I'm sick to death of Android

I'm sick to death of Android

Summary: I've spent over two years as an Android user. The next time around, I'm going elsewhere unless substantial changes take place in how Google manages its ecosystem and OEM/Carrier partners.

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Sometimes you just have to know when to throw in the towel.

Although I have flirted with a number of different types of tablets running different operating systems over the past few years and continue to examine all the different options that exist in the mobile space, since November of 2009, I've been exclusively an Android smartphone user.

In that time I've gone from the original Motorola Droid to the Droid Bionic, and now the Galaxy Nexus. I've seen the Android OS improve considerably and continue to be impressed by the innovations that each successive version brings to the table.

I have always liked the fundamental concept of Android -- an Open Source smartphone and tablet operating system that could be used on a variety of manufacturers devices with varying feature sets that gives consumers the added benefit of choosing exactly what product suits their specific needs.

Android also provides for the additional openness of having 3rd-party App Stores that suit the needs of different types of customers if the Google Android Market (Now Google Play) doesn't fit the bill.

And of course, there is also the ability for the base OS itself to be modified as well as the ability to side-load applications of your own design for use in vertical markets.

But at the same time, my tolerance for how Google loosely manages its ecosystem and has allowed the platform to mutate and fragment and permit its OEMs and Carriers to abandon its users by not providing timely updates to their handsets and tablets has made my blood boil.

Back in October of last year, I wrote a impassioned response to James Kendrick's piece "After iPhone 4S, Android Just Feels Wrong."

In that article I cited many of the strengths of Android -- the openness, the flexibility, the relative independence the user has from otherwise highly controlled ecosystems of its competitors. But I also addressed the flaws, ones I thought were eventually going to be ironed out with future OS releases and improved management of the Android ecosystem.

And at the time, I thought the strengths of Android vastly outweighed the flaws.

I've come to the conclusion that in an ideal world, the idea of an Android OS, application and manufacturer ecosystem that is perfectly managed would indeed make it the strongest of all the mobile OS offerings.

However, the reality is that we're not living in an ideal world, and the flaws are seriously hampering qualitative advancements such as OS stability, overall platform standardization and maintenance, all of which ultimately have a negative impact on Android's users and application developers.

When it came time for my two phone contracts to renew on Verizon, I had decided within a span of a few months to purchase the Motorola Droid Bionic and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

I had believed both of these devices would be well-supported by Google and would be most resistant to the fragmentation and carrier bloatware issues, as the first device was being made by a company that was about to be acquired by Google, and the second being the flagship Google Experience handset device for Ice Cream Sandwich.

In both cases, I turned out to be wrong. Motorola has promised for months to update the balance of its 2011 and 2012 handset lineup to Ice Cream Sandwich, but has of yet failed to deliver any such updates except for on the Motorola Xoom tablet, which is a Google Experience and developer reference device.

And in the case of Samsung, there have been a number of bugfix iterations released for Ice Cream Sandwich by Google, none of which have been deployed to the Verizon Galaxy Nexus so far.

Samsung's update record across their entire handset and tablet product line has been almost as abysmal as Motorola's. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 has yet to be updated to the latest Android release, and in the case of the Nexus S, the previous flagship Google Experience handset, the Ice Cream Sandwich update was rolled out and then backed out due to technical problems, and owners have been waiting for months for it to resume again.

These are representative of the conditions from just the two top Android handset and tablet manufacturers that produce the highest profile devices which should be getting priority updates. At the second and third tier manufacturers, things are considerably worse in terms of existing device support.

[UPDATE, March 28, 6:30PM EST: Google has begun rolling out Android 4.0.4 updates for selected Nexus and Wi-Fi Motorola XOOM hardware, but not the Verizon LTE Galaxy Nexus yet.]

So the bottom line is, as a consumer, how much is one willing to tolerate this? If someone like me who is an astute observer of the industry has to do such intense research on which Android device to buy based on the potential for ongoing support and then ends up getting burned in the process, what is the average consumer to do?

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So I've decided that unless major improvements occur in the management of the Android ecosystem by Google in the next year, and if conditions for supporting handsets by the Tier 1 OEMs and main US wireless carriers do not improve dramatically, the Galaxy Nexus and the Droid Bionic are going to be my last Android smartphones.

And I've also decided that until the support situation substantially improves, I am no longer going to recommend Android-based products to my friends, family and colleagues. I'll point them towards Apple's iOS and Microsoft's Windows Phone instead. At least with these platforms, you're guaranteed core OS updates and bugfixes for the length of your contract.

I'm simply sick to death of putting up with all of these issues that seem to have no end in sight.

What I end up migrating to personally after my current contact is up I have no idea at this point, because it is some 20 months away. But I'm awfully tempted to put my Galaxy Nexus up for sale, bite the bullet, and pay full price for an iPhone 4S and a MiFi to handle my LTE 4G tethering needs when I travel. That's just how frustrated I am at this point with the entire situation.

Are you also sick to death of Android's problems and considering moving to iOS or Windows Phone? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Software, Android, Google, Hardware, Mobile OS, Mobility, Operating Systems, Security, Smartphones

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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Talkback

546 comments
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  • Interesting

    Android has become an abusive boyfriend: something you hope will change in the future, but keeps holding you back.
    Jeff Kibuule
    • BS!

      You don't appreciate the FOSS model and innovations.
      The Linux Geek
      • What's to appreciate?

        The FOSS model is completely broken. Get over it.
        kstap
      • FOSS? Really?

        Hope this is sarcastic.

        Google deliberately withholds Android code when it feels like it. You can't contribute code back to the main OS track unless Google specifically thinks it can benefit from your work. Certain parts of the OS kernel are off-limits.

        Not only is FOSS not a cure-all, Google doesn't practice it.
        jonfingas
        • Nope

          You have so many technical errors in your short post that it is 100% flawed.
          Fri13
      • Err...

        Trouble is that it's all munged with very "for profit" interests, and when that's hardware manufacturers - the results are not pretty.

        On commodity hardware (PCs) FOSS works really well, commonality means you can switch without much trouble (if you wish to) and the vendors try and provide good service (because that essentially all they are selling).

        With a smartphone, you buy it, they drag their heals releasing anything because they've got your money, and won't get anymore until your contract is up (24 months usually). Quite simply, there is no benefit to them in making sure you're having a good experience with the product you bought.

        All very sad, and disheartening.
        jeremychappell
        • Buy un-locked phone

          I fully agree. My solution is to buy unlocked chinese phones. Many of these phone support dual SIM card slots and multiple phone bands . I resently purchased a chinese phone that has dual SIM card slots uses the GSM band and runs Android 4.1 I paid only $89.00 USD I am vacationing in Chile and was able to get a non contract SIM card from ENTEL for $10.00 and can purchase additional minutes as I need them.

          If the Chinese make an unlocked Windows Phone 8 I will buy it.
          mocnarf
      • No I do not

        And I have some very sound reasons as to why... Linux based PCs will not run the games I want to play nor will it run some of the apps I want to use. Right now I'm in the process of replacing my piece of crap Samsung Galaxy S with an HTC Thunderbolt to see if the shortcomings I'm experiencing with Android are due to the hardware or software... my thought at the moment is it's the hardware and I've had good experiences with HTC hardware prior to my iPhone purchase... the WM OS sucked out loud but the hardware was solid and I'm hoping that the HTC hardware will provide a better Android experience.

        There ARE reasons that people do not appreciate FOSS that have nothing to do with your personal feelings towards Apple and Microsoft. And those innovations that FOSS came up with - I'm sure one can find an Apple, Microsoft, or Oracle version that came before the FOSS one did. I'm just sayin'...
        athynz
      • I prefer my phone to be practical

        When all is said and done - my phone is a tool, not some lofty philosophical ideal. My concerns are about how productive I am, not about how much I worship some FOSS ideal.
        CobraA1
      • Android is not open source!

        Do not forget: Android is not open source!

        It is Google's vehicle to ship their spyware to millions of unsuspecting victims.
        danbi
        • no

          not at all
          Jimster480
          • Thank you

            Google thanks you for your support. We have registered your comment into our "friends" database.
            harvey_rabbit
        • sooooo true

          i know right ?
          here we call Android "Virus OS"
          even in the Google PlayStore's top 100 apps are viruses found
          Kristof Verbeeck
      • What OEMs appreciate FOSS?

        With OEM configured elements of each Android device containing proprietary drivers, further impeding painless updates, appreciation of FOSS is irrelevant.
        theNewDanger
      • Im Sick to Death of Tech Writers....

        who dramatise their topics and then write a lot about nothing because their stablemates are achieving traffic doing the same pointless thing.
        warboat
      • Wrong...

        We don't appreciate the broken.

        I have Android as well, and I am tired of the endless hacking to get subpar results that only hint at what Google should have done in the first place.

        I hate Apple with a passion. People call themselves ABMers? I'm an ABAer with a vengeance.

        So what's left? Well, maybe Microsoft will do something? What does it matter anyways when Verizon comes out with plans like the "Everyone's Screwed" plan they think will "benefit everyone" (read: benefit themselves through our hard earned money), and AT&T applauds them, wringing their grimy little hands in the exciting prospect of doing copycat gouging?

        I'm thinking cheap flip phones are the answer for our future...
        thoiness
        • M$ Will Be More of the Same

          Microsoft will work it pretty much the same as Apple. the 'Softies have watched Apple at work, controlling the entire environment, and like what they see. That's why they're doing their own tablet. It works well enough and they will do their own phone.

          The cellular providers hate Apple more than you do because Apple doesn't let run the show. They had already shown by their [lack of] actions before Apple/Android that they fix dick - keeping every penny and telling you that if you want fixes, buy new phones. They LOVE Android - why not: it's free and no one [Apple] tells them what to do. It's THESE guys that are the problem. By Android to spite Apple? Then you're an idiot. Nobody cares. Preach FOSS all you want, it's a fine ideal. Be The Beast Who Shouted Love at the Heart of the World. Nobody cares. As long as you buy their Android phone cause you are just so smart to buy into Apple, there's no need for them to change. Not pro-Apple, just fact. They laugh at all of your Wise Up People screeds, all - the - way - to - the - bank.
          ChasmoeBrown
        • Curious

          Why the hatred for Apple?
          roger that
          • Why the hatred for Apple

            Because they get patents for rectangles (who it the nitwit that issued that!) and just sue instead of innovate. They haven't really innovated since the 1st iphone. BTW, when are companies going to be fined for conveniently "leaving out" prior art when filing patents. Seems fraudulent to me.

            But back to the topic at hand, I too am really tired of the lack of support for existing customers. Companies making Android phones seem to think the answer is just to force these customers to buy new hardware. The only way to keep up is to root your phone and go to a site like XDA Developers. Who wants to have that as a requirement. As much as I dislike Apple's "thermonuclear war" hypocracy, they do have the update process down. It is painless to users.

            Google, are you listening??????
            tbar38547
          • Any proof to back up your silly claim?

            If so then put up, or shut up. The same goes for trolls of every shade.
            Troll Hunter J