(More) Android Annoyances

Oh, Android… you’re the operating system I love to hate. Android could be SO AWESOME, if only carriers would allow Google to update ALL handsets… and if Google would just fix some of the tiny annoyances that make Android so frustrating:

– I’ve owned four Android devices, The first ran Froyo, which was upgraded to Gingerbread. The second was a Gingerbread phone. The last two are a phone and tablet, each running Jellybean. Every single one of those devices had this “bug” where, after anywhere from two to six months, they’d stop being able to get a DHCP address from Wi-Fi. No combination of toggling airport mode on or off, or “forgetting” the network and adding it back, or rebooting and\or pulling the battery will fix it. Seems to me that there are only two ways to fix it: one is to switch to a static IP; this works great for home networks, but is absolutely useless for public Wi-Fi connections, since you don’t know what subnet the public router is on, or what addresses are available. Which is why the second fix – resetting the device – is the only real fix, and that means starting over from scratch. Hooray.

– Speaking of resetting a device… can anyone explain exactly how Android’s built-in “backup and restore” feature is supposed to work? I said that I’ve “owned four Android devices”, but It would actually be more accurate to say that I’ve owned 9 devices: 2 Samsung Intercept phones, 2 Motorola Triumph phones, 3 Samsung Galaxy Ring phones and 2 Asus MeMo tablets. The tablet had a bad pixel and was swapped out a few days after purchase. The Intercept was a piece of crap that constantly locked up and required battery pulls several times a week; Virgin Mobile replaced it once, then sent me the Triumph. The Triumph was much more stable, but not without issues of its own, including odd vertical lines developing on the screen, which is why VM replaced that phone. I bought the Galaxy Ring on impulse, not knowing that reviews on VM’s own website talk about spontaneous reboots and lock-ups. They’ve already replaced it twice, and I’m **this close** to sending in the third one as well. 

Anyway, the point is… I’ve owned many Android phones, and have had to restore my stuff at least 7 times just for hardware swaps. That’s not counting the 15-20 additional resets I’ve done just to fix stuff (like the Wi-Fi issue), or when I’d upgrade the Triumph to the latest build of CM. But I’ve never been able to get the restore feature to work consistently. 

On Ring #2, I went through setup and logged in to my Google account… and the phone immediately started downloading all the apps I’d had on Ring #1. All I had to do was wait 45 minutes or so for everything to download and install, then log in to any app that required it. Everything was just like it was before. Smooth! But when I moved to Ring #3 I did the exact same thing… and 45 minutes later, the only thing the phone had done was prompt me to update the pre-installed apps. It was the same when I reset the MeMo a few days ago: I checked the “Do you want to restore this device?” and… 20 minutes later… nothing. No sign whatsoever that anything had been updated or restored… just the prompt to update all the pre-installed apps. I’m assuming that iPhones have a similar restore feature. Does the iPhone version have some sort of progress indicator? Because that would be a nifty thing to have, knowing that the Android restore was somehow stuck at 0%, or was 23% done or whatever. Just “putting the phone down and hoping for the best” doesn’t seem like it works very well for me.

– But hey, at least with ICS Google finally allowed you to set up a Wi-Fi connection before it asked if you wanted to restore your files and settings. Nothing’s more fun than wasting 200MB of your 2.5GB data plan restoring your apps because Google can’t figure out the proper sequence of steps in a setup routine!

– In Jellybean (or maybe ICS, which I leapfrogged) Android introduced this SUPER ANNOYING warning message that comes up when you turn the volume past a certain point: “Listening to music at loud volumes for extended periods can damage your hearing” I have four problems with this: one, the warning comes up no matter what audio device you’re using, even Bluetooth; two, the threshold for the dialog is set way too low, if you turn the volume up past 33% – as most people would – it comes up every single time; three, the dialog is modeless, not modal… which means that instead of retaining focus, the message can “fall behind” your music or video player, so you have to exit the player, press “OK” on the message, then restart the player; four, there is no “don’t show this again” check box. You can say what you will about Microsoft, but I can’t think of a similar warning message in Windows that DOESN’T come with a “don’t show this again” option.

– And hey – the Android API is up to version 19, and there’s STILL no option to mute notification sounds when listening to music. Sure, you can go to settings and manually mute the sounds… but then you’d have to go back and un-mute them when you’re done. Would it be SO HARD for Android to have an API that allows music players to add a “when music’s playing, don’t play notification sounds” option? This is one of the most common questions asked of third-party media player creators, and their unanimous answer is: “great idea, tell Google to add it to the OS”.

– “Insufficient Storage Available”. This is annoying as shit. I picked up my phone last night after several hours of not using it, only to find that the battery was much lower than I’d expected. Why? Because Android was fruitlessly and repeatedly trying to update the Facebook app. I had 507 MB of free space in main storage, yet somehow that wasn’t enough to update a 20.1 MB app. Thus: “Insufficient Storage Available”. But WHY Android needs free space in excess of 25 times the app it’s installing is a mystery.

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