I’ve seen some recent musings on the possibility of Android as a desktop OS. While I think Android is a great OS, there’s a lot of work to make it a viable desktop OS. My thoughts on an Android desktop below:
I wouldn’t consider one unless Google did an Android 3.0 style overhaul of the OS to accommodate the 10” tablet form factor and Android 4.1 style overhaul for 7” tablets.
This would have to be pretty comprehensive as well, detailed mouse/keyboard support across the entire OS (I know it supports these things now via BT and so on but there’s bound to be buckets of usability issues) and consider the addition of the use of these peripherals and make some other adjustments rather than just taking on nice support.
There are some other expectations I have of a Desktop OS that would need to be considered, such as a full-fledged File Browser/Explorer utility (and a well done one at that, rather than a half-baked Downloads folder).
Basically, I’d expect it to do everything except for support .exe / .msi / mac equivalent install files, including market support. A hyped up Google Docs to rival Office included as a stock app would also be appreciated.
I don’t think any OEMs could offer this functionality on their own without screwing it up. Has to be a Google drop to the AOSP and part of a major Android release.
What I didn’t cover in my comment above was the value proposition of an Android desktop OS. What does it offer me that Windows does not? (I was about to say a random distro of linux, but the answer immediately popped in to my head - not having to stress about fixing 99 trivial problems before I can begin using it as a full fledged OS - i.e. recent woes with wireless on an older laptop.. but that’s another story).
Granted, Google have been pretty clever with the initial design of Android - assuming you use the recommended layout classes/xml there’s no pixel scaling voodoo required for Device Manufacturer X to have their resolution choice work for all apps, but apps tailored/optimised app for a specific screen size are always going to offer a better user experience by making better use of real estate and the form factor in general.
There was recently a post on Slashdot about Google changing the terms for the Android SDK such that the source code for the SDK can no longer be modified and distributed in it’s modified form. I’d like to take a moment to discuss some of the potential reasons why I think this might be so. Original post from Slashdot:
Andy Rubin (Co-founder of Android before Google bought it, and current VP of Mobile) posted this a few months ago in relation to Aluyin OS. https://plus.google.com/112599748506977857728/posts/hRcCi5xgayg (which links to the official Android blog: http://officialandroid.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/the-benefits-importance-of-compatibility.html).
It sounds like this modification of the SDK might be another move toward Google defending against this Aluyin OS-style modification of Android. While Android is commonly cited as being “fragmented” due to the %’s of handsets that have older versions of Android on them (see the Development Dashboard); what these links talk about is a very serious, more dangerous style of fragmentation. Currently all Android apps are forward compatible with future versions and most are backward compatible (unless the develop chooses to use a new API and not include any graceful degradation in their app for older versions). But Google’s flavor of Android is also sideways-compatible with the likes of Amazon such that if you write an app intended for the play store and later decide to distribute it to an Amazon-flavored device (via their app store or other various means), you can do this.
The implications of allowing such activities to continue are that Android could turn into a true wild-west of operating systems. From a technical standpoint, a budding Chinese developer modifies some core Android source code which work with the apps being developed by his company, but suddenly break every other app developed for their flavor of the Android OS — and then suddenly developers for that hypothetical OS can no longer pick up their app and take it to Google’s (/Amazon’s) flavor of Android without resorting to hacks and workarounds. Suddenly that Android Development dashboard needs to represent that data in more than 2 dimensions - and Google’s got a world of new problems to deal with.
See this Architecture Diagram for some further context. Basically the various Android OEM’s and custom ROM developers such as Cyanogenmod should only really be modifying the blue bits and maybe some of the green (I’m sure ROM developers would argue on the red bits, but in a perfect world..). Seems like Google is trying to stop the messing with of the yellow “Android runtime” section.
In the spirit of “giving back” to the internet, I thought I’d post a quick tip on resolving an Exchange issue that had me stumped for a while. After installing the Jellybean update I noticed that my Exchange email was not properly pushing (e.g. unless I opened the app, it would not tell me that I had new emails).
I did the standard delete account/recreate to try and resolve it, but now I would be stuck on the “Waiting for sync” message. Turns out Outlook/exchange have a limit (of 10 – all my previous phones and ROM installs) on the amount of mobile devices you can have associated with your email address. I had coincidentally reached this limit following the Jellybean upgrade.
To check (and resolve) this, log into your company’s Outlook Web App (usually mail.yourcompanydomain.com or webmail.yourcompanydomain.com), go into options (on the version of OWA I am using: Options > See All Options), and click into the Phone sub-menu. If you have 10 devices listed here, you will need to delete some using the Delete menu button.
Note: I think this was a 2-part issue for me. The first was some new Exchange funnyness in Jellybean; the second was the 10 account limit mentioned above. For anyone experiencing a similar issue I’d also suggest trying to tick “Accept all SSL certificates” and clearing the port number in Incoming Settings to give it a boot.
In the last few weeks I’ve been exposed to a lot of bad journalism, for journalists who simply have not done their homework with regards to the Android release cycle - a sheer failure to understand or recognise how much work goes into creating an update for a single handset for each new version of Android. It’s not an executable file that Google sends out to your phones; in fact Google has very little to do with the update schedule.
Here’s how the Android release cycle works:
* Google internally develop and test an Android release. This release is “pure” Android that does not have any of the customisations, software components (drivers) that marry to the hardware, manufacturer customisations, etc.
* Google will generally progressively test the new release (e.g. to make sure it works) on a real-world phone. This phone generally becomes the base for the next Nexus device for that release.
* After intense testing of the pure version, Google will hold a press release, announcing the features of the upgrade, and generally also announce the Nexus device. This is the stage which begins journalist-release confusion, because what Google are actually doing is demonstrating the new features of the Android OS far ahead of time, as they are soon to release the SDK which contains an emulator image with an implementation of the new features, as well as the source code. At this stage a company such as Apple would still be tight lipped on features, but due to the open source nature of Android this becomes known to the public and thus it is in Google’s best interest to publicize the new features.
* Soon after the press release, Google will release the Android SDK which contains all the relevant tools/classes to develop for the new OS, as well as the emulator image containing new features.
* Following this, Google will then release all of the Android source code. Only at this stage do manufacturers get direct access to the next version of the OS and begin working on the upgrade for their handsets. In the Apple (release) world, the public still has no idea what is in the next version, because iOS is not open source and Apple does not need to provide the source code to any other parties (no one else manufactures iOS devices and public will never get to see it), and they have only a handful of handsets and can just do all their internal building and testing themselves. In the case of Android, because it is Open Source it is in Google’s best interest to hold a press conference to announce the features, because the source code is freely available and the public would find out regardless.
* An example of the stuff the manufacturers then need to create for each of their handsets is listed in the red below. The top 3 quarters come from Google and the AOSP (Android Open Source Project). The bottom quarter is device-specific and is what the manufacturers spend much of their time “doing”.
* Most manufacturers will concurrently develop their own customisations over the top of the default Android look, feel and functionality (e.g. HTC Sense and TouchWiz, including many of the blue sections at the top of this diagram). Devoting resources to developing these customisations also takes a significant amount of time.
* They then need to rigorously test the device themselves, perform User Acceptance Testing, test again. In the Apple world the public still has no idea what is in the next release, but in the Android world Google announced the release features and dropped the code several months ago. Normally at this stage Google has had a head start with internal testing of their Nexus device from day 1, and this is around the next Nexus device is released.
* Finally, the update is passed on to carriers (phone companies) to test. Here is where the real bureaucracy begins, and where an unnecessary 1-2 month overhead is usually added just to do a bit of network testing (this is something that should really only take 2-3 days if no problems in my opinion..).
So the perceived “lag” for Android updates is really just that - a perception. It’s about when the public is told about the device and it falls down to Android’s Open Source nature. The alternative is to close the doors, scare everyone away and kill the Android handset developer community - just to receive the updates on the same time schedule.
Notable is that while I fly the Android flag, Apple’s release cycle is definitely tighter. But the finger is generally pointed at Google, and what is not realised is that it is not Google’s responsibility to be building drivers for hardware for every handset released (in fact this is completely infeasible). They aren’t the ones producing the phones so there’s no way they would have the required knowledge on handset, hardware and associated software. IIRC Apple has the carrier testing part fleshed out - they either don’t have to give the testing to the carrier or do minimal testing. The “one handset to rule them all” thing also far simplifies the resources required to roll out new updates, and Android handset manufacturers are slowly starting to get this (Samsung and most recently HTC). If carrier bureaucracy could be chopped through we’d start to see some nice improvements.
Anonymous asked: Hey did you ever get a solution for the back cover for your xperia play fixed? I have the same issue, I switched the battery to the mega 3600mAh from the stock one and its saying my covers off when its on.
The solution was to properly push my back cover back on lol.. you’d need to make sure the cover fit on properly and had the little button pushed down as highlighted in my post.
Anonymous asked: Hey I have a similar problem with my x10 XPERIA after updating to 2.3.3 my SD card is not reading anymore, I cannot do anything with it any more (I mean card doest read on my phone, doest open on my phone while connected via USB and cant access the PC Companion without sd card), although if i put the sd card into a card reader i can access it. I formated the sd card no luck, spent couple of hours trying different methods like turning phone on and off with and without card, tried removing drivers
Is the back cover of your phone on firmly as per my blog post? If you can use the card elsewhere it would seem like it could be this.
Do other SD cards work in your Xperia PLAY?
This just happened. 12.5 Billion dollars apparently.
Motorola’s custom Android UI is questionable at best…
Google make awesome Android software.
Motorola have hardware capability…
Google have no hardware capability.
Edit: Also bolsters Google’s patent portfolio. See the recent post on the official blog.
So we’ve reached the end of the 3-week period for the Xperia Players competition. All-in-all it’s been a fun ride. Big thanks to Dan S (for good laughs for forgetting to attach the competitions) and Daniel Y (for emailing me said attachments when Dan S forgets!) for throwing the whole contest together, to Sony Ericsson for allowing this to happen, to Optus for sponsoring the contest with a SIM with preloaded value, to my twitter followers who retweeted all my posts (and facebook friends that shared them) and of course to my fellow contestants!
For anybody that’s been reading, the Play is a great handset - the user interface is fluid, phone build solid and the control pad is in more or less words - ‘awesome’. Think of the PLAY handset itself as a PSP running Android, with the capabilities of a smartphone, and the added benefit of being able to download games on demand! If you are a heavy gamer and looking for a new smartphone, you’ve really got no excuse not to purchase one!
I’ve compiled a little index-listing of all challenge entries below, for your viewing pleasure. Thanks for reading!
Challenge #1 (Video Game Character Lookalikes): http://reecewagner.com/post/4923366896/xperia-players-competition-1-video-game-character
Challenge #2 (Photos of everyday life): http://reecewagner.com/post/5263193966/xperia-players-challenge-2
Challenge #3 (App Review): http://reecewagner.com/post/5266005739/xperia-players-challenge-3
Challenge #4 (Capture reactions): http://reecewagner.com/post/5131764624/xperia-players-challenge-4-capture-and-share
Challenge #5 (Let’s Golf 2 character): http://reecewagner.com/post/5063443773/xperia-players-challenge-5
Challenge #6: [incomplete]
Challenge #7 (Mr Xperia): http://reecewagner.com/post/5264328139/xperia-players-mr-xperia-challenge
Challenge #8: [incomplete]
Challenge #9 (Inserting Android Mascot into interesting photos): http://reecewagner.com/post/5265093641/xperia-players-challenge-9
Challenge 3 of the contest is to demonstrate how my favorite app makes my life more easier or fun. I’ve chosen to Google Latitude as my app to review, which is essentially a live location-tracking service for Google maps. Many of my cohorts opted to make a video describing their app, but I thought a video wouldn’t be the best platform to get the word across.
Latitude looks like this:
The icon at the bottom of the screen is me, and the other icons are where my friends are at. Latitude comes included with all Android handsets, and can also be downloaded for BlackBerry OS, iPhone, Symbian S60 and Windows Mobile. Here’s some uses I have concocted for Google Latitude!
Catching your partner cheating
Suspect your partner is cheating on you? No problem! No need to hire a private investigator and pay hundreds of dollars an hour, just buy her a new Android handset outright, help her “set it up”, add yourself to her Latitude account and off you go! Real-time tracking! So when she’s staying back for work and you see that she’s actually 30km away at 28 Shifty Drive, grab your baseball bat/gun and go for a drive. You’ll have the satisfaction of bursting in on her, clubbing the other man in the face, and you’ll be saving hundreds of dollars in private investigator fees!
Tracking Pizza Delivery
Okay, this one isn’t realistic, but I did actually use it for this purpose once. I was over a mates house and waiting for his housemate (my friend too) to bring home the motherload of pizza from his shift at Domino’s. We were a little drunk and a lot hungry, and anxious to know when he’d arrive. Then I remembered I had him on latitude! So I opened latitude up and we tracked his progress, all the way up the freeway to the apartment doorstep. Maybe Dominos should look into using the Latitude API to further improve their online pizza-tracking experience?
Locating friends out and about
Newer versions of Latitude contain a “real-time updating” feature that allow you to tap on their icon to get near real-time indications of where they are at. Normally, there will be several minutes between your Latitude updates (depending on your use of the phone, settings enabled, etc), enabling this option will make it near-instant. So if you’re out and about, have agreed to meet up with Johnny X and have no idea you actually are, just hit him up on Latitude!
Better yet, you can scope out Latitude to see which of your friends are out and about on the night!
Locating Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden recently made the mistake of accepting firstname.lastname@example.org to his Latitude friends list. Even the world’s hide and seek champion makes mistakes every now and again..
Overall I think Latitude is a really cool concept; as more and more people start getting Android phones, the ubiquity of the application should increase. There’s great opportunity to do real-cool things with something like this, and Google has made an API interface available to the public to program with, so there’s a good chance somebody is going to make something very, very cool and exciting out of this. If you’ve got an Android handset you can access Latitude very easily by opening Google Maps, pressing the menu key on your handset, and hitting Latitude. Stalking Ahoy!
Nearing the end of the competition now! Last submissions are tomorrow night at 11.59PM (is that EST!?). Challenge number 9 entailed placing the Android mascot into into various situations (famous event, landmark, movie, etc) via image editing (or hard copy). Of course given my terrible artistic skills I chose the image editing route. We’ll call the Android mascot Andy for short!
#1 Andy invades a recent important announcement by President Obama
#2 Andy Invades an Apple Keynote!
#3 Who really shot JFK?