So the Android phone was now pretty much set up and it was time to put it to regular use. There were still things that I came across that I wasn’t happy with, but worked my way through as best as I could and I’ll write more about what I’ve found in Part 3 (it’s getting to be a long article), including the good and the bad. My initial impressions, despite the initial setup issues, is that the Android phone isn’t that bad and for anyone that doesn’t care about the things I wrote about in Part 1, they would happily use the phone right out of the box. Whether I hold a positive view in the long term is another thing. I have to admit that I’m not a prolific mobile phone user and my life doesn’t hang in the balance whether I have a mobile phone or not, as it’s more of a convenience thing and is why I don’t have a plan that gives me unlimited calls and data for however many dollars per month some people pay.
I’d been playing around with the camera (not that it’s great) and discovered that every image/video was being stored in the built-in memory, not the SD card. So after quite a bit of searching, I discovered that this was a feature, not a fault. For some reason, Android doesn’t want you to store images (or much of anything for that matter) in the SD card, as if stupid couldn’t get anymore stupid when it comes to so-called security. So after a bit of searching, I found a camera app that overrode this foible and allowed me to store all images on the SD card (including screen captures by default), Camera MX. Apparently it’s only with Android version 6 that you can apparently natively use the SD card for internal storage, but that comes with a caveat; if you set up your SD card as internal storage, it gets formatted in a way that it apparently can’t be read by any other device and thereafter will have to remain inside the phone or it will cause issues (unless it’s re-formatted).
One other thing that I discovered was that data management is no where near as effective as with a Windows phone. My phone plan doesn’t provide a separate data allowance, so whenever I do need to access data, it costs 5c/MB. I thought that I’d done everything possible to restrict all apps so that they only use WiFi for updates etc and only allow access by request for certain apps such as navigation; however, despite trying to implement every possible control, the phone was constantly accessing mobile data and the only way I could stop this was to limit the data or block it completely. Limiting the data gave me constant nagging messages that my data limit was reached and when I set the data limit after discovering this anomaly, the usage was 25MB and later on that same day, I’d reached my data limit. I’d reached that limit without accessing the phone at all. This probably explains why the Android phone battery, with a significantly larger capacity than my Windows phone, was running down far faster, it was never idle. So my only option was to deny access to the cellular data.
I also noticed is that there is a constant run of updates with installed apps, these are mostly apps that come pre-installed, so I did some Googling and it seems that this is a commonly asked question. I understand that updating is an important aspect of software if problems are encountered, but I’m just gobsmacked at how often the same apps are being updated; some are updated almost daily, so are they that poorly written in the first place? If the developer makes a mistake and the app has a bug, this can be the cause of frequent updates, but surely this can’t be the case with generic apps? There are many that recommend disabling auto-updates so that you can take a critical look at what is being updated and whether it’s relevant. Many, of course, aren’t worried about this, but as someone interested in technology, security and saving on my data usage, I do want to know what’s happening. The problem is that you end up with the phone constantly nagging you about the updates. The constant searching for updates was probably also the reason for the excess data usage, which has now mostly stopped.
These issues almost had me tossing in this experiment, but I decided to persevere and see if there were better ways to manage things and if the situation could get to such a point that there was a valid reason for giving up. I was able to stop the constant mobile data access, so that was a major determining factor to forge onwards with the Android phone and doing that has now extended battery life such that it hardly drops all day. I guess that most people have no idea and just get an Android phone with a huge data plan and, in ignorant bliss, use it without delving deeper (and that doesn’t even take into account the access issues with apps). One other reason why I decided to continue is that after switching back to my Windows phone, Bluetooth would no longer connect automatically to my vehicle’s head unit, I had to manually access the phone’s settings screen, select Bluetooth and then tell the phone to pair, followed by the pin code; the Android phone has no such issues (I did it once and that was it). This is the first time this has happened with the Windows phone and I couldn’t find a solution.
I guess that anything new will cause frustrations of one form or another and giving up at the first instance of frustration isn’t really helpful, though I know many who will do just that and go back to what’s familiar. So given that there haven’t been any really serious issues, I now started to look at the apps, both essential and desirable, that were available and which ones worked and how well they worked. That exercise certainly became another ‘fun’ activity. More on that in Part 3.