Aug 11 AT 10:49 AM Eric Weiss 25 Comments

What Android Needs To Accomplish

Last week we saw the release of the second Android powered phone and we are going to see many more to come before the year is over. The Donut branch was recently opened up and along with it, a slew of new features. With this in mind I thought it was a good time to take a look at what the Android platform needs to accomplish in order to be a true competitor to the other platforms, primarily the iPhone and Blackberry.

1) More/Faster Processing Power

There are too many “hiccups” when opening and closing apps and too many force close issues. Too often when going back to the home screen you are stuck looking at your wallpaper waiting for the icons to come back up. And how many people filled their screens with widgets as soon as they got Cupcake? I know I did. And how many quickly realized all those widgets were slowing the phone down? More and faster processing power allow more home screens and more widgets with smoother transitions between apps as well as the ability to run multiple apps without making the device unusable.

2) A Better Browser

Looking at websites on my G1 often brings back memories of being on dial-up. Even when on my home wireless network it can take several minutes for a standard webpage to fully load. This is unforgivable considering Google makes, arguably, the fastest browser, Chrome. Opera is promising to bring their browser (not Opera Mini) to the platform but I would rather see the native browser improve then have to rely on 3rd parties.

3) Improved Battery Life

I know it, you know it. The battery life just plain old stinks. We have all had it happen. It’s 3pm, you look down at your phone and see the little icon on your status bar down to its last slice. Obviously this isn’t something that’s easy to fix. The more storage capacity a battery has the bigger and bulkier it gets and that usually isn’t what a consumer is looking for in a phone. I also recognize that this is something every manufacturer is looking into for all their phones. As soon as new technology is available I would like to see Android handset manufactures jump on it.

4) Exchange

In order for Android to gain acceptance in the business world it must have Exchange support built in. This was a priority for the iPhone and is the bread and butter of the Blackberry. Yes, the HTC Hero will have it. Yes, you can use a third party email client to get it. The problem is that it doesn’t support Exchange 100% out of the box and for many businesspeople (who are mostly non-techies) that’s a no go.

5) More First Party Apps

Sky Map, Finance, Google Voice… these are some pretty awesome apps. What do they have in common? They were developed by Google. By making awesome software they show what is possible on the platform. By making some of them exclusive it might be the deciding factor for some consumers. I’d love to see a Google Reader and/or Google Docs app. Yes, there are great third party apps (USA Today,, Locale, Ringdroid, etc) but I think Google needs to show the major developers out there that they are committed to the platform long term and that Android is a worthy competitor in the smartphone market.

6) Advertise

I see iPhone ads everywhere. I see Blackberry ads constantly. Recently I’ve been getting seriously creeped out by that woman in the Palm Pre ads. Meanwhile the only ads for an Android phone I’ve seen are the banners hanging up in the T-Mobile stores. Android is a consortium of several huge companies who have a lot invested in the platform. A marketing campaign would pay off big time.

I do not mean for this to be a list of complaints, rather a list of ideas. I want to see Android succeed and improve. I want to see more people walking around with their Android phones.

Tell us what you think Android needs to gain that all important market share of the smartphone market.

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  • Derrick Barra

    Here’s another roadblock…

    The 70mb total app limit! Its completely unaceptable for this platform to be limited in such a critical category. As a developer it’s completely ridiculous that apps cannot be installed to the SD card without voiding your warranty. This makes the android a red herring for customers that are expecting a quality device, and later find out that their device is being blocked by an artificial limit.

    • txhoudini

      Good one. I can’t believe I left that one off the list.

    • Rakshit Menpara

      Totally agree with the fact that 70MB is too small for applications. But the thing is, memory cards are removable devices and if they allow apps to be installed on memory cards, what happens to installed apps once the card is removed? IMHO, best solution is to increase the ROM size to say 2GB or more.

  • mmaitlen

    I’ve been having problems with the app market at times, don’t know if it’s due to network problems or on the server side. There seems to be a vicious circle of 3rd party developers only developing if there is a good market for users to buy from and users only buying if there is a good selection of useful apps in a reliable place. For Android to truly succeed I believe a robust application market is critical.

  • Michael Martin

    1) Qualcomm SnapDragon processors being integrated in the Android phones coming out later this year will address this & be faster than the iPhone 3GS

    2) Chrome should also debut on Android shortly along w improved processing & RAM will help the browser speed

    3) Greater efficiency needs to happen w the faster processors & higher clock speeds which burn more juice – interesting solar & kinetic energy phones may be a good hybrid solution.

    4) Exchange support WILL be inherent going forward as part of Mr Rubin’s grand business plan for Android

    5) First party apps will happen as Android takes up more market share – Chicken & the egg scenario

    6) Advertising is better served by the mass of Android devices flooding the market going into 2010

    ,Michael Martin

    • [email protected]

      Sooo will T-Mobile accepting these QualCom based phones to their line of products? cause they seem to be acting pretty cheap and not taking the Best phones that they can Get… e.g. The HTC HERO…

  • Daniel Holm

    Very well said, and I agree. The main task, I think, is to show up Android to the mass.

  • Roy

    Good remark on the fact that Google should show that they back up the Android platform, because Chrome OS has probably created some doubt.

    I also think that there should be more aiming for making Android a better gaming platform. Games are what define the iPhone, business users are what define the blackberry. Android can and should have both.

  • nEx.Software

    “Recently I’ve been getting seriously creeped out by that woman in the Palm Pre ads.”

    My wife has been telling me the same thing.

    • Clark Wimberly

      We’ve been calling it the Jesus phone because the commercials oversell it so hard. she talks about it like its air.

  • Paul

    I definitely agree regarding gaming on the Android. That’s actually the only thing I miss about the iPhone. There are so many great games for it and I know we’ll get them eventually as many have mentioned, more handsets come out.

  • PhineasJW

    For webpage rendering, the browser isn’t the problem, the CPU is. I would expect a Snapdragon or OMAP processor to significantly reduce web page loads.

    To make it to the next level, Android and its phones need:

    1. Faster/more powerful CPUs
    2. Higher resolution screens
    3. Native multitouch support
    4. A slicker native UI

    The rest is already on its way.

  • Liam

    I was under the impression there are now 4 android phones available, G1 (aka HTC Dream), Magic (aka MyTouch3g, aka Ion aka Sapphire) Hero and the Samsung I7500.

    Apart from that I agree with most of the points, but I don’t find my G1 all that slow considering everything it can do, which hopefully means I’m going to love snapdragon based handsets :).

  • David M.

    I too have been creeped out by the PP women

  • Cintra

    I’m surprised by the negative remarks above, but if they refer to an early version of Android its probably not surprising..

    I have an HTC Magic, and the only app which shows any sign of slowdown is Calorie Counter ;)

    I’m very happy with the browser, and am really impressed by the average quality of the free apps available here in Norway.

    A few apps did suck my battery, but they have been replaced by better alternatives, so I recharge just once a day.


  • webby

    When I wirelessly tether my (rooted) G1 to my laptop when running on T-Mobile3G, I get extremely fast rendering of web pages on my laptop — many many times faster than pages render on my G1.

    Is this due to the processor in my G1? Or?

  • Edward

    AMEN! I couldn’t agree more with all of you. Also, maybe, just maybe, a setting that clears the cache of the browser automatically rather then just letting it build up and taking up memory. The last time i went to the browser in the Applications option, it was up to 14MB of memory taken up =( no wonder it was starting to slow down…

    Overall, not a bad phone for me =)

  • SliestDragon

    Memory is my main problem, although don’t get me wrong, a Snapdragon, or tegra processor will be greatly welcome.

  • danne

    I really don’t see these problems, if the battery just lasted longer I would be really happy.

  • Charbax

    Archos will fix some of these problems with the Archos Android smartphone coming out around the 15th of September, with a 4.8″ 800×480 screen will provide PC-like browsing experience and much better video playback and a large resolution for more advanced and more usable Android applications. Also, Archos uses the latest most powerful ARM Cortex A8 ARMv7 processors by Texas Instruments, at least as powerful if not more powerful than any other ARM Cortex devices out there (Motorola Android, iphone 3GS or Palm Pre.) Also, Archos brings up to 500GB hard drive storage built-in. And all that for a cheaper unlocked price than currently unlocked HTC Android devices.

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      internal storage, keyboard, battery life, appearace

  • Derrick Barra

    Rakshit the solution to the size limit is simple, tie the purchases to the account, rather than the phone itself, other platforms have been doing this since the start of this console generation.

    Its simply horrible design in terms of the size limit, makes it seem as though Google had to push Android to market and left the size limit problem as a Android 2.0 feature.

    I know I seem bitter in these posts, but its only because I love everything else about the G1, I solved the battery life issue with a $50 supersized battery, which doesn’t bother me. And I got around the available ram issue by testing out which products on the store played nice.

    For example I’m almost constantly using dogcatcher to listen to podcasts while using Telenav Gps or browsing the web, but I know that If I want to play a game I need to pause the podcast. And I can set someone to speakerphone and turn on my Nes emulator to continue my game if someone calls.

    Basically its all about knowing what the G1 is capable of and sticking to its strengths, which for me is more than capable of replacing my PC for all but the most intensive tasks.

  • Skythe

    I couldn’t have said this better myself.
    I particularly have qualms with the browser and general 3G performance. I’ve done side-by-side tests with my Nokia N93i, and sometimes it loads a page in 5 seconds which takes my ‘droid phone 30 seconds (both in Opera Mini).

    Speaking of Opera Mini, quite a terrible port. I read that they have a more official browser on the way, but trying to hit the correct bookmark in speed dial is no trivial task. It’s not designed for touchscreen at all. I still use it for the proxy page compressing though ;)

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  • Jack

    I agree with your points, however the last one, advertisement, we need to agree that Android is not a mobile phone, but yes an operation system. I never saw in the streets advertisement about Windows Mobile or Symbian.. but about Nokia and Motorola I’m tired. So who needs to invest are the companies and not Google.