Posts Tagged ‘Bug’

Android vs Girlfriend

August 11, 2012

What is, probably, the most popular feature people use all the time in their mobile phones since the late 90s? SMS!

It’s so popular that nowadays millions of people can send SMS for free in a lot of countries, even with prepaid plans.

It’s those kind of features I always believed it was no secret for phone manufacturers, SMS has been around almost since the beginning of times, or, in my case, since my first mobile phone, a Nokia 8110 that you can see below still writing a SMS!

I’ve been using Android devices since 2010 and there’s one thing I believe most people will agree with: it’s the most complete mobile operating system feature-wise!

The thing is that, although Android can do pretty much everything, some of the basic stuff – like SMS – Android appears to have some trouble doing flawlessly:

  • The first time I heard someone complaining about SMS problems in Android was with a Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro: apparently when running out of memory, the phone would stop some essential services and daemons including the SMS one, which meant the phone was unable to receive SMS messages with low memory available. Since this model has a really small amount of internal memory this problem occurred frequently as the user installed a couple of apps. This phone ran Android 1.6 so at the time I thought it was those kinds of youth problems early versions of any software would suffer. It may be related to this bug reported on the public Android bugtracker.
  • My first Android device in 2010 was a Samsung Galaxy 3 (GT-I5800) running Android 2.1. I had to return it in the first month because after a week or so of intensive texting it would eventually stop receiving SMS messages from the contact with who I exchanged most messages. After a factory reset it would start receiving all those pending SMS it wasn’t able to receive before, but after a couple of hundreds of exchanged SMS it would stop receiving them again! A couple of months after returning the phone I stumbled upon some internet forum threads talking about this bug, like this one.
  • The next Android device I had was the Samsung Galaxy S (GT-I9000). Although SMS apparently worked better compared to the Galaxy 3, I used it for more than a year and had a couple of isolated incidents, things like sending the message to the wrong contact despite having selected the correct one, or opening the wrong thread after receiving a new SMS! These bugs were eventually acknowledged by Google and fixed in a subsequent release of the OS. The Galaxy 3 bug was also present but I only noticed it once or twice, it was much less noticeable than before, so there was some improvement!
  • Since late last year there’s another really annoying bug I’ve seen more and more friends and acquaintances complaining about, not only with Samsung phones but also with other manufacturer’s devices, like Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro (running Android 2.3). Android mixes SMS: when you receive longer messages it will join a part of the new text with some part of an older random SMS, resulting in the most weirdest and non-sense texts I’ve ever read. This bug has been reported for quite some time and is still awaiting solution.

The problems, in my experience, usually arise when you text a lot with a specific contact (e.g. your wife), so you might think everything is normal because you can text all the other contacts fine but don’t receive this specific contact messages or receive everything mixed up.

This might not be a severe bug needing urgent attention but is for sure a source of headaches:

  • It’s not funny when your loved one sends you a text asking to pick her up somewhere and you just don’t show up or even answer the text because you’ve never received it in the first place: you will eventually get an angry call from the other not so happy person!
  • If the message comes through mixed with other texts you might get the (wrong) idea that the person you’re texting is either drunk or smoking weed… which may or may not be funny depending on who the other person is!

The funny thing is that, although I hear a lot of people complaining about this kind of problems with SMS in Android and despite some discussion around this on the web, the media did not wrote articles on this, despite having done so when, for instance, Windows Phone had that major problem with some specific SMS disabling the messaging service and shutting down the phone. These Android bugs might seem minor stuff compared, but I’m sure they have affected a lot more people than the Windows Phone one!

In the end, the whole Android SMS system seems to me much worst compared to other mobile platforms. I’ve never ever had a problem with SMS with other non-Android phones, so I don’t really understand how after all these years Google has yet to sort this out!

Thoughts on Android 2.3.5 for the Galaxy S

November 24, 2011

As I mentioned before, I’ve been using for some time now the Android 2.3.5 update for the Samsung Galaxy S and it deserves some comments.

Good news first:

– The previously reported Android OS battery drain bug is apparently gone! This just means the phone does not drain the battery all by itself in a dozen hours or so, which was a huge problem. The Android OS process is now at a more reasonable 6% share of the overall battery consumption.

– The browser scroll now works properly as in any other smartphone in the market

Unfortunately, there’s a few problems with this firmware:

– As I said in the previous blog post, the TouchWiz launcher crashes randomly.

– The phone process is also crashing a lot, especially soon after the end of a phone call, as you can see in the picture below.

– The browser may now present a correct scroll behavior but the stability is worst than before, which is not good because the browser was never the most stable app in Android.

It wouldn’t be so bad if it did compensate the lack of stability with improved performance, but running the SunSpider javascript benchmark returned a result of 6505.1 ms which is a regression compared against the 6305.4 ms scored by Android 2.3.3.

Apparently stock browser javascript performance optimization is not a priority for Samsung, neither is improving the stability of the official firmwares they release for the Galaxy S.

Another Android Market issue

November 11, 2011

After complaining in September about not receiving the Android Market automatic update to the 3.x version, in late October I finally received Android Market 3.1.5.

The new Android Market 3.x is noticeably slower in my Galaxy S compared to the previous 2.x versions, but I convinced myself it didn’t deserve a rant.

Today I received another automatic update of the Android Market app, this time to the 3.3.11 version.

I didn’t notice much difference from the previous version except one really annoying thing: I cannot install apps anymore!

Every time I try to install something I just get the message pictured above that says that an error has occurred while trying to download the app because there is not enough space available on the device memory.

The thing is that, as you can see below, I have plenty of space, I have gigabytes of free memory so this is clearly and unfortunately just another Android bug…

Fancy (broken) widget

November 7, 2011

One of the cool features of Android is the ability to pin a widget in one of your smartphone’s home screens.

Fancy Widgets is one of my favorite widgets available in the Android Market, it’s free, and allows you to quickly look at the time, the weather and even at your battery level. It replaced Samsung’s Daily Briefing widget that’s now missing from my Galaxy S since the Gingerbread update.

It also allows you to choose from different themes available to download from the widget configuration app and you can make it look as you want it to look.

Unfortunately not everything is perfect and sometimes the widget just goes nuts as you can see below!

I hope the developers figure out how to solve this rather unpleasant looking bug, since it makes me reboot my phone or remove the widget and add it again in order to make it look great again!

Android browser kinetic scroll bug

October 31, 2011

One of the reasons why I started using other Android browsers was because of the kinetic scroll bug the Gingerbread update brought to my Vodafone branded Samsung Galaxy S.

As you can see in the video below, since the Android 2.3.3 update, the stock browser has a different kinetic scroll behavior. Instead of slowing down smoothly, the scroll now stops suddenly after a brief moment since the start of the scrolling, which I find annoying as hell…

Opera Mobile 11.5 SunSpider benchmark

October 28, 2011

Since I’ve been disappointed with the overall performance of the Android stock web browser, I started using some of it’s competitors in order to discover if they were any better.

Lately I’ve been using the Norwegian Opera Mobile which was recently updated to version 11.5. It has some cool features like Opera Turbo, that can be configured to only be activated when you’re not using WiFi, and allows you to save some bandwidth by compressing the web-pages, passing them through Opera own proxy servers, which is nice if you have limited traffic in your data plan.

The SunSpider javascript benchmark is also significantly faster on Opera Mobile, especially if you compare it to the Android stock browser. In my Samsung Galaxy S it ran in just 3080.9 ms, which is about half of the time the stock browser took to complete the same test (6305.4 ms).

There is, however, “a price to pay” for this great performance: (lack of) stability!

As you can see above, sometimes Opera Mobile crashes, which is kind of a common thing for me with Android devices, but not acceptable anyway.

If Opera improves this, I believe this is one of the best browsers currently available for Android!

Lufthansa android app bug

October 12, 2011

I’ve never been able to use properly the Lufthansa app available in the Android Market.

I’m unable to search the timetables by origin and / or destination airport.

I’ve tried the iOS Lufthansa app and it works like a charm.

Am I the only one having this problem?

Branded Android smartphones

September 17, 2011

Some (or probably most) carriers around the world sell their Android devices with custom firmwares that usually bring the operator’s applications and branded theme. This allows the customer to use some of the carrier specific services.

The problem is that most of the times branding:

– implies the phone is always running some background process or services which always use some RAM and CPU cycles even when you don’t use or need it, as you can see below

– is frequently not very well implemented, so the phone is usually slower or unstable as you can see in the next picture

In case the customer doesn’t want to use the carrier services, or want to free some memory, or save the CPU some unnecessary work, in most cases he just can’t simply uninstall the software since that possibility is most of the times disabled!

If carrier’s want to put their own software in the devices it’s their choice to do that, but I believe everyone would be happier with, at least, an uninstall option to remove some of the bloatware they usually end up putting in the phones. Besides that, they can always provide the customer with the option to install the operator’s software from the Android Market. I think that would serve better everyone’s interest!

Android OS battery drain bug

September 3, 2011

About a month ago, several Vodafone customers across Europe got the Gingerbread version of Android on the Samsung i9000 Galaxy S.

It took a while to get this update because the Android update process works like this:

– Google releases a new Android version and make it available to the manufacturers

– Manufacturers like Samsung take their time to adapt the OS to their specific model and send it to the carriers

– Carriers like Vodafone take their time to add some of their own customizations and test it thoroughly before allowing it to be available to the customers

One might think that with all those eyes at different companies looking and testing the firmware, the final release would be solid as a rock and pretty much bug free.

The Galaxy S was last year’s Samsung flagship smartphone and sold millions of units all over the world, the manufacturer claims the phone can remain in standby mode for up to 750 hours in a 2G network and up to 625 hours in 3G networks. Of course nobody expects it to actually be even close to those very optimistic numbers but with the latest Gingerbread update I got a feeling things got worst.

During the holidays I decided to see what was happening: I took the phone off the charger in the middle of the morning and didn’t use it at all during the day, except for a very short phone call (less than 1 minute) and to take some screenshots of the battery usage menu to see how things were going:

As you can see in the first screenshot, even though WiFi, GPS and Mobile Data are all disabled, in just 3 hours and a half there is a significant drop in the battery apparently caused by the Android OS process.

One hour later the Android OS process is still the most significant battery consuming process, though there is this weird process called “orientationd” I suspect might also be related to the battery drain.

As you can see above I received a short phone call, and the corresponding entry appears as responsible for 1% of the total power consumption.

9 hours and 18 minutes have passed and although the percentage is decreasing, the Android OS process is still the main reason of this excessive power consumption. By this time there is less than half of the battery capacity remaining.

Finally, after 15 hours and a half the battery is dead and the phone eventually shutdown by itself.

If I was using the phone in a normal workday, sending and receiving text messages, making phone calls, using the WiFi or playing some game, the battery wouldn’t last for half of the day, which is really bad if you consider the supposed 750 hours of standby Samsung announces.

I searched around for this bug and saw this Android OS battery drain bug reported in several internet forums. Apparently it exists at least in the 2.3.3 version of Android for the Galaxy S, though there are some similar problems reported in other Android phone models and manufacturers but I can only assure the existence of the bug in the Vodafone branded Galaxy S with 2.3.3 firmware.

I’m amazed how neither Samsung nor Vodafone noticed this bug in their extensive tests and despite taking a lot of time before releasing the updates they are still released with some serious problems like this!

I’m also surprised how the media didn’t notice a serious bug like this but sometimes report on other minor problems affecting other phones or gadgets.