Android annoyances that need to go

Before I start complaining, I would like to offer a little praise for Android.  I have been an Android user since I decided to switch from an iPhone 3G to a Nexus 1.  It was a true feeling of freedom, no more Jailbreaking in order to get the functionalities I wanted, which Cupertino refused to give, and no more waiting on the talented people building the Jailbreaks to enable me to update to the latest iOS with jailbreak intact.  Basically, I had a phone that I purchased and I could do with it what was possible, not just what a fat cat (they are all skinny but you get my point) in California decided I could do with my device.

Sure, the iPhone had great hardware and software, but Android was catching up, and they were doing so quickly.  I didn’t have to wait long for Android to pass iOS in terms of functionality, and now we see Apple running desperately after Google trying to catch up.  All this open vision and freedom came with some issues.  Hardware manufacturers wanted to distinguish themselves from one another, which is perfectly fine, but they were implemented with an old mentality, the firmware mentality not the GUI and app mentality.

Value Added Bloat

It makes me cringe when I hear a manufacturer “add” value to their software by installing things that are unnecessary. At least for some users they are useless.  Here they are:

Bloatware

Or Crapps (crap apps) as our very own Ash baptised it.  Someone over at Samsung, LG, HTC and even Google themselves decided that some apps are valuable to me.  They are so valuable that I cannot uninstall them.  “No M, you cannot remove Evernote.  It’s for your own good, don’t worry that they have access to all the data on your phone” (more on this later).  I decide what I want on my phone and I decide what they can access.

Google is not free from this either.  I love all the Google apps, but if I wanted to remove some of them I would not be able to.

Offer the Crapps as exclusive for your customers and let them choose what they want.

Emoticon roulette, send it and hope for the best.

Emoticon 2             Emoticon 3

GUI…argh!!!

Touchwiz, Sense, Nonsense, Kindasense… Why?  They are not better, you are not offering anything good to your customers, you are punishing them.  If you want to peddle your horrible UI to users, give the users the chance to not use it if they so choose.  Vanilla and your under par UI, give them options.  After all Android is about options and freedom, if we just wanted good hardware we would own an iPhone, Windows phone or even Blackberry.

Manufacturers also decided to place the bloody buttons wherever they wanted. Some on the right, some on the left, the menu buttons also suffer with this. Tanim wrote a good article on why we need a fixed menu button.

Same as the Crapps, offer these as exclusive for customers on the Play Store, don’t shove them down our throat.

Software Updates

A lot of the companies are getting better at this, but they are not good enough in some cases.  I blame the delay on the arrival of updates on the UI and bloatware implementation.  Fix it.

Privacy and Lack of Control

This is the most important one of them all to me.  Google introduced an option to block what certain apps can access on your phone a while ago.  This didn’t last long, as they removed it shortly after.  This option can currently be achieved with Cyanogenmod, but none of the other manufacturers distributions. Give this control back to the customers.

Controlling detailed features of the OS is something sorely missed.  I look at that messaging banner popping up like a bloody commercial when I am doing something else and I just mentally bitch slap the person who created that every time.

Hardware

Lately manufacturers have been removing some hardware options. These are not deal breakers but it is good to have.

Battery, We Need Juice

Some users do want a removable battery, so until manufacturers can figure out a way for a battery to last a week and charge in 10 minutes, we need removable batteries.

Memoir

SD cards.  We are connected most of the time but not 100% of the time, sometimes there are no Clouds.  Some of us like to have a local backup while not connected, either to work, watch a movie or in cases that the hardware goes bad.

Yes, I know

Some of you will be saying that most of my complaints can be solved by rooting or flashing a different ROM, but I don’t think I should need to do that just to fix a poor implementation of something.  When I pay 500 plus pounds for a phone, I want it working the way I want it to work.  This is not an iPhone, freedom to choose brought me and many others to Android, and I hope Google doesn’t forget about this.

Banner Bonus

Who thought this would be a good idea? “Yes, everyone loves a good pop-up ad. Let’s splash their messages right on top of the video!!!”

Lollipop Banner

 


 

 

M Hatti

International man of non-mystery. My passion for all things tech comes from a very small age, since the first time I learned how to connect a VCR and make it work (I was 5). My first PC was an Apple II. I have fond memories about the first time I connected to a BBS and the first time I connected to the Internet via that same bulletin board system. I love films and TV series.

  • H00pyFr00d

    /rant …?

    Good points all, M. I’m glad the article didn’t end with ‘So I’ve bought an iPhone’.

    From my point of view I want an Android phone running stock rom with layers, awesome hardware, and removable battery/memory. It shouldn’t be that hard to achieve but it’s never been done.

    Put a memory card slot and a removable battery in a Nexus device: Done!
    Take a high end phone with removable back like the LG G4 and supply it with AOSP rom or even the good old Google Play Edition: Done!

    The closest I ever got was installing CyanogenMod on my LG G3 but then I suffered terrible battery and stability issues.

    Lastly, why is it (even with Camera2 API) Google are incapable of having a good camera on a vanilla Android device (all the Nexus phones, all the Moto phones, all the GPe handsets).

    There’s a huge community of people creating Material themes for the Galaxy S6 now. Surely this should resonate with Samsung’s customers?

  • Specific app permissions are coming in with the M release. You’ll be able to allow access to the Camera but deny access to your contact list within a single app, for example.

    • mhatti3000

      Here’s hoping the manufacturers don’t screw that up too. The other issues need to be addressed quickly.

  • MightyPi

    And…breath…

  • Exactly my thoughts!!!! Why can’t Google fix all these craps out!!! They drive me NUTS!!!! ARRRGGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Tw@tPanda

    I read most of that and I don’t seem to have any of those issues. Any unwanted apps forced by Sony were quickly disabled. Sure I’d like to delete them to free up some space but at the moment I’ve still got plenty of storage to play with, and an SD slot should that run out. Sony’s stock GUI isn’t too bad and is close to vanilla android so no complaints there. The battery life is pretty epic for a smart phone, and at one point I engaged “ultra stamina mode” to get another 12 hours battery on 5% remaining. App permissions should hopefully be fixed when M is released but I’ve not been overly concerned with them.

    TLDR: Buy Sony.

    • mhatti3000

      When I wrote the article I was using a Z2, prior to that I had a Z1 for nearly two years, Kit Kat was my OS as I refused to use Lollipop. I still had all those issues, except for the SD card, which helped me when the phone died.

      Disable apps is not good enough for me. I want them gone. Ideally I want them not there at all from the first boot.

      The Sony battery is one of the best ones I have seen I was getting about 13 hours moderate to heavy use. If I am travelling that is still not good enough. That being said, Sony is the only phone that can justify a non-removable battery because it is waterproof.

      Sony has a long way to go, they are taking in strides and hopefully get it sorted soon.

      Don’t you get annoyed when a Lollipop banner pops up and you are watching YouTube or concentrated on something else?

      • Tw@tPanda

        I’m currently using a Z1 compact, it’s a great little phone. The little pop ups aren’t an issue with me as I rarely use my phone to watch things since that’s what my laptop is for. Notifications can be turned off if they’re too annoying. The main uses of my phone are communication, taking photos, listening to music and the occasional bit of navigation when I travel to a new place.

        As for battery life, it’s easily extended. If I’m not near a wifi hotspot, I turn off wifi. If I’m not using any navigation services, I turn off gps. If I’m in a poor signal area or connected to wifi I’ll turn off mobile data. Since I don’t use the phone for everything possible and don’t need to be online 24/7 I’m able to get 2 days normal use per charge. I can get almost 4 days using stamina mode.

        • mhatti3000

          Yes, I can see that in the scenario you mentioned it is ok. I use the phone a lot, also for 500+ pounds I shouldn’t have to compromise.The Z1 in the beginning was horrible, the OS was terrible and buggy, I had issues with the camera too. The Z2 was a big improvement mainly because of the OS, so kudos to Sony there. But yes, they need to improve and change their game. All of them.

          • Tw@tPanda

            Part of the problem is manufactures striving for more power while making the phone thinner and lighter. Instead of shaving off a mm here and a few grams there, they could stick a little bit more battery inside.

    • SonyFTW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Udimion

      That is the single most preposterous statement that has ever been written in the history of humanity!

      I too have had the misfortune of owning a Sony, and it they are,
      without doubt, the most loathsome mobile company to ever exist!

      The design, which was once mildly interesting, is not blander and more boring that HTC, which takes some doing. And the software is just awful. I’ve owned Samsung’s and while they are too fond of preinstalling their own Samsung bloat, Sony load their own bloat and then throw on third-party bloat too!!

      Initially it was QR code readers, facebook etc, and then after
      the next update they had switched to vine…neither of which I use. I’m all for social network integration, but don’t force me to have social networks I don’t want pre-installed.

      And that doesn’t even cover the ludicrous SonyBloat. They have
      their TV remote, music service, film & TV service, their PS branded gaming service…even their stupid Xperia Privilege or whatever they are calling it now for users to get news and enter competitions by Sony (which now even comes with an additional Privilege Plus app too). And the worst thing about them is that half of them don’t even work, with Sony having no idea how to make them work, on their own phones!!!

      The GUI is ugly and nothing close to vanilla – only Motorola seem able to deliver on Vanilla with a couple of tweaks. Sony has to resort to users installing themes to make it even vaguely appealing.

      Their implementation of SD card support is shoddy at best, and I can’t do some things on my Sony that I can do on other lollipop devices – they don’t even know how to do that properly.

      Everyone that I know who has owned a Sony has had at least one major problem with it – mine was a faulty battery (even though the fault didn’t start until months of use!) which made the whole thing unusable. I called Sony support to be told it was a known issue and to wait for the next update (without an ETA) – the phone would literally die within a few minutes of coming off charging with a full battery, and when it didn’t die, it would just freeze and I’d have to hard reset it. In the end I just went online and booked it in for repair without talking to any Sony people and was forced to buy a new phone while it was repaired. A few weeks later I got it back, but demoted it to in-house remote for things like Kodi because it’s just terrible as a phone and cannot be relied
      upon.

      I wish Sony were good, I really do, but they aren’t, They are terrible. I wouldn’t even encourage my worst enemy to buy one! The Xperia experience is vile, the design is awful, the software is horrific and constantly buggy, and their bloat and GUI are the worst of any manufacturer…ever!

      • Tw@tPanda

        “The Xperia experience is vile, the design is awful, the software is
        horrific and constantly buggy, and their bloat and GUI are the worst of
        any manufacturer…ever!” is the single most preposterous statement that has ever been written in the history of humanity. Or a statement by someone who hasn’t had the joy of Touchwiz.

        As for all of the SonyBloat/Crapps. You don’t have to use them! Shocking, I know. Hell, I even disabled them and had to check which ones on your list were on my phone.

        • Udimion

          I have used Touchwiz and even then, I find Sony’s infinitely worse – at least Samsung brings some extra functionality with their Touchwiz.

          And I know you can disable the bloat, that’s not the point. If you want to use that argument, why complain about Touchwiz because you can just download a content launcher and icon pack. The fact is that they layer the phone full of their own rubbish and refuse to give me a choice to uninstall it!

          • Tw@tPanda

            “Sony has to resort to users installing themes to make it even vaguely appealing”: Grrrr, Sony bad!

            “… you can just download a content launcher and icon pack.” Yey! Samsung good!

            Ok, I get the gist of your argument. Sony ran over your puppy, where as Samsung merely clipped it.

          • Udimion

            Not at all. Samsung also bad, but at last they have brought things to Android which have been useful – smartstay, multiscreen etc, which goes some way to justify some of their actions. Sony don’t, hence Sony are worse.

  • Th3darkknight

    Umm.. get a Windows Phone? *runs away*
    I have been switching between my two year old Lumia 1020 and the HTC One Max but keep going back to WP (even after its non existent App market. in b4 people start pointing that out)
    Here’s my list of annoyances with Android: (No I can’t/won’t root as it messes up my office mail )
    – All the clutter – The home screens, widgets, app drawers, settings. hell even the photos app. It just takes me longer to get things done on Android.
    – Random Slowdowns – The phone has one of those Mega Jigga Cores and ample Ram but still decides to slowdown to a crawl randomly. Sometimes the keyboard won’t pop up. Some times the app switching screen gets stuck
    – Camera – This is probably an unfair comparison but the HTC feels like a Potato Camera in front of the 1020
    – Apps – (Yes I went there), Sure Android has a bajillion applications but that also makes wading through the crap to find that one feature take so much longer. example: I wanted a free homescreen widget which would show me a day countdown and not look half bad. Guess which OS had a better app?
    Then again my next phone probably won’t be a WP as even MS seem to have given up no it.
    /Rant

    • mhatti3000

      The widget can be easily removed, I only have the calendar widget on my home screen.

      • ^this, I only have a picture of a Nut in wallpaper and list of to-do tasks widget in my home screen.

        • Th3darkknight

          The Widgets are not my biggest annoyance.
          Why does every app I install want to create a shortcut on my homescreen?

          • That drives me nuts too, I remove all the shortcuts from homescreen soon after installing them.

          • Udimion

            Just deselect that option in the play store.

          • Thanks foo!!!!

          • mhatti3000

            also configurable.

          • Th3darkknight

            how?

            edit: found it