I more or less had the basics sorted out with the Android phone, so was it worth the angst, should I have just allowed everything to remain in their default configuration? No. Firstly, the whole idea of Android is that it is configurable (it’s not an iPhone), so why not use that ability to make it work like you want and not what someone imposed on you (sound familiar)? Secondly, as I pointed out, in its default form, Android simply allows apps far too much control and access to your life. Everything that you do and store on your phone is potentially open for any app to access and use for their own purposes, especially advertisers and marketing companies, and this is quite deliberate. You should be concerned and you should shut all of these entities out of your life, unless you deliberately invite them in. Thirdly, security is an ongoing issue that seems worse than was ever the case with the much maligned Windows operating system and anything to limit such issues is a must.
When it comes to apps, one app that I use a fair amount is a weather app, even if the BOM gets the weather wrong most of the time, and the app on the Windows phone is streets ahead of anything that I initially found for the Android phone. I installed the BOM weather app, but it’s glacially slow to load and about as bland as Tofu, very much like the government. So I tried Weather Live Free, Weatherzone, AccuWeather and they all sucked and seemed more interested in delivering ads than weather information. Finally I gave Willy Weather a try, as it got reasonable reviews, and it seems to be the best laid out and most informative of the ones I tried and read about. Willy Weather does have ads, but these are reasonably discrete compared to the ones I tired earlier, but then I discovered Microsoft apps for Android (surprising how many there are) and found MSN Weather. MSN Weather is fast loading, detailed, though the interface isn’t as nice as Willy Weather, but no ads whatsoever.
Banking apps are another thing that I use regularly and, again, the Windows apps seem to function better. The Commonwealth Bank app works quite well on Android, but the Westpac Bank app isn’t as good and it’s slow to load, often fails and, when in use, you don’t know whether the app has locked up or what, while you wait for something to happen. Several times at the beginning I would close the app as I thought it had locked up, but it was just slow to respond, and this is on my home WiFi, not 3G. Mind you, both the Westpac Bank app on Android have a much better user interface than that on the Windows phone, but I still think the Commonwealth Bank app is better of the two and certainly runs smoother. But there are problems, such that sometimes I have to shut the phone down and restart it, as both banking apps fail to accept my passcode telling me that a connection is not available. Only on a restart do things work once again (which is a bit of a worry).
One perhaps minor thing that I do like is the ability to combine apps under one tile or icon (whatever it is in Android language) and you can do this in the Windows phone as well, but it takes up more real estate with the way the Windows phone’s tiles work. By the way, there are apps that can make the Android phone interface look like that of the Windows phone and I gave one of them, Launcher 8, a try, but the ads and in-app purchases just spoil the experience, so I went back to the regular interface. Some apps work OK, others are pretty poorly constructed.
A continuing issue I’ve had with the phone is that app downloads suddenly stop working for which I finally found a solution after a lot of searching and endless misinformation or poor information. I have had to go through this twice so far as, for no conceivable reason, as Google Play Store simply stops working. I’ve also started getting a constantly recurring message on the phone that a download was unsuccessful. This message can keep popping up every few minutes or hours and there’s nothing anywhere indicating what it is. Google is full of questions about this issue as well and with just as many unhelpful responses from people who think they have an answer, but don’t. Some have suggested that these things are a ploy by Google to frustrate owners of older phones and forcing them into buying a new one and sometimes I start to feel this to be true. Then I found an answer (long press the message) which reveals that it’s Android Download Manager that’s having issues, but no viable solution to stop the nagging.
Now one of the most frustrating, if not infuriating, aspects of the Android phone is answering calls. With the Windows phone, an incoming call just appears in the lock screen and you can choose either to answer or not. With the Android phone, you have to first get out of the lock screen and then swipe the screen to answer or not. Sometimes the screen goes straight to the answer screen, but if I’m not fast enough, it goes back to the lock screen, or something else. Why the need for so many actions is beyond comprehension and was another thing I searched long and hard for an answer. Again, it seems that the vast majority of Android owners find this just as frustrating, with many apps available to supposedly address the issue and with just as many failing to do so. Apparently, with earlier versions of Android, you could assign the Home button to answer calls and the on/off button to cancel them, but after Android version 4.4 or so, this was removed. Maybe the designers never actually make voice calls? This has been hugely frustrating and I still haven’t found a solution.
The mobile data issue wasn’t resolved initially either, as apps were still sneaking through with mobile data usage when specifically told not to do so. It was only after further searching that I discovered that there’s a second level of settings that you have to enable for each and every app so that they do not access mobile data. Also, you can’t restrict Android OS (Google) at all from using mobile data. When you look at the apps that ‘require’ mobile data access, it makes you wonder what the hell for? Trying to find out why these apps require mobile data access is a Herculean task in itself, but it’s another thing that a quick Google search reveals to be a common issue with Android users.
Then I started to have more problems, with an inability to connect to Google Play Store, with a constantly repeating error message when I tried to connect. Nothing available on the internet would fix this (same old, same old, in every link) and it seems that this is another common error afflicting Android users. So I eventually did a full factory reset, losing everything I’d installed, except after the full factory reset, I had the same problem.
So what’s my view of the Windows phone to the Android phone? There’s not that much difference when things are working, but I do think the Windows interface is vastly superior to the Android one and the live tiles and live notifications are especially good, as you don’t have to open an app to see information that you might look at regularly. I also find that my low-end Windows phone seems decidedly faster when accessing apps and even the same apps seem to be better implemented on the Windows phone than the Android phone, though not in every case, but being able to access apps that are not available for the Windows phone is a plus for the Android phone.
And, as a final comment, I have to reiterate that I absolutely hate the answering system on this phone, as 50% or more of the time I make some sort of swiping error, or whatever, and the call is immediately missed. I have call forwarding etc turned off, but each time I miss a call because of this, I get a call forwarding notification anyway. It really seems at times that Android was not designed to be used as a phone, but for everything else. I went back to my Windows phone until I could figure out what was going on and, I don’t know why, but thing started working with the Android phone once again and I could reinstall everything that got wiped. But now my Android phone won’t connect to my car head unit without inputting the passcode each time. Sigh!
Post Script. About a month after finishing this story, I started getting constant nagging messages from Malwarebytes to upgrade to premium and ESET antivirus started nagging me that my free trial was finished. The former became unbearable and the latter was a con job, as it wasn’t supposed to be a trial. So both got deleted and after looking at others I decided to just take the risk and do without this crap. Additionally, I found an easier way to answer the phone, just swipe down from the top of the screen and this reveals a different way to accept or reject a call.
Update 1. And just when you thought is was safe to go back in the water, Uber, Tinder, Snapchat, Twitter, Other Top Apps Secretly Tracking Users:
Uber, Tinder, Snapchat, Twitter, and other top apps have allegedly been secretly tracking users, according to a report.
The Independent reported on Tuesday that the apps, which include Uber, Tinder, Skype, Twitter, Spotify, and Snapchat, “contain hidden trackers that can secretly monitor everything you do.”
“Network activity originating from these Android apps crosses multiple countries and legal jurisdictions,” they claimed. “Lack of transparency about the collection, transmission, and processing of data via these trackers raises serious privacy concerns and may have grave security implications for mobile software downloaded and in active use by billions of people worldwide.”
Update 2. After approx eight months of Android phone use, I’ve finally had enough and gone back to my Windows phone. Never have I been so frustrated with any technology as I have been with this Android phone. First off, it keeps endlessly updating one thing or another, over and over again, there isn’t ‘t one day when something isn’t updated and the same things will be updated at least once a week (why does a keyboard app have to be updated almost weekly?). Then the phone started to open the Android store on its own and sometimes there’d be some stupid app waiting for my approval to install. Answering a call also continued to be a major frustration and the final straw was when my phone wouldn’t ring for calls, yet I’d have a missed call message some time later. I really hope that Microsoft’s Andromeda Surface device comes to fruition and sooner, rather than later.