?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

In part 1 of this article, I blogged about leaving iOS when I traded my iPhone for an Android-powered HTC Sensation 4G, and how I came to detest Android in spite of its theoretical superiority to iOS and came back to the iPhone.

Part 1 talked about the particular handset I had, the T-Mobile version of the Sensation, a phone with such ill-conceived design, astronomically bad build quality, and poor reliability that at the end of the year I was on my third handset under warranty exchange--every one of which failed in exactly the same way.

Today, in Part 2, I'd like to talk about Android itself.




When I first got my Sensation, it was running Android 2.3, code-named "Gingerbread." Android 3 "Honeycomb" had been out for quite some time, but it was a build aimed primarily at tablets, not phones. When I got my phone, Android 4 "Ice Cream Sandwich" was in the works, ready to be released shortly.

That led to one of my first frustrations with the Android ecosystem--the shoddy, patchwork way that operating system updates are released.

My phone was promised an update in the second half of 2011. This gradually changed to Q4 2011, then to December 2011, then to January 2012, then to Q1 2012. It was finally released on May 16 of 2012, nearly six months after it had been promised.

And I got off lucky. Many Motorola users bought smart phones just before the arrival of Android 4; their phones came with a written guarantee that an update to Android 4 would be published for their phones. It never happened. To add insult to injury, Motorola released a patch for these phones that locked the bootloader, rendering the phone difficult or impossible to upgrade manually with custom ROMs--so even Android enthusiasts couldn't upgrade the phones.

Now, this is not necessarily Google's fault. Google makes the base operating system; it is the responsibility of the individual handset manufacturers to customize it for their phones (which often involves shoveling a lot of crapware and garbage programs onto the phone) and then release it for their hardware. Google has done little to encourage manufacturers to backport Android, nor to get manufacturers to offer a consistent user experience with software updates, instead leaving the device manufacturers free to do pretty much as they choose except actually fork Android themselves...which has led to what developers call "platform fragmentation" and to what Motorola Electrify, Photon and Atrix users call things I shan't repeat in a blog as family-friendly as this one.

But what of the operating system itself?

Well, it's a mixed bag of mess.




When I first got my Android phone, I noted how the user interface seemed to have been designed by throwing a box of buttons and dialogs and menus over one's shoulder and then wired up wherever they hit. System settings were scattered in three different places, without it necessarily being obvious where you might find any particular setting. Functionality was duplicated in different places. The Menu button is a mess; it's filled with whatever the programmer couldn't find a better place for, with little thought to good UI design.

Android is built on Linux, an operating system that has a great future on the desktop ahead of it, and always will. The Year of Linux on the Desktop was 2000 was 2002 was 2005 was 2008 was 2009 was 2012 will be 2013. Desktop aside, Linux has been a popular server choice for a very long time, because one thing Linux genuinely has going for it is rock-solid reliability. When I was working in Atlanta, I had a Linux Gentoo server that had accumulated well over two years' continuous uptime and was shut down only because it needed to be moved.

So it is somewhat consternating that Linux on cell phones seems rather fragile.

So fragile, in fact, that my HTC Sensation would pop up a "New T-Mobile Service Notice" alert every week, reminding me to restart the phone. Even the network operators, it would seem, have little confidence in Android's stability.



It's a bit disappointing that the one thing I most like about Linux seems absent from Android. Again, though, this might not be Google's fault directly; the handset makers and network operators do this to themselves, by taking Android and packaging it up with a bunch of craplets of spotty reliability.

One of the things that it is really, really important to be aware of in the Android ecosystem is the way the money flows. You, as a cell phone owner, are not Google's customer. Google's customer is the handset manufacturer. You, as as a cell phone owner, are not the handset manufacturer's customer. The handset manufacturer's customer is the network operator. You are the network operator's customer--but you are not the network operator's only customer.

Because of this, the handset maker and the network operator will seek additional revenue streams whenever they can. If someone offers HTC money to bundle some crap app on their phones, HTC will do it. If T-Mobile decides it can get more revenue by bundling its own or someone else's crap app on your phone, it will.

Not only are you not the customer, at some points along the chain--for the purposes of Google ad revenue, say--you are the product being sold. Whenever you hear people talking about "freedom" or "openness" in the Android ecosystem, never forget that.

I sometimes travel outside the US, mainly to Canada these days. When I do that, my phone really, really, really wants me to turn on data roaming.

There are reasons for that. When you roam, especially internationally, the telcos charge rates for data that would make a Mafia loan shark blush. So Android agreeably nudges you to turn on data roaming, and here's kind of a sticking point...

Even if you're connected to the Internet via wifi.



It pops up an alert constantly, and by "constantly" I really do mean constantly. Even when you have wifi access, it pops up every time you switch applications, every time you unlock the phone, and about every twenty minutes when you aren't using the phone.



Just think of it as Google's way to help the telcos tap your ass that revenue stream.



This multiple-revenue-streams-from-multiple-customers model has implications, not only for the economics of the ecosystem, but for the reliability of your phone as well. And even for the battery life of your phone.

Take HTC phones on T-Mobile (please!). They come shoveled--err, "bundled"--with an astonishing array of crap. HTC's mediocre Facebook app. HTC Peep, HTC's much-worse-than-mediocre Twitter client. Slacker Radio, a client for a B-list Internet radio station.

The presence of all the various crapware that comes preloaded on most Android phones, plus the fact that Android apps don't quit when they lose focus, generally means that a task manager app is a necessary addition to any Android system...which is fine for the computer literate, but less optimal for folks who aren't so computer savvy.

And it doesn't always help.

For example, Slacker Radio on my Sensation insists on running all the time at startup, whether I want it to or not:



Killing it with the task manager never works. Within ten minutes after being killed, it somehow respawns, like a zombie in a George Ramero movie, shambling after you no matter how many times you shoot it:



The App Manager in the Android control panel has a function to disable an app entirely, even if it's set to launch at startup. For reasons I was never able to understand, this did not work with Slacker. It was always there. Always. There. It. Never. Goes. Away. You. Can't. Hide. From. It.

Speaking of that "disable app" functionality...



Oh, goddamnit, no, I don't want to turn on data roaming. Speaking of that "disable app" functionality, use it with care! I soon learned that disabling some bundled apps can have...unfortunate consequences.

Like HTC Peep, for instance. It's the only Twitter client for smartphones I have yet found that is even worse than the official Twitter client for smartphones. It loads a system service at startup (absent from the Task Killer screenshots above because I have the task killer set not to display system services). If you let it, it will download your Twitter feed.

And download your Twitter feed.

And download your Twitter feed. It does not cache any of the Twitter messages you read; every time you start its user interface, it re-downloads the whole thing again. The result, as you might imagine, is eyewatering amounts of data usage. If you aren't one of the lucky few who still has a truly unmetered data plan, think twice about letting Peep have your Twitter account information!

Oh, and don't try to disable it in the application control panel. If you do, the phone's unlock screen doesn't work any more, as I discovered to my chagrin. Seriously.

The official Twitter app isn't much better...



...but at least it isn't necessary to unlock the damn phone.

All this crapware does more than eat memory, devour bandwidth, and slow the phone down. It guzzles battery power, too. One of the default Google apps, Google Maps, also starts a service each time the phone boots up, and man, does it hog the battery juice...even if you don't use Maps at all. (This screen shot, for instance, was taken at a point in time when I hadn't touched the Maps app in days.)



You will note the battery is nearly exhausted after only four hours and change. I eventually took to killing the Maps service whenever I restarted the phone, which seems to have improved the HTC's mediocre battery life without actually affecting Maps when I went to use it.

Another place where Android's lack of a clear and consistent user interface--



AAAAARGH! NO! NO, YOU PATHETIC FUCKING EXCUSE OF A THING, I DO NOT WANT TO TURN ON DATA ROAMING! THAT'S WHY I SAID 'NO' THE LAST 167 TIMES YOU ASKED! SO HELP ME, YOU ASK ME ONE MORE TIME AND I WILL TIP YOU STRAIGHT INTO THE NEAREST EMERGENCY INTELLIGENCE INCINERATOR! @$#%%#@!

Sorry, where was I?

Oh, yes. Another place where Android's lack of a clear and consistent user interface is its contact management, which is surely one of the more straightforward bits of functionality any smart phone should have.

Android gives you, or perhaps "makes you take responsibility for," a level of granularity of the inner workings of its contact database that really seems inappropriate.

It makes distinctions between contacts which are stored on your SIM card, contacts which are stored in the Google contact manager (and synced to the Google cloud), and contacts which are stored in other ways. There are, all in all, about half a dozen ways to store contacts--card, Google cloud, T-Mobile cloud, phone memory card. They all look pretty much the same when you're browsing your contacts, but different ways to store them have different limitations on the type of data that can be stored.

Furthermore, it's not immediately obvious how and where any particular contact is stored. Things you might think are being synced by Google might not actually be.

And worse, you can't, as near as I was ever able to tell, export all your contacts at once. Oh, you can export them, all right; Android lets you save them in a .vcf file which you can then bring to another phone or sync with your computer. But you can't export ALL of them. You have to choose which SET you export: export all the contacts on your SIM card? Export all your Google contacts? Export all your locally-saved-on-the-phone-memory-card contacts?

When I was in getting my second warranty replacement phone, I asked the technician if there was an easy way to take every contact on the phone and save all of them in one export. He said, no, there really isn't; what he recommended I do was export each group to a different file, then import all those files to my Google contact list, and then finally delete all the duplicates from all the other contact lists.



It worked, but seriously? This is stupid user interface design. It's a user interface misfeature you might not ever encounter if you always (though luck or choice) save your contacts to the same set, but if for whatever reason you haven't, God help you.

Yes, I can see why you might want to have separate contact lists, stored and backed up separately. No, that does not excuse the lack of any reasonable way to identify, sort, and merge those contact lists. C'mon, Google engineers, you aren't even trying.

And speaking of brain-dead user interface design, how about this alert?



What the fuck, Google?

Okay, I get it, I get it. WiFi sharing uses a lot of battery power. The flash uses battery power. Android is just looking out for my best interests, trying to save my battery...

...but don't all the Fandroids carry on about how much better Android is because it doesn't force you to do what it thinks is best for you, it lets you decide for yourself? Again I say, what the fuck, Google?




So far, I have complained mostly about the visible bits of Android, the user interface failings and design decisions that demonstrate a lack of any sort of rigorous, cohesive approach to UI design.

Unfortunately, the same problems apply to the internals of Android, too.

One early design decision Google made in the first days of Android concerns the way it handles screen redraws. Google intended for Android to be portable to a wide range of phones, from low-end phones to full-featured smartphones, and so Android does not make use of the same level of GPU acceleration that iOS does. Instead, it uses the CPU to perform many drawing tasks.

This has performance and use implications.



User interface drawing occurs in an application's main execution thread and is handled primarily by the CPU. (Technically speaking, each element on the screen--buttons, widgets, and so on--is rendered by the CPU, then the GPU handles the compositing.) That means that applications will often block while screen redraws are happening. On HTC Sense, for instance, if you put a clock on the home screen and then you start switching between screens, the clock will freeze for as long as your finger is on the screen.

It also means that things like populating a scrolling list is far slower on Android than it is on iOS, even if the Android device has theoretically better specs. Lists are populated by the CPU, and when you scroll through a list, the entire list is redrawn with each pixel it moves. On iOS, the list is treated as a 2D OpenGL surface; as you scroll through it, the GPU is responsible for updating it. Even on smartphones with fast processors, this sometimes causes noticeable UI sluggishness. Worse, if the CPU is interrupted by something else, like updating a background task or doing a memory garbage collect, the UI freezes for an instant.

Each successive version of Android has accelerated more graphics functions. Android 4 is significantly better than Android 2.3 in this regard. User input can still be blocked during CPU activity, and background tasks still don't update UI elements while a foreground thread is doing so (I was disappointed to note that in Android 4, the clock still freezes when you swap pages in HTC Sense), but Android 4's graphics performance is way, way, waaaaaaay better than it was in 2.3.

There are still some limitations, though. Because UI updates occur in the main execution thread, even in Android 4, background tasks can still end up being blocked while UI updates are in effect. This actually means there are some screen captures I wanted to show you, but can't.




One place where Android falls down compared to iOS is in its built-in touch keyboard. Yes, hardcore geeks prefer physical keyboards, and Android was developed by hardcore geeks, which might be part of the reason Android's touch keyboard is so lackluster.

One problem I had in Android 2.3 that I really, really hoped Android 4 would fix, and was sad to note that it didn't, is that occasionally the touch keyboard just simply does not work.

Intermittently, usually once or twice a day, I would bring up an app--the SMS messenger, say, or a notepad, or the IMO IM messenger, and I'd start typing. The phone would buzz on each keypress, the key would flash like it does...but nothing would happen. No text would be entered.

And I'd quit the app, and relaunch it, and everything would be fine. Or it wouldn't, and I'd quit and relaunch the app again, and if it still wasn't fine, I'd reboot the phone, and force quit Google Maps in the task manager, and everything would be fine.

I tried very hard to get a screen capture of this, but it turns out the screen capture functionality doesn't work when your finger is on the touch keyboard. As long as your finger is on the keyboard, the main execution thread is busy drawing, and background functions like screen grabs are blocked.

Speaking of the touch keyboard, there's one place iOS really shines over Android, and that's telling where your finger is at on the screen.

That's harder than it sounds. For one, the part of your finger that first makes contact with the screen might not be where you think it is; it's not always right in the middle of your finger. For another, when your finger touches the screen, it's not just a single x,y point that's being activated. Your finger is big--when you have a high-resolution screen, it's bigger than you think. A whole lot of area on the touch screen is being activated.

So a lot more deep programming voodoo goes on behind the scenes to figure out where you intended to touch than you might think.

The keys on an iPhone touch keyboard are physically smaller on the screen than they are on an Android screen, and Android screens are often bigger than iOS screens, too. You'd think that would mean it's easier to type on an Android phone than an iPhone.

And you'd be wrong. I have found, consistently and repeatably, that my typing accuracy is much better on an iPhone than an Android phone, even when the Android phone has a bigger screen and a bigger keyboard. (One of my friends complains that I have fewer hilarious typos and bizarre autocorrects in my text messages now, since I switched back to the iPhone.)

The deep voodoo in iOS appears to be better than the deep voodoo in Android, and yes, I calibrated my touch screen in Android.

Now, you can get third-party keyboards on Android that are much better. The Swiftkey keyboard for Android is awesome, and I love it. It's a lot more sophisticated than any other keyboard I've tried, no question.



But goddamnit, here's the thing...if you pay hundreds of dollars for a smart phone with a built-in touch keyboard, you shouldn't HAVE to buy a third-party keyboard to get good results. Yes, they exist, but that does not excuse the pathetic performance of the stock Android keyboard! It's like saying "Well, this new operating system isn't very good at loading files, but that's not a problem because you can buy a third-party file loader." The user Should. Not. Have. To. Do. This.

And even if you do buy it, you're still not paying for the amount of R&D that went into it. It's a losing proposition for the developer AND for the users.




My new iPhone included iOS 6, which feels much more refined than Android on almost every level.

I would be remiss, however, if I didn't mention what a lot of folks see at the Achille's heel of iOS: its Maps app.

Early iPhones used Google Maps, a solid piece of work that lacked some basic functionality, such as turn-by-turn directions. When I moved to Android, I wrote about how the Maps app in Android was head, shoulders, torso, and kneecaps above the Maps app in iOS, and it was one of the best things about Android.



And then Android 4 came along.

I don't know what happened to Maps in Android 4. Maybe it's just a problem on the Sensation. Maybe it's an issue where the power manager is changing the processor clock speed and Maps doesn't notice. I don't know.

But in Android 4, the cheery synthesized female voice that the turn-by-turn directions used got a little...weird.

I mean, it always was weird; you should hear how it pronounces "Caesar E. Chavez Blvd" (something Maps in iOS 6 pronounces just fine, actually). But it got weirder, in that it would alternate between dragging like a record player (does anyone remember those?) with a bad motor and then suddenly speeding up until it sounded like it was snorting a mixture of helium and crystal meth.

It was a bit disconcerting: "In two hundred feet, turn llllllllllleeeeeeeeeeffffffffftttttttt oooooooooonnnnnnnnn twwwwwwwwwwwwweeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnnttttyyyyyyyy--SECONDAVENUEANDTHENTURNRIGHT!" There was never a rhyme or reason to it; it never happened consistently on certain words or in certain places.

Now, Maps on iOS has been slammed all over Hell and back by the Internetverse. Any mapping program is going to have glitches (Google places a street that a friend of mine lives on about two and a half miles from where it actually is, in the middle of an empty field), but iOS apparently has a whole lot of very silly errors.

I say "apparently" because I haven't personally encountered any yet, knock on data.

It was perhaps inevitable that Apple should eventually roll their own app (if by "roll their own" you mean "buy map data from Tom Tom"), because Google refused to license turn-by-turn mapping to Apple, so as to create a product differentiation point to make bloggers like me say things like "Wow, Google's Android Map app sure is better than the one on iOS!" That was a strategy that couldn't last forever, and Google should have known that, but... *shrug* Whatever. Since Google lost the contract to supply the Maps app to Apple, they took a hit larger than their total Android revenue; if they want to piss it away because they didn't want Apple to have turn-by-turn directions, I think they really couldn't have expected anything else.

In part 3 of this thing, I'll talk about T-Mobile, and how they're so hopelessly dysfunctional as a telecommunication provider they make the North Korean government look like a model of efficiency.


Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
sorayuy
Nov. 14th, 2012 10:47 pm (UTC)
That's quite strange that your Android did that (the data roaming.) I've had mine for almost three months now, and it does nothing of the sort, ever. It could just be that it's because your phone was through T-Mobile, mine is through Verizon.
sweh
Nov. 15th, 2012 01:04 am (UTC)
This post may come off sounding a little "fandroid", but I'm not.

What version of Android are you running? 2.3.0 ? 2.3.1? ...? I'm running 2.3.4 on my Verizon Droid 3 "world phone".

Let's take your points in order... (hopefully I won't miss any).

Patching: yeah, this is one place where Apple has a theoretical advantage. I note my girlfriend's iPhone 4 hasn't been updated. I'm not sure she even loaded iOS5 on it. I would have liked to have ICS on my Moto Droid 3, but that's 'cos I'm a geek. Given that I replaced the launcher anyway (I use GoLauncher), many of the ICS improvements wouldn't impact me.

Interface: Now here's something interesting. I also saw this with HTC WinMob phones (WM5.5, WM6, WM6.1). HTC have a habit of completely replacing large chunks of the GUI and replacing it with their own. Sometimes this is an improvement. Sometimes (many times) it's worse. Motorolo also do this. The result is a confusing mis-mash of different designs all in your face. I think many of the gripes you have in this post are HTC related.

Linux stability: I find my phone tends to spontaneously reboot once a month or so. Not sure why. When I bitched about this to my girlfriend she shrugged; "yeah my iphone needs rebooting every so often as well 'cos it stops working". But then my old T720 flip-phone would sometimes crash as well. I don't get it...are phones hard to create?

Data roaming: this definitely seems to be either a T-Mobile or HTC issue. My phone has a setting(Settings/Battery+Data manager/Data delivery - uncheck "Data roaming"). Indeed when I went to the UK and got my phone enabled for international roaming, the Verizon phone support person walked me through this _pro-actively_ to ensure it was turned off ("we don't want you getting a large data roaming bill"). This isn't Google's fault.

Crapware: Mostly this isn't an issue. Who cares if it runs? It's mostly (normally) idle in "wait" state. Except when the phone vendor adds additional stuff that's badly written. I spot a theme; HTC...! Stop fucking up! I have had google maps go insane on me twice, and chew up CPU and kill the battery. Normally it's well behaved. However, talking of maps, I have found the GPS on my phone to be worse than useless; 90% of the time it's stopped responding and I need to reset the GPS subsystem before it'll wake up. *sigh* Definitely something Apple appears to have done better.

Contact management. Sounds like another HTC feature. My device doesn't offer this flexibility; it's all in one place and all sync'd to google.

Flash and Wifi? Hmm, that screenshot looks like a HTC app. Another HTC "feature"? I can't test this 'cos Verizon charge me for WiFi hotspot activity, so I don't have it enabled.

Screen drawing: yeah, definitely jerky compared to iOS. Curiously my Asus Transformer Prime appears to be _more_ jerky after upgrading to Jellybean than it was on ICS.

On-screen keyboards: The built-in one has improved over time, but it's still not as good as iOS. You can get alternatives, as you say. My phone came with Swype, and my girlfriend looks on it with envy. I'm actually really impressed at swype's accuracy; the "smarts" you like in iOS are in this keyboard, and more.

I think what this boils down to is that HTC fucked up the UI. I've heard this from other people and sites as well. The "pure android" experience is, apparently, cleaner (a friend of mine has a Nexus (S, I think) on T-Mobile. If I was going to inflict T-Mobile on myself then I'd go for a Nexus, just to avoid the bloatware and locked loaders. The "openness" of Android is the "openness for vendors to fuck up" (I actually found the windows mobile phones to be the most open to _develop_ for).

It's funny how 90% of your complaints just don't show up on my phone; Motorola fuck up in different ways.

Edited at 2012-11-15 01:05 am (UTC)
swirl_into_grey
Nov. 15th, 2012 03:35 pm (UTC)
I have a Motorola Droid X2 and do have almost all of the problems Franklin mentioned.

Maps has utterly stopped working on my phone, and if I had a dollar for every time Twitter launched itself and then crashed in the background...

I'm switching to iPhone when my contract ends in June because I just can't deal with all of these strange, pesky bugs, and my iPhone-using fiance never seems to have any.
fuzzybutchkins
Nov. 15th, 2012 07:05 pm (UTC)
I've never experienced weird slow-down issues with Google Navigator, but I have experienced Navigator Schizophrenia: My google Nav, over 2 phones and 3 Android OSs, has always had multiple voices. Right now I have The Sexy Lady and The Stern School Mistress. It's not really a problem, per se, but it does seem to disturb my friends when I'm the designated driver and I'm driving them home when they're drunk.
Archturiat Baumann
Nov. 15th, 2012 07:50 pm (UTC)
Call me a Fandroid if you must..
.. and it's a valid "complaint" that the Andriod experience can vary widely between hardware vendors and carriers. However, I'm left to wonder how much of your complaints are that combination: HTC and T-Mobile.

As much as HTC and T-Mobile were responsible for the G1, they seem kinda stuck at that level. I haven't experienced any of these problems on handsets from Sprint and AT&T: in fact, as much as I wouldn't recommend AT&T to my worst enemy, I find my handset experience on the Motorola Atrix 2 on AT&T to be nearly flawless. Similarly, my HTC Evo 4G phone on Sprint was nearly flawless as well.. once I rooted it and swapped out HTCs build for CyanogenMod.

And my Galaxy Tab 10.1? No complaints at all.

I would say don't throw the baby out with the bathwater..
bradhicks
Nov. 15th, 2012 08:59 pm (UTC)
I'd have pitched mine if I had half of the problems you're having. Which is weird, because I'm also running an HTC full of vendor-mandatory bloatware. I don't know how much it matters that mine is AT&T; I don't know how much it matters that the Inspire 4G is a slightly later and higher-end phone.

The AT&T version of Gingerbread doesn't force you to restart it ... per se. But I end up having to stop the network service and restart it every couple of days, because the phone service applet crashes and refuses to send or receive phone calls. But it only does it in low-signal areas, so I'm guessing it's bugged error-correction or some such thing. Annoying, yes, and it's my number one complaint. But all of the rest of the problems you're having? Beats me why none of them have happened to me.
Daniel Garraway
Nov. 16th, 2012 04:30 pm (UTC)
You have quite a peculiar device... Have to say I haven't encountered most of these issues myself.

You should probably get rid of the task killer, it's been defunct for over 2 years: http://www.tested.com/tech/android/923-android-task-killers-are-deadheres-what-you-should-be-doing/

(I would elaborate a little more but I'm at work at the moment so short comment for now.)
zanfur
Nov. 17th, 2012 09:12 am (UTC)
Wow, you got a crap phone. In addiiton to being not a high-end phone (but not necessarily a crappy one), I think you also got a lemon.

I heartily concur that iOS has a better interface than Android, hands down. Android still has a lot of growing up to do, in general. But the experience you had? Not normal.

Also, most of the horribleness was not "Android", but carrier and manufacturer. Your points on Android itself are valid: CPU for graphics (this is changing rapidly), clunky UI (changing less rapidly), and uncoordinated updates (this will likely never change...). But, the global roaming bit, the battery life, the bloatware, the camera flash issue, the keyboard...that's all the manufacturer and carrier. You can bypass all that by getting better hardware and putting something cleaner on it, like Cyanogenmod or just plain old stock Android. The phone you got was not top of the line by any means.

Really, though, get iOS if you want something to "Just Work" as a phone and PDA. Android isn't that. Get Android if you want a portable computer in your pocket, complete with al the trials and tribulations thereof, that also happens to make phone calls. Actually, the metaphor goes quite a ways: Blaming Android for the crap hardware or bundled bloatware is a bit like blaming whatever OS was preloaded on the laptop you just bought. Make better laptop buying choices! Either buy a decent PC and put your own OS on it to fit your needs, or go Apple if you don't care about control and want something pretty that just works. It's pretty much the same choice.

Not saying Android is better than iOS, or vice versa. They're both better than the other at certain things. Just be aware of the tradeoffs, and pick the one that lines up with the things you care about. Unless someone is an uber-geek or loves to fiddle with technology, I usually recommend iPhone.
(Anonymous)
Nov. 28th, 2012 09:40 am (UTC)
Galaxy 3 on TMo
I live in the Tampa Bay area, where t-mobile has good coverage; many would say the best coverage here because of low traffic, I suspect. I have a Galaxy III 4.0 Universal phone, not the Tmo issued one with bloat ware, and it rocks around here and up the I-95 corridor and across I-10. Tmo does have its soft spots, away from metro areas and off the highways, but so do other carriers, in different areas. I travel to Quebec Province and back to Vermont without being haunted by rooming pop-ups, so the 49th parallel doesn't seem to be the problem either. Left coast –Right coast are both in Rogers court so it's not a carriers issue across the board. I had an early iPhone (hacked) and moved to a Sony Xperia and then to an earlier version of Samsung. For build quality Sony wins hands down. For carrier service in this area iPhones on At&T have serious coverage issues, especially on the beaches and on boats near the waters edge. Verizon is a much better carrier for iPhones in this area.
My contract with T-Mobile expired 4 years ago, but if I have a question, they have the best service department in the industry. I operate new phones with no contract on T-mobiles 4G all you can eat menu for $50 a month (grandfathered) and I buy my phones offshore, which allows me to run with an At&t Sim-card or T-Mo or local simcards in the Bahamas or Europe. I would have thunk that a computer savy guy like you ;-) would have been out front on this issue, perhaps it just a case where you can't do it all.
(Anonymous)
Nov. 29th, 2012 08:08 am (UTC)
Thanks for all your insights
I would like to add, if you don't mind, that I really appreciate all the work that you have put into this assessment. I sort-of started on this page and worked my way backwards to the time when you first acquired your HTC, and at the time that I had last posted, I had no idea that you had put so much time and effort into this.

On to the 2000 hour rule.
You may want to adjust it a bit, adding variety as well as time. I think if you had more experience with other android phones that you would have drawn different conclusions, and more than likely solved some to the problems. Ideally, buying a universal phone and installing exactly the apps you want is my idea of a Smart-Phone. Perhaps in the future you'll find the time to build a phone of your very own and discover that comparing a 2009 HTC to a 2012 Apple may not be a fair assessment after all. Anyway, thanks for the interesting read. °¿°
twistesse
Dec. 11th, 2012 07:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you, and great review, Franklin. It makes my decision to avoid getting an Android phone feel even better than I already felt-and I was feeling pretty good. Not having a need to be instantly available to anyone with a phone, I rooted my Nook Tablet ($149 aftermarket) and installed JellyBean about a month ago. I now Skype from a really nice tablet (that model of Nook has a condenser microphone) and can read (any format ebook), play music, cruise the 'net, and do a little office work now and then. The secret for me is choosing a very limited set of apps based on the excellent advice available to me from folks just like you. Zero-trial learning is a wonderful thing. Thank you from the bottom of my hack heart. Twistesse
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )