the long run, Google needs to do something about this, or face it doing severe damage to the image of their platform.
I then went to look at Creative's website, and looked through their list of products. They had 16 separate models, many of which were very subtle variations (e.g. the 316 vs. the 316z). There was no breakdown page that would show you the differences or help you decide. Some of them had LCD screens, some of them played WMA, some of them had more space, some came in multiple colours, but you didn't know which had what or what it cost until you clicked on the page. Making a completely informed decision would take hours of clicking links, making notes, hitting the back button, and then clicking the next link.
I marvelled that not only was Creative competing against Apple, they were competing against themselves. They produced 16 different models, which requires 16 different manufacturing processes, 16 different packagings, 16 different manuals (each in a variety of languages), 16 different QA processes.
The same thing is happening here. Manufacturers are largely unwilling to challenge Apple in the high-end of the market (where the Galaxy S, Nexus S, iPhone 4, etc. all live), so they work in the smaller end. The lower prices mean lower margins and lesser quality parts. This also leads to less testing and QA, meaning a lower quality finished product.
As a result of these lower margins, they need to sell more phones, which means producing more models of phones and shortening the lifetimes of the phones in order to encourage people to turn them over faster. It's becoming a race to the bottom.
People compare Android and iOS to Windows and Mac, but it feels like the better comparison is Mac vs. PC hardware, not software. Apple makes very few models of computer (Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro), which they refresh lately. There are lots of variations, but you have four base models which are simple to understand. In comparison, if you go to Dell's website, there are a dozen models you can buy, each with subtle variations, and even with different prices depending on which business unit you buy from. Other PC manufacturers all do the same thing, and because they don't control the software they ship (other than crapware), they can only really differentiate on price.
It's become a race to the bottom, trying to slash costs and increase volumes at the same time, and PC manufacturers have realized that they're fighting over a huge chunk of the market and leaving Apple to actually make the profits. Android certainly has the potential to surpass Apple in market share, but they're going to be fighting over a much smaller chunk of profits, fragmenting their efforts over multiple products and competing against other manufacturers' multiple products.
It just doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
Google needs to create a new platform that curates as well as Apple does. Or sit and watch while Amazon builds one on top of Android.
I bought the MyTouch3G (2nd Android phone ever), the G2, the Nexus S and recently the Galaxy Tab. Overall, I'm very happy with the experience of each of these phones. There are other phones out there that have great experiences as well. As a consumer, I will research these purchases which matter and will pay with my time to get exactly what I want. If you want to, instead, pay for one company to handle quality end-to-end for you, then you will pay for that, too.
For me, the pluses in Android outweigh the (few) minuses (that remain).
For anyone else, it's great that they have the choice to make. :)
If years of market research prowess fails me and I consistently see similar stories crop up every month or two where other technically inclined people regret purchasing some other Android device, it says to me that I didn't simply get a lemon or make a huge mistake in my decision making but the market itself has a problem, whatever issues and loopholes allowed it before have remained unfixed. Since the price difference between iPhones and top end Android phones are basically the same ($100 variance or so on a >$2k total cost...big deal), and that I can mindlessly buy whatever the next iPhone release will be and have pretty good assurance Apple has my back, I'm completely unwilling to waste time researching Android devices and still possibly get bit in the ass for my efforts.
Most consumers don't know the difference between Google-made Android phones and the others. You're missing the core point which is that the Android platform is fragmented and regular people are being given a phone full of advertising and apps built for up selling.
Regardless, the intention of my point was that manufacturers were given "blueprints" and "tools" and they built a shitty product. Even though Android is Google's product, the end result is not and to point fingers at Android is wrong. Is it the fault of Google if people are using the tools improperly? If anything, Google should've better managed the Android trademark so as to not associate their toolbox/blueprints with sub-par implementations.
I'll be downvoted, but here goes: This shows the Linux heritage. All of Linux's problems on the desktop aren't really problems with Linux. It turns out that Android's problems aren't Android's either.
All of Linux's problems on the desktop aren't really
problems with Linux.
The reality is that Linux-the-umbrella will be judged by any specific distro's user experience. People more familiar with the situation will know that in many cases bad experiences are caused by choices specific to distros or even the packages they bundle, but the true average user's perception is not that nuanced.
The same argument largely works for Android. In some ways worse because there is a certification process that allows you to use the Android name, but does very little to ensure someone didn't wreck the user experience with their customizations.
In other words, "Hey, let's make it somewhat exclusive to use our brand, but do nothing to ensure quality from the end-user's perspective!" All the disadvantages of exclusivity, with none of the advantages.
For example Ubuntu has made great strides in this regard, but some would say the continual, sometimes drastic changes in the shipped apps and modifications of the interface make it hard for users.
The technophiles are right about the point they make about the latter, but it's the former that will make or break it in the marketplace.
In this case, instead of addressing (usability?) issues, the perceived problem, rather than being addressed head on, is redefined as being at the feet of the user, thus transferring responsibility and absolving oneself. (I.e "It works for me"!)
I think that's what they were saying.
But the fact that some hardware producer doesn't want to give up the specs so that we can support it? Not Linux problem.
They may be a problem for you, if you want to run Linux but it isn't Linux problem.
This case is the same. I would prefer it was some problem with Android, since we could then solve it but crap-ware on carriers isn't a software issue.
MS understood this and they are doing the same with WP7. Google knows it is a problem so they release the Google Experience phones, but they can’t disallow it completely.
Battery life was terrible on every Android phone I used. I could not get through an 8-9 hour work day with moderate use (an hour or two of streaming, maybe a few web pages, some texting and a brief call or two). I can absolutely confirm the weird battery issues this user experienced. On multiple phones. At times, the phone would get warm (not scorching hot in my case) and the battery would go from close to a full charge to nearly dead in the span of an hour or so. I kept spare chargers everywhere. Five freakin' phones.
I finally gave in and switched to an iPhone. Now I'm kicking myself for not doing it sooner. Maybe this is a little dramatic, but after using iOS for several weeks I have come to the realization that Android is flat out trash in comparison. I like having an "end call" button that is actually responsive and, you know... ends a call. On Android I would press it several times before the call would end. Just about every time. On too many occasions I had to pull the battery off.
The unresponsive button thing isn't isolated either. Push a button. Wait. Wait. Push it a couple more times. The whole thing is agonizingly slow. Try to unlock the screen. Crap. I have to push the button 3 or 4 times. Arrgghhh!
Don't even get me started on typing. The keyboard would lag on a regular basis, to the point where it was just not practical to use it for texting. I would start to type, the keyboard froze up and then a bunch of special accented characters would show up. Turning off basically every feature of the keyboard like haptic feedback and auto-correction would help, but the typing experience was still the worst of any phone I have used since T9 predictive text has been available.
Apps crashed left and right. I'm not even talking about random stuff from the Android market. I'm talking about the built in ones. I had a task killer installed. It was my most frequently used app. Let that sink in. My task killer was my most frequently used app. I was constantly killing things that were slowing down the phone or eating up battery for no good reason. Search the Android market for task killers. There are tons of them. Some of them run in the background and automatically kill stuff in an attempt to improve performance.
I could go on, but I'd rather not. I'm just glad I don't have to use those Android phones anymore. It will be a very long time before I would consider buying one again.
I've had 4 Android devices, all the ways back to cupcake on the G1. In the early years I absolutely saw the issues that the GP observed, tolerating the platform for secondary reasons while hoping it would get better. I, too, had to pull my battery to end a call more than once. Until Froyo I never recommended Android to non-tech friends or peers. With a modern Gingerbread device I would recommend it in a heartbeat.
But...wow...reading their post is like a blast from the past. jm4 seems to have a really bad sense of timing "buy high sell low!" because Android today is a slick, smooth, reliable platform.
Oh. You probably weren't aware of this, but task killers can cause every problem you list -- app crashing, UI lag, etc.
As soon as I got rid of mine, my phone was much more responsive and had about twice the battery life!
Is that true with current devices? Absolutely not. Gingerbread suffers from zero of the complaints that you mentioned.
"I had a task killer installed. It was my most frequently used app."
You should probably remove this from your post because it betrays that you are an ignorant user. All else follows from that.
While you have edited your post here to temper the zeal, comments like "Android just replaces feature phones" are, well, "fanboy" type comments. Tell my Galaxy S II that.
You're angry about something and are taking it out on Android. No one should draw much from your dated observations.
This story is about a bad device, possibly even a defective handset. Call the press, someone got a lemon!
The GP post originally contained a claim that Android is "garbage", would persist on "feature phones", among other nonse belonging in Engadget comments.
I do wish having an idle skype didn't send packets constantly, though.
Me thinks the better experience saves me at least 93 seconds of pain per day, possible even 2 whole minutes worth.
The touch on my Nexus One (HTC Passion) is horrible the slightest smudge and that's it no touch. I bought my mother an iPod touch a couple of years ago and the touch is fantastic. Actually anyone I know with HTC seems to have problems but not those I know with Android but not HTC hardware.
I played around with a Samsung Galaxy II on display in a store and even after hundreds of people were poking at it and smudged it the touch was flawless.
I've had a few crash on Android OS (v2.3.4 GRJ22) but I prefer it over iOS I find the iPod Touch's GUI suffocating after using Android.
It's definitely Google's problem. Experiences like this tremendously hurt the Android brand. What if you bought a "BMW" but it turned out to be a piece of crap because BMW had licensed their engines and logo but exercised no quality-control over the final products? You'd never buy another BMW, regardless of whose fault it really was.
I never understood why people would not actually buy their phones and then decide on a contract or prepaid to go with it? I even bought mine off Ebay in excellent condition and almost full warranty (2 years in Germany) so much cheaper that I still have not reached the difference to the "normal full or subsidized price" with my monthly contract payments.
And while in theory you could just buy a phone and then decide on a contract, if you do that, you don't get a discount on your plan - i.e. you're still paying for the phone subsidy that you never used. So, buying a phone then buying a contract for it costs even more.
It's a stupid system, but unfortunately the carriers are all evil and don't want to change it because it lets them overcharge and deliver crapware.
When I was looking a few months ago, T-Mobile was the only carrier that actually gave you cheaper plans if you brought your own phone (i.e., they were sane). That's why I'm on T-Mobile now, and couldn't be happier. It's too bad about the AT&T deal...
The carrier-subsidized phones are usually exactly the same as the stock devices. Some carriers install one or two apps (rarely), but I've never seen a carrier-locked phone in the hundreds of devices I've seen. Any carrier-sponsored phone works with any other carrier.
It's your money, anyway.
However they must unlock it for free after 6 months.
it's the same in most european countries (and has been for a decade or so), and even in countries where this is not allowed (such as belgium), plan prices are not significantly lower.
Although generally you have a sliding scale: most euro countries have laws letting consumer break 2-years contract for a free (which is usually a function of the number of months left on your contract), so you can usually get 12-months contract (lower subsidy => more expensive phones) and no-bind contracts (even lower to no subsidies). They're also generally more expensive per month: having you as a pretty much guaranteed customer for 2 years is much cheaper for the carrier.
There are also bits and pieces of regulation which varies by country. In France for instance, subsidized phones are SIM-locked but carriers must let you unlock it for free after 6 months.
More popular still are pay-as-you-go deals where the handset is purchased at full price, though this is more popular in the feature phone segment.
I know exactly what I'm getting when I get an iPhone no matter where in the world I get it. There's no carrier specific crap. All the models have well known limitations and features. I can trust, for the most part, any apps I get from the app store.
It's great that you can go onto eBay and get a used phone (or possibly new), but how scalable is that? Would you trust your mother or grand mother to do the same? How much effort did it take between bidding, paying and activating compared to the effort that most people are willing to put into getting a new phone?
I don't think Android is going to be a failure -- the phones will always be around. They have basically taken the place of Nokia's feature phones.
At the end of the day, Google should have maintained more control to guarantee a better user experience. They had an opportunity to follow in Apple's footsteps and put another nail in the carrier's control coffin.
Tech folks need to stop thinking of 'open' as a selling point when it comes to consumer products and focus on the actual experience for a consumer.
Tech nerds need to stop thinking that UX is anything more than at best a bonus when it comes to a platform's success.
As for the battery, my Droid X2 drained it like crazy for the first day, but as I used it it got better. I don't know why, but over time it got alot better. I can now go a whole day, with some serious app usage, and still have 60% at the end of the night.
Even with its quirks I prefer Android to Apple. I am now able to plug my phone into my Linux box and actually access the data on it! I am not forced to use iTunes to download only 'blessed by Steve' apps, I can write code for it without having to download a new 2G Xcode every 3 weeks.
Android is more free, and while it has some rough edges to it, I prefer the freedom of Android to Apple's vision of a Utopian phone.
For people like you, who want to be able to plug their phone into their Linux box and access their data - Android in its current state is a fantastic operating system.
For people like the author's mother (and my mother actually) who want their phones to "just work", Android in its current state isn't living up to its potential.
I have no doubt that if Apple allowed manufacturers and carriers to use whatever hardware they wanted, and install whatever apps they want on the iPhone, iOS would have exactly the same issues.
The Android brand is being diluted and sullied by experiences like this and Apple is benefiting with its insistence on one model per device type. Google needs to tackle this very soon. If they get a bad reputation the markets in Asia will suffer. Android is expected to sell tons of phones in Asia and any bad reputation couple with Apple's growing image as a high end phone will be bad for Android.
Kind of strikes me as similar to writing "Why I bought an American car, junked it and bought a BMW M5" - the american car part isn't half as important as which one specifically.
The Nexus S is a great phone because Google sold it and it didn't come loaded with crap. Most of the other Android phones you buy from other carriers will be as crap filled as their average feature phones.
So the article could have been called "Why my Mom Bought an Android and Returned It." because the article is primarily about problems with the Android ecosystem.
The only difference is that it's Apple who only makes a model per year, and soon 2 per year from what rumors say. But in thise case people should be more like "I'll only buy a phone from HTC", or whatever, if they care about the quality of their phone.
Which is why Microsoft changed the OEM model. Customers were complaining about a poor OOTB experience and blaming microsoft for it. As they should, since its MS on boot, MS on desktop, MS on start menu. If Acer's, Asus, or HP's poorly coded background widget is causing system crashes most users are going to root around for it if they barely got started with the thing.
Now, you can't sell a PC with a Microsoft sticker on it without verification now. (Notice how all the ads say Genuine Microsoft Windows 7 Premium). It's not because HP is slapping bootleg installs on there PCs, it's because they sent that model to Microsoft and they assure you you won't have a crappy experience the first time this PC boots.
IN THE U.S.A.
If you want better cellphones with better carriers who don't do stupidly intrusive things, move to Europe.
That's practical advice, but I still haven't unpacked after moving to Canada to get affordable medical care.
The dropped calls and coverage issue are overblown. It is not like any carrier has a magic cure to the vagaries of radio reception. CDMA phones might have some edge on reception, but those tend to be offset in the area of battery life. In any event, I think coverage is in a 'good enough' phase now.
The real problem is that so many android phones sold in the US are not running 2.3, they're stuffed with un-deletable space-wasting crapware, and they often have absurd carrier restrictions. I think it is very conspicuous how the most happy android customers seem to be the ones with phones that do not have carrier mods.
I could definitely recommend a Nexus S to my mom and expect her to be able to use it just as well as an iPhone _now_. I do not have the same feelings about the other phone I tried (and returned), the AT&T Samsung Infuse.
Android should be more like Windows (not WP7 - that's too strict), where users still have a lot of choice, but it's standardized enough to work pretty well across different hardware. The way I see it from most open to most closed, it's something like this Linux > Android > Windows > WP7 > iOS.
I think Windows is a pretty good compromise for a multi-hardware OS, and it has already proven it works the best in the market, granted it got a big boost from IBM PC's early on with this standardization issue, while Android grew by itself because of the extra openness. But as I said, I think it's about time to move to more standardization now. I'm hoping they've been already working on this issue for a while, and they will start implementing this with Android 4.0.
I spent about 3-4 hours researching what Android phones were available to what carriers, and gave up with all the potential research I still had left to do on the dozen or so options.
The OHA (and ultimately Google) stand to blame here for not setting decent quality standards and caring for the Android brand... a lot of ground could be gained by having a meaningful certification process that takes into account actual usability.
If the carriers would ship their phones with stock, performance-optimized Android software, people wouldn't have so many complaints about Android. No one buys "Visual Voice Mail" or "ThinkFree Office," and all it's doing is ticking people off.
However, at this point I have given up on finding motivations for the actions of Verizon and AT&T, and have concluded that they are just evil.
I lost my Nexus one recently* and when I got around to replacing it my wife also decided she wanted a smartphone instead of the Blackberry she had. So now I had to look into family line sharing plans etc. and thought I'd better go to the T-Mobile store, and that I might as well scope out the newer phones while I was at it. So even though I'm tech savvy and know Android phones very well, I spent a good 45 minutes asking questions and playing with the store models. At the end of all that I decided to just get another Nexus One for myself and the same model for Mrs Browl; 4g wasn't so important to me because I don't watch videos or do big downloads on my phone, likewise I didn't need beefy CPU because I don't want to play 3d games on such a tiny screen, and I decided to stick with a naked Android phone because I didn't want all the vendor crud. Also, you can get a Nexus One new in the box for $250 now and avoid a service contract.
* Which is part of why I've been a bit unsocial of late IRL, btw - I owe lunch to a few people!
When I got the phones I upgraded both to the latest version of Android but otherwise left my wife's phone unconfigured, and gave her only minimal 'tech support' - I was curious to see how she'd choose to customize it, and also to get a more objective look at how she'd react to Android and the Google ecosystem (she didn't have a gmail account prior to this). While she had quite different tastes from me in terms of how she organizes it and what sort of apps she likes, she's been entirely comfortable with it.
Her main complaint is the rather mediocre selection of apps in the Android marketplace (she likes apps more than I do); mine is the glitchiness in the stock browser. On the upside, our total monthly bill for both phones is under $100.
They had to bend over backwards for the carriers and manufacturers at first because they were the new kid on a very crowded block. but now they are the market leader and should use that leverage to demand a certain standard for Android units.
But there is little preventing a manufacturer or carrier from using the open-source (subset!) of Android to produce their own Android-compatible (but not "Google Experience") phones. The manufacturers and carriers actually have an incentive do so they can tout their "differentiated" phones.
Except the losses from maintaining the stack separate from google, and potentially losing the google market might not be covered by the kickbacks for shovelware. The real competition will be if amazon steps up to provide a distro to phone manufactures.
While I love love love my Android phone, it's definitely a geek's phone that offers a much more capable mobile platform, but at the tradeoff of more exposed complexity. And most of the additional capability are things that most people don't care about (yay! I can add more home screens, and I have a tricorder app! and I've hacked my phone to run emacs!) vs. having access to more and higher quality consumer oriented apps.
I know that the BB platform is also complex, but most people just use it as a phone with a nice email client and one or two very basic (and very common) apps -- like facebook. That's really all they want.
When they buy a phone and it's loaded with crap, and they don't know how to get rid of it (or they can't for some idiotic reason that only the carrier could ever explain), they get turned off. When they go to the Apple store they can get a phone with just the main stuff they were looking for on the screen, and it's relatively easy to get their facebook app or whatever and be done with the entire experience.
Some geeks, like the Linux-user who authored the following long personal analysis, prefer iPhone to Android:
http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2811768 -- "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the iOS," discussed on HN 2 days ago.
ADDED. In other words, let us not fall into the trap of rationalizing Android's lack of universal appeal by saying that the person who prefers iPhone is not geeky enough to appreciate Android.
Some of that is echoed in this thread http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2823502
If she already has an iPad, isn't an iPhone the obvious choice? I love my Android phone, but if someone is already used to iOS and likes it, why not get them an iPhone?
If you want a Verizon individual plan that’s compatible with an iPhone, you will end up paying at least $70/month, plus taxes and what-not, and at least $30 of that is for the data plan.
The cheapest MetroPCS plan is $40, including taxes and what-not, and includes unlimited data (although MetroPCS doesn’t have 4G—you either put up with the slowness of EDGE or you pay for a 4G phone—and there are a lot of gaps in their coverage area).
So if you are satisfied by what a cheap plan offers you, it doesn’t make sense to shell out a massive amount per month just for the sake of an iPhone.
Worse still, it's not just removing stock apps and loading Samsung ones, they've gone and removed the stock Android keyboard too.
My girlfriend hates the Samsung keyboard, and the only other alternative on the phone is Swype which she hates even more.
As a direct result of the keyboard not being the one she knew and loved her use of the phone has plummeted.
She still uses the phone, but not for anything that involves touching the keyboard. So SMS, email, web... all useless in her eyes. She uses maps still to see where she is, and she reads Twitter (but will wait until she's home to respond to things), but that's about it.
This current top of the range Android phone, with it's carrier dictated keyboard, has made the smartphone a paperweight that she lugs around just in case someone calls. She's even asked me if we can dig out the old Blackberry gathering dust in the shed just so that she can be in touch with people again.
I searched the Marketplace, but the Android stock keyboard isn't on there. So until I can afford a replacement for her, it looks like she'll just do all of her communication when she gets home each evening.
The big problem: As much as I explain this is the fault of Samsung, she just associates it to being an Android issue.
I'm just hoping it won't be too long before Cyanogen Mod is available for the S2 so that I can fix it for her.
As a Galaxy S user, I definitely agree that the default Samsung Keyboard is pretty much useless to type on, but doesn't the SII also come with Swype like the S?
It's called "Keyboard from Android 2.3" and it's being compiled and delivered by someone else than Google. Works fine though and lets you download dictionaries as you need them.
Here, have a market-link: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.moo.android.inputm...
Had searched, but didn't know which one to trust.
I bought my Epic (Sprint) at Radio Shack, and left the store with an activated phone. I deleted the minimal crapware at home and have no complaints.
I've only ever had to activate phones I've gotten in the mail.
It's plain to see what took so long for Verizon to carry iPhone was Apple waited for Verizon to finally accept the condition that VZW can not bastardize and cripple the OS. To bad Google didn't enforce the same policy.
Because, you know, if they force it on us long enough, we'll finally realize it's good!
More interesting are some of the proposed solutions to tighten controls. So basically you want to introduce enough restrictions such that there is a more consistent UX across Android phones. Which is ... pretty much what Apple does with the iPhone!
I think iOS consistency is directly related to Apples way of doing business. If you want to improve Android and not end up like iOS, you may need a different strategy.
Android didn't support the Thai language I needed and had to be installed via rooting and copying of font files. It also still doesn't have a native keyboard for the language.
I however booted my iPhone 4 and hey presto perfect Thai fonts and a native keyboard to boot.
Maybe it's not just Android because Thai fonts on Linux suck too.
Instead, she lusted after an HTC Incredible, so they bought a Samsung Charge...
In some ways, it was her son that distorted the picture, assuming that all Android phones were equivalent. Without his conviction, his Mum would have dragged him, and his Incredible into a store, and said "I want one like his".
That is all it takes to be called tech savvy these days?
Claro has a deal with Yahoo, and they overwrote Browser's search provider configuration, which is a file owned by root, so that when I choose Google the search provider is really Yahoo. They also uninstall GTalk on all phones (which can't be re-installed from the app store) and I had to rely on shady links to .apks posted on forums to install it, and now don't have automatic updates for it.
While I can't directly blame it on Android or Google, I beleive Google should really be the one stepping into the mud and fighting my carrier in order to solve this. As a customer my chances against Claro are almost nil.
How are both related except being not-Apple? Almost as if you are supposed to pick sides - one being Apple and the other not-Apple. Use what suits you. Doesn't matter who makes it.
"... but I worry about the future."
The author's mom is much happier with an iPhone and the author suggests that everything works. Also a friend is mentioned who uses a Nexus S which is "a pleasure to use". Given how things are it's reasonable to say a stock Android will always exists which Google launches with every new Android release. So what's the worry about?
Now to be fair, for chinese users, gomarket is probably better and most people don't use google apps that much but it's really a pain...
For crying out loud - it's the same simple concept and mostly the same amount of complexity involved. Of course people have preferences - somebody's Mom might perceive iPhone as simpler or better - but that's not a platform issue, it's a preference issue.
Before this can be debated you have give a real thought to how people use their phones - take use cases and compare them on both phones. Checking email - on Android there were 3 different apps installed containing the name mail for example and there was 1 on iPhone. Most newer phones and launchers will allow you to hide apps you don't use - problem solved - one time thing. This is just an example but I don't think anyone goes to this level before claiming this is better or that - I don't think there is much difference now a days given my experience.
Also from the article - "Want to activate your phone? Take the battery out, write down a series of minuscule numbers" - Umm why? VZW will gladly activate and setup your phone and so will BestBuy.
[Edit: Oh she already had iPad experience - no wonder then.]
It sounds like this guy's experience was "This phone is different than my phone, and I can't do things the way I was expecting to. It sucks." It's like someone sitting at a computer running a different OS then they use, and saying "this sucks, I can't figure out where X is. In my OS X is right here, but it's not right here now. This OS is crap". It's also like someone switching from Office 2003 to Office 2007 and hating it because the menus are different.
Also, I feel like everyone overreacts to the installed apps you "can't" get rid of, and not just on this phone, but any phone including the iPhone (I'm looking at you Stocks app). I don't like or use them either, but it's not like they're getting the way, preventing you from doing anything, or taking up any noticeable amount of the phone's resources. For me, it's more frustrating to not have the option of removing them, then actually having them on my phone.
Reminds me of a movie quote: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0168122/quotes?qt0294371
Past experience with Apple Care and with other devices having multiple responsible parties made it easy. When many are responsible, none are ultimately responsible. Except you, of course.
Apple goes out of its way to do everything for you that has a learning curve and where there's no point in you learning it. It just makes more sense to write a piece of software that performs a complex task well than to expect millions to struggle with it.
Yes, I know Android is infinitely flexible. But on a mission critical device like my phone, I don't want to have to infinitely flex.
But - I did a lot of research before, compared reviews, checked prices and even made sure that this phone is supported by 3rd party ROMs. Obviously I'm a niche kind of power user - I got the phone and installed CM in the first hour of usage and tried a couple of different ROMs since then (now running MIUI).
Apart from the battery life (which, tbh, is really crap. Depending on usage and what kind of crazy stuff I'm running atm I get between 10 and 30 hours) I have zero complains. Best thing ever.
This is a great idea.
The only thing that varies (mostly between users, less frequently between devices) is what's considered "good enough".
She knows how to use a computer, but she isn't the most tech-savvy person around. She was calling me constantly trying to figure out how to use her Android phone. I finally said she should probably switch to an iPhone instead, and a day after she did she was playing Angry Birds and sending me MMS picture messages, all without any help at all.
To be fair, that's pretty much what you need to do with an iPhone, too.
In fact, it's quite the opposite of what rooting is intended to do in the context of this article, which is putting the phone in a pure, clean state.
The Moto Charm sucks. It is full of bugs.
I'm not a Motorola hater, as I've had a couple in the past (including the old v555, which lasted for a couple of years).
I'd need audio in and decent non-destructive editing
They start selling it in China but seem to be open to the idea of worldwide shipment..
Android: might have to deal with crapware.
Apple: oh, you can't do that on an iPhone.
Still it's Googles job to set boundaries to not let them do what they want.
In my opinion this is just one of many imprecised android reviews.
What a shame.
I have a Nexus S. I switched it on and it just worked.
In fact about 5 minutes after I switched it on, it
informed me that there was an upgrade to Android available.
"Do you want to upgrade?" Sure. Just like that, over the air.
Do that with an iPhone, you need iTunes installed (i.e. you need a computer somewhere).
There's no crappy software on it either.
CyanogenMod releases faster, has more stable [stable] releases, uses better, more mature, widely embraced software (mtd over bml, ext4, etc), has more (and more consistent) features. Carriers are asking the manufacturers to lock the bootloaders to keep you from flashing CyanogenMod on it and your mom having a stable phone that receives fast updates.
They prefer methods of control that cause users to want to upgrade because half their phone capacity is already being spent running Blur, Sense or some daemons that have running to support their proprietary front ends. And none of it, of course, is truly necessary. Extremely complex theming options are available, again via an open source feature developed by T-Mobile and shared with the OSS community.
And before anyone says it, my mother hated her Droid in it's later Froyo days. It was faster and better battery than Eclair but was also more prone to freezing and being low on memory. I installed CM7 stable, she gets push updates that are seamlessly handled via Rom Manager. The only thing I had to tell her was to make sure the "Backup checkbox is filled in". If need be, restoration instructions are very simple for me to give over the phone, but in ALL my days of flashing nightlies on several (of my) phones, I've never had to.
Same story with the brother's Droid Incredible with the horrendous and offensive previous versions of Sense. The sad thing is, Verizon killed the Gingerbread update. It was leaked and largely fully functional, but no phone will ever see it.
Not all Androids are created equally. [Just to be on the same page, I'm not using this as an excuse. It's a huge perception problem. End users don't know that the Thunderbolt, Nexus S, and Droid X all have different interfaces and complexities going on in the background.] I'm also not sure if I "want" Google to do anything about it, besides be more emphatic that the "Google" branding on the phone makes it better. (That branding is reserved for the clean, near-AOSP roms)]
Does this work for major updates? As far as I know when you want to move between major versions (the next one is 7->7.1) you have to basically wipe the phone and start from scratch. Because most Android apps use local storage that isn't synced to the cloud, to actually keep your data you'll have to use hacky things like Titanium Backup that may or may not corrupt data, particularly so for system settings.
The biggest shortcoming I see in CM is this, the lack of a good Over The Air upgrade method that keeps your data. Ideally I'd like to see Google offer APIs to apps so that their data is continuously synced to my google account and then upgrading or getting a new phone would just be a matter of logging in and letting it sync for a while, making it closer to a ChromeOS experience.
CM6 -> CM7 you have to wipe, but most OTA updaters will tell you that the OTAs from Eclair->Froyo or Froyo->Gingerbread effectively require a data wipe anyway. My mother had issue after issue after the Eclair->Froyo OTA and they went away when she did a factory reset (wipes /data).
>Ideally I'd like to see Google offer APIs to apps so that their data is continuously synced to my google account
They exist, though there is some fine print about device compatibility that is a bit wonky and NO one seems to use them for anything. I agree. I think this is the missing feature in a large way. I hate having to remember to turn off the loud beep in QR Scanner when I wipe my Droid (it's speaker is sooo incredibly loud). Things like that would be trivial to store in text config and/or sync with Google.
I just checked and 7.1 doesn't require a wipe, I was under the impression that it did. Is it that only when the upstream major android version changes that you need to wipe? A quick googling leads me to believe at least Google's official OTAs for the Nexus line don't require wiping.
That, in many ways, is the nub of the problem.
If as a consumer, I'm able to buy an Android phone that makes me happy, I think the situation is doing OK.
Sure, I'd love if Google rolled out their own VoIP based wireless service, but that's a pipe dream and that's not really the point. Google-branded Android phones avoid these problems. They're not hypothetical, there are many devices that are more than capable of running pure AOSP or CM7.
I guess it's just a matter of terminology, but again, I don't know what people want to have done about it. The model for buying phones in the United States is broken and there's no way to control that ecosystem from where Google sits. Period. The cat's out of the bag, and I vastly prefer being able to build and flash CM7 than the more restrictive alternative across the isle.
I'd like to see Google start promoting its own phones a lot more, although it's a tightwire act for them now since they risk alienating the other handset makers if they go too far.
Android will only be relevant when we start to treat phones as PCs.
the mobile operators of today are the IBM of yesterday that rented mainframes time.
the unlocked mobile phones of today are the PCs of yesterday that you could install any OS you pleased. ...even that at the time you only had a bunch of DOS and BASIC shells, now you only have a couple android distros.
dumping your $600 on an iphone is like still be paying for a mainframe to use a slow clipper app over a slow terminal that could run 10x faster on a local PC.
give that up and buy an unlocked android phone, root it in 2 steps (all you need if it's unlocked), give everyone your SIP phone number (or gvoice if you're lazy like me) and keep changing operators every year to the cheaper promotions.
yeah, it's bad to have some of my options crippled by bloatware. but i can still choose to avoid those. and still plenty of choices, with different screen sizes, batteries, prices, keyboards or not, etc.
iphone has lessbloatware, but no choices.
I like Android, but I always make a careful research before buy one or recommend one. I use a Nexus S and it is amazing. I will change it only for the next Nexus.
Android wants to be open, and with openness comes crapware, just like your gigabytes of crapware installed on your "some-how-open" Windows machine. The solution? Make sure that carriers won't install crapware anymore, but then how would that be open anymore?