After having an Android phone for about a half of a year, there has been one thing that has been bothering me ever since an update was announced. The biggest problem I have with Android is how the updates are managed. My phone first had Android 2.1 installed on it when I first purchased the product. Several months after I got my phone, a new version of Android came out. This new version had many new features. One of these new features I really wanted to have — that being the ability to install applications to an SD card (since my phone had only about 300MB of internal space). So I figured that I would either get an update notice on my phone or have to venture on over to Google’s Web site to get it. I waited for this notice, but got nothing. I then tried to find this update on the Google Web site, but that’s when I found out about something that I was really surprised about. This update had to be given to me by my phone manufacturer. Okay, fine, I thought, I will just have to go through a different site to get it. But when I looked around on the manufacturer’s site, it just had a download for the older version. After doing a bit more research on the matter, I learned that my phone manufacturer had to make its own changes to the update. And on top of that, my phone carrier wanted to get its fingers in the mess before it was even possible for me to get the newest update for my phone. This is when I got slightly irritated, as some of my buddies would have this shiny new update, but who knew when I would get it? Nobody from either my phone manufacturer or my carrier was talking. Just the usual: “We don’t have a release date at this time.”
This is when I started wondering why Google didn’t implement a better update system while it was still in the design phase of Android. I mean, look at Windows 7. Moving from Windows Vista to Windows 7 could certainly use a more intuitive update system, but for the most part the same drivers that worked on Windows Vista work without a problem on Windows 7. The same goes for the software/apps. This update is released from Microsoft straight to the customer, who then can install it, and have it still work on the same computer.
Now the changes from Android 2.1 to 2.2 were certainly not all that much, yet it had to move through three different companies — all of which wanted to make their own changes to the operating system — before I could get this update downloaded to my phone. The biggest problem I have with this is that each company could take their sweet little time in tinkering with the operating system. Also, the third party company might not know as much about the Android code, and how to configure it. This means they will have to waste time and resources in hiring someone to do exactly that, instead of using those resources to just build the phones that run the operating system and to make the drivers that work with Android. Another drawback of this method is that, because they are making their own changes to the operating system, they might break compatibility that an app developer then has to deal with. This is my issue with the Android operating system.
The day finally arrived, though — the day in which I was able to download and install the 2.2 update to my phone. Of course, by then an even newer version of Android had been released. Who knows if/when it will be available for my phone model? Now let the waiting game commence.
I’ve also heard reports that Windows Phone 7 has a similar issue with the updating. I guess Microsoft didn’t learn from the advantages of Windows update on its normal operating system and took a step backwards when developing Windows Phone 7. I find it surprising, considering Microsoft has a lot of resources and knowledgeable people within its company. But I guess we, as humans, all make our fair share of mistakes. It’s just too bad that we, the customers of Microsoft’s products, have to deal with these inconveniences. After all, isn’t the point of technology to be helpful in solving problems, and not to introduce them?
There does seem to be a solution to all this madness, and that’s to simply go purchase an iPhone — something I have seriously considered doing after dealing with the Google update design fail. Now just to be clear, I love Android, and wanted to get an Android phone ever since I heard that Google was going to get involved in the smartphone market; Google’s goals always seem to be very high: to make life better, to solve problems, and all that jazz. That’s why it makes me so sad to see that it released a product that lacks in this area. Normally I would just say that it could fix the problem in an update, but if I can’t even install the update to my phone, well…
Now with that being said, Apple has problems all of its own — the main one being too much censorship. Now I couldn’t care less if it keeps release dates to itself. But the one thing that I certainly don’t agree with is when a customer is banned from talking about a certain topic on the Apple forums related to a concern about the product. This is exactly what happened according to an article I read in which Apple users aren’t allowed to talk about security updates to the older versions of the iPhone. Apps being blocked are another issue I have with Apple. Sure it’s great to have “bad” apps being dealt with before they even hit the store, but there have been plenty of reports of legitimate apps being blocked for no apparent reason. Another issue I have with the iPhone is that the battery is not user replaceable. It must be sent back to Apple for something that should be so simple, which I find ridiculous to say the least.
Before I finish this article, I just want to mention one more thing. I’ve heard about “rooting” of Android phones. That seems to be the only way to get the latest and the greatest on schedule with Google, but from reading the forums, it doesn’t seem to be the best experience as a multitude of bugs flow into the bug reporting section of the forum. But, hey, it might just be worth it to turn my phone into a guinea pig for the community released version, just to get all the awesome new features of Android.
So at the end of the day, I guess, no perfect solution exists yet, but hopefully the future will be brighter and we will see better technology to make our lives a bit easier and more convenient. Have you, yourself, had a similar issue? If so why not share your thoughts and feeling in the comments below? I would love to see them!
My name is Ethan Fouts, and I thought I would get involved in blogging. I started a Web site back in 2006 or so, but didn’t really post that much content as I was in high school at the time. The free time I did have for the Web site was spent focusing on the code behind it, though I’ve been posting more lately.