A few thoughts about Android OS

I am as platform agnostic as anyone can be. I use what works for me per time and have no allegiance to any platform, as many do. Over the years, I have used devices based on as many as six (6) mobile OSes. So far, I have used:

  1. 10 Symbian OS smartphones
  2. 6 Windows Mobile OS smartphones
  3. 2 Android OS smartphones
  4. 1 Palm OS smartphone
  5. 1 Maemo OS smartphone
  6. 1 BlackBerry OS smartphone

While it may look like I have a preference for Symbian,that is not exactly true. I have used Symbian devices more because they have been more available in my environment. In addition, Symbian has offered more options than any other platform – QWERTY candybar, QWERTY slider, touchscreen, and regular keypad. The whole works.

I am currently on my second Android device, the Xperia X10 Mini pro from Sony Ericsson. It is a solid device and a fantastic adaptation and miniaturisation by Sony Ericsson.

Having used the device for a while, here are my thoughts about the Android OS. While the X10 Mini Pro is on version 1.6, nothing that I mention here is strange to the whole range of Android OS versions.

A few thoughts about Android OS 1

Android OS is an internet addict
The OS was designed ground up to crave an internet connection. To activate an Android phone requires internet access. After its up and running, it keeps you online for as long as there is a connection available. Installed freeware demand internet access, many of them being adware.

The results are too glaring – shorter battery life. And those shorter battery life is much shorter than on competitive platforms like Symbian and Windows Mobile.

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Of course another consequence of this internet addiction is that your pocket is likely to be affected one way or the other. A 30-day 100MB or 150MB bundle internet plan may just not last 30 days on an Android device. If you are on a budget, you may want to think about it.

I remember that while i had the N900, I kept exhausting my data plan waaaay before its expiry date.

The browser has poor cache implementation
In a similar thread to the internet addiction is the fact that the built-in Android browser’s cache implementation is awful. Hit the back icon or button while browsing and the browser reloads the previous page afresh via the internet. For those who do not know, this is a general problem with Webkit-based browsers (at least those that I know of).

What does this translate to? More data guzzling and shorter battery life.

Is it so difficult to develop an Android screen shot app?
For all the noise about the Android market now having hundreds of thousands of apps, till today I have not come across something as basic and as useful as a screenshot application.

Screenshot apps are a kobo a dozen on Symbian and Windows Mobile, for example. Even newbie Maemo has a screenshot app – and for free too. Sigh.

Update: Belushi pointed out a screenshot app, Shootme. Typing in the name in the Market search box, I found it quickly, inspite of the fact that searching for terms like “screenshot”, “screensnap” etc didn’t yield any results.

Android is by and large a Geek platform (updated)
Just like the other Linux-based mobile OS Maemo, Android is by and large a geek platform. Many applications require the user to root his device. Rooting is not for the faint-hearted or the uninitiated. Things can go wrong easilly.

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To use the screenshot app, Shootme, for example, I had to root my X10 Mini Pro. Tell that to the average Segun on the street. “Rooting”, “Permissions” et al mean nothing to them.

Honestly, many of the Market apps are crapware
I am sorry, but I am not impressed with the hullaballoo about the size of the android Market. My experience is that too many of them are crap. And believe me, it takes days to hunt through all that crap installing one problematic app after another and replacing it with another problematic alternative before finally finding one that really works well.

The rating system is there, but it doesn’t work well.

Poor Battery Life
It looks like Linux-based OSes guzzle more power than their counterparts. Think Maemo. Think Android. The entire pond is full of poor battery life tales. Yes; the touchscreens do contribute (as a matter of fact as much as 50% of battery consumption is from the touchscreen on the average Android device).

Consider that while Blackberry devices have been reputed for good battery life, the new 9800 Torch has been reported as having less than stellar battery life. The touchscreen is the primary suspect here again.

I wonder what it would be like were some manufacturer to experiment with a non-touchscreen Android device.

Conclusions
Does this mean that Android OS is crap and should be thrown out the windows? Not by a long shot.

I enjoyed the Android G1 while I had it, and I have enjoyed the X10 Mini Pro so far. But do bear in mind that, just like every other mobile OS, the Android OS has its quirks and disadvantages.

Mister Mobility

I started blogging about mobile in 2004 as a fun way to share my passion for gadgets and mobile services. My other interests include digital media, speaking and teaching, photography, travelling, and dancing.

35 thoughts on “A few thoughts about Android OS

  • September 20, 2010 at 11:09 pm
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    thanks for this post Yomi….quite insightful. but i dont think it would have discouraged me from going after an android device. Although i did spot some of the negativities earlier while taking a tour of a samsung galaxy s recently, i still think at present, its just the right device for me to explore for another year. I have used nokia, sonyericsson and presently the windows mobile… ios would have been my next try but i am yet to digest all there is to know about the apple cult (control and all) though it has great reviews. Android, though imperfect, its enough to satisfy my curiosity and adventure for now. the freedom to port functionalities to android devices is a major attraction for me. developers can transform your android device into anything. Even the windows phone 7 is right now towing the path of IOs in restricting modifications on their devices. After reading and watching plenty videos on the new windows phone 7 U.I, i really wish i could continue on the platform…. but even to cut and paste may just not be possible (who can live with that?).I will be taken delivery of my Samsung Vibrant ( a U.S T-Mobile version of the Samsung galaxy S)this week and looking forward to sharing my experience in this forum.
    And lastly, there is an app for the screen shot you mentioned… its called shootme on the market.

  • September 21, 2010 at 6:02 am
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    Belushi,

    Thanks for the heads-up on Shootme. You have no idea how much I have searched for an app like this. Perhaps Google needs to refine the search functionality in the Android Market.

    Another point I should have raised is the fact that many apps require the user to root his device. Android is by and large a geek platform.

    To use Shootme, for example, I had to root my X10 Mini Pro. Tell that to the average Segun on the street.

    Anyway, I got it working now and for the first time can present screenshots of the X10 Mini Pro.

    Cheers.

  • September 21, 2010 at 7:30 am
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    I have used a wide variety of Symbian devices, the iphone 3GS, a BlackBerry and a Windows mobile phone. I just keep coming back to Symbian devices. They just get the job done for me with ease and simplicity.

  • September 21, 2010 at 7:55 am
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    Google wants you to always be online, but Nokia understands some of us cant be online always.

    As much as Nokia will always be my main phone i plan checking out iOS and Android, and my main problem has been getting apps in the Apps Market (Nigeria is not there, Though some one has offered to help get a prepaid master from abroad.)

    It would have been so convenient if Nigeria was there, those phones cant be fun without Apps and internet.

  • September 21, 2010 at 7:55 am
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    Please I want to know if it is possible to stop the Android apps from connecting to the internet? I have never used any device on that platform before. Please help

  • September 21, 2010 at 10:34 am
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    ‘ Hit the back
    icon or button while browsing and
    the browser reloads the previous
    page afresh via the internet ‘

    This is not a serious drawback. I am used to it. My nokia 5800 does it and so does my previous nokia n78.

  • September 21, 2010 at 10:36 am
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    Yomi thanks. I don’t need a device that will always keep me online. Sticking with symbian for now

  • September 21, 2010 at 12:12 pm
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    You can prevents apps from automatically connecting to the internet by disabling ‘Background Data’ in your setttings.

    But this means that you have to manually check for emails and synchronise your calendars and contacts, etc.

  • September 21, 2010 at 3:12 pm
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    @Deoladoctor,

    ((((
    ‘ Hit the back icon or button while browsing and the browser reloads the previous page afresh via the internet ‘

    This is not a serious drawback. I am used to it. My nokia 5800 does it and so does my previous nokia n78. ))))

    Oh yes, it IS a serious drawback alright.

    Not only does this waste money (maybe this is not a consideration for you?), it also also wastes time and is an inefficient way of doing things Imagine filling a lengthy online form, making a minor mistake. Then you want to back track to correct that mistake -and then having to start all over (because the page had been reloaded)! Pah!

    Unless you need to access https sites (secure sites), why on earth would you willingly waste money and time, when there are alternatives?

    It is precisely for this reason of waste that avoid so many apps that have ontheweb alternatives. It is why i refuse to use apps like mippin, snaptu or SPARK our HipLogic…

  • September 21, 2010 at 3:34 pm
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    I’m grateful. I’m already hating the android os. In fact, I’ve changed my mind immediately

  • September 21, 2010 at 4:10 pm
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    Actually the Froyo update took care of the cache problem. Moving to and fro in the browsing history is near instantaneous, comparable to Opera Mini. I can also set exactly what connects go the internet and when, or shut down internet connectivity completely. And most of the Nokia ovi store, Apple app market, and BB app world is crap too. The average Segun doesn’t need a screen capture utility. He also thinks Symbian 60 is very geeky, although years of familiarity with it has lowered the “entry level”.

    Battery life, coming from a Symbian background, I was shocked at the power gluttony of Android, the Froyo update helped some but it just wasn’t the same I soon imbibed the “charge when you can” mentality. A full charge will get about a day and a half of normal usage for me.

    On paid apps I read somewhere on the net that a UK sim will fool the OS, apps can then be downloaded and paid for over WiFi, haven’t tried it yet since I haven’t found a paid app I would go through the stress for.

    Android is a nice OS comparable to Symbian, it has its strengths and weaknesses too, Yomi you should do a write up on its strengths too using the most recent version of the OS. It would be a balance to the article above so your readers will have a complete view.

  • September 21, 2010 at 5:41 pm
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    Lovely article Yomi. I can see your point. Just a few things to though.

    Poor cache implementation? This can be corrected by installing the free opera mini for Android and using opera anytime one wishes to browse. Then going back wouldn’t be a problem.

    Screen shot application; The iphone has a native one, By long pressing the power button and simultaneously pressing the home button! I think Android may have a tweak like that. All you need to do is to probably ask a seasoned android user, like Not all ios owners know this tweak!

  • September 21, 2010 at 5:48 pm
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    @bosun99uk. You need to be on the itunes store to really enjoy the ios experience. Then you’d find it difficult enjoying other platforms as much as the ios experience. BEcause there are over 250,000 apps on the ios platform -richer than any other platform. What I used to open my itunes account was a Virgin Prepaid Credit card from the UK. It costs only 10 pounds. And you just need to top it up from time to time when its exhausted. That if you wish to buy paid apps. You could just relax and download many free contents (THEY ARE MANY).I did top mine with just 40 pounds. Just let me know if you’re interested!

    aND. UM.. You are charged o.1% or thereabouts on each purchase. you could google it!

  • September 21, 2010 at 6:20 pm
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    EyeBeeKay,

    What does APNdroid do that simply disabling background data in the settings does not do?

    Netqin Network firewall does not address the problem. The Android OS and 3rd party apps are designed to access the internet legitimately. They are not malware, which Netqin is designed to take care of.

    Other platforms, such as Symbian and Windows Mobile, do not need such apps either, as they do not by default crave an internet connection. On Symbian, for example, nothing can establish an internet connection without your approval. Symbian gives the best control over internet connections.

    I have used a number of Windows mobile devices too, and the OS is not internet-dependent as Android OS is. On WinMo, you have to authorise an app to connect. On Android OS, apps connect by default and you have to deny them that access by disabling background data (or using a 3rd party app, which is unnecesarry duplication if you ask me).

    The Android OS is full of free 3rd party apps – all driven by ads, and all consuming data. Every time such ads are launched, an internet connection is established, many times with the user unsuspecting.

  • September 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm
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    All this hustle and bustle for android?
    God bless Nokia! God bless Symbian!

  • September 21, 2010 at 7:22 pm
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    Ebi Esq, no need to hate Android OS. It should simply be that it doesn’t meet your needs. I like Android in some ways – the user interface being its strongest point.

    But I do not appreciate its weaknesses – the power management especially. I want my phone to go two or three days of normal usage, and at least 24 hours of intensive use.

    Unfortunately, even RIM is following this trend now (the 9800 Torch’s battery doesn’t last like traditional BB batteries have been known to).

    Sigh. I am fast becoming an endangered specie.

  • September 21, 2010 at 7:27 pm
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    @ Yomi, Necessity is the mother of all inventions. You can develop your own OS.

    • September 21, 2010 at 7:34 pm
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      😀 Are you kidding me, keweno?!

  • September 21, 2010 at 8:51 pm
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    ‘EyeBeeKay,
    What does APNdroid do that simply disabling background data in the settings does not do?’

    Simply disabling removes the convenience of onthefly permission / prohibition of any app trying to access the net. A similiar functionality is found in am app like NetLimiter on the Windows desktop world.

    ‘Netqin Network firewall does not address the problem. ‘

    Yes, it does. Elegantly too. NetQin allows you to set an option asking you to confirm if you want a particular application to access the net or NOT. It is very useful because even apps that surreptitiously access the net can be detected and stop dead in their tracks.
    Netqin is primarily an antimalware. But any tool can be used the way your imagination allows you. Netqin has other uses.

    That brings me to your next assertion, which I used to believe, but now doubt.

    ‘On Symbian, for example, nothing can establish an internet connection without your approval.’

    While i will not categorically contradict that bold statement, i have doubts as regards its veracity.
    There is a mobile tv app i installed that is supposed to work with DVB-H. I totally forgot that i installed it as i did not eventually buy the Nokia tv receiver. Can you believe that Netqin reported that it was clandestinely attempting internet access?
    That really shocked me…

    • September 21, 2010 at 9:13 pm
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      Can you believe that Netqin reported that it was clandestinely attempting internet access?

      I can. Many of these mobile security apps are unreliable (and most un-needed, especially on Symbian). Even PC firewalls and anti-virus applications report false positives. Chalk that up as a false positive. An app like that is not needed on Symbian. If at all the mobile TV app was attempting a connection, it is likely that during installation you gave it permission to do that.

      Believe me, Symbian is that secure.

      I think that Netqin certainly needs to be ported to Android – it will find better use on an OS that lets anything make a connection by default.

      Does APNdroid let you approve which apps connect to the internet? I doubt that it does. I have it installed on my X10 Mini Pro and all it does is modify the APN so that no connections to the internet are possible at all – whether manual and automatic.

      On the other hand, in disabling Background Data, the user has the liberty to manually initiate an app connecting to the internet. Once APNdroid is active, I cannot do anything online at all. Perhaps there are other aapps that do a better job than APNdroid on the Android OS.

  • September 21, 2010 at 9:32 pm
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    @ Yomi, I’m cool serious. Some one floated the Idea about Symbian, Some bunch of folks thought about android, Uncle Steve and his gang came up with Ios. The rest is history …

    With your vast experience, you should be able to come up with you own mobile OS.
    We (mobility nigeria family) we support you.

  • September 22, 2010 at 1:32 pm
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    We need a breakthrough in battery technology.

    @Afewgoodmen

    I am so so interested, but i have not concluded on which Apple device to go for iPOd4, iPhone4 or iPad (too bad i cant buy them all).

    I will sure let you know once i get one.

  • September 22, 2010 at 2:18 pm
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    @bosun99uk. I understand with you. But you don’t need to get an apple product to get an itunes account. You could get one and download all the apps you wish even before you use one in an apple product. At least, that is what I am doing now just before I buy an iphone 4 or an ipod touch 4G. I have already bought and downloaded “imovie”, a video editing apps that works only for iphone4/ipod touch 4g even before I will purchase I would purchase the items!

  • September 22, 2010 at 3:50 pm
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    i am patiently waiting for WP7. Android is not polished. Seems like an ongoing project. Anyway, I love Iphone4.

    • September 22, 2010 at 4:00 pm
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      Mahogany,

      Seems like an ongoing project.

      True. Android is an OS that needs to be nursed to get the best out of it. Just like Maemo.

  • September 22, 2010 at 4:03 pm
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    @Afewgoodmen

    You are right.

    How do I go about it?, let me start with the 10GBP.

    • September 22, 2010 at 4:25 pm
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      @Afewgoodmen and Bosun99uk: You guys will need to create a thread in the forums dedicated to this business. Thanks!

  • September 22, 2010 at 5:45 pm
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    @ yomi. in your own experience, how does bada compare to android?

  • September 22, 2010 at 7:56 pm
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    Mahogany,

    I am yet to have a hands-on experience of Bada OS, so I really cannot provide a comparison yet.

  • September 23, 2010 at 6:25 am
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    I am neutral to all oses but
    There is a massive difference between android 1.6 and Froyo(2.2). Improved speed, improved power management, beta functionality. But the best part is the speed of OS improvements is breath taking. When Gingerbread comes out(I.e next version), more improvemnents are expected.

    Android versions are named after desserts in alphabetical order.
    I wonder when it gets to letter Z what happens to the names :p

    • September 23, 2010 at 6:43 am
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      Chris,

      You are correct about the OS improvements on Android. However, you will find that some of its greatest weaknesses – poor battery life and the geekiness especially both still stick out like a sore thumb. That won’t stop people from liking and using Android. But it needs to be said so as to help those looking to make informed choices do so.

      When the OS gets to letter Z, the guys at Google will think of something. I just hope it won’t be as clumsy as Nokia’s new naming scheme – two different handsets named Nokia C6 and Nokia C6-01 respectively. What exactly is the meaning of that?

      Cheers.

  • March 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm
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    dear,yomi,a friend of mine from abroad,fill me with goodies of smartphone & i intend to buy one but my fear is wether our carriers here in nigeria can power an andriod/windw mobile device?

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