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The Android Experiment: I miss the Windows windows

Episode six revisits the failures
Mon Jan 20 2014, 15:15
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I HAVE NOW PASSED the halfway point of this experiment. The fact that I mention this shows that I'm getting a bit frustrated with it, so it's time for a half-time rant.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not giving up now. I've come too far, and in fact there have been remarkably few things that I have out and out failed to achieve, but the ones that have foxed me have been a right pain.

My Skype history runs to only a few hours. This is very frustating when someone sends me a hot lead in the morning and by half past four when I come to work on it I can't find it again. Additionally, Skype appears to have its own rules about whether or not to tell me when I have a new message, and indeed whether to stay connected. I blame Microsoft for this. Skype for Android used to be excellent until Microsoft got hold of it.

I've picked up a bunch of new CDs in the January sales. But unfortunately, Android has no support for CD ripping. If I have a disc image, there are apps like ISO Extractor to allow me to browse them, but no drivers to allow me to connect a CD player. I could ask my long-suffering partner, but I stupidly made a rule that I'm not allowed to get other people to do a job if I can't. So at the moment I have 19 shiny new drinks coasters and she's very relieved.

Of course I realise that physical media is dying and there is no reason for a new mobile operating system to be backwards compatible, but in this transition period, it would be nice if some enterprising person created a plug-and-play driver for Android so I can rip my CDs.

I included a video from Youtube in one of my articles today, but for some reason I had no way of getting the embed code and had to go all round the houses to get it. Apparently, Google thinks that an Android user doesn't need that kind of functionality, which is a worry because it's the type of thing that would encourage people like me to make this switch permanent. Oh, and you can't listen to Youtube videos in the background - they stop unless the app is in focus.

This is a very good example of why Android needs to evolve if it is ever to be a contender. Apps are about quick and dirty fixes to a service.

I've already documented my annoyance at trying to write news articles using Android. It involves using the same app for long periods and most of them are designed for that quick fix - a chance to catch the headlines, look up cinema times or navigate home. Once you start using them for long periods, the bugs become more obvious. The crashes, the crucial programs that autoclose without saving when RAM is full, and the bizarre moments when suddenly the keyboard disconnects itself and the only way to get it back is to reboot.

It's not that you can't do things. You can do almost anything, but it's slow and clunky and more often than not you have to invent workarounds to get there.

However, do you know what I miss about Windows? Windows.

Windows are the best thing about Windows and other PC operating systems. The lack of floating apps and screensharing has made my life miserable. There are a few apps that go some ways towards solving the problem, though. Try Floating Browser: the clue is in the name. However, these inventive solutions are just workarounds. Android as it stands simply cannot support multitasking properly, and it's a pain in the proverbial.

Okay, so there you are. I've had a rant and now I can get on with the second half of the experiment. There are lots of good things about using Android as well, but articles about how happy I am don't make very interesting columns, so I'll save those for another day.

There's still time to challenge me. If there's something that you think I should be doing in Android, let me know and I'll try and do it. You can send me a message via Disqus, below. You can tweet me at @INQ using the hashtag #INQAndroid.

As I mentioned, later this week I'm going to look at devices with larger screens, including the Lenovo Yoga 10, the one with the built-in stand. I also hope to get around to editing the video I promised, and answering the question, 'What on earth possessed you to buy a Samsung Galaxy Mega?'.

You can find the previous episodes of The INQUIRER Android Experiment here:

Prologue - We introduce the experiment.

Episode One - We learn that this won't be a walk in the park.

Episode Two - We explore all things musical.

Episode Three - We nearly give up, but then release a chart topper tune.

Episode Four - We answer some of the questions you've put to us.

Episode Five - We decide that when it comes to Android, size matters. µ

 

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