13
Apr

If you’ve been an Android Police fan for a while, you may recognize my name from some of my past posts. Beyond that, I was mostly active behind the scenes until I dropped this little bomb when I departed earlier this year.

The reaction to that article was pretty much what I expected - it was divisive and the conversation surrounding it was often heated. Ultimately, though, my goal was accomplished: people were talking about the problems surrounding Android and software updates.

You may be wondering, “If that was your departure letter, why the hell am I reading this? Go away iFanboy”. In fact, one of our team members assumed I had crossed to the dark side and purchased an iPhone. I’m happy to report that none of that happened. Since my departure, I’ve remained a loyal Android devotee.

There are few reasons for this, despite my strongly worded letter of condemnation:

1. It’s the ecosystem, stupid

This is both a blessing and a curse. When you devote yourself to one of the major mobile platforms right now, you end up with a problem: your apps. I tend to buy a lot of apps, and I love the fact that when I do so, I can install and use them on any Android device that my account is tied to. If I understand correctly, the same applies to Apple devices. The problem is, should you choose to jump ship from your platform of choice, you’re basically throwing money away. Any apps that you’ve previously purchased will have to be bought a second time on your new platform.

We saw a similar problem with DRM’d music – users that bought songs on iTunes (before they introduced DRM free music) were forced to listen to their music only on iTunes compatible devices. The solution there was simple (once you get the record companies to play nice): remove the DRM on music. The problem is considerably more complicated when it comes to a mobile ecosystem.

This isn’t something that I see being fixed overnight (or…ever). To do so would take momentous efforts, and, realistically, the payoff would be minimal for the owners of the ecosystems. I’m not placing the blame on Google or Apple with this one. For better or worse, it’s how things are, and likely will be for some time to come.

2. Google is stepping in. Wait, no they’re not.

Earlier in the month, rumors started spreading that Google planned on tightening its grip on Android. Specifically, this would involve Google placing restrictions on the amount of customizations that carriers and manufacturers were allowed to add to their Android-based phones so that updates can be pushed to the consumer quicker. As an outsider (at the time), watching those events unfold was fairly comical. First came the initial reporting with sensationalistic titles and hyperbole. Then came the backlash – “Android open? BAH! They’re becoming worse then Apple!” – and finally, the acceptance and reinforcement of the rumored policies - “Hey, maybe some control to prevent fragmentation would be a good thing!”

I, as you may have guessed, fell into the latter camp. Should the rumor prove true (it wouldn’t), Google would basically be implementing policies very similar to what I called for here (to clarify, I think my letter had absolutely nothing to do with the rumor). About a week after the rumor emerged, and it was spun, re-spun, and then spun again, none other than Andy Rubin himself stepped in to clarify the situation. It turns out the rumor was false, and business would continue as usual.

Initially, I was disappointed – clearly I’m an advocate of more control of the Android platform – but my disappointment began to wane when I realized how much I had read about the rumor over the few days that it was active, and that was enough for me. If anything, people were talking about it, and if Andy Rubin had to personally respond, then he was clearly aware of it as well. Who knows when, if ever, Google will step in and exercise more control. Hopefully the manufacturers themselves will pick up the slack without prodding from Google and release updates on a timely schedule, or maybe Google has something up their sleeve for the I/O conference.

3. I kind of really like Android

It's true. Despite my rant, I think it's going to take more than hurt feelings for me to walk away from the platform. I'm not sure if many of our readers are 'How I Met Your Mother' fans, but last nights episode dealt with something they referred to as "graduation goggles". The idea being that though high school may be rough (for some), come graduation day, no matter what happened, you tend to get 'misty eyed' and realize that you're going to miss it, despite the cruelty inflicted on you for 4 years.

I definitely had a case of "graduation goggles" when I began to think about leaving Android. Sure, some of the competitors offerings were tempting, but I started thinking about Android's little quirks, what it's like to install a new ROM for the first time, how supportive, passionate, and energetic the community is. Then I started thinking some more and I realized that Android is the right platform for me. It's young, and there are going to be bumps along the way, but at this point I think I'm in for the long haul.

That sounds eerily like a love letter. I'm going to go reflect on that. For those of you that would like a tl;dr: I'm back.

Chris Dehghanpoor
Chris is an Android devotee based out of Houston, TX. He enjoys indie rock, general geekery and long walks on the beach. If you can't find him online, he's probably playing Plants VS Zombies.
  • http://iandouglas.com Ian Douglas

    Welcome back, Chris. I'm still away from AP, obviously, mostly due to time constraints for writing lengthy reviews. But I'm still lurking, sending in occasional tips, etc. and I'll be meeting up with ArtemR at Google IO next month.

    Looking forward to seeing more posts from you soon.

  • ItsLuLus

    Cool story, bro.

    • http://twitter.com/tokyomonster Chris Dehghanpoor

      This.

  • brad

    Sounds like you have grown up.
    Or woke up.

    • http://twitter.com/tokyomonster Chris Dehghanpoor

      Neither. I still think that Android has some very real problems that need to be dealt with, and to deny that would be to simply ignore reality.

      That said, I made the decision to stick with Android through out its growing pains, because out of all of the mobile OS' right now, I think Android has the most potential.

  • Androidess

    Jump ship mutch? Over a rumor? Welcome back anyway. I'm still here.

  • Androidess

    Spell much? Obviously, I cannot, lol.

    • Kane

      That is a true statement.

  • http://www.anivision.org Xcom923

    Good to see you're back. I personally didn't see a problem with the reasons you "left" I do agree with you. I've even stated while I hate apple I like the iPhone. I would never buy one but I see why someone would.

    Also the idea of Google "tightening their girp" on android is just stupid. Google can't win one way or the other. If they do try to stop fragmentation the Open source crowd calls "foul" then if they leave things alone the manufactures and carriers have a field day and then things get fragmented. >_< I would hate to be in their position but I'll stick with Android either way.

    Here is what I think should happen. If manufactures and carriers want to make their own UI then go ahead and make one, but make it an app. Something like ADW, prolauncher. etc...I don't see why the carriers and such can't just push out their own apps for android but don't release them to the public (or unsupported devices)

    • Phil

      Been saying this every chance I get. The customizations done by the carriers could easily all be done at the app level and in fact I believe they already are. This whole "fragmentation" crap really has nothing to do with Android technically. Its just the carriers trying to milk more money by making buy a new phone for upgrades.

    • Andre

      All Google really has to do is mandate that--to get the Market, gapps and the "Powered by Google" logo--any custom UIs must be able to be unchecked in Settings.

      I really wish manufacturers to take a lesson from Asus (the Eee Pad Transformer) and only add a few trademark apps and widgets to the stock experience.

      • http://www.anivision.org Xcom923

        agreed. I wish I could speak with someone at google to find out why this isn't the case. Also, any "bloatware" should be able to be uninstalled. I really hate what carriers add to the android experience especailly now that they have their own channels in the marketplace just make the apps uninstallable and then just have them in their own channels

      • Kane

        And innovate in hardware, which is exactly what the Transformer is doing.

  • John J

    Welcome back.

    In my opinion, questioning your likes and beliefs is a normal part of life. It allows you to see different angles, aspects, opinions, options.

    When it comes to tech, if you're a diehard fanboi who never considers other options, then you're not seeing the whole picture. You're not seeing what your system does well, what other techs do better, how your tech should evolve in the future to compete better, etc.

    I say, good on ya.

  • rauk

    You left AP? So that is why the overall quality of the site had gone up...

    • http://twitter.com/tokyomonster Chris Dehghanpoor

      Ba dum, tsh.

  • Mike

    "I can’t look at a single Android device at this point without wondering how long it will take before that device is obsoleted either by A) better hardware"

    I wholeheartedly agree! It's getting just stupid. Buy the latest phone and a couple of months later it's outdated and most Android websites tend to look at you and your 'old' phone as if you're crap.

    :(

  • Logan

    Why can't Android have cool controversies?

    Exploding batteries are news (if there's video).
    Stolen prototypes are news (except when Gizmodo milks it half to death).

    A blogger ragequitting isn't news. It's solipsism.

  • Nick

    Have to say I do love the HIMYM reference. Well done sir.

  • Jamis0n

    Your frustrations are something people atleast pondered upon or really think that that Google should have a stronger grip. But if the carrier cant change it, its not open source. Of course it would be for us, since we can customize, but not for the manufacturers as well.
    welcome back bro.

  • http://andyhall.org Andy

    I share many of the same frustrations, but open is naturally complex. Look at the world, and the diversity in culture and people. It's mind boggling but it's amazing. Then look at a culture that was dictated to in a very draconian fashion to be ONE WAY or be cast aside, Nazi Germany comes to mind for me. So i like the fact Android can be customised, but for those who don't want to get all techy and flash new ROM's etc, there needs to be support in place for those individuals.

    My suggestion was for each and every handset to run the latest stock Android version at launch so they can be upgraded instantly as soon as new versions come out. Alongside that, OEM's then offer the choice to install their own skinned ROM at whatever version they wish. So people have the choice between a differentiated experience through the custom skin, or the latest and greatest features of the newest stock release. I don't know how hard that would be to implement, but i guess it's a pretty good idea.

  • masterpfa

    The only thing you did was vocalise what some are thinking themselves. Although on a smaller scale I fell out of and back in love with the "Simply Brilliant" team.

    I was, at the time, an owner of a HTC Hero that had been stuck on 1.5 for too long and no updates were forthcoming, but in truth the delay was double edged my carrier and HTC.

    But since the introduction of the HTC Desire HD and Sense 2.0 , we are back on good terms.

    Welcome back.

    • Kane

      The Hero is resurrected from the dead with CM7, finally very stable, relatively fast (as much as it can be), functional, simply amazing.

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