Android is the most popular smartphone OS, and its development largely depends on Google. The company provides Stock Android to manufacturers, who then modify it for for different phones and tablets. (I’ll be referring to the stock version of Android developed by Google in this article).
I asked our readers which Android issues bother them the most, and the 5 highlighted here are the most frequented complaints, along with the changes that Google could include in future versions of Android.
You can’t delete default apps
Each manufacturer adds its own apps, and there is no easy way to delete them. Comparing Android on Nexus devices to Samsung TouchWiz or HTC Sense is very different. While the core of Android is the same, third party manufacturers add extras to devices. Samsung, for example, adds a lot of Samsung-branded apps that you will probably never use.
In the latest versions of Android, these can be disabled, which stops them from running on you device. If you want to delete them, you have to root your device, which means to obtain administrator privileges.
You can’t delete some apps, only disable them (and only with Android 4.0+)
It’s not Google’s fault, but it’s true that Google could make it easier for its users to get administrator privileges without voiding the warranty. While this has its dangers, it would also allow them to control every aspect of the OS.
You can’t choose what to mute
If you mute your phone’s ringtone, you mute everything. When you place the phone on vibrate mode, it will vibrate for everything. You can’t choose, for example, if you only want to mute WhatsApp but not the ringtone. The sound settings will depend on each app or manufacturer.
With SmartVolume you can change the volume of the ringtone and notifications separately
What can be controlled with apps like LightFlow or SmartVolume should become a permanent feature in future versions of Android. And let’s not forget the Do not disturb feature, something missing in Android. You can, however, download third-party apps like Do Not Disturb.
You can’t control permissions for each individual app
In Android, you can’t control the permissions for each individual app. When you install a new app, Android informs you of the permissions it needs, which you must accept or reject altogether. You have no say on what you want and don’t want to allow. Yes, it’s easier, but it gives you less control over your device’s security.
With AppOps you can decide what permissions to allow and which to deny for each app
Google unintentionally released a feature called AppOps to choose app permissions, but it was removed, stating that it was never meant for the general public and was meant for developers when testing apps. For now, you can only reactivate AppOps with unofficial apps.
The device runs out of space and the SD card features can be improved
The number of different Android devices with differing amounts of storage is overwhelming. Some phones have so little internal memory that after installing only four apps, you get the dreaded message ‘no space.’ This means you have to delete files or use utilities that move apps to the SD card.
FolderMount troubleshoots internal SD space, but you’ll have to root
I think the fact that Android doesn’t let you move an app to the SD card and doesn’t offer an accessible option to install all apps in the SD card by default is a serious issue. The answer to this conundrum lies in the variety of apps and Android phones: an option like this for all of them could generate problems, although it wouldn’t cost anything to add an experimental option.
Having app data stored off of the installed storage can give you space back, but according to AndroidCentral, there was a big security risk with storing data on the SD card, a feature disabled in Android 4.4 KitKat.
There is still no native integration with the Desktop
One of the most popular apps for Android is AirDroid, which lets you use your phone from a browser, access your files, and do other similar tasks. Android doesn’t have any similar features. Another app that is becoming increasingly popular is Pushbullet, which lets you exchange files, links and notifications easily between phone and computer.
Pushbullet is a brilliant app to connect your device to your PC to exchange data
Again, Google leaves this in the hands of developers and manufacturers. There is no official suite, but rather manufacturer apps like LG PC Suite. Google has the infrastructure to make something similar to Kies, AirDroid or Pushbullet though, so not everything is down to the manufacturers.
In the end it’s everyone’s and no one’s fault
When there is something wrong with an iPhone or Lumia, everyone knows who to blame: Apple or Microsoft. But if you have an Android and your battery doesn’t last very long, or if the browser is slow, things aren’t as clear. Can you blame the device manufacturer? Google? The author of the app for not optimizing it for a thousand different phones?
While the Android world is fragmented with different devices, it’s difficult to tell if the problems are caused by Google, or the manufacturer. If Samsung adds useless applications to their phones, it’s not really Google’s fault. But at the same time, Google could add a feature to delete those apps.
If Google hasn’t fixed these problems, it’s because the solution would annoy and cause many problems for manufacturers and developers. Android, in this sense, has reached a point that can only be overcome with a forced unification. You can’t be everyone’s OS and keep everyone happy.
Read about the most important announcements from Google I/O 2014.
Written in collaboration with Chris Park.
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