Why Is Android So Stupid?

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Tim Higgins

You would think that a company that has been cloud-based from the get-go would have a pretty good solution for backing up its mobile devices. But Google doesn’t look like it made robust device backup and restore an Android priority.

My main Android device for the past eight months or so has been an ASUS Transformer [review]. Chez SmallNet/CloudBuilder is a multiple tablet household at this point, owning an iPad 1, the Transformer, a Kindle Fire and assortment of B&N Nooks and Amazon Kindle e-readers. I’ve also tried a few others, including a Lenovo IdeaPad K1, HP Touchpad, Toshiba Thrive, Samsung Galazy Tab 10.1 and Acer Iconia Tab A500.

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Android tablets at this point. But since Ms. SmallNet/CloudBuilder has appropriated the iPad for her personal use, I get to eat the Android dogfood. In general, I find Android, at least as experienced on the ASUS Transformer, generally klunky and mildly annoying. Web browsing and email (my main applications) on the Transformer is pretty poky, even with a strong wireless N signal.

The Kindle Fire seems to be speedier than the Transformer for email and web browsing. But I’m not a fan of the 7" screen form-factor. It’s not big enough for a decent email app and too small for browsing websites in their full/desktop form, which is my preference. Mobile website versions are for phones, not for tablets, anyway. So I figured I might as well see how much of the Transformer’s slow performance is its hardware and how much is Android by trying a new ASUS Transformer Prime.

Based on one morning’s email/browsing session, the Transformer Prime seems to be a definite improvement over the original Transformer, with much faster browsing. I can’t say that Ice Cream Sandwich provides the same usability improvement that the transition from Gingerbread to Honeycomb provided.

In fact, if I hadn’t seen the update execute, it probably would have taken me awhile to notice any change aside from the new system font. I find, however, that I’m not really lovin’ ICS’ integration into Google+, especially with the replacement of the Contacts app with People. Why can’t the email app automatically add people I send mail to, to a special Contacts/People category? And why make it so hard to figure out how to manually add a non-Google+ contact?

But I digress. I come to complain about Android, not to praise it. And that main complaint is that Android is very little help when it comes to moving from one tablet to another. Yes, logging into your Google account will bring back your applications, if you got them from the Android Market. But side-loaded apps including Amazon Appstore won’t be restored.

That’s not my main annoyance, though. I reserve that for Android’s refusal to restore the bookmarks for the Android-bundled browser and account information for the bundled Email app. I’m neither a Chrome nor Gmail user and probably won’t be for quite some time. Google already knows too much about me as it is. But even if I were, from the quick research I’ve done, it looks like the browser bookmark process is buggy at best.

I have to confess that I haven’t explored how Apple’s iCloud backup compares to Google’s holey backup capabilities. At least there is an iCloud Bookmarks on/off switch. But reading through this GigaOm article shows that iCloud needs some work before it can be trusted to move everything from one Apple device to another.

If you have figured out how to clone an Android tablet or even solved the browser bookmarks and email account info backup/restore problem, let me know, willya? I’m sure others can use the information, too. There’s an opportunity here for some startup to solve this problem instead of building the nth version of Groupon.

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