Dodgy Android apps?
Motorola's CEO reckons 70 per cent of smartphone returns are caused by third-party applications dragging down their devices, thanks to the openness of the Android platform. Speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Technology Conference, Sanjay Jha, who heads up Motorola Mobility, said that the lack of quality control in …
Then you're probably a fanboy. Android is open, to good and bad software. iOS is closed and only allows Apple-approved software. Both models have advantages and disadvantages.
What people should take away from this story is Motorola support being incapable of getting customers to perform a factory reset to eliminate any software/configuration problems before accepting the device for a hardware repair.
So factory resets should be standard practice?
In over 20 years using a cellphone, I've never yet had one that needed a factory reset every few weeks to clear out performance issues.
The odd crash yes, and the occasional restart, but a factory reset - In a commodity item like a phone that should just work?
Appalling - the sooner Google tie down the market place a little (as they surely will) the better for Android as a platform..
A soft reset would be very much like the soft reset I did to adjust my iPhone any time I ran my shell script to clear out all of the SMS messages.
Something that flushes apps and app triggered services would be a hand thing. Probably already even exists in the market.
So Google should test app usability? Why? Just cause you downloaded a crap app that's not Google's fault. Look at the user ratings.. look at the comments in the market. If the apps says eats batteries or causes other apps to fail then don't download it or if you still decide to use the app then use it at your own risk.
And yes Motorola should tell people to wipe their handsets if they feel the issue is a bad app (if an uninstall doesn't fix the issue)... Its not their job to support 3rd party apps!
@'Zippy the Pinhead': If you are caught with heroin in your bags at Airport check-in do you say "Hey, I am not responsible for what other people have stuffed into my bag !"
Android Market is owned and run by Google. It IS Google's responsibility to check what they are hosting. There's no other Mobile OS company as careless as Google ! GOOGLE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT STUFF THEY HOST AND SELL !!
factory reset is fine for people without time or willingness to gain some understanding
I got a Motorola Defy for my mom. I set it up, so it does what she wants, which is listen to music, get calls on skype and - even make regular calls.
If she started downloading stuff from the market and I wasn't around to fix it (by uninstalling the offending crapware) She could easily be helped by a factory reset (which does NOT require a data wipe)
But she will not go on the market, she's not interested and it seems too complicated to her anyway.
Motorola should tell phone buyers this:
If you don't feel confident enough to use a Task manager/tracker, and hitting 'uninstall' on things that run in the background too much, don't start downloading every app from the market that looks interesting or funny to you. Freedom requires intelligence. If you can't cope, stick with a stock Phone or buy an iPhone. They also bog down, inspite of Apples quality and anti-competition control. I've just sold mine.
I've never seen a system where its so easy and automatic to install and uninstall any app like Android. You just need a slightly higher IQ than George Bush. If you don't, go iPhone, they were built with you in mind. (by Jobs' own admission)
If you are smart, but you're not a geek and you don't have much time to learn or fumble around, just google "best task manager for android" read a couple of lists and get the one that appeals to you for ease of use. My favorite is ES File Explorer, which includes a task manager and useful connectivity features. Very powerful, but there's probably simpler ones that may appleal to someone without a geeky streak.
Any Sculptor, Mason or Carpenter is expected to have mastery in how a hammer works and how to maintain it. And there's more to that than you might think...
If you're gonna use a tool like a smartphone and you don't bother understanding 3 simple things about it, then fooo, take a factory reset.
I tested just under 40 audio players available on the android market for usability and their support of AAC and M4A files and embedded artwork.
You'd be surprised how many of them run in the background right after startup, without ever asking me if I wanted them to run. But I don't need to send my phone back to Motorola, cause I figured out if you press your finger on the icon for 2 seconds and then push the little x, they get uninstalled - bye bye.
Does that make me Einstein? No, I've been taken over by an alien muahaha
<psshhh you promised not to say anything if I let you have control for an hour a day>
"""Motorola should tell phone buyers this:
If you don't feel confident enough to use a Task manager/tracker, and hitting 'uninstall' on things that run in the background too much, don't start downloading every app from the market that looks interesting or funny to you. Freedom requires intelligence. If you can't cope, stick with a stock Phone or buy an iPhone.
I'd be most unhappy being a developer in a company that had you in marketing.
"""I tested just under 40 audio players available on the android market for usability and their support of AAC and M4A files and embedded artwork.
Good for you, I see you have a busy life.
Seriously folks, smartphones are getting to be mass-consumption items, get real with what you expect your customers to do. I'm a software dev, I don't expect to have to whip out needle and thread every time I buy an item of clothing because the seller can't do basic QA.
I think we, as devs, need to respect other peoples' time and skillsets a little bit more than this kind of attitude implies. That's called customer service and it's good for business which means it ends up being good for us.
That's why Ubuntu has become the public face of Linux, because it tries to make things easy for ordinary mortals. Doesn't mean it's the best distrib, just that they understand that users often just want to be able to use stuff without a degree in rocket science.
Now you can understand that, or you can assume other people also like spending their free time testing mp3 players.
demonstrates the reason people pick apple products. The idea that users would be happy to do anything to the phone other than give it to someone else to fix. The fact that so many posters here think this is a user issue.
It's purely about happy customers vs unhappy customers.
Moto dont sell their phones directly so it would the network operator or phone retailer who have just accepted the phone back and then passed it on to Moto. Back to the manufacturer is like the last line of support.
Who really wants to loose all their data when you download a poorly developed program???
This is squarely on the developers that are incapable of testing correctly all they are doing is damaging the market for everyone else
The diversity of Android devices and platforms, plus the fact that it's possible to install pretty much whatever you want is very like the Windows PC marketplace, and these freedoms to muck up your device certainly add the complexity of supporting them.
Just for trolling purposes:
Android = PC
iOS / iPhone = Mac
BlackBerry = Linux
Windows = Haiku
Symbian = CP/M
lol you foisted the CP/M analogy on those poor Symbian schmucks... mean, but as an annoyed ex i8910 owner, I say right on!
I really wish your BlackBerry = Linux analogy was correct though.
Trying to find something to justify keeping my hopes up for Meego is difficult...
I think Android is botched up cause it relies on clunky Java code now owned by Larry Ellison... what a horror... Of course, if Google could get rid of Dalvik by writing Pywik as a replacement, things would look a lot different...
I would think if 70% of these are being returned, then they are doing a poor job of educating the users - unless they are being returned for other reasons and Motorola is blaming the apps and not their engineering design....
Either way, IF you identify the cause, then you should fix the root cause through education, have an app verification system, make it easier to see all apps consuming the phone, etc - or you really should not be in business. Well, with a 70% return rate, that may not be too far off!
The "customers" do not want to hear it. They do not want to know anything about RTFM all they want to do is whine and piss and moan if it doesn't "just work" without them having to do any joined up thinking *at all*. Why is it that virtually all support lines have to ask whether the equipment concerned is plugged into the wall socket (if it runs from a direct mains supply)? That explains what one is dealing with. God knows I have made enough mistakes in my time but really!
I don't think Motorola are giving the average smartphone punter much credit.
In my experience, if an app makes a phone behave oddly, the app is uninstalled and lots of nasty comments are added to the Market reviews page.
As others have speculated, maybe it is Motorola's own "dodgy Android app" Motoblur which is the culprit. It certainly has higher memory (and consequentially battery) usage than the stock Android apps.
Since the overall proportion returned is probably, I don't know, 10% at the absolute worst, the average smartphone punter isn't imputed at all. What they're probably trying to do is put pressure on Google by stating publicly that Marketplace policies have given them a dramatic increase in returns.
Like you, I suspect that this isn't much of a problem at all to most people.
I would agree about Motoblur but it could be the whole phone as well they also don't like.
Years ago when users wanted a new phone, more than a few users used an excuse like they told their phone companies their old phone was stolen. It wasn't true, they just wanted a new phone, but they needed to find an excuse to get a new phone.
Now could it be a percentage of Motorola's new users are comparing their new phone with their friends phone and then find things like Motoblur not to their liking (e.g. non-standard, power hungry etc..) and so perhaps they don't like their new phone as much as they first thought, once compared with the more sleeker looking newer phones around) ... So at which point, they need an excuse to get out of their contract, because they want a different better phone, which is more like their friends phones.
This blaming the apps could be just the latest common excuse to get out of being stuck with a phone they find doesn't match up to the latest phones around.
Technically the Motorola Milestone 2 has a 1Ghz CPU, so its not going to be much slower if at all compared with other phones, but it could be it (and other Motorola phones) all look more brick like and so look more outdated and people want a better looking newer phone with a more standard UI. (Phones like the Motorola Milestone 2 and the Motorola Devour do look more brick like than some of the more sleeker looking competitor phones (e.g. The Galaxy S) and the unfamiliar Motoblur is just going to add to a jarring comparison experience when compared with other phones).
It could be Motorola are just finding users don't want their current phones for these reasons, but once users are locked into a contract, they need an excuse to break the contract to get a different phone.
This is the 21st century; applications shouldn't "break" computer systems any more. The multi-user systems of the 70s and 80s had less powerful hardware than the average smartphone of today.
Man up and deal with your quality control problems and/or stop making excuses for a big Motorola "business as usual" lock-down!
...The multi-user systems of the 70s and 80s had less powerful hardware than the average smartphone of today"
Yes that's why programmer wrote "apps" correctly, debugged them and stripped unwanted code out.
Now *because" they are fast, "programmers" coble lumps of code together until it sort of works and let the hardware take the strain.
The multi user systems of the 70s and 80s had low CPU and memory it's true, but they also had EXTREMELY efficient applications. Most applications back then were written by hand in native assembler or in a compiled language. Modern software is written using much more bloated development tools.
Also did you see a lot of full motion video with on the fly decompression back in the 80s? Many multitasking GUI systems in the 70s? No, you didn't.
... but you have to jump through hoops to find them!
top, ps and kill all exist and can be used (at least top and ps) if you can get a shell on the phone. Kill depends on how you get the session.
But then you can also run "Advanced Task Killer" which is in the Market place, and 2.2 onward has an enhanced Task Manager
My Android phone has a task manager that's easy to find in the Applications folder.
No "jumping through hoops" required.
It also has a services applet too. Although that's a little harder to find.
However, a simple "tidy things up" button would be generally more useful and usable. Even those of us that can jailbreak an iPhone and create a shell script to manipulate the SMS sqlite database would rather have a simple relevant utility preferably launched from a button rather than requiring one to open up a terminal shell.
bash on a smart phone just doesn't work that well.
Who RETURNS a phone because of a software application and who lets them return it without getting them to do factory reset first!
Just add an automated service saying "please uninstall all third party applications in chronological order starting with the most recently installed. If you still have a problem with your phone please hold and an operator will speak to you soon."
Got 5 Motorola DEFY MB525 free from vodafone for the office. 4 failed to make phone calls within first week. Only one had android market activated, but no apps installed. Reseting helps for few hours, so of course vodafone/motorola will not take any blame. Their dealer will just reset the phone and say: see it is working now, I have fixed that for you.
My HTC running android has been with me 6months....has had an enormous amount of free apps install on it from both the store and from developer websites (surely THE most dodgy way to get apps) and it doesn't fail at all. In fact my app "turnover" is probably higher than alot of people as I tend to be suckered into downloaded games and apps to get experience points in other games...Still no cocking up.
If HTC can do it with the same software why can't motorola? As has been stated previously, software shouldn't break hardware. If it does, then it's a virus and they should give that developer a job, because he knows more about hardware and software than the entire engineering division of what used to be one of the largest mobile phone manufacturers in the world.
Without knowing the detailed numbers (lacking from the article) it is impossible to know. However, here are some *made up* numbers that would be consistent both with your experience and with what the man-from-Motorola said:
- 0.01% of all phones (both Motorola and HTC) are returned as faulty
- 70% of those returns (ie 0.007% of all phones) are returned with faults due to apps.
You have one of the 99.99% of phones (Motorola and HTC) that has not gone faulty. By contrast, the Motorola man has seen and reported on the fate of a sample of the remaining 0.01% of phones.
So it *could* be that Motorola and HTC phones are of equal quality AND your experience of HTC is "typical" AND the man from Motorola is speaking the truth.
Ah, so why do you not get problems when your turn over of apps is "probably a lot higher that a lot of people"?
Who knows? Perhaps the 0.01% are owned by people with peculiar "artistic" interests.
The point is that, without the full information we don't know and, as Ben Goldacre likes to say, "the plural of anecdote is not data".
As you pointed out, HTC and Motorola probably have very similar quality/satisfaction rates, but Motorola has identified a minor problem, and unintentionally spun the numbers to the world as "LOOK! OUR PHONES SUX!" Don't believe me? Look at some of the other posts.
They should really look into getting a decent PR consultant.
"In my experience, if an app makes a phone behave oddly, the app is uninstalled"
Unless you buy a moto phone with a lot of superfluous apps installed which eat up resources/battery life and can't be uninstalled.
Media share, connected music player, amazon mp3 store etc etc. the first two are currently running on my MB525 despite not being triggered by me.
They dropped from 16.5 to 15.6% US market share in handsets in the last quarter. Samsung dropped .4%, LG managed to gain .1%.
So the top 3 android OEMs are losing market share or at best staying static. This is the weakness that the growth in Android as a platform is concealing. Unfortunately the data from comscore doesn't include the smaller OEMs like HTC, well not unless you pay for their full research package - we do know that Apple gained about as much as Motorala and Samsung lost combined.
I wonder how many of those returns are really caused by Motorola's excessive lockdown policies, a significant proportion of Android users root their phones to mod them and Motorola go out of their way to obstruct that. It's common to see discussions of the best way to 'break' phones so they can be returned easily as faulty.
In reality Motorola have a reputation for flaky Android devices, great hardware let down by piss poor OS implementation. The lock down guarantees users cannot bypass that flakiness. That has to push up the return rate.
Even HTC have given up their short flirtation with locked bootloaders and returned to sanity, following Sony Erickssons lead. Motorola will probably never loosen the death grip. After all they have around 300,000 apps to blame...
Have you ever even used a smart phone.
Without publishing the number of Smart Phones returned , 70% doesn't actually mean anything. Are we talking a total of 20 Smart Phone or 200 000 Smart phones.
Did a qualified service department actually determine these figures or was it just some drone from marketing department who had failed to justify poor monthly sales.
I have had several Android smart phones and like many here have thrown a bunch of poorly written software at them, rooted them, rommed them, you name it they just keep working.
Now if Mr CEO of Motorola would like to present us with some details, we might be able to offer a working reply because otherwise it sounds like justification for bad sales.
I have had multiple Android handsets and have had no issue. Currently I run a Hero, An HTC Desire and Xoom. We have multiple Android devices in addition to these (they are just my personal one) and again, no issues. Occasionally you get a rogue app but they are not that difficult to identify. Hmmmm I installed xxxxx yesterday and today my battery only lasts 8 hours? I wonder what could be causing that !!!!!!!!!!
(explosion to signify the light of reason exploding into the mind of logic)
Motoblur, plain and simple. It's slow, resource hungry, ugly and simply not very good.
I've had friends look at my Desire HD, go "hmmm...nice" and leave thinking HTC Sense is Android.
One bought a Defy and was stunned to discover that there was a country mile between what she had seen on my phone and what she ended up with. I did the decent thing, installed Launcher Pro and a few other bits and bobs and now she is as happy as a clam and loves the handset but that's not the point.
Had she not had me to hand to sort it out she'd have headed back to the store and swapped up for an HTC or Samsung and bingo, another Motorola return down to crap software - OK, installed not Market software, but that fine distinction is lost on most consumers.
It's ironic though that were it not for Android Motorola probably wouldn't exist today. Talk about biting the hand...
I have a DEFY. Nice phone. As it is my only Android set, I cannot comment on the differences between Motoblur and vanilla Android.
However, it is worth pointing out a glaring issue with the above quote. My phone came with Motoblur. In order to "activate" the phone, I had to sign in to Motoblur (or the annoying requirement to try to root the phone). So at exactly which point did I *have* a choice? I am not even sure what Orange would have done had I handed the phone back and said "I refuse". Though I have come to learn that the Android platform means waving goodbye to privacy - Motoblur is no different here. I believe my addressbook is shared with Motorola? Well when I set up a GMail address for the marketplace, suddenly everything was shared with Google. No prompt, no question, just as a matter of course. Turning that off and unpicking the linked profile stuff was... annoying.
They are right. There are some awful applications that kill battery life and some of them insist on autostarting whether you want it or not (Skype - I'm looking *directly* at you) . However unless you're the sort of clueless ninny that installs twenty apps a day, it is usually fairly straightforward to think "what have I installed that could be causing this?".
Motorola: Instead of blaming bad apps, try this: Make Motoblur more responsive. Make it optional. How about an email client that is capable of text/plain? How about a camera that doesn't try to focus in 0.3s (thus frequently gets it wrong)? What's with the horrible dithering in the Gallery app? It is a display capable of full colour, and decent enough images, so why do skies and such have such obvious banding? How about a video player capable of MKV and FLV? Actually, sod it, the default loses sync too easily - MoboPlayer does all I want. There is so much wrong with the music player that I don't know where to begin. Why does switching the phone to airplane mode disable the FM radio? Still, the ability to set up airplane mode and then switch WiFi on afterwards is pretty nifty. Etc.
> "How about a video player capable of MKV and FLV?"
My phone plays FLV with no problems with the stock player.
Dunno about MKVs as I don't have any.
Even without a special hand holding API, it should not be a big deal to have a better player that can separate video streams from normally unsupported containers and feed that into whatever hardware acceleration layer is available.
It's not the "media player framework", it's having suitably low level APIs that expose the available hardware acceleration.
This was Adobe's big problem on MacOS. When Apple did finally release a suitable API it still didn't support everything the hardware is capable of.
Motorola have released froyo for the milestone. just updated my phone yesterday, except for one single reboot, no issues so far. also syncing with exchange server works much better than before.
i still have some wifi connection issues specific to my el cheapo modem/router. so i may still go the dark side. however with my current work load that would be a few months away at least.
surprised how the reg could have missed the froyo roll out from motorola though.
As developer I do hope the Android Market does introduce technical testing for applications.
I do not want applications reviewed on the basis of their content, but rather whether they properly obey Android application life-cycle callbacks, attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in certain versions of the OS, and how they treat user data.
This would improve consumer confidence in the Market (much less chance of malware or buggy apps), would slightly raise the bar for app submission, resulting in a slight increase in the quality of applications, and would thus encourage developers to spend more time and money developing their applications.
For quite a lot of apps on the Marketplace having a "lite" free version and paid a version with more features isn't even a viable business option currently - the conversion rate is simply far too low - better results are often seen by putting all the features in a free application and plastering it with ads. Games are notable exception, people are generally more willing to pay for a good than an application.
I don't see how basic technical testing could have any damage for the Android Market except a slight raise in the subscription price for developers - it's so cheap at the moment that I don't see that causing too many problems.
There should be one some sort of marking that shows the level of compliance. It doesn't have to be as soon as the app is submitted. It can be retrospective.
It was a problem with iOS 4 too. You could get some apps that didn't behave properly and ran the phone down but over time, they got fixed as people got the hang of the API.
The Froyo update for the Milestone is nearly a year late, at the time other manufacturers are upgrading to 2.3. And it can only be upgraded using an installer that runs under Windows. I wonder if Motorola has any good Linux programmers, or is just expecting its Windows programmers to do the work without any training?
70 % of returns are because, the user went into the phone shop to buy an iphone, saw the price and decided to get themselves something cheaper. Used it for a few weeks, recognized their mistake and returned it for an iphone.
Im not a fanboys, I only work with Apple computers and while pre Iphone Smart Phones did their job they just did not connect with Apple OS very well, most programs from Sony, Nokia to connect their phones was written for the PC, Apple OS was an after thought.
A great many people want the Iphone but just cant afford it. I use mine for work only as I still love me Vertu Ascent TI Ferrari Collection which cost more than my car,
So enter Stage left the Iphone and overnight it set the new standard for smart phones, and with some clever marketing and their usual tight control over hardware and software they have created a stable user experience. All other mobile companies are running around trying to produce a iphone killer when they should be working on what they do best. as a small green man once said "Control you must learn control"
> A great many people want the Iphone but just cant afford it.
At least over here, the iPhone is subsidize EXACTLY the same way that Android is. It's also a similar price if you can't get the subsidized price for some reason. There really is ZERO reason to avoid buying an iPhone based on price.
The idea that anyone would buy an Android because they are cheap or because it is cheap is just nonsense.
This is just another iteration of the "Mac == BMW" nonsense.
"The multi-user systems of the 70s and 80s had less powerful hardware than the average smartphone of today."
Indeed they did, and in the Market you can find various emulators of PDP11s and VAXes and wotnot (search for SIMH). So what.
Move on from the 1970s to the year 2000, when the MS-defined "Pocket PC" PDA concept hit the market (iPAQ, XDA, etc). These things were supposed to be new and improved, and certainly had faster processors than the Psion 3 from ten years earlier. But did they work any better? No. After I'd had my (employer subsidised) iPAQ for a while, and got bored with styluses, and unsolicited and/or unwanted resets, and battery life barely a day, and the "jacket" concept if you actually wanted to do anything useful, I went back to my Psion 3c. On re-reading the 3c manual, I found the Psion did actually have a reset button, although in the five years I'd been using it, I'd never needed it.
Wasn't it Motorola's handset division that introduced the concepts of "zero defects" and "offshoring for quality"? Worked well for them, hasn't it.
It's not about new technology vs old. It's about quality product vs Microsoft dependence. Microsoft's domination of various markets with poor quality product has made it acceptable for others to release poor quality product too. Thanks, Bill, for making software management's life easier around the world.
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