“The more I use Androids competitors the more I start to dislike how Android works”
That’s my opening statement and now I’m going to explain why!
You’re probably reading this article, or at least the title and thinking; what the hell is going on with AndroidSPIN and all this Windows Phone 7 talk and bashing Android. First of all, this is all me and my thoughts and feelings about where Android is heading. These are the impressions I get when I use competitors products to try to keep up with the times, and see what Android has to compete with. I still love Android and it’s still my number one OS and I don’t see anything changing in the near future, but I also like to keep my mind open and see what other people do better or worse and feed this information back to you guys. Read this article before you start to judge and I hope it will get your brains kicked into motion and see if we can get some more informed answers to the questions I’m raising in this article. I’m no developer so all the opinions and findings in this article are based on my own experiences.
Androids Achilles Heel? Maybe!
Everyone states that we have complete multi tasking operating in Android and how awesome it is to have all that power, but I’m saying that’s it’s becoming Androids Achilles Heel. Over the last few weeks I’ve been playing around with a Samsung Focus S from AT&T that Samsung was kind enough to send me. While I have my concerns about the Interface and the lack of customization you get with Android, I have to say that Windows Phone 7 is pretty well done. It will never replace my Android phone, but it does work well. One of the main advantages is the battery life that I previously reported.
The Windows Phone 7 has never had any problems with memory or slow down and I never have to worry about what’s running in the background. I don’t have to think about the applications I’ve installed and if my phone is slowing down or becoming unstable due to badly written software running in the background that is not easy to track down or close. It just seems to keep going. I’ve gone through the Windows Marketplace and installed application after application, games, social tools and lots more and have not experienced any issues.
What’s with all the developer options?
The guys over at Google want us to believe that Android has awesome memory and task management and that the operating system will simply take care of things and manage its memory as required. If this is the case, why does Google keep adding more and more tools in the background to counteract badly written applications?
The option for “Don’t keep activities” appears to force android to clear out the data used by the application you are switching away from, thereby releasing more memory. This is something the application should do on its own accord, if the developer has written the application correctly. From what I’ve read, the function “onSaveInstanceState” is what a developer should use to save the application state from an activity before being killed so that the state can be restored later when the user returns to the application. This is probably too much information for the average Android user, but I’m just trying to give some background. You can also set the “Background process limit” which I’m assuming will prevent an application from starting too many background processes, leaving them running in the background. I’ve done some searching for more information about these options, but I can’t really find any definitive answers. Most of the answers I find just say that these options are for developers and should not be touched.
What I don’t understand is why we are even seeing these options. Most people are end users of the phones and not developers so why not have a developer tools application that developers can install with extra setting for their application testing. They are simply making Android more complicated to the average user and the over all experience.
I’ve talked about Windows Phone 7 before and people commented that they never have slow down on their devices and Android is simply awesome. I seriously question those statements or say that those people are not really using the power of Android to its fullest or haven’t encountered one of the many badly written programs.
If a program is written correctly, it should release most of its memory and processes when you switch to another task, but this relies on each and every programmer to write their applications correctly in the first place. Windows Phone 7, iOS and WebOS enforce this method and freeze an application when you switch away from it, only allowing specially written services to continue to do background tasks.
If a program is written badly on Android, it can refuse to release the memory it should and simply continues to run at full pace in the background eating your precious clock cycles and eventually slowing down your phone.
Why are we trying to make our phone act like a desktop computer?
Android is an operating system designed to run on phones, so the first question I ask is “Why do we need our phones to multi-task like a desktop computer? Your screen is not big enough or capable of showing multiple applications at the same time so why do this!
I’m sitting at my desktop running Windows 7 and have a dual monitor setup. I have 3 browser windows open, a number of Google Talk chats and I’m monitoring my tweets while I’m writing this article in Microsoft Word. Do I want it to multi-task, of course I do!! I can see everything at the same time so I want it all to keep running and updating in real-time. That’s the nature of what I call multi-tasking.
Can I create this same view in Android? No I can’t, so why do I want it all to act the same as my desktop? I don’t!
It seems all other phone operating systems have stricter control over the applications released for them. Windows Phone 7, iOS, and WebOS to name the major players. It also seems that these other operating systems do everything we need them to do but don’t get bogged down with too many programs running at the same time. They still perform all the same functions. We still get our notifications for email, Twitter, Facebook and many other social applications. They still receive phone calls and text messages in real-time in the background. They just do it differently. The tighter guidelines and controls over how people implement services that perform the background tasks of the applications seem to work much better and give much less chance of a rogue application causing chaos on our devices.
Is Android Too Much?
The BIG question is.. “Is Android overkill for a device that has a primary purpose of receiving phone calls and keeping an eye on some of our favorite social messaging and emailing accounts?
When we have a rogue application, why don’t we have an easy way to shut down that application? Why isn’t there a task manager we can get to? this also raises the never-ending debate of whether we need a task manager or not to make Android run better.
I made the mistake of thinking that the new “recent application list” in Ice Cream Sandwich was in fact a pseudo tasks manager. From watching initial videos and presentations from Google, I thought when you swiped your finger across an application from this list that is was not only removed from the list, but it also killed the application altogether. Silly me. It’s still just a recent application list the same as we’ve always had, they just changed the way you get to it. This really makes no sense to me.
They have removed the long press of the Home button that we previously used and added a dedicated button. Now a long press of the Home button does nothing. What a waste of screen real estate. We still have the Home button so why didn’t they just leave it alone and use the soft keys at the bottom for some other purpose or allow us to customize it ourselves?
So I open the debate! What is wrong with Android? Why do we need multi-core processors and gigabytes of memory to run what is primarily a phone? I can understand this need more when we start to get some serious gaming on our phones, but then again, most of this performance comes from the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and no the CPU.
Forget your interface preferences at this point and just think about what I’m saying in this article! Does Android need to be a fully multitasking operating system that acts like a desktop computer and why?