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 …

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  1. John Latham

    "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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Euchrid

        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.

        1. cybersaur
          Devil

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

          Porn was made available on VHS.

        2. Steve Todd

          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.

        3. David Paul Morgan
          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...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

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

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

  2. Jim_aka_Jim
    Trollface

    Best trolling I've seen in days

    Seriously. Thanks for restoring my faith.

  3. wikkity

    Same article?

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

    1. h3

      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.

      1. Craigness

        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.

      2. phr0g

        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.

        1. Soruk
          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.

          1. cybersaur
            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!

  4. Randolf McKinley
    Thumb Up

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. John Sanders
        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?

      2. jason 7

        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!

      3. Greg J Preece

        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.

      4. s2bu

        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.

      5. Big-nosed Pengie

        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.

    2. t.est

      Re: Yep, I agree

      Maybe you should try OSX on the desktop.

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          FAIL

          Re: Yep, I agree @AC

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

    3. Hooksie

      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.

      1. Ian Watkinson
        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

        1. imaginarynumber

          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.

          1. Hexer
            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?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Fred Goldstein
        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.

        1. plrndl
          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.

        2. Hexer
          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?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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

      1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

            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...

            1. eulampios

              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?

              1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

                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.

                1. eulampios
                  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

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: @Kristian Walsh

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

        2. eulampios

          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?

    2. Spearchucker Jones

      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.

      1. Ian Yates

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

  6. Joe Harrison Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    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.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      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.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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? ;)

    1. Turtle

      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.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: Torn between them all

        Actually you may have nailed it for me. Out of the box could be very well what I am looking for .....

      2. N13L5

        Re: Torn between them all

        There are some Android phone apps, that make the phone part dominant, has beautifully done large buttons for phone use and many options and styles...

        Trying to remember the name maybe 'phone screen' or something like that...

        Anyway, not too hard to make the surface of a flexible system less flexible (or twiddly).

        The other way round is impossible, sadly

    3. N13L5

      Re: Torn between them all

      I have a Galaxy Note II... I never concerned myself with the disjointedness between Google's Android and Samsung's various overlays, ranging from mildly useful to just bloat.

      You need need some personal power and enough will to take control of your device and banish anything you feel is disjointed or otherwise annoys you. Android allows this, unlike M$ or Apple! I recommend you download Nova Launcher for starters. Then the Iconpack Simple Text (for samsung the black version, cause using black backgrounds saves much battery on amoled displays)

      Then just remove anything from your home screens you don't want or use. place widgets and icons for the stuff you do use, and you've made the device YOURS.

      Now, if your complaint is too many menus, you kinda need menus anywhere you want to choose options and actions. You can't do without them on any phone or computer platform in existence. If the look of menus bothers you, I can only recommend to use widgets that allow you to set frequently accessed settings. But otherwise, you'll just have to live with it.

      Personally, I find few applications have menus that are so badly done that they're worth a complaint. Those that are really that poor, just uninstall and get something else.

  8. Gordon Pryra

    Hagiographer

    The article is worth a vote up just for the use of that word!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hagiographer

      The first time I came that word was in the description of a book about Aleister Crowley (his autobiography, which was described as an "auto-hagiography"). Fascinating man - thrown out of Italy by Mussolini and written up by the Sunday Express as the "wickedest man in the world". He sued the publishers of the Express but lost, although I guess that means he would have been legally entitled to use that soubriquet if he'd wanted to.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Hagiographer

        > written up by the Sunday Express as the "wickedest man in the world"

        I seem to recall the Express (whose sister media outlets include Television X and Red Hot TV - NSFW) was trying to say the same about Billy Connelly at one point.

        I've only read a biography of Crowley, but it amused me that he thought L Ron Hubbard was a complete twat, as did, at the other end of the spectrum, Isaac Asimov.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hagiographer

          Interesting - I didn't think Crowley and L Ron Hubbard were connected, although a quick Google suggests the connection is tenuous. Hubbard was a member of a Crowley inspired group in the US, but it looks like that was in the 1950's, well after Crowley's death in 1945. They did seem to have a mutual acquaintance called Jack Parsons though.

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  10. Anonymous Coward 101

    Manufacturers of high end Android devices need to sort out the shit pointed out in this article. It is not good enough for these manufacturers to add craplets to these devices in a bid to make another 50p. It's a shame there is sometimes good apps mixed in with the shit - why taint the good apps?

    When it comes to low end devices, is Android 2.3 going to be the OS of choice for years to come? If so, Android will de facto become two different operating systems - the latest version (or thereabouts), and the ossified relic of version 2.3.

    1. ElNumbre
      Thumb Up

      Don't forget...

      Don't forget the network providers who also get phone manufacturers to do custom images with their crapware also installed. Such a shame that unless you use a Nexus device, its pretty difficult to get an unabused image.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't forget...

        "unless you use a Nexus device, its pretty difficult to get an unabused image."

        Is that really still the case?

        I had a ZTE Blade/Orange SanFran and custom images were (are?) widely available courtesy of the developer community. I sidelined the Blade because the performance as a phone wasn't as good as my (Symbian) Nokia E7x, but the Android software was quite acceptable at the time (couple of years ago??).

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      1. Greg J Preece

        Actually, I agree. I have two Android phones (because one of them is waiting for Ubuntu Phone to be ready) and a Windows Phone 7 one, and I will freely admit that the UI on Windows is the best by light years. Honestly, I just don't get why people give the new Windows Phone so much shit. Functionally the original wasn't up to scratch, but if you recall, at a functional level the original iPhone was straight-up retarded. You can slate Metro on a laptop all you like and I'll likely agree, but Windows Phone is crazy fast, great looking and easy to use.

    3. dogged
      Facepalm

      It's interesting, because you could also wonder how much Google pays El Reg for articles like "Microsoft splashes big bucks to blast Google Apps - Latest ad campaign smacks of desperation" and "Windows 8 'sales' barely half as good as Microsoft claims - Don't even mention the XP/Vista sales comparisons - stories which don't claim to be anyone's opinion pieces - but clearly are.

      While this claims only the author's own opinion, previously stated several times.

      But obviously, Google don't buy articles because they are lovely and fluffy and Android is open(ish)! No, only the DevilMicrosoft does that.

      Of course.

      And you're not a fanboy in any way, right?

  12. Select * From Handle

    "Android today is like Microsoft's Windows 3.1"

    Technically yes and they maybe following microsoft, have you seen the google play store recently? on my S3 it is looking a bit erm windows 8... solid green bar, big skinny fonts... i must admit it does look nice though...

  13. James Whale

    "Even Google+ is a data collection mechanism, not a social network."

    Actually, like most social networks, it's both.

    1. greensun
      Mushroom

      Indeed. It's a way of making money for Google. They're a for-profit company so if they can collect data with Google+ and make money from that, they will. If they can make money from the social network part of it, they will. If they can sell third-world kidneys to fat Russians with it, they will.

      The statement ( and most of the article ) was stupid, possibly just trolling, have a nuke.

  14. Smallbrainfield
    Meh

    Most people will just install or use the apps they like or are most comfortable using.

    I have a load of crap added by Orange on my current cheap as chips San Diego. I ignore or disable the useless stuff (Orange Wednesdays is the only Orange app that gets any regular use) and just use the features I like. Surely most people do this?

    It's a much more homogeneous experience on iPhones I'm sure, but being tied into Apple's walled garden doesn't appeal.

    I still don't know anyone that has a Windows phone, apart from the ones on the adverts (Holly Willoughby and that big lad out of Gavin and Stacy). I'm sure they're fantastic.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Most people will just install or use the apps they like or are most comfortable using.

      >I still don't know anyone that has a Windows phone,

      I know a couple of people in the pub with them, both single parents around forty years old, if that means anything. I get the impression that calling, messaging and Facebook are their main phone-based activities, and not much more. It seems that for such uses, they are perfectly reasonable phones.

      (To be fair, my Android phone is mainly used for calls, messaging, a bit of internet browsing, and navigation - the latter I'm led to believe Nokia does quite well. I also use an app for tuning my guitar - a quick google suggests that an equivalent app is available for WinPho, so the smaller app store wouldn't bother me too much)

      I notice that most of the people in the pub who haven't got a smartphone have Nokia 'candy bars'.... I wonder if they will stay loyal to the brand if they eventually get a touch-screen device?

      1. Hooksie

        Re: Most people will just install or use the apps they like or are most comfortable using.

        I have one and I'm 35, worked in IT for 10+ years and am married with no kids. If that means anything. Which it doesn't :)

        But I would point out that half a million apps doesn't a small app store make.

    2. FlatEarther
      Thumb Up

      Re: Most people will just install or use the apps they like or are most comfortable using.

      Yep, I can't understand what the article is on about. I recently received a HTC One XL. It came with a bunch of applications. Some I can uninstall. Some I don't like so I went to the app store and found a different/better one. It has lots of space. If I don't want to use an app I just remove the icons if it can't be installed. They all seem to integrate well enough where I want them to.

      By the time it runs out of space it'll probably be worn out and I'll get another.

      This is so much better that being told by <Big Corporation of America> that you must use the perfect blessed application that they've selected for you and which their marketing department has decided you need.

      What's the big deal?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You what?

    This entire article just doesn't correlate with the experience I've had with the Nexus 4, sat in my coat pocket right now - doing everything I want. Perhaps I'm tempting fate, but I've yet to encounter this cavalcade of 'things that don't work'. Uh?

    Yes, I know it's stock Android, but that right there is the problem - the technicolour yawn of cruft and overlays endlessly layered over stock 'droid by manufacturers - even on high-end devices - can only sully the UX. Google need to seriously look at addressing this with manufacturers who are ruining UX - *why* do it?

    In the interests of balance, this is my first Android. But its the 'vanilla droid' aspect that drew me to it, and the lack thereof from other models that pushed me away for so many years. So, I played along with iPhone simply because I didn't see a viable alternative for me, personally. After 5 years, not being able to do some really basic things with the handset, and feeling like Cupertino were increasingly resembling North Korea, drove me to look at alternatives come refresh time.

    As a recent iOS refugee, I haven't found anything like the 'sub-optimal' experience described above from Jelly Bean. I just can't see that. It lets me get on with things how I say I want them done, not how the OS wants you to do things - is that functionality not the point of owning a smartphone in the first place? To help and assist you on a daily basis? Otherwise, it becomes a pointless cycle of owning a phone for sake of it...wait a minute, that sounds familiar. It's the sound of pointless upgrades ringing through Apple tills.

    1. Eponymous Cowherd
      Thumb Up

      Re: You what?

      Ditto the Nexus 7.

      My HTC Sensation, however, with its HTC and Vodafone "improvements" is a different matter.

      Android, particularly in its 4.2 guise, if perfectly fine. It is the handset manufacturers and network operators that ruin it.

      1. Ian Yates
        Boffin

        Re: You what?

        No excuse. The Sensation has one-click rooting and a plethora of excellent ROMs from pure AOSP to CM 10.1.

        I'm not suggesting that everyone can/should root their phones, but I'm sure a silver-badged commentard knows what they're doing ;)

        Personally, I buy a phone based on it's hardware and current ROM status; not interested in the manufacturer guff.

        1. Eponymous Cowherd
          Meh

          Re: You what?

          "I'm not suggesting that everyone can/should root their phones, but I'm sure a silver-badged commentard knows what they're doing ;)"

          I do, indeed "know what I am doing", I was commenting on the stock Sensation as almost all users will use stock firmware.

        2. The_Regulator

          99% of users are not going to root their device they will use as is. Stop thinking about you and think about someone's old man or mum trying to use it.

          1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge
            WTF?

            Someone downvoted you for expressing the first law of consumer software design.

            Our industry still has a long way to go...

      2. The_Regulator

        You just proved that you agree with the article. Unadulterated android on a nexus good hw, clean sw. Adulterated android with OEM bloatware on a low specced device bad.

    2. Captain Queeg
      Big Brother

      Re: You what?

      > Google need to seriously look at addressing this with manufacturers who are ruining UX - *why* do it?

      Google have no need to stop this - as has been pointed out, so long as G keep harvesting data from handsets they're happy. They don't really need any manufacturer to profit or users to be satisfied, just for handsets to keep finding their way into our pockets.

      Likewise, for handset makers, they absolutely *have* to apply crapware. If they all rolled out stock android on their largely sleek, largely black largely rectangular phones how else do they differentiate at point of sale?

      Apple and BlackBerry have an OS they control and can use to drive sales. If you choose to produce stock Android or are in some way leaned on to go stock by Google then surely you have nothing to compete on but price. So margins suffer and the handset makers become busy fools sweating like navvies just to break even.

      Android was that "first hit that's free" to Sammy/HTC and all and now they're hooked they're not about to move away from it. They're most dependent on the back end services and now they can't do without them because consumers expect them.

      Take Apple, sitting on that huge cash pile and trying to become self sufficient from Google Maps. It'll take them 2-3 years *minimum* before their Maps are approaching the standard of Google Maps today. Even with that cash reserve and history of R&D it's still *that* hard to do. Can say, HTC, afford to develop their own back end solutions? No? Virtually no-one can, as Apple are proving.

      So Samsung, HTC and dozens of others have to make the best of a bad situation, and one they've walked blindly in to in scrambling to compete with IOS when it launched - of providers of utlity handsets (even expensive ones are still Droids - which I don't mean as a criticism) - if they don't differentiate by overlaying and branding the UI layer and Apps set they'll be killed in sales terms.

      Which as far as I can see is exactly what happened to hardware vendors licencing Windows:

      Non-Exclusive OS > Commoditisation > Crapware

    3. grammarpolice

      Re: You what?

      Google need to seriously look at addressing this with manufacturers who are ruining UX - *why* do it?

      There are two main benefits for them. First, they need to have an identifiable brand to promote. If they don't do this then there is no reason for you to buy from them instead of their competitor in the first place. Secondly, once you have bought from them before, they want lock-in, even if it's soft. There has to be some kind of inertia that makes it easier for you to buy a new product from them instead of from their competitor. Being used to a UI that works in a certain way, rather than an unfamiliar or unknown one, helps to achieve that goal.

    4. Hooksie

      Re: You what?

      Couldn't agree more but that's the point of the article. Stock Android is nice, slick and well thought out. I had the HTC Sensation and the HTC One S, both beautiful phones but both piss poor with Sense on top. Rooted, booted and running Cyanogenmod though they were excellent. It's the forks, overlays and fannying about that OEMs and providers do that sully the experience. I just couldn't be arsed with the constant wiping, updating, reflashing and changing all the bloody time. Went to Windows Phone 8 and after the initial pain and figuring out how to work it I'm very happy. My next phone will be another Windows Phone at this rate.

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  17. Andrew Peake

    To the author

    "Whatever the case may be, I can't see Google transforming Android into the kind of slick experience you get on Windows Phone today."

    Whatever the case may be, I can't see Google transforming Android into the kind of sick experience you get on Windows Phone today.

    There, fixed it for you.

    No I'm not an Android fan, I'm not even a Microsoft hater. but having played with both Android and Windows phone I'd rather have the "mess" than all the restrictiveness.

    1. Hooksie
      Facepalm

      Re: To the author

      What restrictiveness, specifically, are you referring to? Do you regularly write your own apps and want to install them? Because if that's the case you can get keys from MS that allow you to do that. I think you have a fruity based phone in your pocket and you're just trolling. There is the vague possibility that you just don't have a clue what you're talking about but I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt.

      How very clever of you to replace 'slick' with 'sick'. Genius.

      Bear in mind that the article is based on the words of the guy who runs Android and the reviewer writes for The Register so they are hardly likely to love anything Microsoft :)

      1. Jes.e

        Re: To the author

        "What restrictiveness, specifically, are you referring to?"

        Seriously?

        Try a simple experiment..

        Email or otherwise try to share an .epub file with a friend who has a Windows phone.

        I installed on my sister's WP7.5 device the ebook reader "Frieda" which was available free at that time in the MS store.

        Emailed her an .epub file I had picked up several years ago.

        From her email application got a lengthy "downloading" animation after clicking on the attachment, then nothing.

        No book appeared on-screen.

        Switched over to Frieda to see if a book had appeared. No.

        Windows phone (like the iPhone) does not have an open filesystem. Applications can't share things between them unless provisions are explicitly coded in.

        The idea is to create a security boundary between any two entities in the device so you can prevent *wrongful* information sharing.

        What is not permitted is forbidden.

        I could also not download an ebook from a web site (I might recommend this as a particularly fine example for a good demonstration: http://craphound.com/littlebrother/download/ )

        At least the browser claimed it couldn't download the file straight up.

        I eventually did work out a way of getting the file into the phone but it required Calibre on a computer with some additional wizardry and a plug-in. It was very complicated and required some googling to see if it was even possible.

        Thinking there had to be a simpler solution I went to a Microsoft store and pestered their "Genius Bar" (or whatever they call it) and after presenting my case was informed that it was this way to probably prevent piracy.

        Sigh.

        Right. Loading your own content onto "your own device" <tongue in cheek> is piracy.

        At least on an iPhone the same web download immediately opened up into the ebook reader installed on the demo unit at the Apple store.

        Apple is almost neck and neck here because any ebook reader I could find in the Apple marketplace would not let be browse Project Gutenberg (for example) even though the web site has its contents listed in a "library format" (some kind of open api

        framework which allows direct machine access directly to their shelves.)

        So yes. The system is very closed for both the Apple *and* MS platforms.

        Meanwhile over here on my android I can scan a multipage document through Camscanner, then Export it as a pdf. Open the pdf for viewing, perhaps add some annotations with ezPdf Reader. And then fax it out with Faxfile.

        All without any of these programs not knowing anything about each other. Just using standard file formats.

        In that way is it limited.

        It is limited so that all information transfer can be monetized and the controlling corporation can take a percentage of the purchase price because goodness knows there's no money to be had in manufacturing anything anymore..

        With either a Windows phone or an iPhone you don't truly own your device.

        You rent access to it. They are very similar.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: To the author

      Whatever the case may be, I can't see Google transforming Android into the kind of sick experience you get on Windows Phone today.

      No I'm not an Android fan, I'm not even a Microsoft hater. but having played with both Android and Windows phone I'd rather have the "mess" than all the restrictiveness.

      Aren't those 2 comments a bit mutually exclusive? It's certainly sounding a bit fanboyish.

      Not that either OS is perfect. It's horses for course. Sure Windows is locked down. As is iOS. And if you want something that Apple/MS don't approve of then tough luck. Not sure I'd call that sick though. Just you pays your money and you takes your choice. Android is much more free, and therefore can be a bit of a mess. If you know what you're doing, then that's no problem.

      I wouldn't recommend Android to my Mum, if she ever wanted a smartphone. But anyone with a small amount of confidence in computers will be perfectly fine. Then it's just a matter of which you prefer.

  18. Sander van der Wal

    Android capturing the spoils?

    Last time I looked Apple was making the most money in mobile by far, with Samsung in second place. Everybody else is posting losses or tiny profits.

    So the situation is very different from the Windows 3.1 age, where Microsoft and Intel were capturing the spoils.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Android capturing the spoils?

      But Google aren't in it for the money. At least not directly. They're capturing the data, which is what they wanted. Although as you say, other than Samsung no-one else seems to be doing too well with Android.

      I find Google's data gathering rather worrying. But you have to be impressed with the long-term planning that they've put in place. Even assuming only some of their moves were thought out long in advance. The sheer power of the massive network of mobile data recorders that they now control (or customers' Android handsets as everyone else calls them) is astonishing.

      They won't need to go WiFi sniffing again, because they've got a network of phones with WiFi and GPS chips that upload all that data to their servers. The same thing helps them with mapping, traffic data for sat-nav, plus usage/location/search data that could give them a hugely valuable mobile marketing resource.

      It better be worth it, because it hasn't come cheap. When you think they've bought patents as well as Motorola (possibly to get more), plus Android itself and spend a fortune on R&D and marketing. And yet they don't make a huge amount selling their add-ons to the OEMs, and I don't think they make a huge amount through the Play store either (at least so far).

  19. Jonathan 29

    duplication

    I have only used Samsung Androids and suspect I would like a Nexus, but I have found that if you replace the browser, launcher, messaging app, email app and maps app it is a pretty decent experience. I suppose it is good I could, but bad I had to. I remain undecided about my next phone, but it will definitely not be Samsung.

    1. MrXavia

      Re: duplication

      I might be one of the few people who likes that my phone came with two web browsers installed and I have a choice of music apps/video apps etc... although the default ones on my SGS4 are pretty good, and if you were a novice, they make it easy to download music/films etc...

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: duplication

        The problem with the iTunes mentality is that if you don't like iTunes you're screwed.

        A closed system is hell for a discriminating consumer. You're stuck eating nothing but Taco Bell.

  20. Alan Watson

    Well Google don't make their money from licensing (as Microsoft do) but from advertising.

    As for the Intel comparison, how are ARM and Qualcomm doing out of Android? I suspect not too badly.

  21. Big_Ted
    Windows

    Me I'm just weird.......

    Have tried iOS and didn't like it much and with the faffing about with iTunes got really bored fast.

    So I have tried a series of Android phones, Nexus 4, Note II, HTC One X, Motorola Defy, plus a couple of others.

    The only one I liked was the Nexus 4 but I then tried a Nokia Lumia 820 and was converted as far as a phone was concerned, it is just so nice and smooth and easy.....

    Due to heart problems I also need a backup on another network just in case so have gone for the best possible option to combine with a windows phone. An Asus Fonepad, as a tablet its really nice, the extra stuff on it is nice also as is the UI. It is also a phone so my backup if needed.

    So yes I'm weird, I got bored with iOS and hated all the bloat on Android on a phone, windows has sorted that as it has the apps I want and need. For all the rest my 7 inch tablet with built in 3G does it all the best of all options for me.

  22. Peter Johnston 1
    Go

    Android 4 works - it is bad overlays which cause the problem

    I have a Nexus 4 and switched from iPhone.

    The Nexus 4 is Miles better - much more intuitive, faster, easier to find stuff and easier to customise.

    Now is awesome too.

    I did have a short experience with a Droid Razr on 3.2, however, and that was awful.

    Android took a massive step with the 4 upgrade.

    Once the old ones work their way through the system (Motorola was terribly slow with updates) Android will provide the best user interface.

  23. John Sanders
    Flame

    """Android into the kind of slick experience you get on Windows Phone today."""

    TROLLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!

    Well, one thing is for certain, you really like your Winmo, (or just get money to look like.)

    Android is not the mess you think it is, unless you call having freedom to change, mix+match any component on the system a "mess".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think the point the platform agnostics and WinPho types seem to be getting at is that If manufacturer's crap duplicates all or even some of the core functionality of the OS, its a problem from a variety of perspectives and usability is the one that matters most to the consumer.

      The author of the article's point is that Google might not care, and if they do, they might not be able to do anything about it. Either way they will not dare admit it.

      The nature of Android is such that a writer focusing on Security on mobile platforms could write much the same thing. For instance if you've ever looked at your app permissions you'll have probably noticed that some of the Manufacturer and Carrier apps have vastly different permissions than the Google-provided equivalents and there's no way to get rid of them without rooting the handset in most cases.

  24. PaulR79
    WTF?

    Can I have some of what the author is having?

    "Whatever the case may be, I can't see Google transforming Android into the kind of slick experience you get on Windows Phone today."

    Slick experience on Windows Phone? It's easy to be slick when you run such a basic interface. How long did Windows Mobile exist with a shockingly bad but usable UI? If you compare Android now to Windows Mobile near the end then Android comes out far ahead on usability, that UX thing you mentioned.

    I don't see why you hold Windows Phone as some shining beacon of what everything has to compete with. I own both a Windows Phone 7.5 and 8 device as well as numerous Android phones and I know which I prefer by far - Android. This article just feels like a trollfest when I see things like that.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Hooksie

      Re: Can I have some of what the author is having?

      WTF is spot on my friend. Direct quotes from YOUR comment:

      Slick experience on Windows Phone? - Suggesting sarcasm, as though it's not slick

      It's easy to be slick when you run such a basic interface - suggesting it IS slick but you don't like the UI.

      The article was about the separation on UI and UX so I don't see why someone who must work in the industry had difficulty grasping that. You may not like the UI in WP8, I do, but surely you can agree it's buttery smooth and doesn't judder the way iOS does or forked Android kernels are wont to do. I too have had Android phones a plenty and several iPhones yet I prefer WP8. Matter of opinion my good man, not a troll fest.

      1. PaulR79

        Re: Can I have some of what the author is having?

        My sarcasm is suggesting that I'm surprised the author bothers to call it slick *because* it's so basic. Calling it slick is like calling the sun hot. Don't state the obvious just to bash another OS. Nowhere did I say I dislike the UI just that I find it very lacking. The UX in WP8 is straightforward, yes, but is Android really that difficult? See icon, tap icon. It's the same for any touchscreen OS.

        I don't have enough experience with iOS to say it judders but I have seen it with Android in the past. I haven't seen it on WP8 or the last few versions of Android but I do see plenty of "Resuming" screens on WP8 and don't get me started about the atrocious music player that comes as standard with no alternatives.

    3. El Andy

      Re: Can I have some of what the author is having?

      @PaulR79: "If you compare Android now to Windows Mobile near the end then Android comes out far ahead on usability, that UX thing you mentioned."

      If the only thing you can compare Android to, in order to make the UI look favourable, is an obsolete old OS which everyone agrees had a crappy UI, then I can't help but think you're making the author's point even better than he did.

      1. PaulR79
        Boffin

        Re: Can I have some of what the author is having?

        @El Andy: If you're going to pick and choose what you reply to then you can make anything suit your personal viewpoint. The point I was making is that comparatively Android is doing far better than Microsoft's most successful phone OS ever did and is still far more successful than their latest phone OS. The Android UI and UX has been improving all the time and only someone with a very blinkered view would suggest otherwise.

        As I mentioned in the bit you chose to ignore I don't see what is so bad about the Android experience right now. I'm not talking about those bargain basement phones that you get free with a bag of crisps. If you go with a phone that has similar specs to a WP8 phone you will get a good and slick experience.

        The reason WP7 / 7.5 worked so well on lower end hardware is that it was so limited. A calculator gives a slick experience because it's only doing a few things but I wouldn't compare a laptop to a calculator and say that the laptop is sluggish. Yes it's an awful analogy and not a very accurate one but hey it makes as much sense as your argument.

  25. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

    I still have my...

    Nokia N900 running Maemo 5 and still fine with it. Do plan to get that Nokia dumbphone that will last 30+ days on a single charge in autumn.

    I don't like either Android either iOS either Windows Phone for a mobile phone and I played with most of them one way or another.

    I don't mind Android for a tablet and possibly hooking in a MiFi style device somewhere along the way to get 3G networking with it. But beyond that if it can recieve/make calls and do SMS I'll be happy with a dumbphone. The only SMART thing I expect from my phone is timed profiles... go to silent at this hour during these days and so on... Beyond that I don't need any other smarts.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A thousand times yes..

    Interesting article.. It certainly resonates here.

    I love my S3, at least the hardware. I don't love all the shitty Samsung cruft, and would far prefer a clean Android like my Nexus 7 has.

    (..and before any muppet suggests Cyanogenmod, no. That is not an adequate replacement for properly supported real Android. It's significantly more buggy than real Android, on both the S3 and my old HTC desire- though necessary on the latter due to the feeble amount of base memory)

    1. Bob Camp

      Re: A thousand times yes..

      Then you need a Nexus 4. A lot of the complaints about "Android" are not about the OS but about the crap the other manufacturers put on top of it.

  27. Bill the Sys Admin

    Choice

    Android is not a mess. Its whatever you want it to be. Which is why I will always use it. Most flexible of the lot.

  28. heynownow

    lost chance

    athisvwasbprecisely the market where webos. had a future, hopefully Ubuntu mobile will someday provided shurtoeworth doesn't eff it up

  29. NBCanuck
    Thumb Up

    Android just works....for me.

    My first Android phone was a Nexus S. I had it for years and the OS was, over time, upgraded from 2.3 to 4.1. It was, and still is, a great phone. When I moved to a Galaxy S3, my wife switched to it from her BB and she loves it. Both my phone and hers continue to work well, and we have each customized our screens to compliment the way we use them.

    I would prefer to have the option of removing some of the apps that Samsung included on the S3, but I simply removed them from view on the screens so I can pretend they are not there. On the other hand

    I like the ability to pop in an SD card....I like the ability to drag and drop movies/pics/music to my device (or from it) and be able to expand the storage as needed.

    Also - S Voice is actually pretty good. When asked "What is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything?" it properly spoke the correct answer. (which I shouldn't have to tell anyone who reads The Reg.)

    1. Anonymous Dutch Coward
      Thumb Up

      The ultimate question!

      There - have an upvote ;)

  30. Irongut

    slick experience

    If WinPho is so slick it must be the market leader, right?

    Oh wait.

    1. The_Regulator

      Retarded comment. Just because it's not the biggest market share doesn't make it bad.

      1. David Simpson 1
        Devil

        No the reviews and lack of sales mean it must be the best ;-)

  31. wowfood
    Joke

    I'm just waiting

    For windows phones to refuse calls from mobiles running android or ios. It would follow their ususal modus operandi.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm waiting for..

    Firefox OS..

    I abandoned Apple when company directors started buying iphones (and macbooks to run windows on ffs).

    Android isn't cool anymore either, both my parents have Android phones now : (

    1. wowfood

      Re: I'm waiting for..

      If a phone becomes cool because other people are buying them, you should totally buy a windows phone.

      1. wowfood
        Facepalm

        Re: I'm waiting for..

        That should have been stops being, not becomes. Stupid tired brain

    2. David Simpson 1
      FAIL

      Re: I'm waiting for..

      Android was never cool, people who use it don't care, cool is for fanboys and hipsters.

  33. Number6

    Too much crud

    I find the phone experience itself to be just fine. However, I'd like to be able to uninstall some of the Google stuff (I don't use Gmail or their contacts), plus the Facebook app and various other things that I've only ever activated to see what they were and then decided they were a waste of space. It may be time to investigate rooting the phone (i.e. it's out of warranty) to see what I can zap.

  34. Jim Wilkinson
    Mushroom

    Not too messy....

    I got a Sony phone and love it. Way better than my iDevice for both pictures and music (which is an absolute delight btw). My 2c worth is that Google does not set any form of standards for apps, unlike the fruit company which actively encouraged its third party software developers to set a high bar. Android apps range from the truly terrific to execrable rubbish and only 3rd party comments can help sort out gold from the dross. Yes, it's a free market but good guidance to developers would help Android raise its game.

    1. wowfood

      Re: Not too messy....

      It'd be nice if andorid did an annual cleanup of their app store too. Y'know, any apps which are over X months old which have a 2 star rating or below gets removed from the store (informing the developer of course) that would definately help weed out some of the chaff

      Unless google do something similar already, i don't really pay much attention.

    2. Craigness

      Re: Not too messy....

      Google already has a load of guidance for devs. I/O 2013 is starting very soon so check out the videos coming from there.

  35. Andy Fletcher

    Don't see anything new

    My Vodafone Sony Ericsson phone was a piece of shit till I put Sony's firmware on it and suddenly it just "worked". Same with pretty much all the handsets I've had actually. I don't see Samsung messing with the OS any different to a network operator doing it. And it always ends up crappier than it should be by definition.

    This was one of the reasons I got a Nexus. Haven't had cause for regret so far.

  36. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Poor

    I guess it's fashionable for people to bash Android using the "fragmentation" straw man. I just don't think it bears up to closer inspection. I don't know anyone who complains about either their version of Android or about the pre-installed apps. The move from Android 2 to 4 on phones seems to following the 2-year contracts that a great many people have but there isn't much difference in practical terms because the API hasn't changed that much in the last couple of years. Sure, some apps don't look as good at some resolutions or on some devices as they do on others but this is largely limited to phone apps running on tablets and I suspect that will start to change as sales of Android tablets continue to rise and developers look to exploit the growing market.

    Studies such as that quoted by Yankee are not worth very much. There seem to be a lot of predictions about the decline of Android in the US but some data does not seem to support that. Now that Akamai is publishing worldwide figures the trends are pretty <a href="http://www.akamai.com/html/io/io_dataset.html#stat=mobile_browser&top=10&type=line&start=20130412&end=20130512&net=m>obvious:</a>Android is over driving over 40 % of browsing on mobile networks; Windows Phone is stuck at 0.6 % far behind Blackberry and even DoCoMo's own hardware. Banging on about the "slickness" of the Windows phone device is getting to sound more and more about banging on about Betamax being better than VHS: it might well be better but not enough to matter.

    The UX versus UI debate reminds me of other interesting discussions by the author of how Nokia got lost spending too much time with focus groups and UX experiments. If it was wrong for Nokia then why is it right Microsoft now? Of course UX is important but I fail to see the huge wins for Windows 8 when you, apparently, still cannot have different volume settings for the ring tone and the speaker. Those who want walled gardens are free buy a Kindle Fire, the rest of us seem to manage fine.

  37. sisk Silver badge

    I disagree with this entire article. I happen to love the end user experience offered by Android. Apple's offering is, in my opinion, a pain in the ass. It might be easier to use for the technically inept, but for me trying to get an iOS device, of any size, to do what I want is an exercise in frustration thanks to their locked down nature.

    1. eulampios

      iOS device activation

      plus I can't even activate it, they won't let you do it on any free OS, like GNU/Linux or *BSD.

  38. Ralph B
    IT Angle

    Two Browsers Bad

    Well, if the Wall Street Journal thinks that having two browsers on Android is "incoherent", then what will they think of the four I have on my iOS device? And there's plenty more in the app store.

    When did choice become a bad thing?

    1. Craigness

      Re: Two Browsers Bad

      Choosing to have 4 is different to being given 2 when you expect 1. I had 2 Maps/Navigation apps on my first Android. It took me a while to work that out and I could never remember which one to go to get specific functionality. There were 2 news apps too.

  39. oliver Stieber

    The real problem with Android

    The real problem with Android isn't the existing fragmentation and it isn't even old hardware (that will get binned)

    The real problem with Android is the fragmentation that Google introduced from the ord go and hasn't yet fixed, dispite hardware being much better and Andrd now being on 4.x.

    The problem is:

    Android was designed to run 'java', well, actually it's not 'java' it's just some propriatary thing that looks quite a lotl ike java but isn't. The glaring consequence is all that existing stuff needs a lot of work to port it when on symbian there wasn't such an issue.

    Android was designed with a 'c' library, well actually it's not even 'standard c', that looks a lot like a c library, but you've guesed it, it's a propriatary library not like any c library you know. The glaring consequence is that even open source c code isn't really getting ported to android, there are a few exceptions.

    Also the Kernel is also setup almost like a typical linux, but again not quite.

    So it may well be that Android is a flaky fragmented excuse for a proverbial with a dia lackof apps and that are poor substitutes for commonly available software at best, nearly useless at worst (and that includes pre-installed stuff). An OS that can't download from the internet and has no file browser... It may be all of those things, but you know that's because Google took the propriatary root and borked everything they could possibly imagine in the first place, if they had have stuck with standards complaince, or even impleented it later as they went on.. there would be a plethara of professional quality software up and running like a dream on it.

    1. Neil Alexander
      WTF?

      Re: The real problem with Android

      "Android was designed to run 'java', well, actually it's not 'java' it's just some propriatary thing that looks quite a lotl ike java but isn't. The glaring consequence is all that existing stuff needs a lot of work to port it when on symbian there wasn't such an issue."

      Did you ever try programming anything on Symbian? It was awful. Making use of the Java language was one of the smartest things the Android development team could have done - make use of existing programming knowledge and remove a number of scary low-level considerations.

  40. fuzzie
    WTF?

    Perspective of a recent Android

    I'm a recent convert to Android from a now aged Nokia N8. I wanted to avoid all the overlay crap, but want an SD card (unlimited data plans aren't available here). I got the Sony Xperia Z, mostly due to the build quality, quite decent camera (the N8 had spoilt me) and very light overlay and I'm quite happy with it.

    It didn't take long to discover many of the basics I'd assumed would be in a modern phone, either weren't there or were hobbled. No USB Mass Storage (a Sony add-on enables it for the SD card). Apps can't be moved to SD card any more. Bluetooth car kits widely broken, PBAP fragile, A2DP quality sucks, VoIP phone calls/music/map directions/etc only route to stereo headsets. SMS delivery notification bugs open since 2009. You can't set SMS/MMS validity times any more. I discovered Android never supported GSM video calls...so no more calls to my folks' dumb phones. Apps can fix some of the issues, others are missing from the base OS and can't be patched. These are not Sony-related, they're in base Android, I've trawled through Android source code to look for fixes/workarounds.

    Google's happy to push Android anywhere that'll generate data and/or advertising eyeballs. The Bluetooth issues are new to Jelly Bean, but haven't been addressed at all. The handset manufactures are in a corner, they can spend loads of engineering time fixing the issues, but then every time Google does a code drop they get to start the process from scratch again.

    1. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Perspective of a recent Android

      These are not Sony-related

      At least some of them are. I've had 4 Android devices now (2 tablets and 2 phones). They all supported USB mass storage out of the box through the interface built into Android itself. Apps CAN be moved to the SD card with Android, though most manufacturers (or at least Motorola, Samsung, and B&N -- one of my tablets began it's life as a Nook) remove that capability when they build their stock ROMs. Both of my phones, a Motorola Droid and a Galaxy S2, have gotten along quite well with the Bluetooth built into my car, including PBAP, and the music I stream to my car via A2DP is equal to the quality I get from playing a CD. My VoIP calls work just like any other phone call. I can't speak to GSM video calls as basically everyone I know had smart phones already by the time I broke down and got one.

      1. fuzzie

        Re: Perspective of a recent Android

        I'm happy it's working for you as it obviously is for millions of others. I'm not unhappy with the phone, I've just learned not to assume anything and do my homework.

        I specifically called out items for which I'd actually done the research, to the point of trawling the Android forums and source code at times, and where they've been confirmed to exist in existing Nexus devices.

    2. David Simpson 1
      FAIL

      Re: Perspective of a recent Android

      That's because no one uses any of that pointless crap anymore, you don't need bluetooth with a mount and speakerphone, you have many different ways of video calling, and most Android phones do have USB mass storage.

    3. os2baba

      Re: Perspective of a recent Android

      I'm not familiar with the phone. What do you mean "no usb storage"? Since 4.0 (I think), Android uses MTP for mounting. It has the advantage of the phone and the PC both being able to use the storage simultaneously. It has the disadvantage of not being able to use folder tools like checking tree size etc. Are you saying that on the Xperia Z, you get neither the USB storage or MTP (both built into Windows)?

      That's right, Apps can't be moved to SD anymore. A big mistake IMO and I find all of Google's reasons totally lame. This was a solution for a problem that never existed. But as often with Android, there are solutions. I use DirectoryBind (http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1410262). Check it out.

      I have no idea what problem you are having with Bluetooth. That's worked on every Android phone I have used from the G1 running Android 1.0. I believe you are right about the music only working with stereo bluetooth headsets, but I can't see much point in not listening to music through a stereo headset if you are using a headset at all. I'm currently using a Samsung Galaxy S2, a Galaxy S3, a Nexus 4. All running Jelly Bean. And none of them have any bluetooth issues.

      I use Google Voice. So have no idea what SMS validity timestamps are. Never used MMS. Never saw the need for it when I can use mail. I don't know anyone who's got a phone, but not an email address.

      I have also never heard of GSM Video calls.

  41. Big_Boomer
    Holmes

    You pays yer money,...

    I currently prefer Android, even the messy Samsung/HTC/Sony crapped on versions. I've tried a Nokia WinPho and yes it's slick but really limiting in how to do things. The Apples are overpriced and too locked down for me and also suffer from an image problem (and no, there isn't an app for that!). Android I can customise to my hearts content, I can root and CM it, or I can just remove the dross and add the apps/widgets that I want. I can run WiFi Analysers and other stuff that Apple won't permit for whatever reason, and if I want to run something that isn't Google approved, then I flick a switch, install an APK file and then flick it back. (Yes I check the App security first). Most of my friends are Droid users and we don't laugh too loud at the iOS users,... unless they are out of earshot. I've yet to use BB10 but I have an open mind and will try anything once. When the next big thing comes along, I'll wait for the marketing hype to die and then choose the one that best suits me. I currently have an S2 (work phone), a rooted/CM'ed HTC Desire, and a Note 10.1".

  42. Schultz

    Chaos breads creativity

    The article raises some good point, but I think the tone is too negative. The many UIs and apps in Android are irritating and it may be hard to find the right configuration for a phone. But with time the best solutions survive and the user experience improves. In this sense the comparison to the early Windows ecosystem is a good one. That also started out quite ugly but it improved continually, mostly based on third party innovations.

    1. eulampios

      Re: Chaos breads creativity

      ..but I think the tone is too negative.

      This is the same tone that sounds usually positive when singing about Apple, Microsoft et al, being negative about Android, Linux, FOSS and Wikipedia. Like in this ode to the "rounded corners" .

  43. Tyrion
    Meh

    The Nexus line of devices annihilates the competition ( iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone, etc ). Once you've used one, Microsoft's metro seems like a kids toy, and Apple's iOS a creaking old ship.

  44. Richard Lloyd
    Meh

    Vanilla Android is probably the best mobile OS out there at the moment

    As far as i'm concerned, vanilla Android (i.e. a Nexus device or a rooted ROM like CyanogenMod) is the best mobile OS on the market at the moment. You can run it well with all the defaults, it has a ton of customisations (even more on CM) and you don't have to give all your money to Samsung either :-)

    I now have 5 Android-running devices and all of them have been rooting/ROMmed (yes, even my Nexus devices) and they provide an excellent user experience. Sadly, only a few percent of the market go the Nexus and/or rooted ROM route - the 90%+ of the rest are suffering from carrier bloatware that I really wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

    Even the very nice HTC One has bloaty rubbish on it that you can't uninstall (why not - bloatware is 50% more tolerable if you can uninstall it). Even Windows bloatware can be removed with some effort, so this is utterly appalling behaviour from the carriers/manufacturers.

  45. Kevin 6

    Own a Samsung Tab 2 7in, and honestly it works pretty good IMO. Does everything I expected, and a bit more.

    Will say though Samsung did piss me off when it pushed a update that changed the UI, and gave no option to skip it. I had to find an old image online, fiddle with software to revert the OS, then was forced to root the device(as it tried updating again...), and had to change a couple of settings so the update auto fails. Still kind of annoyed having to hit update daily(cause it will popup at random when in use) just to see a failure message, but I don't blame google at all for it, or Andriod that fault lies purely on samsung.

  46. mIRCat
    Paris Hilton

    It's comments like that...

    "I can't see Google transforming Android into the kind of slick experience you get on Windows Phone today."

    That make me curious about what I'm missing.

    But it's said ignorance is bliss.

  47. tempemeaty
    WTF?

    Between the lines

    What? It's almost like Levy's trying to give a good old boys blue blood, off handed, hand up to Microsoft here. It kind of smells inbred.

    Analyst Ben Evanshen seems to intone that when the Data collection "Bubble" bursts...Google no longer has any need for Android. It sounds to me like he's saying don't expect Android to always be there. Perhaps Samsung is right in building an alternative Linux OS?

    1. David Simpson 1
      FAIL

      Re: Between the lines

      Where would it go ? Search is hardly going to vanish it is Google's main business - Analysts are generally full of it.

  48. Madboater

    Google don't care about Android

    They care about people's default action is to search. They want a "search appliance" within arms reach of its products (er sorry, Users) at all times.

    All Android does for Google is makes smart phones cheap enough for everyone to have one, so they are carrying around a "search appliance" at all times.

    If apple sold their iPhone at a lower price so that everyone could afford one, or Microsoft also didn't want a bigger cut of the search market, Google would not have bothered with a Mobile OS.

    Google will however continue to invest in Android, to keep it relevant until such time it can equally monitise another system.

  49. Spanners Silver badge
    Happy

    My biggest reason for using Android?

    It;s not Apple.

    Of course swopping to another OS is possible - just not IOS.

  50. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah! And Double Bah!

    Here we go again.

    "People use Android in spite of the end user experience, not because of it. "

    Here I see the comment of someone filtering real-world sales figures past his own wolrdview and issuing a bewildered conclusion that has never been fact-checked against the sample he is "analyzing" so deftly.

    Why do I say that? I don't own an android device (Well, a Kindle but everyone knows that doesn't count). Because if you swap the word "Android" with "Windows" you have the rallying cry of the Linux community trying to explain why ten years in their predictions of a massive inroad into the Microsoft desktop market were still not coming true.

    I don't really care about this, but it seems to me that the intelligent way to start trying to overhaul Andriod would be to find out the *real* reasons (plural) why people want to use it now rather than trying to clone the Apple experience so many are walking away from by choice.

    Good word that, choice. Having more than one app to do something isn't bad per se, it's having multiple apps that are crap. This is what Nintendo understood to have killed the console game market for Atari - the flood of crap software - and why they defended their brand so viciously in the first days of the NES. This approach coupled with aggressive marketing and vision for what the product should be and what it should provide re-launched the console game market, certainly in America, where it had been dead for over a decade.

    Which is the long way of saying that before anyone puts fingers to keyboard they should find out what people would like from their Android devices that they don't get now and form a coherent plan for delivering those things without getting so in love with the cleverness the job balloons outside of the plan boundaries. Put out something that looks like what people want and what you said you were going to do about it. Afterwards, plan to add in the cleverness but only if people want it.

    Never happen.

  51. FlingoBingo
    Thumb Down

    Smoking crack

    Since when was being able to choose where to shop a bad thing? If I bought a computer and it only let me buy things from Amazon I'd be sending it back.

  52. schnide
    FAIL

    "Android today is like Microsoft's Windows 3.1 was twenty years ago. Nobody loves it."

    What is this crap? Plenty of people love it, and I'm one of them. Android is fantastic, and gives me far more usability and functionality than Apple and iOS could ever dream of.

  53. thecapsaicinkid
    Stop

    Unless you're talking about 4.2.2 on the Nexus 4, you're really not talking about Android.

  54. HarryDevlin

    The fragmentation is an issue, especially if you use several different Android devices and each is different.

    OTOH, the tremendous advantages of the Android platform over iOS, as well as the superior device features are well worth the slight inconvenience of fragmentation.

    Apple can harp on fragmentation all they want, but what they really need to be working on is to address all the issues with iOS devices and remove, or at least lower, some of the walls they've put up.

  55. Peter 6
    FAIL

    Sorry but....

    ....I refuse to listen to a man who a couple of years ago confidently predicted that Blackberry was going to rule the earth.

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