back to article Back to the Fuchsia: The next 10 years of Android

In Part One we described how, after 10 years, Android was uncannily similar to Windows after 20 years. But similar is not the same. Android is like Windows in as much as it's dominant – and also anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code. The platform owner is accused of all kinds of …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

    Aren't you embarrassed posting this?

    I stopped reading at this point.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

      Why would he be - he's not responsible for the situation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

        What "situation"? An entirely made up one to sell sensationalist news stories and advertising clicks?

        When was the last time you heard of real world Android problems? Pretending it's the new Windows is just idiotic. There are many differences. Secure sand-boxing, locked down by default application store and a far more modern architecture. Despite over 2 billion active devices, where exactly are these problems and what exactly is the "situation"?

        If the "situation" is fragmentation, this is another lame bandwagon. Android is not like iOS, you don't need to run the latest operating system to get the latest system apps, you don't need to run the latest operating system version to get the latest patches, you don't need to run the latest operating system to run the latest store apps, and you don't need to run the latest operating system to get the latest Google services.. So what exactly is this fragmentation? It's clickbait invented by someone that thinks all operating systems are serviced the same way.

        1. ArrZarr Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

          Not sure what your point is here.

          The platform is fragmented because of the number of people running older versions of the OS because the OEMs don't provide updates for the lifetime of the device.

          Due to OEMs not providing updates, security patches don't get applied for the majority of devices, making most of them insecure.

          Now, I'll buy and android device over an iPhone any day of the week but these are legitimate concerns with the platform.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

            Older version does not mean it doesn't have the latest security updates. That is the fundamental issue here.

            The false belief that by not having the latest version of Android, you are somehow more at risk, or unable to run something that newer versions can run. Both of these of course are almost entirely untrue. Google patch all the way back to 4.4 every month, and many manufacturers patch their devices with these patches, as the pain of testing and upgrading is far to complex, likely to slow down and introduce new problems.

            Look at the mess iOS has, where every new version of iOS is forced upon existing users of older devices, making them run slow and crappy, and forcing them into buying new hardware upgrades.. I'm glad Android manufacturers only do full version upgrades when it makes technical sense to do so.. Sorry if that doesn't fit with the hidden agenda.

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

              Do Google really still patch all the way back to 4.4 even if they themselves restrict their own updates for their own devices to two years?

              Here are some more devs having trouble finding security patch backports.

            2. Rakkor

              Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

              Google may well patch their OS, but they don't apply their patches to the devices they sell. My Nexus 7 tablet was running with a security patch date of 5th August 2016 on Android 6.0.1 until I installed Lineage on it, and now I'm getting patches every month.

            3. wheelybird

              Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

              Google might well patch 4.4 and beyond each month, but it's up to the OEMs to take that patch and distribute it to the phones they sold. You might possibly have a phone that's getting these regular updates two or three years after the launch of the phone. You might, but not many other people do.

              So if security's your thing then your phone has an effective life of a couple of years at most.

              Sure, you can carry on using your phone after updates have ended; apps themselves will continue to get updates up until the point that the version of Android you're stuck on is no longer supported by Google's app store.

              At this point you might be lucky and have a phone that you can flash with a newer, community-supported version of Android. That's only going to work for a couple of Android version updates because you're stuck on a specific kernel version because the OEM only ever gave binary blob drivers to support the hardware, and so you can't move on to versions that require a newer kernel.

              Bear in mind that realistically phone hardware hasn't evolved that much in the last two or three years, and so now you've got a phone in which the hardware is perfectly good but is rendered obsolete by the inability to upgrade the software. Time for a new phone, but deca-core instead of octa-core because, you know, those two cores really help when watching YouTube or browsing Twitter.

            4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

              Older version does not mean it doesn't have the latest security updates. That is the fundamental issue here.

              (Yes - I know I'm probably replying to a Google shill busily trolling us..)

              For the vast amount of the Android ecosystem the situation is precisely as described. Name me a manufacturer/carrier that patches their phones after two years?

              Yes - there are a few (WilyFox I think still do) but the majority f carriers and manufacturers are far, far more interested in selling you the latest shiny than patching old code. So, sure, Google may well produce patches for Android 4.4 but no carrier on earth is going to spend time updating devices that old - so your argument is specious and fails.

            5. WolfFan Silver badge

              Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

              Look at the mess iOS has, where every new version of iOS is forced upon existing users of older devices, making them run slow and crappy, and forcing them into buying new hardware upgrades.. I'm glad Android manufacturers only do full version upgrades when it makes technical sense to do so.. Sorry if that doesn't fit with the hidden agenda.

              Interesting. My iPhone 6 is an older model, dating from 2014. It has the latest version of iOS: 11.1.2. I haven't noticed it being particularly slow or crappy. Several people around here have iPhone 5Ss. They don't seem slow or crappy under 11.x either. Indeed, this was the opinion of the folks at Ars Technica: https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2017/09/ios-11-on-the-iphone-5s-slower-but-not-quite-slow/ Please note that the time increases shown for loading various things are in fractions of a second, except for loading Maps where it's a whole second, and cold-booting the phone, where it's 12 whole seconds. You may feel that this is 'slow and crappy', but John Public does not. Especially as John Public doesn't reboot the phone very often, usually only when there's an upgrade to the OS requiring a boot. Hmm. I guess that John Public would be rebooting iPhone 5Ss more often than Android phones, 'cause Android phones rarely get updates while iPhones get them often. Some people, however, are willing to live with a 12 second delay once a month in exchange for upgraded systems. YMMV.

              It used to be that upgrading the OS could slow down iPhones mightily, as noted in the same Ars Tech article cited above. Those times have, it would seem, passed. In the meantime, Android remains fragmented as many vendors simply do not upgrade devices. This site https://data.apteligent.com/ios/ shows market share for versions of iOS. 97% of the userbase is on iOS 9, 10, and 11, with a massive 66% on 10. If devs ignore 9 and below, they are selling to 84% of the market. Meanwhile over at Android, that picture changes: https://data.apteligent.com/android/ Just look at that mess. Given the security updates in later versions of Android, it's really disgraceful that so many users are still on known problematic versions of Android.

              Google may patch as far back as KitKat, but some people here are still on Android phones with KitKat, and have never received an update of any kind. Many of them will be updating their phones. Few will be updating to newer Android phones.

              1. Yavoy

                Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

                Those who have kitkat phones still are probably short of cash,and so have little choice but to buy an Android phone.

                For me personally I find the 100 dollar vernee thor with 5 inch screen, 3 gb ram, and expandable storage perfectly adequate. It started off with marshmallow, before being upgraded to nougat. In a year or two when the patches run out I'll buy a more modern phone for another hundred dollars, and upgrade that in a couple of years. For me personally I find that for day to day usage the difference between this phone and a flagship is marginal in terms of user experience.

                So for the 1000 dollars that I would pay for an iPhone x, I could fund myself a new phone every two years for 20 years (assuming things continue as they are). That is why the lack of continuous support doesn't particularly bother me.

                If you are looking at the iPhone x vs the galaxy note, I think the lack of continuous updates is an issue. But then again I doubt most people who buy an iPhone x ate going to be keeping it for more than two or three iterations of iPhone anyway.

                1. WolfFan Silver badge

                  Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

                  Those who have kitkat phones still are probably short of cash,and so have little choice but to buy an Android phone.

                  Nah. They bought a phone on the company approved list, none of which are cheapies. They just bought it a long time ago, and it still works, so they haven't replaced it. Given the lack of support on some phones, the approved list has been trimmed considerably. There are still Android phones on it, but not many.

                  Anyone who buys a phone on the approved list gets some company money towards paying for it, the exact amount depending on which phone. Anyone who buys a phone not on the approved list doesn't get to connect to the company network. We're not saying that users can't buy some $30 landfill Android phone running Honeycomb or Gingerbread or whatever. We're saying that if they do, they ain't connecting to this network.

        2. rmason Silver badge

          Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

          Have you ever touched an android phone?

          Each and every manufacturer uses their own "flavour". Each and every vendor takes varying time to apply updates (sometimes they never do). they each have different UIs, different "uninstallable" bits and different focus to each other.

          Android is the best fit for me personally, but to pretend these very real things are "not a thing" is daft.

          1. Dr Mantis Toboggan
            FAIL

            Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

            The point is, you pay your money and take your choice.

            if running the latest and greatest Android is important to you, you shop appropriately. If you want something that you throw in the bin every 18 months and buy new, shop appropriately.

            Don't be a cretin and confuse the two.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

              But what if you want the latest and greatest Android that will STAY the latest and greatest for its useful like of, say, five years?

        3. RyokuMas Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

          "Pretending it's the new Windows is just idiotic"

          I could go over the whole thing about how people obtain apps and how Google police (or fail to) the Play store, but it's obvious where your loyalties lie...

          ... so keep drinking that kool-aid, sticking your fingers in your ears and singing "La la la not listening!"

      2. rmason Silver badge

        Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

        I'm an android user, all of those things are true. Which is why he/she has written them down.

        hope to help.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

          @AC

          If you don't think there is a problem, then why the hell do you think Google have tried so hard to rectify it, with Silver edition phones, the Nexus and Pixel lines, and the long overdue modularity of Project Treble in Android Oreo?

          I'm not going by what I've read - the inherent architecture of Android that has traditionally made updating reliant on a multi-partner process of binary blobs and roll-outs means that I have Android tablets stuck on versions (3.x, 4.2) that demonstrably do not run the apps I want them to.

          1. matjaggard

            Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

            Yes, the "problem" with Android is that it doesn't make Google enough money.

            1. FIA

              Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

              Yes, the "problem" with Android is that it doesn't make Google enough money.

              Basically. Yes.

              Why continue to spend huge resources developing something that returns you no investment now it's initial job is done?

              Once you have the market a 'from the ground up, yet compatible' replacement that still allows the mass data collection without providing a 'free' platform for your rivals to capitalise on seems to make sense.

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

                1. Mark 110 Silver badge

                  Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

                  Shadmeister - you're a genius. I feel like an f_ing idiot with my A4 pad now :-(

                  1. This post has been deleted by its author

                    1. Mark 110 Silver badge

                      Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

                      @Shad - No tablet here. My Lenovo Yoga can act like one if you fold it over but my use cases have been limited to proof reading documents. I've never see the need for one - my phone does what I might use a tablet for (email / web).

                      I genuinely do use an A4 pad for office stuff that I see people taking twice as long to do with a tablet.

                2. ThomH Silver badge

                  @Shadmeister Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, ...

                  You should consider a Boogie Board Sync. Boogie Boards in general are cheap paper-sized eraseable boards that use an electronic means for self-erasing. The Boogie Board Sync is a 9.7" eraseable surface that also saves whatever you write as PDF. It has no screen — you're still making analogue marks on an analogue surface that can be manipulated only by the external use of pressure, there are no pixels, no refresh rates, no way to review a saved PDF directly on the document. But everything's preserved for you to sync to a computer later.

                  I don't think they're officially distributed in the UK though. A quick Amazon check shows availability for $100 in the US, one marketplace offer in the UK for £146.52. So close to twice as expensive. I chanced upon them in Hong Kong airport but no longer recall the price there.

                  1. This post has been deleted by its author

              2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

                Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

                "Once you have the market a 'from the ground up, yet compatible' replacement that still allows the mass data collection without providing a 'free' platform for your rivals to capitalise on seems to make sense."

                If it is compatible, there's no reason for developers to write apps solely for the new platform or for consumers to buy your phones rather than those of vendors who are now your direct competitors. If it is not fully compatible, you may just find that all the other vendors continue to run with something more AOSP-like and make a big point about "compatibility" in their advertising.

                I'm not sure how Google expect to ever make money out of "controlling" a phone platform when even MS have discovered that unless you are also fully compatible with a platform that you don't (and cannot) control, you can't sell the kit.

    2. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Unfortunately it's true

      The "security features" of Android only secure business models. (i.e. having no official way of getting a root shell)

      It's _far_ to complex for the little functionality it provides, resulting in many security critial problems... which won't get fixed as all changes have to go through the chipset manfuacturers since Google didn't bother defining a hardware platform.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: anarchic, fragmented, insecure, with a user base that lags far behind the latest code.

      I used to have an Android phone. It ran an older version of the system, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, I forget which. I do know that it was never upgraded. It was, simply, never, ever, upgraded for as long as I had it. There were several annoying bugs, not least being its tendency to simply freeze without warning and without outward sign. I would find out it was frozen when I attempted to use it. I would have no idea how long it had been frozen. While it was frozen it did not accept incoming calls. I became aware of this only after missing several important calls. I checked on the vendor's site and discovered that the freezing problem was a known bug, and that the fix was to install a newer version of the system. The problem was that the vendor declined to provide a method to install the newer version, that the carrier declined to provide a method to install the newer version, and that Google declined to provide a method to install the newer version. The only solution was to buy new hardware. I elected to do exactly that: I bought an iPhone 5S. My phone still works, and still uses the current version of the system. I did not have to do anything special to get it. I'll probably be buying a new phone next year, as the 5S probably won't work with the new system, but I'll have got five years out of it so I can't really complain. My new phone will probably be another iPhone.

      I purchased and use an iPhone not because I am particularly enamored of Apple, but because the anarchic, fragmented, Android culture does not adequately support many, possibly most, Android devices. You may not like the fact that Android is extremely fragmented. This does not change that fact in the least.

  2. Dave 126 Silver badge

    The creator of Apple's Swift language went to Google a little while back.

    https://www.theverge.com/google/2017/11/20/16681556/apple-swift-language-google-fuchsia-os-open-source

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ironic, as Google's self-built and barely functional build tools mean that they still use Objective-C for most iOS development.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'm interested in how you know that. Do you work for Google?

  3. Chz

    Android One

    True the initial offerings weren't all that, but Xiaomi has a new Android One phone that's phenomenal value for money. Which is nothing new for Xiaomi, but what is new is having global radio bands and an OS that's base Android and updated by Google. You can pick up a Mi A1 for around £160 if you shop around and it's actually *officially* supported in Europe. £160 for SD625, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage and a base Android experience with guaranteed updates is really unbeatable in the value sector.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Android One

      and a base Android experience with guaranteed updates

      I'll believe that when I see it two or three years down the line. Many Android makers have promised ongoing support, the evidence of those promises being honoured is not good.

      Having said that, I've got Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X that has very, very, very similar hardware specs (and price) to the Mi A1, and I can assure prospective purchasers that it works exceptionally well. I'll happily recommend the brand, and if I lost or broke my 4X, I'd buy another Xiaomi immediately.

      Obviously you need to consider that the device will have been backdoored for the PLA, if only because of their wish to spy in the Chinese home market. Whether the prospect of the PLA listening in to you telling the wife you'll be late home matters is up to you. Arguably in our choices of phone we're simply choosing who is likely to be spying on us.

      1. Chz

        Re: Android One

        I believe they *are* the same phone, with the exception of a different radio.

        It's Google promising the updates, in this case. Granted, that tends to mean you're in the dark after 2 years but at least you get regular security updates and Oreo is supposed to drop for it within the month.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Android One

          Oreo is more modular than previous versions, in theory allowing updates to be created without ODM binary blobs, so it should hopefully result updates being supplied for longer.

          See: Project Treble

      2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Android One

        and a base Android experience with guaranteed updates

        I'll believe that when I see it two or three years down the line.

        From this link from mi.com

        "Mi A1 ships with Android Nougat, and will receive 2 years minimum of OS upgrades"

      3. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: Android One

        "Whether the prospect of the PLA listening in to you telling the wife you'll be late home matters is up to you."

        What a cynically dismissive summary of security and privacy controversy that was.

      4. Morten Bjoernsvik

        Re: Android One

        My previous employer's public root-ca expired in may 2016, It was upgraded according to plan a few months before it expired. But android 4.2 and below was not updated. We had to manually create a little app to import the new root-ca into android's truststore as a X509 v3 ca.

  4. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Smartphone rather than the OS

    I am not a smartphone user and I am looking at this from the outside.

    It does seem to me, though, that smartphone users buy the device rather than the OS. Unlike with Windows, people *wanted* Windows so that they could use Office or play Half Life, the computer just came along with it. The software was the important thing.

    Smartphones do more or less the same thing. Does anyone have a killer app that can only be used on one OS?

    It seems to me that since the devices themselves are the central element to having a smartphone, the manufacturers could very easily seize control. If Samsung were to develop their own smartphone OS that was good enough, I don't think that many Android users would object to the new OS, as long as enough of necessary apps were ported over and Android would die a slow death.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Smartphone rather than the OS

      For an illustration of a phone OS that had *many* but not *all* apps available to it, look no further than Windows Phone. Even just the chance that your new phone might not run [ favourite niche app] might put a prospective buyer off.

      Samsung do have their own phone OS, but they don't have full replacements for all Google's services. Samsung phones ship with their own version of many Google apps - eg a Samsung email client, map app, app store etc. - which gave the impression they were at least considering dumping Android as a contingency plan (or using the threat of doing so as a bargaining chip).

    2. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: Smartphone rather than the OS

      " Smartphones do more or less the same thing. Does anyone have a killer app that can only be used on one OS? "

      How about "all the apps that I've already bought and don't want to have to pay for replacements for"?

      For several iterations, iOS was the best option for video and realtime audio, because the abstraction layer in Android made syncing massively problematic. Even a simple drumkit app in Android could be useless because of the unpredictable lag between the user's finger making physical contact with a hotzone and the device playing the sound, which would differ across devices.

      Major audio software and hardware producers refused to support Android because they didn't want the blame for the OS's weaknesses.

      Now that's a thing that's firmly in the past, and all major audio device manufacturers support both platforms, but it has left me very dubious about Android support even this far on. (Plus, I'm tooled up with iOS apps, as I say, so I'm reluctant to leave the ecosystem and start afresh...)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smartphone rather than the OS

      Most PC never had the "cool" factor, especially the beige boxes. Only a few Apple models had it. But by them Intel had won the CPU war (eventually, Apple had to capitulate too...).

      Still, under the hood people wanted the newer and fastest CPU, or graphic card - "Oh, you have a 386SX? Slow, compared to my 486DX...". You knew some software, especially games, wouldn't run with the wrong hardware.

      Apple was able to play its card again with the smartphone - it turned it into a status symbol (and it's much easier to show off with a smartphone than a desktop PC...), so yes, some people choose devices because they show their "status" (true, or pretended) as well - even if under the hood is still mostly the same ARM processors and a bunch of the same chips.

      But the availability of applications isn't secondary. Today, people need to be "socialites" and "chat" with their groups, so the lack of some widespread applications can hurt. Maybe many people won't complain if an ephemeris applications to plan landscape photos is lacking, but it they can't control their IoT stuff or their bank doesn't have an app for their phone, they can change it.

      Developers will target the OS with more users and thereby prospective sales - only a few will target less used OSes. Look at what happened with Windows Phone. Or, looking back for a Windows comparison, to OS/2. Even Linux is not appealing to most desktop applications developers, and thereby still lags greatly behind Windows and macOS.

      Samsung can make its own OS, but it would have to compel developers to bring their applications there, or make them itself. Others failed at that in the past, especially when there are big established players. Even Palm failed when it switched from PalmOS to WebOS - fully rewriting applications is never appealing to devs.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: and it doesn't make money from Android.

    Directly yes but indirectly they sure do.

    The almost obig need for almost every website out there these days needing to use 'googleapis' makes every device (phone, tablet, watch, pc) that uses the internet a source of data which Google can make money from.

    I have around 10 dummy email accounts that I use when logging onto sites around the internet. It is easy to track those that 'leak' data to Google. I really don't want to feed their insatiable appetite for data.

    I won't go near Gmail or anything google if I can help it. It does mean that since the demise of Windows phones (with support) I am pretty much forced into the Apple camp. As a phone it works and does what I want from it and so far the dummy account I used to setup iCloud has not been passed onto others. Probably only a matter of time though.

    We just have to accept that we are not users of Android/iOS/windows, we are subjects that need milking of data for use by other people for good or bad. Once you accept that you just have to get on with life. Even so, I will continue to use anything with a Google brand or url as little as possible.

    1. Permidion

      Re: re: and it doesn't make money from Android.

      there is at least one other alternative to Android and iOS, why not trying it ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: re: and it doesn't make money from Android.

      >I won't go near Gmail or anything google if I can help it.

      for the same reasons then you must completely avoid using Facebook, twitter, linked-in etc etc.

      And more so because if you ever logon to a 3rd party app or web site, using your g+/facebook/twitter logon, you are (unwittingly) agreeing to share your account information, and all the data collected, with those sites and apps too.

      In Googles favour, they do at least let you view all the data they hold about you, and let you delete anything you'd rather not see there (Facebook and the others don't).

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: re: and it doesn't make money from Android.

        "for the same reasons then you must completely avoid using Facebook, twitter, linked-in etc etc."

        You say that as though it might present a problem, rather than a win-win situation?

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge
      WTF?

      Re: re: and it doesn't make money from Android.

      "The almost obig need for almost every website out there these days needing to use 'googleapis' ..."

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: re: and it doesn't make money from Android.

      I personally don't really care. So Google, Microsoft, Facebook etc. know everything about me. But they also know everything about 2 billion other people. There not exactly going to start stalking me specifically. I'm not particularly important, nor do I do anything particularly illegal. Why would they focus on me?

      I view it as a relatively useful relationship. You provide me with useful services. I provide you with useful data.

      For somebody who does have reasons why people might spy on him though, these concerns are legitimate though.

  6. tiggity Silver badge

    su mode

    Given the phone makers do not live up to their provide updates for a while part of the deal (or cheat by having early release date but product not readily available for mainstream purchase for ages after, so only need to provide upgrades for small chunk of retail life - IMHO upgrades should be for 18 months after model is no longer readily retail available NOT just 18 months from release)

    How about giving ability to temporarily have root privileges to remove the phone maker / mobile operator installed dross (and lots of users would probably wnat to do a HOSTS tweak to block lots of dubious ad sites properly).

    Temporary elevation would be great for most people to remove the junk (as current permanent rooting methods need a bit of technical knowledge and can leave people with a bricked phone if they screw up)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Dictaphone Function Right Out The Box!

    ...even Windows Mobile had that. I hate Android.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No Dictaphone Function Right Out The Box!

      Depends whose phone you buy. Mine came with a straightforward sound recorder app pre-installed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No Dictaphone Function Right Out The Box!

        Android is yet another consumer device. Like your Telly. I guess that's my point - an OS should be immediately useful and should ship with a basic set of useful functions right out of the box - Calender, Dictaphone and a Programming Language etc. I'm no fan of Microsoft but early Windows versions shipped with Quickbasic... now you have to pay big bucks to get a simple programming language installed. Arcane open-source object oriented languages don't really count, the great thing about Basic was it easy to get it doing something useful fast. You could argue local files could be edited using Total Commander, programmed in Java and loaded by the browser but that's hardly easily applicable for file or data manipulation on the Android itself.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: No Dictaphone Function Right Out The Box!

          "now you have to pay big bucks to get a simple programming language installed."

          Any particular language you were thinking of? All the ones I want to use are free.

        2. Trilkhai

          Re: No Dictaphone Function Right Out The Box!

          "an OS should be immediately useful and should ship with a basic set of useful functions right out of the box"

          The problem there is that what qualifies as 'basic' & 'useful' varies a great deal between people based on their career, talent & interests.

    2. rmason Silver badge

      Re: No Dictaphone Function Right Out The Box!

      Odd, I've never come across a single recent (or elderly for that matter) smart phone that doesn't have voice recording built in.

      They've always had it, and always offered (no doubt) the choice of many hundreds of apps to use it.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fix the Android IDE !

    I see no major advance from the IDEs I used to develop for Windows 20 years ago to the IDE I use to develop for Android now. Indeed, MFC made it easier to connect controls to data than Android does, for example.

    I would rather Google remedy this and give us an IDE that does the chores that developers are STILL forced to do ( and fix the stupid problems with Fragments ), than try and shift everyone to a new OS.

    1. Def Silver badge

      Re: Fix the Android IDE !

      I disagree. Visual Studio from 20 years ago was still better than Android Studio is today. (In some respects Visual Studio from 20 years ago is better than Visual Studio today, but I digress...)

      Part of this problem is the fact that it's Linux sitting underneath the Java layer. Linux development tools are still woefully inadequate compared to Visual Studio today. I'm not saying Visual Studio is perfect - it's far from it. But it is still light years ahead of anything else out there. Especially where debugging is concerned. (And cue Linux fan boy downvoters... Truth hurts sometimes, huh? ;)

      I've heard it rumoured that Android Studio 3 is better than 2, but to be honest, I try to avoid working on Android if at all possible these days. Our engine is cross platform (iOS, tvOS, MacOS, Android, Windows) so most of the time I can happily work in Visual Studio. (XCode isn't much better than Android Studio most of the time.)

      The one thing that concerns me is Fuschia is supposedly written in C, C++, Dart, Go, Python, and Rust. Which immediately suggests to me that the supplied IDE is going be another mish mash of bullshit cobbled together into something that nearly but not quite completely fails to work adequately most of the time.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fix the Android IDE !

      Google is not in the market to sell development tools. It will get whatever is available for free, customize it a little to achieve what it needs, and you'll have very little choice. There's no competition, so why spend money?

      Unluckily, most of the big companies in the business of commercial development tools (compilers, IDE, debuggers, profilers) went bankrupt, or are a dim shadow of their former self (just look at what happened to Borland) - open source made that business mostly unprofitable, most developers would use so-so tools as long as they don't have to pay for them, than spending money in far better tools.

      Sure, there are some small one with some specific tools (mostly Java based), but you no longer see the big competition of the 1990s or early 2000s.

      Only Visual Studio could survive being backed by the whole Microsoft.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Fix the Android IDE !

        "(just look at what happened to Borland) - open source made that business mostly unprofitable"

        I think Borland was waving a revolver and looking for its feet way before there was sufficient competition from open source. A good indication is to look at the approach open source took to Borland's old territory: Lazarus looks a lot more like Delphi of about v7 than what followed.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "I think Borland was waving a revolver and looking for its feet way"

          True, but for a while JBuilder was one of their most sold products, while Delphi and C++ Builder lagged behind. Eclipse wiped that market fully and quickly, Lazarus was a far less dangerous competitor, those projects have very different support by open source developers and companies backing them.

          Visual Studio had already regained the Borland C++ (later C++ Builder) market share - especially because Borland failed to understand C/C++ developers needed more and more to write server side and low level code, including drivers, Borland had been stubbornly desktop oriented.

          Also, MS could afford a free version of VS - because has far more source of revenues, while Borland (and the companies it became) kept on selling outdated SKUs, often with very artificial limitations (they even attempted to hinder by license database application development with the less expensive ones!)

          The switch from desktop applications to web ones for many database-based applications was a big blow as well. Later they attempted IDEs for Ruby and PHP, but with very little success.

          Now they added iOS and Android support to Delphi/C++ Builder, but with their own framework and GUI libraries, and the products became quite expensive - they become a niche for people who don't want to leave them, or have a huge investment in legacy code, and don't want to rewrite it all.

      2. Def Silver badge

        Re: Fix the Android IDE !

        Only Visual Studio could survive being backed by the whole Microsoft.

        Beyond the community editions (which themselves are a fairly recent development) Visual Studio isn't free though. Back in the day, Visual Studio won simply by being much better than the competition.

        As it happens, Visual Studio *is* the competition for Android Studio (and xcode) - at least if you're using Xamarin or Unity. But Google have the market share (gained by giving stuff away almost for free) and developers have been forced to put up with their shit up until now, so why should they care about improving things? Sad.

  9. Matthew 3

    Solution?

    I've been patiently waiting for Android 7.1 to come to my Galaxy S7. If Google could offer me the latest OS upgrade now for a modest fee I would jump at the chance. I think plenty of other people would too.

    It would give them a chance to monetise their investment, it would allow them to wrest control back from the phone companies and manufacturers with their added dross, and would let Google effectively dictate which devices were worthy of their effort, potentially steering purchasers towards vendors they like the most. It would likely distort the market by concentrating on premium devices but that would also go some way to solving the issue of devices lagging behind on updates ('our customers get them fast and first').

    I'm not sure that this would be a good thing, you understand, but I can see that it could be done. I'd guess that it's politics that stops it, not any technical reason.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Solution?

      I'd guess that it's politics that stops it, not any technical reason.

      Actually, I think the issue is not politics, but the polar opposite nature of hardware manufacture compared to software. Hardware makers aren't bad at software, they are utterly, utterly appalling. Look at the garbage-ware bundled with most Android phones by their makers. Looking at the often rudimentary software that car makers provide. Even in the heart of the tech sector, look at Intel's IME screwup. IMHO, the reason they are so keen to avoid updating older devices is two fold - first that if a device becomes obsolete, they reckon they'll sell another and its that hardware making that drives their profit. Second, they're simply no good at software, and what limited competence they have has to be deployed on the currently on-sale devices.

      Whilst at a reasonable price paying for your upgrade sounds very convincing, what makes you think that it would be a reasonable price? Look at the map upgrade pricing for many car satnavs to see the utter rip off that the makers charge, because they know that your main alternative option is to go without. A relative was recently quoted £700 to update the maps on an elderly Lexus. And it isn't just the maps - Skoda want something like £180 just to enable Displaylink on my car stereo, even though all hardware and software is already installed. And officially they won't enable the rear nearside foglight at any price, even though it is a software setting, and enabled on higher trim models.

      So imagine you're Samsung, and somebody says "lets charge to upgrade the S7 to Android 7/O". You work out what you think the market will pay, and then you charge that. Most people won't bother, many will just upgrade to the next flagship, so it is subset of people quite keen to have that upgrade. I'd reckon that they'd never do it for the reasons above, IF they did it, then in their shoes I'd be charging a minimum £50-60 - I might even only offer that with a battery replacement refurb service, and charge £180. Would you really pay those sorts of price?

      1. quxinot

        Re: Solution?

        Whilst I utterly agree with you, Ledswinger, that the "updates" are usually going to be priced in such a way to make simply replacing the entire thing more realistic than keeping the old--I should mention that in any instance where there's software being held behind that sort of paywall, someone else will assuredly enter the market with a means to fix it.

        I believe VCDS software with a VAG-COM interface will reprogram a Skoda with whatever you're needing altered. Though that brand isn't sold in the US, I understand it's a VAG car, and shares the protocol with whatever the equivalent models are. You can look to local shops for enthusiasts or even places like craigslist for assistance if you're not interested in spending a fortune to do it yourself. People (like me!) will occasionally put up ads offering assistance with exactly that sort of situation, usually for beer tokens.

    2. fnusnu

      Re: Solution?

      https://download.lineageos.org/herolte

      I'm sure they would appreciate a small donation.

  10. Arctic fox
    Headmaster

    "One OS to rule them all"

    "The presence of a compositor and libraries that are backward-compatible with Android indicate Fuchsia is being lined up as a drop-in replacement – and maybe the one OS to rule them. Again, judge for yourself."

    Google is already getting an increasing amount of flak from the regulators in Europe and potentially in the US as well. If they ended up with the kind of control of the market that Redmond arrived at during the middle nineties they would find themselves as target number 1 above all others on the competition authorities' hit list. They might then have good cause to remember St Therea's words, "There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers".

    1. Mark 110 Silver badge

      Re: "One OS to rule them all"

      They would just be forced to offer you a choice when you set up your new phone of default search, default maps, etc. Everyone would just pick the best one, the one they are used to, anyway.

  11. Wade Burchette

    18 months

    18 months of guaranteed updates is at least 30 months too short. That is not even two years. Moving to a new phone takes a lot of time. As such, I want to hold on to my phone for at least 3 years, maybe 4. The one thing I would like to see on Android is to bypass the carrier for all updates. The second thing I would like to see is to allow us to uninstall any bloatware; only block apps that required for the phone to work. For example, I want to uninstall Chrome, a bunch of Samsung junk, and a lot of carrier junk. As it stands now, I can only disable some of that.

    1. matjaggard

      Re: 18 months

      It takes a matter of moments to move to a new device. You even get all the apps from the previous device installed for you if you want.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: 18 months

        INCLUDING the SETTINGS? I've yet to see an app migration between devices include all the accumulated settings from the original device which are quite important to me.

        1. Mark 110 Silver badge

          Re: 18 months

          Some apps do it. Depends where the settings are stored - device or cloud. You always have to re authenticate which is a good thing (if a bit of a faff).

  12. johnnyblaze

    What fragmentation?

    Sure, Android is so huge now, it's not easy for Google to manage, but the whole fragmentation thing has been blown out of the water. Sure, there are many different versions of Android out there, but ultimately, from a user perspective, if the apps work - and they do, always, then there isn't a problem. I've an old Kitkat 4.4 Nexus 7, and it just runs everything fine. If apps didn't work, there would be a user revolt - and their isn't. Apple are happy to say how they can upgrade all their devices easily, at will, and yes they can, primarily because they have pretty much everyone in their pockets, with a cast iron grip on their gonads, ready to squeeze at the slightest question. Apple are infact, a considerably worse company than Google in many respects, but they seem to have a teflon coating.

    1. SL1979

      Re: What fragmentation?

      It depends on what you consider to be a "considerably worse company" than Apple. If you're okay with Google slurping your personal data at an alarming rate, and selling off your tastes and personal data (which you have no control over) to other companies, then I suppose everything is okay. Google is in the business of advertising. Google advertises by collecting data on its users as its primary business model. Apple is in the business of selling hardware, not advertising. Apple already knows their customer well enough. They're two very different takes on the same market.

      1. Mark 110 Silver badge

        Re: What fragmentation?

        The two have different approaches to screwing you:

        Apple - proprietary hardware, cables, sockets, services. You pay more for the same technology and then pay more again for Apple compatible stuff.

        Google - cheap, cheerful but needs a bit more work and you get a data slurp you might not like (I don't mind as long as I know what it is)

        By the way - pedantry "Sure, Android is so huge now, it's not easy for Google to manage, but the whole fragmentation thing has been blown out of the water." You meant "blown out of proportion". </pedant>

      2. SL1979

        Re: What fragmentation?

        Seriously? I said something here that merited three downvotes? Did I say something that was factually inaccurate, or is it just knee-jerk fanboy-ism at play here? I think I was being fair to both sides, not taking one. Let's face it, Google does slurp a lot of user data. That's how they make their money. Apple makes money selling hardware. I guess I'm not understanding what I said that makes it worthy of three downvotes, because I'm pretty sure that my facts were right before I spoke.

        I'll link to another article about how Android is sending location information to Google even when the user disables it, and how there's no way to stop the data from being sent: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/11/22/permissionless_data_slurping_google/

  13. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    "Project Fuchsia"

    I assumed it was some kind of joke? Not the actual name choosen.. And, no, it's not April 1st.

  14. NXM

    Sidestep the issue

    I have an xperia running Jolla's Sailfish. The OS is paid for, not 'free', doesn't track me, and is updated regularly. Ok, there aren't many fart apps that romp around in my permissions willy-nilly, but I can live with that.

  15. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Money

    Analysts estimate Apple makes more money from iOS than Google does from Android. Which is really embarrassing

    Not really. It's not as if Google doesn't make money from Android. Any comparison should take into consideration the capital cost (Google doesn't really make many phones so it's much lower) and also the market. Google might mot make money in China but it still makes money in places like India, Africa and South-East Asia where Apple's devices are too expensive for many people. It's also an almost pure services play which means Google continues to make money whether or not people update or buy new phones. And it provides Google with enormous amounts of data for future services.

  16. DougS Silver badge

    What's the incentive for Samsung to follow Google into Fuchsia?

    If it is designed to give Google a lot more control over it, Samsung would have to be idiots to follow them! Samsung has the resources to continue development of the latest Android themselves, though likely they'd find willing partners among other major Android OEMs if they wish.

    If Google releases Fuchsia 'Android fragmention' will become a 'Fushsia fracture', as some smaller OEMs take the path of least resistance and hope to benefit from Google fanboys who would reject Samsung phones if they didn't have Google's latest-n-greatest.

    Google wants to have it both ways - they want to claim to be a friend of open source, but they want tight control over the platform. I'm sure they regret ever making it as open as it was, because if they hadn't all those Chinese OEMs would be running Google services and Baidu and Tencent wouldn't be bigger (combined) than Google is today. Some Android fans will no doubt claim the only reason it is in the position it is is because it is open source, but that ignores the reality that 98% of Android's user base doesn't even know what open source is. Android won because it was free, and Windows Phone / Blackberry were too late to market.

  17. Mellipop

    Fuschia is a container OS

    There's a success story bubbling away with Fuschia.

    Get a touchscreen Chromebook that runs android apps and you'll glimpse the future.

    Android apps on Chromebook give you low footprint yet functional and offline capable improvements over browser based services like email, office apps etc.

    If you look carefully at the Fuschia documentation you'll find an OS that is all about data flow.

    Ledger allows data to be offline with sync.

    Flutter, according to the Fuschia glossary:

    "... is a functional-reactive user interface framework optimized for Fuchsia and is used by many system components. Flutter also runs on a variety of other platform, including Android and iOS. Fuchsia itself does not require you to use any particular language or user interface framework."

    Fuschia, providing some simple Android porting tools, will replace Chromium.

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