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back to article Ice Cream Sandwich gives Android mobes brainfreeze – Sony

Sony says its customers should avoid upgrading their Android devices to Ice Cream Sandwich, adding that many of them won't get the option anyway. In a blog posting on Sony's Developer World the company explains why the latest version of Google's mobile OS uses a lot more memory and is slower than its predecessor, not to mention …

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I'd give anything to go back to Honeycomb

The ASUS update to my Transformer has rendered a formerly stable tablet into a crashing paroxysm of misery. Since being moved to ICS the random crashes, the looping "boot" crash and general idiocy of having the screen come on for no reason at all when suspended is making me very unhappy. But I've wondered if this is less an ASUS issue and more a problem with Android 4.0?

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Re: I'd give anything to go back to Honeycomb

My Transformer exhibits none of these issues at all. Likely just a problem your kit. My TF101 is so much smoother now than under Honeycomb.

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Re: I'd give anything to go back to Honeycomb

Nope. Check out any Transformer forum, including XDA. It's an epidemic. And it is highly dependent upon Transformer model as well, to further complicate things. The blinky screen thing seems to happen only when docked in the keyboard.

The boot-loop and random reboot crashes seem to be limited by doing a factory reset, but eventually they re-appear. There appears to be some sort of cache issue with the current build which could explain why it's like playing whack-a-mole.

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Re: I'd give anything to go back to Honeycomb

Mines fine, but then I'm running the official Asus update, not some romantic from XDA with added extra sauce/spyware.

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Re: I'd give anything to go back to Honeycomb

I haven't had any of the major issues you mentioned and, overall, ICS has been quite nippy on my tf101. However the stock browser is crashing regularly and, given that's the app I use most, it's a bit of a pain.

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Anonymous Coward

fingers crossed

Just upgraded HTC sensation unbranded to ICS and all appears well since the upgrade 20 mins ago....

But I don't like the new interface!

Waaaaaaaaaah!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'd give anything to go back to Honeycomb

Had no idea anyone bought into the Transformer, I understand they are hard to get hold of because of production problems,?

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Re: production problems

Not with the Transformer. Maybe with the transformer Prime.

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Re: I'd give anything to go back to Honeycomb

Ironically I find that unlike the previous firmware the stock browser is actually a LOT more stable now, however some apps seem to crash much more often.

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Re: I'd give anything to go back to Honeycomb

My transformer runs great with ics, much smoother.

Not noticed a battery life, as we don't tend to discharge it that often.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'd give anything to go back to Honeycomb

Spelling mistake on HTC sensation ICE

'aeroplan mode'

Oops.

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Re: I'd give anything to go back to Honeycomb

"Mines fine, but then I'm running the official Asus update, not some romantic from XDA with added extra sauce/spyware."

I'm running the official version too - but it doesn't alter the fact that many people (including myself) are experiencing issues such as random reboots, shutdowns and the inability for the device to have an uptime greater than 72 hours.

I suggest you actually go and read some of the relevant forums before making uneducated guesses as to what the actual situation might be.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: fingers crossed

Upgraded my Sensation at the weekend, it's running faster, battery lasts 5 mins longer and I like the row of icons added to the lower screen. First time I've had a phone that is good enough for any type of upgrade.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'd give anything to go back to Honeycomb

Same issue here, all official software on my TF101 and keeps rebooting. i did facory re-sets but to no avail.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'd give anything to go back to Honeycomb

Same here - official ICS update from Asus and the original TF is pretty much unusable. Can crash on a whim, and the reboot-loop is especially irritating, it can drain the battery very quickly. Check out transformerforums.com, this is not an isolated incident.

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Didn't Sony just say new, faster processors are not necessary?

Very funny, how Sony tries to tell us we shouldn't worry about it always using last Year's tech in their phones, cause all that extra processing power is pointless...

I hate it when companies try to charge premium prices while being cheapskates on components.

Samsung will be ruling that market, till Sony decides to get their act together and offer the same value.

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Re: I'd give anything to go back to Honeycomb

Maybe a dumb question (from a non-Android user) but why don't you?

Is the upgrade process one way or something? Reason I ask; I also know of environments which first make a backup ('snapshot') of the phone before upgrading, thus allowing you to revert all the changes should something go horribly wrong.

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Headmaster

Re: 'runs great'

Ouch! Sorry to be a pedantic dick but what's wrong with 'runs well', 'runs nicely', 'runs perfectly well', etc? Doh! And don't even get me started on Intel's apparently appalling grasp of grammar: 'Runs great on i7'. Double-Doh!

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Re: fingers crossed

I got the uprgade yesterday. Running fine. Feels a bit faster and smoother than the Sensation under Gingerbread.

Very happy so far.

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Re: I'd give anything to go back to Honeycomb

Had exactly the same problem. Uninstalling all but my most essential apps seemed to help the problem of the screen coming on, and turning off the WiFi when not using the tablet reduces the frequency of the random reboots considerably.

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Linux

Re: I'd give anything to go back to Honeycomb

Have you tried wiping your device? Not ideal, I know, but I found doing that fixed all my issues... partocularly if I was using an unofficial ROM.

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I would do these before doing major upgrade

I would "root" my device installing clockwork mod (custom recovery), backup everything to disk images on sd and do a last second (right before installing) file backup using titanium backup.

That time you will have chance to go back to the exact moment before upgrading.

Otherwise, if you think like Nokia/ symbian backups, it doesn't exist on android. Uncle google wants everything on cloud.

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Unhappy

Mine's running great...

I'm also running the official ASUS version with no issues whatsoever. After I got my Galaxy Nexus I stopped using my Transformer till the ICS update came out. I use my TF101 several hours a day for everything from games, to reading e-books, to remote desktop, to working with documents in Polaris Office (surprisingly useful bundled app). Writing this from my tablet right now actually. I also manage about a dozen TF101s at work all with the same stock software. No issues there either. Maybe time to contact ASUS. In the US you get a 1 year warranty, in the UK/EU I believe it can be 2 years or more. I've had good luck getting motherboards etc. replaced by ASUS when they broke down. Just a thought.

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Happy

Re: 'runs great'

Thanks for the downvotes, guys. As long as we're clear that it's still ignorant to say 'runs great'...

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Really?

I installed ICS on my Nexus S last week, and if anything, it runs faster and smoother than Gingerbread and the battery life is definitely better. I haven't seen any delays in switching back to the home screen or dialer. From viewing the specs, the Xperia Arc S looks like pretty much the same capability, except for a higher-res camera.

Maybe it's Sony's add-ons that are the problem?

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Re: Really?

What a surprise. Sony struggles with software. #1 reason I use none of their kit.

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Re: Maybe it's Sony's add-ons that are the problem?

The shear amount of crud they bundle can't help and needs root to remove most of it.

I'd finger the 512K RAM as the main cause though. It's just enough to keep Gingerbread going without too many stalls, I'd guess ICS pushes it just over the edge.

I'd also want to look at the Android memory priorities in their build and some of the kernel tuning. When memory gets tight I've seen massive performance changes from tweaking the memory thresholds, ICS may have reached that critical point on Sony phones.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really?

Me too, I've been running it on mine since December (when it was first released) and I haven't had any problems. This paragraph sums up the real problem nicely though:

"A booting application that has to load all its graphics into memory, to enable hardware acceleration, and then does a load of SQL stuff, could take longer than five seconds to respond to a system query which is unacceptable to the Android OS, which promptly generates an error."

What that means is that Sony are performing long-running operations on the UI thread - which means the UI will freeze and causes Android to fire up an ANR (Application Not Responding) dialog. This is advised against in the Android documentation[1] and there are even testing tools/modes to help prevent it (Strict Mode[2]).

Sony can't RTFM so blame ICS. Figures.

[1] http://developer.android.com/guide/practices/design/responsiveness.html#avoiding

[2] http://developer.android.com/reference/android/os/StrictMode.html

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really?

Except that several of the standard Google apps perform long-running operations in the UI thread, so you can't just blame Sony! Turn on StrictMode and fire up the standard camera app as an example.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really?

I think the camera application is a special case, the long running operation is receiving input from the camera, which needs to update the UI...

Do you have any other examples?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really?

No of course not really. It's just the usual Sony hating bile that certain writers here post...

The Arc S (left in the video) is running the leaked version of ICS just fine. This whole article is twisted words to make a lame story...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzbleVFyQYQ

Only an idiot would believe that Sony didn't make some of the best kit around. My PS3 is now 5 years old, and it's still bang upto date with the latest Blu-Ray and 3D support, and still kicking out killer games and adding new streaming services and extra value. How is that not futureproof?

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So why are people obsessed with getting the latest Android?

There was a review on is very site slagging a tablet because it wasn't running ICS. Yet if Sony and an above poster are to be believed it's probably bets not to have ICS unless you have some pressing need for something not available without it.

Also, this surely means that Google must continue to provide security updates and bug fixes for previous Android versions since not all devices can run ICS?

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Re: So why are people obsessed with getting the latest Android?

Asus is far more responsive than other vendors in providing fixes. I've already received an ICS fix recently, whereas my mobe hasn't received a patch for Gingerbread from LG since last August despite lots of issues with battery life and HSPA+ connectivity.

OP's problem with Transformer has zero to do with ICS in particular and probably is a hardware issue with his kit.

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Re: So why are people obsessed with getting the latest Android?

Isn't this just showing Google are finding out that creating an OS is hard? We don't rush out to get the new version of Windows or even MacOS until seeing how it turns out after all, and they have public betas/RCs as well... even more reason to be cautious with Android when AFAIK a new version is totally unknown territory for the huge majority?

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Re: So why are people obsessed with getting the latest Android?

No obsession...in the case of Asus tablets you aren't really given the option to ignore the update. You can only defer it for a time, after which it forces you to go to ICS.

Ignoring any issues with ICS, the features make it worthwhile. I discovered the home screen application grouping thing by accident, but I really like it.

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Re: So why are people obsessed with getting the latest Android?

And as I said, it is not. Please go to XDA or transformerforums and see for yourself. The number of "folk remedies" that only temporarily cure the problem are astounding. Asus has sent out bug tracking kits to volunteers on the XDA forums to assist in tracking it down, because they can't find it themselves. And more alarming are the reports that tablets by other manufacturers are having similar issues with ICS (But that I cannot confirm).

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So nobody has a real answer to my question then?

If ASUS, or whomever, push the update out that's not related to what I'm asking about.

What I am asking about is why people with perfectly useable devices suddenly decide they don't work any more because a new OS is out? Also why are Google not providing security and bug fixes to anything but the latest Android version or, if they are, what does it matter if a new device doesn't have the cutting-edge OS installed?

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Re: So nobody has a real answer to my question then?

Bugs are discovered, and Google tend to fix them.

Its the device manufacturers and the network operators that are refusing to provide updates.

My HTC Desire got quite reasonable updates until 2.2.something hit. then it went very quiet for a long time. So, I put CM7 on it instead. The reason I did this was to be able to work around the small amount of application memory they put on that phone. The phone was tolerable, but I couldn't have more than a dozen apps of various flavours before it ran out and cut off the auto sync for gmail etc.

I was lucky though, as I bought my phone direct from HTC. Other people I know with the same phone, via an operator, didn't get updates (security, battery life improvements, the works) until much later, if at all. As the operator didn't want to spend money getting them approved.

There have been (are?) security issues in android. Updating to the newer versions is useful if only to prevent the spread of badness (esp as the the browser is tied to the OS version..)

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Facepalm

Re: So why are people obsessed with getting the latest Android?

Probably for the same reason you might be upset with a pc manufacturer which ships an OEM copy of XP and you find the machine won't run W7.

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Re: So why are people obsessed with getting the latest Android?

I wouldn't say obsessed, but the ICS upgrade has made a pretty noticeable improvement to my SGS2.

I like the new interface (YMMV), the handset is faster, uses much less battery, and is generally more shiny/pretty/better to live with.

Not revolutionary, but a definite and significant improvement.

Take Sony's comments with a grain of salt - they are always 1 generation behind in terms of hardware (low memory, only single cores when everyone else was selling dual cores) so I'd say its just Sony's cheap hardware that isn't keeping up and they are trying to blame Android...

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Re: So nobody has a real answer to my question then?

For the same reason everyone always wants the newest version of anything, of course. It's a free update with improvements and people want to try it out.

And I think Google have been updating old versions up to a point. Manufacturers and telcos slow the update process down by wanting to 'test' everything before it goes OTA, though.

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Re: So nobody has a real answer to my question then?

"What I am asking about is why people with perfectly useable devices suddenly decide they don't work any more because a new OS is out? "

Because they AREN'T perfectly usable, or there wouldn't be a new update available! It's only the new Apple-induced culture of updates that makes people believe that a new update could only be available because there are new features to add. I see people on the net every day who are actually disappointed when they receive an update that doesn't add new features, even when it fixes a thousand bugs under the surface

Once up on a time updates were about fixing things that were wrong with your devices but nowadays - in the tablet and phone market at least - it's just a dick-waggling contest to see who can put out the lamest new home screen. I'd hazard a guess that this is why updates are so less frequent nowadays. Yeah it pisses me off that Ubuntu asks me to update some obscure X component every 30 minutes, but at least my system won't be compromised by an exploit that's been in the wild for months and months.

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Re: So why are people obsessed with getting the latest Android?

ICS makes the Sensation run faster and smoother. I haven't experienced any crashes, but it has only been 36 hours...

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Holmes

@Cameron Colley

For the majority of users, they don't care. But you are on a tech forum here, where people want the latest and greatest.

Why do people upgrade their Windows or OS X machines? Because there are newer versions, with better features.

Why don't people upgrade their Windows or OS X machines? Because they aren't aware of upgrade or the current version does what they want need - don't mess with a running system.

Why do people hang fuzzy dice on their rearview mirrors? No, honestely, why? I can't think of an answer.

I got my update yesterday and my Sensation is running faster and smoother than before and there are certainly some usability improvements which made upgrading worthwhile.

For a lot of users, like my brother-in-law, the updates are irrelevant, he doesn't even use the web browser, address book, calendar etc. He only has a Sensation because his provider foisted it onto him, he'd be a lot better off and happier with another Nokia dumb phone.

I really think that the manufacturers need to get their act together and at least get security updates out within a month of them being released by Google. Anything else should be seen as verging on criminal negligence.

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Anonymous Coward

They had best be careful...

It would be all too easy to snatch defeat from the slavering jaws of victory.

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Surfaces

I assume that instead of painting stuff to the screen and repainting when necessary that ICS holds the screen in a surface. If the screen needs to be repainted or blended or some other effect it just rerenders the surface rather than repainting it. It makes for a nicer experience but necessarily uses more memory.

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Re: Surfaces

Not as far as im aware.

The android compositor is double buffered, so it always draws to an external surface. Now it holds that in graphics memory and updates it using the hardware accelerated apis, making it perform better.

I would suspect their hardware isn't up to it and so it's using software emulation of the api calls, rather than a specific software renderer, as was previously.

Supposition, but I could see it using more memory, maybe.

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Dear Sony...

While you may have some valid points (although the idea of new stuff needing more oomph is not exactly a shocker), I wish to bring attention to the Xperia Mini Pro. I am using this to write this message.

I just went to look at running services and when I came back to the browser, it has thrown away everything and had to reload. For a mobile device with restrictive (and frequently slow) connectivity, that's the dumbest thing I've seen in ages (hint - my Defy doesn't do that). I have installed a monitor as my phone uses more data than the previous phone. Could this be your Sync program that is running? What are you syncing and why? I didn't ask for that. Additionally, why is Facebook running? I don't use nor want the Facebook app on my phone, however not only can you not uninstall it (without going root) but it is sitting there as an active app using resources.

So, Sony, the Mini Pro is quite a cute little devic, though I would suggest that before you have a go at the crap Google installs, you might first like to get your own added-on stuff in order.

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Re: Dear Sony...

please stop making crap and make good (tm) phones again. Phones, Yes... like the K810i and K700 and K750i etc...

And please use GOOD materials not crappy thin plastics (the plastic that I use to wrap my food is sturdier than casings from your phones).

Oh hell, why bother... Sony just stop making phones, dig a hole and just die!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dear Sony...

You're holding it wrong. Get over it. Oops, wrong forum.

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