Saturday, 7 April 2012

Let's fix Android!

No ecosystem is perfect, neither iOS nor windows. Most of the iOS developers would remember the days iPhones used to lack multitasking and the developers need to implement everything on 'applicationWillTerminate' method. Android also has its own flaws.

Android ecosystem has grown far strong and large. 850.000 devices are activated each day and by end of the year this would be much more than a million. Big ecosystems have bigger problems which is normal (compare pcs to macs). However the success on the phone market did not really achieved by the tablets. There are only a few set of devices supporting the latest os although it has been out months ago and even a newer version is on the way. 

I believe only the ecosystem can solve its problems. Both the users and the developers need to take responsibility! Here is the manifesto lets fix android!!

To Users,
- Do not buy devices not shipped with the latest available version of the Android OS! Vendors promised to bring the latest os to all devices with compatible hardware in 6 months [Google I/O 2011] but they did not. ICS was released months ago but it is still 2-3% of the whole devices. Still 90% of the devices are between 2.0 and 2.3. 
- Do not believe 'upgradable to' promises. I own an LG Optimus 3D which I was told upgradable to 2.3 last may but it is still stuck at 2.2. If it is not shipped with the latest version, simply don't buy! 
- Choose brands who tend to keep their devices up to date. Sony seem to have better reputation so far. Also reference devices (nexus one, nexus s, galaxy nexus, xoom) have a higher chance to get updates.  
- Support developers of the free software with your comments and ratings. Those people give their software for free so don't expect them to hire designers and buy graphic assets. If you have a problem or idea try to contact them. I personally replied every email i had about every complaint or feature request.
- Buy software. Android users tend to spend much less than iOS users. You pay for the device, for the network so pay for good software!

To Developers,
- Just because Google does not control the software you upload to Play, it does not mean you don't need to care quality. Follow best practices and UI guides. At least watch, read and listen free materials. There are great Google I/O talks.
- Don't thread tablets just as big phones. Build custom UI, use custom graphic assets and add new functionality. Android tablets are suffering on nice software. Keep in mind one way or other there will be more android tablets soon and if you can build something good you will shine.
- Don't design on your own and delegate it to a professional if possible. If not, use royalty free graphics.
- Use AsyncTask everywhere possible, don't lock the UI thread and make your software not responding.
- Keep the view hierarchy short, try not to use LinearLayouts.
- Explicitly use hardware acceleration.

... and finally Google,
- Everyone was mad with how apple deal their app store but it may be good to have a little more control on the content.
- Again it seemed great to have a free os but seems like vendors fail to keep their devices up to date. Just do something, anything but encourage and lead the to update their device's OS.
- Android grow so big that it took over Google I/O. Either have a seperate Android conference or just extend Google I/O and bring more people in.