Tag Archives: FroYo

Is Google Cursed?

Back in the very early part of the 1990’s, the tech world villain of choice was IBM, and the underdog was Microsoft. As the 1990’s progressed, IBM began to move into the background and Microsoft took over the role as tech villain.

Windows 3.0 was the version that really started making waves in a big way. It was buggy and unreliable, but it offered a glimpse of the potential personal computers presented. Windows 3.0 made it possible to pick from a wide variety of standardized computer hardware parts and put them together and have a working personal computer that could do rudimentary multitasking. Windows succeeded because it worked on an open hardware platform. That same open platform forever cemented The Windows’ Curse.

In 2010 the new tech villain is Google. Smartphones are the new computers of choice. Google Android is the new Windows 3.0 morphing into 3.1, 3.11, and Windows 95.

My fear is that Google Android is doomed to repeat the muddled path of Windows.

Here is why.

My HTC Evo was recently updated to Android 2.2 “Froyo.” All well and good. However, the Android apps I have installed are constantly being updated. Fine – I can see how that would happen. However, I’m noticing that some of them no longer work. Incompatibilities are creeping in. The latest victim of Android upgrade fail is the latest Android version of the Foursquare app, which causes my phone to spontaneously reboot a few seconds after I open the app.

The Windows Curse is in very real danger of becoming The Android Curse.

The open platform is both a blessing and a blight. Open platforms are great so long as they are small. Once they become the majority market leader, their very openness makes them vulnerable to of errors of confusion as well as a giant security target.

It’s probably time for some company to start producing antivirus and antispyware software for Android phones. And it may also be time for some of us to start fleeing for the higher ground of walled garden dictatorships.

Do Frequent Phone O/S Updates Make Sense?

I’ve had my HTC Evo for a couple of months or more at this point. When I first turned it on, there was an update waiting. The update installed. So far, so good.

Over the next few weeks I heard there was another update available, but it turned out there was a problem with the update. It took HTC and Sprint about a week or more to fix the problem update, but since the Evo was still in very short supply, I chose not to update it right away. What if there was a problem with the update and it bricked the phone? How would I get an immediate replacement? Better to wait.

A few days ago, Sprint and HTC started releasing the “Froyo” or “Frozen Yogurt” Android 2.2 update for the Evo. I decided it was time to take the plunge and accept the update.

There were two updates. The first one downloaded and installed, and then the second. No problems.

Now I’m asking myself, did the upgrade to Android 2.2 live up to all the hype? Android 2.2 on the Evo might be a little bit more snappy, but it’s hard to tell since the Evo already had excellent performance with the version of Android it shipped with. There are a few changes here and there that improve usability, some of them somewhat worthwhile, but was it really worth the trouble? The phone was a great device before the update. It’s a great device after the update.

Are updates to existing smartphones enough reason for consumers to get really excited over? As I see it, if lots of new basic usability and reliability can be added with a particular update, then it’s likely worthwhile. Smartphones are still evolving devices.

It seems to me that the job of adding new functionality to smartphones falls primarily to apps, and not necessarily the operating system itself. The operating system should be a stable, functional platform that offers basic functionality and services to those apps.

Once smartphone operating system design begins to mature however, the danger of updating and changing things just for the sake of change is always a potential risk. Also keep in mind that on average people replace cell phones about every 18 months, which is a much more frequent replacement cycle than desktop and laptop computers.

In the realm of desktop computer software, Microsoft Office is a great example of mature software design. There are only so many things word processing software can do. Microsoft Word and Excel both had good design and usability for me starting way back with Office 95. With subsequent releases, Microsoft seemed to sometimes arbitrarily change things just for the sake of change, which is a huge usability mistake. Computer software design is not the same as car styling design.

Can Windows Phone 7 Take on Android?

In November, not soon enough, I will be eligible for a new cell phone.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been happy with my Samsung Omnia running Windows Mobile 6.1.  It’s reliable, it has WiFi, and I’ve added lots of apps such as WeatherBug, Google Mobile, and TouchTwit.  Google Maps works great with the built-in GPS, YouTube plays well…really there’s nothing to complain about.  I can even tether (if you’re an iPhone user you may need to look up this term) using PdaNet.

But for the past few months I have had Android-envy.  First I wanted the Motorola Droid and then/now the HTC Incredible.  I am interested in the Motorola Droid X, but it may be too big – I need to see one in person.  I love what I see of the HTC Evo, but I have no desire to leave Verizon.

Recently, though, it has occurred to me that when I am finally able to get my new phone, Windows Phone 7 devices will be very close to hitting the market.  Being a Zune user, and knowing Zune is built in, I want to take a long look at this product.

So what will they offer out of the gate, and how does it compare to Android phones?  I looked at Android 2.2 and tried to make a comparison.

  • Multitouch – Both
  • Multitasking – Android has full capability, Windows Phone 7 will be limited to start
  • Default browser – Android has Chrome, WP7 has IE
  • Tethering – Android does Wifi and USB, WP7 Unknown at this point
  • Copy and Paste – Android is yes, WP7 is no (initially)
  • Keyboard – Both support on-screen and physical
  • Music Store – Android is third-party, WP7 is Zune
  • Music Streaming – Android is yes, WP7 is unknown
  • Flash – Android is yes, WP7 is no
  • Maps with Turn-by-turn – Android via Google, WP7 via Bing
  • Games – Android is yes, but not great, WP7 has Xbox Live
  • Books – Both are no (but Android has a beta of Audible available)
  • Office suite – Android has Google Docs, WP7 has Office Mobile

So, based on this, Windows Phone 7 wins in a couple of places – namely Office Mobile over Google Docs, and Zune over no particular music store (but, even though I have a Zune, I use Amazon MP3).  However, the Zune streaming service is a great deal, especially because of it’s 10 free downloads per month.  The fact that I don’t use it may says more about my penny-pinching than anything else.  I just want to buy the occasional song, and I use Amazon for that.  I am not a gamer, but if I were I would think the nod here would also go to WP7.

Where does Android come out on top?  Well, multitasking, default browser, copy and paste, Flash, and probably books.

There are a few unknowns in WP7.  Namely tethering and music streaming.  But since WP7 is unknown the nod would have to go to Android for being the known quantity.

The only draw I see is in Maps and turn-by-turn directions.  I have to say that Bing is every bit as capable as Google in this area.

So, my bottom line?  Well, November is still a ways off and I assume we’ll learn more about WP7 in that time…but as of now, I have to think I’ll be buying an Android.  Two years after that it may be a whole different story, but, for now, Android has this battle under control.  I don’t ever count Microsoft out though.