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back to article Android is a mess and needs sprucing up, admits chief

Android looks unstoppable, and it's a mess. The first fact tends to eclipse the second observation, but Android's new supremo diplomatically acknowledges as much in an interview. "Here’s the challenge: without changing the open nature of Android, how do we help improve the whole world’s end-user experience?" Chrome chief Sundar …

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"Android today is like Microsoft's Windows 3.1"

From the end user perspective, Android is more like desktop Linux would be if Windows suddenly ceased to exist.

Android and iOS represent starkly different world views. Let the market decide, it's all good. Well, apart from the evil stuff.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Android today is like Microsoft's Windows 3.1"

Betamax vs. VHS - market went for the cheaper product. Actual technical features and quality likely won't come into it.

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Re: "Android today is like Microsoft's Windows 3.1"

"Betamax vs. VHS - market went for the cheaper product. Actual technical features and quality likely won't come into it."

IIRC, Betamax began with 100% of the market, a share that was eroded away and it wasn’t just because VHS was cheaper.

The superior marketing for VHS is usually considered a big factor – but there was a bit more to it than that. The fact that VHS tapes had far greater recording time than Betamax ones was significant to punters (Sony did catch up but too slowly) - as was the range of home media.

In terms of quality, with the kind of television sets that punters were using, the difference was negligible.

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Devil

Re: "Android today is like Microsoft's Windows 3.1"

Porn was made available on VHS.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Android today is like Microsoft's Windows 3.1"

An article that will put the lead back into Apples pencil.

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Re: "Android today is like Microsoft's Windows 3.1"

The reason that any or all of these formats fail is software. If you can't get the software (be it movies for VHS or applications for Windows) then you won't buy the hardware/system. Microsoft put a lot of effort into engaging developers for Windows 3.1 and made it cheap to do. VHS worked simply by numbers. Tape rental companies stocked more VHS tapes (because these were more VHS machines) and it spiralled.

What will make or break these mobile operating systems is just the same, the size and quality of the catalog of available software.

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IT Angle

Re: "Android today is like Microsoft's Windows 3.1"

The VHS/Betamax is a very poor analogy.

Technically, V2000 was superior and offered 2 x 6mm tracks, dynamic track following, but was too late onto the market.

VHS did really well, because of the JVC/Thorn partnership, which meant that the 3v22 (purple LEDs, piano-keys) was in every Thorn rental shop - DER/Radio-Rentals/Rumbelows whereas you had to /buy/ a Betamax, usually at sony prices.

Technically, there was very little difference in the picture quality. My ultimate VHS was the Ferguson 3v43 - which I had converted to nicam stereo, but we digresss...

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Trollface

Best trolling I've seen in days

Seriously. Thanks for restoring my faith.

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Same article?

I think I must read a different article to the one being written about here.

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Re: Same article?

All they need to do is stop OEM overlays if they want access to the market. Android is great as long as it is not made worse by HTC/Samsung/Motorola.

If they want to include other launchers etc etc then let them (I would prefer that to not be allowed either but don't think it would fly).

I think a reasonable compromise is a simple option to make it work exactly like a Nexus.

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Re: Same article?

It's not just overlays, they also change the settings app (so your OEM-specific settings can be in the same place as your wifi settings etc.) and, in Sense's case at least, improve the call and calendar alerts. They also change the notifications panel (I actually prefer the quick-settings in Sense 3 to those in Android 4.2.2). Those are not things you can do with just an app. The rubbish twitter clients and duplicates of Google products should go, but then there's useful improvements in the camera apps too, where you would want the default camera app removed to avoid confusion. A setting to make it work like a nexus is not realistic.

A good start to make Android a more uniform, less confusing experience would be to share revenue from the Play Store so the OEMs don't have to include alternative stores and media players.

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Re: Same article?

Actually I much prefer my HTC One X to vanilla Android. It's nice to have choice. And free launchers on the market will give any handset a stock flavour...Nova, ADW, etc.

On the other hand I hate my iPhone 5 UI. The keyboard is too fiddly for my fingers and I can't change it. ALL the apps must appear on the homescreens which I can't change and I curse every time I want to sent some tunes to it from the "wrong" PC.

Android UE is 10x iPhone imo.

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Thumb Up

Re: Same article?

I've recently put CyanogenMod 9 on my Huawei Ascend - and it's a transformed beast. While I was pushed into it by a factory reset bricking it, I'm not looking back. Even before that, I decided I didn't like Huawei's launcher so used LauncherPro on the thing, and it runs well under ICS too.

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Go

Re: Same article?

Agreed. The problem isn't Android per se, it's junkware installed on junk hardware that's the problem. I think the variety of good hardware and good software available to Android users makes it a superior platform!

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Yep, I agree

Yep, I agree entirely, and for that reason I'm doing another flip from Android to iOS with my next upgrade. I've found myself doing that for the last three upgrades - first Android, then iOS when I got fed up with that not quite working, then Android again when the Apple hegemony became too much for me, and now back to iOS again! At least the Apple stuff just seems to work properly on their hardware.

It's a bit like Linux and Windows - I used Linux exclusively on he desktop for years (at least 10) but I finally got fed up with stuff not quite working properly on my hardware (mostly high-end laptops), and have given up with that for now too. Like it or lump it, if you but a laptop with Windows installed it just works these days (mind you, that hasn't always been the case!). Still use Linux on a lot of stuff, from servers to embedded systems, but not the desktop.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yep, I agree

Errm, you know Android is available from more than one manufacturer, and model right, and you shouldn't judge all Android devices based on one Android device...

Pick up a Google Nexus 4 and your opinion of Android will change for sure. It's the stock Android experience without the manufacturers getting their grubby mits on it.

Personally I too would never own a Samsung Android handset, but I am smart enough to work out that it's the samsung software bloat that's the problem, not the hardware, nor the Android base.

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Re: Yep, I agree

Maybe you should try OSX on the desktop.

It might just be what you're lacking in the others.

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Trollface

Re: Yep, I agree

"" I am smart enough to work out that it's the samsung software bloat that's the problem""

I agree with you, and I will add that some of us even remove the vendor's OS and deploy a custom 3rd party image (Which Android is plenty rich of)

It seems Microsoft does not allow the same degree of freedom... why? Is Winmo as good as those communist paradises where they have to force people to stay?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yep, I agree

Then you can have all the benefits of both being a closed platform *and* a lack of compatibility with popular software.

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FAIL

Re: Yep, I agree @AC

the 90's called, they want their meme back. Tit.

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Re: Yep, I agree

I know that this is going to invoke a large number of down-votes from the MS hating fraternity on here but I'm going to suggest giving Windows Phone 8 a try. iOS hasn't changed since the last iPhone you owned so I think you'll get sick of it pretty quickly, I know I did. I only tried Windows Phone for the first time with the HTC 8X (also have a Lumia 920 for work) and once I got over the "why doesn't this work" and found out HOW to use it, I have to say that it's been a revelation. I like it far more that Android and it's a very good competitor to iOS. Don't listen to anyone who whines about the applications available, I have everything I want on it. Try the timetoswitch stuff and see if your favourite apps are there or if there's an alternative.

Worth a try, trust me.

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Anonymous Coward

@Randolf McKinley - Re: Yep, I agree

You don't talk like some one who spent a decade using exclusively Linux on his desktop. Since you've learned nothing from it then why spend a whole decade ? Second, you are confusing us when you say you've dumped Linux on the desktop because you were unhappy with it on the high-end laptop. Stick to the Android vs. IOS comparison and it will be just fine.

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FAIL

Re: Yep, I agree

"Don't listen to anyone who whines about the applications available, I have everything I want on it."

So as long as you're ok, everyone else will be?

How's it sync with your Mac? How about how did your upgrade from Winmo7 to 8 go? As some people want to be able to use a phone that gets' upgraded with a new OS and features.

How's instagram working out for you? How's the turn by turn sat nav on the HTC8X?

If you dont' want to install apps, then why not go blackberry?

:-)

http://www.pcmag.com/image_popup/0,1740,iid=368639,00.asp

or how about this article?

BlackBerry, Windows Phone Still Lack Popular Apps

Or even better, why pay money for apps AGAIN on a different OS.

The apps from IOS1 work fine still, no more money, these Windows CE ones don't seem to....

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2416556,00.asp

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Re: Yep, I agree

I came from a Palm Pre2 (great clean UI/OS) to the Nexus 4 and to be honest I found it an easy migration.

Standard Android Jelly Bean works really smoothly and doesn't really need anything core added to it.

I have no complaints with the Nexus Android experience.

However, I did upgrade my other half's Galaxy Note to Jellybean this week. Holy crap! I could hardly tell it was the same OS. So much junk added in, it looked and felt awful. Stuff duplicating perfectly good existing functionality (as per the article) and all sorts of other crap. Took me quite a while to calm it all down and organise it.

To be honest it reminds me of the issue Microsoft has had with Windows over the years.

A clean retail/OEM install of Windows works great with little fuss or issue. Just the OS and the applications you need. But the Dell/Lenovo/Acer/Asus/Fujitsu/Samsung branded versions full of bloat, pesterware and crapware just ruins it all for the customer.

Really folks, less IS more!

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Re: Yep, I agree

I have both a Nexus 4 and a Galaxy S3, and if I'm honest, I prefer the S3. The battery lasts longer, it's not slower to any amount that matters, I can open the back of the bloody thing, it has an SD card slot, they both run Android 4, and the screen on the S3 is gorgeous. Plus, the Samsung meddling on the S3 is fairly minimal really.

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Re: Yep, I agree

I would never own a Samsung Android phone because of their FIRMWARE! You thought the software was bad. I think they have the janitors code their firmware after they finish cleaning the loos.

GPS lockups, radio lockups and resets, etc.

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FAIL

Linux fans are touchy

Why do Linux fans get so sensitive when others point out weaknesses in it? I get downvoted all the time when I just report the truth, that no matter which distro I try on which desktop hardware, something always doesn't work right. I think it's mainly that vendors don't put the effort into good drivers, perhaps because they don't want to open-source them or perhaps because they just don't care about the small Linux market. This doesn't apply to servers, which don't have the range of multimedia peripherals and where Linux is the mainstream, but it does apply to laptops and desktops. I've been trying this since Yggdrasil Linux ca. 1993, and it still applies to the latest Mint, which I have to say almost had it right, much better than I'd seen before, but the audio and video were not quite reliable.

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Re: Yep, I agree

Another delighted Nexus 4 user here. Plain vanilla Android is a pleasure to use - whatever moves OEMs to cover it with their crapware is beyond me.

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Happy

Re: Linux fans are touchy

You must have weird hardware. I've been using Linux exclusively on my own computers (XP at work) for many years now, and I don't remember the last time I had a hardware problem with a mainstream distro. One-man-band and specialist distros are a different matter, of course.

Getting back to Android, I had an Orange San Francisco, that was virtually ruined by the notorious Orange crapware, which for the uninitiated includes poor knock-offs of standard Google apps, which charge subscriptions after a trial period that effectively locks you in. Fortunately it was easy to SIM-unlock, and I lived with Cyanogen Mod 7-7.2 very happily for 2 years, until I broke the phone. Crapware can make anything crap, hence the name.

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Re: Yep, I agree

"How about how did your upgrade from Winmo7 to 8 go? "

WinMo stopped at 6.5...

I don't see what your point re WP7 upgrading to WP8 is. What is the point in baking features such as NFC into the WP7 settings and confusing people when NO WP7 phones support it?

WP7 is currently sitting at WP7.8, the look'n'feel of WP8 but without the hardware requirements.

How many first gen iOS or Android units support all of the features of the latest OS?

"The apps from IOS1 work fine still, no more money, these Windows CE ones don't seem to...."

WinCE (ARM) apps still work on WinMo units, they were never designed to work on Windows Phone. Most were written before WP even existed. To date I have not come across a WP7 app that will not work on WP8. The vast majority will work on WP8 but wont be able to take advantage of the newer hardware features of WP8 (eg NFC). There might be a couple that won't work properly, eg those that make calls to the FMradio class.

Your iOS1 app example is also flawed, many developers will not allow you to download older versions of apps that will run on older versions of iOS.

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FAIL

Re: Yep, I agree

"How many first gen iOS or Android units support all of the features of the latest OS?"

My old Vibrant has the newest JB loaded and it's working fine.

Your point?

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Stop

Re: Linux fans are touchy

Not really. I would guess if someone uses Linux for 10 years he would know better what to buy to have a good hardware support. SONY notebook released with Win Vista might not even work with Win 7 so pick your vendor with care.

It did not take me long as well to understand that for Android there is no better choice then Nexus. Did you miss all the clues about it as well?

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Anonymous Coward

The duplicated apps thing is hardly the fault of Android, that's simply vendors like Samsung putting their own crap on phones in the hope of getting some money from app sales.

The big problems with Android from a technical perspective are the forking of the Linux kernel and the "proof of concept" nature of the API. The kernel forking is hopefully going to be solved, although it's going to take a while given the amount of time the fork has existed in two projects with a high code churn.

The API thing is something I don't think will get addressed. One of the ways it manifests itself is that you have to cast stuff all over the place, since the object hierarchy is a mess. Bloody annoying in a statically typed language, since it opens you up to the similar kind of problems that dynamic languages suffer from. Fixing this while maintaining backwards compatibility would probably require a second framework for at least the UI side of things, much like AWT and Swing in the Java SDK world.

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Anonymous Coward

Y'see I was thinking more on teh backend of things when it said being a mess. When you consider exactly what is happening on your mobile phone, the simplicity of the UI and many other features, you start to wonder where all the cpu cycles and RAM is going.

I honestly wouldn't be surprised if, during the rapid development of android they didn't suffer the quick fix bloat of excessive switch case and loop use where it isn't needed. Y'know the rapid development of code with the intention of refactoring it, only to find that your prototype is being used anyway so you just shrug it off.

I'd be incredibly happy if one of the upcoming android releases wasn't so much a lump of new features, but a lump of refactored code. But I wouldn' expect something like that until they finish merging the forked kernel.

I will agree with the original article on one major thing though, the additional aps that manufacturers install are annoying as hell. I honestly wish that android came pre-rooted, or at least gave you authority to delete non-core applications. Last phone I bought came with google maps, orange maps, google navigation, orange navigation, a load of other preinstalled crapware from orange. The phone was actually unusable until I flashed it with Cyanogen mod and got rid of the orange rubbish.

I also agree with the idea that the framework needs to be revisited and either built on, or depricated in certain areas, java style. Or pehaps release a newer version which runs alongside rather than ontop of. Complete remastering of the architecture based upon the original

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I agree with you about forking and the API.

As for duplicate apps - it's Andoid's open nature that allows both manufacturers and operators to add their duplicate/bloated/useful/pointless apps - so explain to my how it isn't Androids' fault?

Serious question, because the other two OSs aren't open, and don't have that problem.

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Just because manufacturers can "add their duplicate/bloated/useful/pointless apps" doesn't mean they have to, so the fault lies firmly with them.

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bloat...

There's evidence that came up in the Oracle trial that Java is that bloat.

I find it very hard to believe that a competent engineering team, given a blank canvas and targetting a resource-constrained platform, would ever willingly implement their entire user-space application framework in an interpreted bytecode runtime. The only rational reason to have done this was to get a quick time to market.

There are a lot of good reasons to have applications written in bytecode (multi-architecture portability not least of them), but not the code libraries that these apps use.

Windows Phone 7 took the approach that I believe Android's developers wanted to: optimised, native-code libraries serving byte-coded apps. Comparing the user performance of a WP7 device with that of similarly-specified device running Android shows that it was the right thing to do from a technical standpoint.

As for the problems with manufacturer apps, a lot of the blame is Google's. The terms of the "powered by Google" licence agreement say that an OEM cannot remove key system applications. So even if the OEM apps are better, so you end up with two email clients, two music stores, two camera apps, and so on. The penalty for breaking this rule is to be denied access to all Google services. Most important of these are the Play store and Google Calendar, which are the most compelling parts of Android as a platform.

Perhaps if they worked a little closer with the key OEMs, a deal could be worked out, but as Google earn nothing from sales of Android, and the OEMs are putting up with the current situation, there's no benefit to Google in doing this.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: bloat...

"I find it very hard to believe that a competent engineering team, given a blank canvas and targetting a resource-constrained platform, would ever willingly implement their entire user-space application framework in an interpreted bytecode runtime."

Given the capabilities of modern SoC systems, it shouldn't be hard to believe that the userland is built on a bytecode interpreted runtime. Especially when the runtime in question was specifically created to work well on ARM processors - that's why they created Dalivik, a register based virtual machine, rather than using the stack based Sun one. The amount of work that went into Dalvik suggests it wasn't created for a quick time-to-market, although the dubious quality of some of the libraries may suggest too much emphasis was placed on the virtual machine at the expense of the API.

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Bronze badge

Re: bloat...

Windows Phone 7 took the approach that I believe Android's developers wanted to: optimised, native-code libraries serving byte-coded apps.

According to the min hardware requirements originally Android needed only 32 MB of ram while WP 7 required 256 MB, resp. I believe, that 256 MB was still enough for the recent 4.0 Android. Multitasking was only introduced to WP7 as an update.

Comparing the user performance of a WP7 device with that of similarly-specified device running Android shows that it was the right thing to do from a technical standpoint.

Any benchmarks? Links to urls where people try Android vs. WP7 on the same hardware?

So even if the OEM apps are better, so you end up with two email clients, two music stores, two camera apps, and so on.

Experience tells me, that Google's apps are actually more simplistic and usually better. However, what precludes you or a user from uninstalling the unwanted apps?

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Re: bloat...

You're telling me that native code runs slower than an interpreted bytecode...?

Right.

I'm sure that if the situation was the other way round, and it was MS or Apple bunging their whole user libraries through a VM, you'd be right on their case for a making a stupid design decision. It remains a stupid design decision, but it's one that can be explained by a need to get to market quickly.

It's not just the recompilation penalty, though, it's the garbage collection. GC is the worst thing to mix into a small OS. The non-deterministic nature of GC runtimes makes it extremely hard to provide low event latency. This is why Android stutters, even on the best hardware available on the market.

The VM was built by smart people, and has been optimised repeatedly; the APIs were lumped in quickly, and because they're public, they've had to stick to them

To the guy who said Android was originally specced to run in 64 Mb, have a look at what Windows Vista's minimum requirements were. That's enough to run the OS. Apps? well, nobody said anything about apps...

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Bronze badge

Re: bloat...

have a look at what Windows Vista's minimum requirements were.

I don't have to, I remember it. It was 512mb (V. basic). I got that preinstalled on a laptop. It was stuttering until I added 1 more gig into it. But before that I put GNU/Linux on it right away and it was sleek. I don't know if those were enough. MS and their products are a constant enigma.

What I am driving at is that at least 128, 256 mb used to be quite common on cheap Android tablets, phones and even small netbooks. You still can get 256 mb tablet on newegg.

I got one low power device (A10, 512mb ram, it got a decent video card mali400). I don't experience any stuttering on it. Some apps are good, some are not. Most of google's apps are fine. Even Debian off the sd card is okay (where apps are much better of course ;)), it's slower than it should be though due to the lima video driver, it's not up to the proprietary mali Android uses. The latter is constantly improving. When it finally gets to level of the mali it will perform on par with Android.

So any benchmarks comparing Windows and Android on the same low spec'ed hardware?

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Re: bloat...

Benchmarks won't tell you anything meaningful.

Benchmarks will only show you peak performance on batch tasks, they can't accurately model user interaction. A benchmark can tell you what your IO is like, or what your peak CPU performance is, but it can't tell you what your average event latency is, or how quickly it can respond to user input.

Pick the device up, use it. See how quickly the user interface moves in response to your inputs. See how often the UI drops a frame or two. Leave it be for about 10 or 20 seconds, then see how quickly it becomes responsive again. Load a webpage, scroll it up and down. On equal hardware (WP7 is single core 1Ghz Snapdragon) they should be similar in terms of responsiveness. They're not. (I'm no fan of WP7, btw, but it gets a lot of unwarranted abuse, normally from people who like Android)

" What I am driving at is that at least 128, 256 mb used to be quite common on cheap Android tablets, phones and even small netbooks. You still can get 256 mb tablet on newegg. "

And these low-memory devices are what got Android its reputation for having nasty user experience on cheap hardware. Once you installed a few apps with background services, the OS would spend so much time swapping and/or doing GC cleanup to free some RAM that it couldn't keep up with even basic user interactions. Games, which often pre-cache lots of graphics in RAM, suffer especially badly on this kind of hardware.

Actually, true multitasking like Android's (or before it, Symbian's) is actually bad for gaming, as other tasks can steal resources from the game at inopportune moments. In this respect, the dumb tasking of iOS or WP is better... but, frankly, only in that very specific use-case.

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Linux

@Kristian Walsh

See how often the UI drops a frame or two. Leave it be for about 10 or 20 seconds, then see how quickly it becomes responsive again. Load a webpage, scroll it up and down.

Allwinner's A10, (Cortex-A8 single core)+ 512 ram+ mali400. Google's own browser and other apps --- nothing of this kind. Streams video to hdmi. BTW, the google's own youtube player is optimized to the point that it plays back it better than on flashplayer fully fledged x86 . I am sure, if one would be able to run an e17 or lxde Linux desktop on it, mplayer or vlc would have been even more efficient. What am I doing wrong? Again, there is no WP7 or 8 case study for the same hardware, it might be better than even Android setup. However, experience tells me otherwise, Redmond can't be beaten at bloat. An htc incredible phone here with the single core snapdragon cortex-a5, system is pretty snappy, while graphics is impressive with smaller screen of course. htc has blown it though, they wouldn't let upgrade it toa newer Android, not the Google's fault either.

BW, why does wp7/8 need so much disk space? That is the real bloat, isn't it

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Kristian Walsh

WP7/8 uses less diskspace for the OS than Android!

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I don't care it's a mess

In the old days I typically used to pay quite a lot for something like a Nokia series 40. The "user experience" was never all that configurable, iut was take it or leave it, and I just had to get used to working around all the things I didn't like.

Now for what seems to me like much less money I can get a much nicer phone with which I can do more or less whatever I want. Android FTW all the way.

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Re: I don't care it's a mess

I don't think anyone would dispute that Android is brilliant for techies. The sheer level of customisation available is amazing. Especially if you're willing to go all the way and root the device. That's obviously an important market, because people who aren't techies will often ask mates who are what to get.

That's why I've had several non-techy people tell me that Windows 8 is crap and as bad as Vista. Not because they know anything about it, or have ever used it, but because MS pissed off the geeks by not letting them turn Metro off. Ooops! PR screw-up ahoy!

When I had an Android 2.3 handset there were quite a lot of major deficiencies with it. The stock text messaging, email, and address book clients were a bit pants. And being an HTC there were also (confusingly for some) a second set of all of these from Sense, filling up the limited app space in storage - and I didn't like them much better. For me it was no problem, and I got better ones, and was very pleased with how I eventually got the thing set up. The flexibility was lovely, and I even had a WiFi scanner so I could do surveys and set up wireless networks for friends. Totally pointless on a phone of course, but also incredibly useful. But the non-techies struggle with that level of complexity.

My sister-in-law had the same phone. She had only one app, which was the crappy Android Facebook one. Now she's got an iPhone and loads of apps. Partly because she finds it easier to use, and partly because my brother has one and can help. Whereas he couldn't do much with her 'Droid either.

For someone like her I''d say Windows Phone is better at the cheap end of the market, and iPhone at the top end. Not because they're better, but I think they're both easier to use. The penalty being much less flexibility. But all she wants is email, texts calls, camera and Facebook. For anyone like that all the 4 major phone OSes can handle it easily, and it's just down to ease of use / least confusion.

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Torn between them all

I have a Galaxy Note II and have to say that the whole Android experience feels disjointed and convoluted. Multiple menus that all look and feel similar, enforced 3rd party modifications, some updates needing me to be able to accept downloads from untrusted locations (more enable/disable when it's finished), apps that hugely vary in UI design / quality and so on. I feel like I am in a maze sometimes.

Why do I still have Android? Well iOS started boring the crap out of me, I felt like Apple just were not moving forward especially with the small screen sizes. Windows Phone had too few apps for me, so I bought the Galaxy note. So I guess the open, messy nature of Android actually meant that I could find a product with the general requirements that I have. But for some reason I still want to escape Android lol. Anyone got a cure for this confusion / indecision? ;)

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Re: Torn between them all

"Why do I still have Android? Well iOS started boring the crap out of me, I felt like Apple just were not moving forward especially with the small screen sizes. Windows Phone had too few apps for me, so I bought the Galaxy note. So I guess the open, messy nature of Android actually meant that I could find a product with the general requirements that I have. But for some reason I still want to escape Android lol. Anyone got a cure for this confusion / indecision?"

Yes. Time.

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Re: Torn between them all

I went Windows Phone for a while. Because the Lumia 710 was cheap. The upside was the big text, big buttons and lack of options. I decided that the tablet was for apps, the phone was for sat-nav and communication. My previous 'Droid was much better customised, and had more apps, but harder to use as a phone.

Now I've got a work iPhone, and I miss the flexibility of my old Android and the ease-of-use-but-inflexibility of my Win Phone. I think there must be something wrong with me...

In all seriousness they've all got strengths and weaknesses. I played with the new Berry and that looked OK too. But in my opinion Android needs the most tinkering to make it work well. For which trouble you get a UI more customised to what you like. My conclusion was that I don't want to tinker with my phone, I want it to mostly right out of the box.

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