What sucks about Android.

What sucks about Android.Well, to be honest, very little! I switched from using an iPhone to using Android in November of 2009. After switching I never looked back. To this day I do not regret it one bit. Sure the platform is a little less polished, but it is so much more forward thinking and open. This makes it number one for me. All that being said, there is one thing that is absolutely driving me up the wall; OS updates. I see a huge problem in the way Android OS updates are rolled out. I am mostly speaking to version 2.0 and later since all the 1.x builds were still, in my opinion, in Android’d infancy stage. When the OS hit 2.0, I felt it was ready for prime time.

Since Android is open source, anyone can grab the OS and modify it how they see fit. A lot of hardware manufacturers are doing just that. It’s great on the one hand because you get a bunch of cool versions of the OS, it sucks on the other though because updates to those handsets are very slow to come and are never up to date with the virgin “Google Experience” phones. If a handset maker wants to make a custom OS version, at this point, they seem to be locked into using older 1.5 and 1.6 versions of the OS code. This sucks for the consumer because even with a brand new phone they are stuck with 3-6 month old technology on day one of using the phone.

With each new release of the OS like 2.0 and 2.1, the new OS seems to launch with a single phone. With 2.0 it was the Motorola Droid. With 2.1 it was Google’s very own Nexus One. Meanwhile everyone else is stuck with whatever version their phone came with. This almost makes it seem like if you want the latest OS you have to buy whatever phone is launched with it. This of course will not work.

I am not sure what, if any, are the technical reasons for this. Perhaps drivers for specific hardware are the culprit. What I would like to see is a more uniform release schedule of OS updates. If drivers are the problem, there should be a more common specification for how hardware is to talk to the OS and every handset maker should follow that spec. If you want to have a hardware keyboard, here is how it talks to the OS, same with touchscreens, trackballs, cameras, speakers, and so forth. Something similar to how USB peripherals work on a computer. If i get a new USB keyboard, no matter what it looks like, it still types normally. There should not be a difference in how an HTC keyboard talks to the OS vs. how a Motorola keyboard does.

I use a Motorola Droid so I have a “Google Experience” Phone. In this case I would like to see updates hosted by google. When google put out the Nexus One with 2.1, I would have liked to see a ROM download for “Google Experience 2.1 Update” and one for each of the carriers if necessary. This would ensure the platform keeps moving forward, and applications are more likely to work across the board

Currently in the Android market you are seeing over and over applications that say “does not work with droid” or “must have 1.5”. If the latest version of the OS were more readily available, I think more developers would be developing for the newest version and taking advantage of all the newest updates have to offer

So, to say that Android sucks, would be a gross mistake. Android is absolutely fantastic! Any of the problems I have seen up to this point are all nothing to worry about. I had an iPhone from the very first day it was launched, and to be honest it sucked until half way through version 2.0 also. Although I love Android and recommend it to a lot of my friends, I would still not recommend my mom use it, but very soon in the near future I think I probably will be able to.

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