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7/5/2014
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Rodney Brown
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10 Ways Google Must Improve Android

Google's upcoming Android "L" version introduces improvements including Android for Work and stronger app security. But Google still has plenty of gaps to fill.
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Well, maybe Will Smith isn't so keen on android upgrades. But with Apple's iOS already being supported by 90% of all businesses surveyed in a recent study by JAMF Software, it is clear that Google's mobile operating system needs some serious adjustments if it is going to be a dominant player in enterprise mobility.

Make no mistake; Google badly wants the enterprise customers. It hinted at it with acquisitions like cloud-based mobile device management company Divide back in May, and made it plain as day at the Google I/O conference in early June, when it announced Android for Work.

Also announced at I/O this year was the next flavor of Android, not yet given a sweet-tooth name, just called "L" -- I am voting for "Lollipop" and hoping that Google Now's voice gets replaced with that of Tara Strong, who did the voice of Juliet Starling in the game Lollipop Chainsaw. But I digress.

One of the keys to the new Android for Work is that Google will include new APIs that will allow for secure inclusion -- and separation -- of both work and personal apps on a single mobile device. This is similar to the Extensions program Apple announced even earlier in June, and both are solid steps toward making apps function more securely.

Integrated into Android for Work when the L version is released will be the Knox containerization system from Samsung, which protects corporate data by segmenting it from personal data at the operating system level. Take note: That means every mobile device using L, not just Samsung phones, will have access to Knox.

Well, access to a part of Knox, at least: The Wall Street Journal reports that a Samsung spokesperson said that the core containerization function of Knox would be included in Android L, but that other features will be exclusively available for Knox users on Samsung phones.

But security is not the only area that Android needs to work on, and the enterprise isn't the only customer base it needs to satisfy. Android has some serious catching up to do in the area of cameras, photo software, and overall user experience. However, it has started to eat into Apple's domain with Google Now, and even jumped ahead of Apple in the field of wearables. Now is not the time to ease off on the improvements.

Click through this slideshow to find a list of 10 Android features and functions that Google needs to throw some serious brainpower and money at to get where it needs to be.

Rodney Brown is a veteran of both the newspaper world and the retail management world. Having held nearly every job a newspaper has, from selling advertising to running the presses, he truly has been an ink-stained wretch. Now, with the web, he is pixel-stained. He cut his ... View Full Bio

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GrayG879
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GrayG879,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/5/2014 | 8:50:05 AM
Cell Reception Issues
You didn't mention weather or not the two phones you tested in Vermont were on the same carrier or not.

I have noticed that Korean Androids (Samsung and HTC) seem to get consistently good reception in direct comparison (same location same carier) to Chinese phones (Huawei and ZTE). Google could put more quality control restrictions on the manufacturers reception (but probably will not)

Then there is the added complication that the cells themselves (towers not phone) are in a constant state of change.

I recently had an experience that demonstrates this. I live in a community that has a T-Mobile Tower 3 miles away. The terrain is absolutely flat, no hills no tall buildings, I can actually see the T-Mobile Tower from my house with a pair of binoculars. For the past 10 years T-Mobile has had great reception here. 1G, 2G, 3G...I recently discovered that this tower had been upgraded to 4G just about the time that the T-Mobile service here went from excellent to non existent. We ended up having T-Mobile buy out our contracts becasue we simply could not get service.

I'm wondering if the companies that own the towers and rent them out to the carriers are just doing a poor job of maintaining equipment capable of running all the different tecnologies, 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE etc..
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
7/6/2014 | 10:47:18 PM
Re: Cell Reception Issues
I'm not sure if the issue is hardware, software or the towers, but out of 2 Samsung phones, one smart and the other dumb, the old phone always gets better reception in difficult areas, even on the same carrier. In this case Verizon; and the area I'm referring is Camas Washington.
anon8562260460
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anon8562260460,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/7/2014 | 10:28:53 AM
Battery sucking knox
If every android phone has battery sucking knox on it then I will knot be buying any more android phones.  I pay for my own phone.  It has nothing to do with my company and I don't want this software on my phone.  I switched to android because i didn't like apple telling me what I could and could not install on my phone, but android is kind of the opposite where oem's and carriers install stuff I don't want and won't allow me to remove it.  That's actually worse.  

I'll be switching to IOS or windows phone when my contract is up on my junk s4.  Goodbye samsung and all your horrible bloatware and your awful touchwiz interface.  
anon8423447454
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anon8423447454,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/5/2014 | 10:17:35 AM
switch to cloud computing model, ala chrome o/s
Frankly, and i think its the elephant in the room, "apps" suck...they suck time to install, maintain, they suck battery bigtime, they suck security, and they suck the life out of a smooth, uninterupted predictable latest version phone experience.
amamar5
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amamar5,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/5/2014 | 10:46:53 AM
None of these is what I want most
As a business user, in a fast-paced communications environment, the one feature I desperately miss is the ability to control the volume of the separate notifications. I get "paged" at night, but I don't want to hear every email come in, just in case I get a page. Even my Blackberry, from the better part of a decade ago, had this ability. There are apps that you can get that can allow this sort of thing, but I feel that it should be a basic part of the operating system. I would love to have the option of either using the default setting, or configuring a custom volume for each text and email account.
JayA591
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JayA591,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/5/2014 | 11:12:35 AM
Re: None of these is what I want most
The calendar could use many improvements.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
7/5/2014 | 10:18:59 PM
Re: None of these is what I want most
I do like this post. It points out the gaps of Android sysrem compare to other systems such as iOS. Somehow Android is a little bit chaotic nowadays, especially on the aspect of security, simplicity and interactivity with human beings. Just touch screen is not something cool but common nowdays.
imdoody
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imdoody,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/5/2014 | 12:02:06 PM
WebOS
I do really miss Palm's webos. So intuitive and clean. Too bad HP had to go and screw it all up and ruin one of the few things it had going for them. But maybe it's for the best. HP shouldn't be making software anyways it's just awful.
Inverse137
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Inverse137,
User Rank: Strategist
7/5/2014 | 12:27:10 PM
Re: WebOS
Palm OS could only do about 5% of what a modern OS can do.

 

What you're saying is equivalent to: I really miss DOS.  It was so simple and powerful.  Well, yes, it was...but try to browse a website with a commandline interface.

 

Palm OS had it's point in time but the OS does a lot more now.

 

And don't worry about HP.  WIth Meg at the helm they might not be making much of anything anymore.  I even heard a rumor that there was a "Buy it now" option on the whole R&D department.  And the Printers division has an un-official "make best offer."

 

Sad...was a great company at one time.
Rodney Brown
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Rodney Brown,
User Rank: Author
7/7/2014 | 8:37:13 AM
Re: WebOS
Inverse137, what I am really saying is exactly what I said -- I miss that functionality of WebOS. But that being said, I will also argue your contention that WebOS is as outdated as DOS. I still have my HP TouchPad, and I can still do everything on it that I do on my smart phone, except make phone calls.
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
7/5/2014 | 12:24:46 PM
Knox
Knox is a great name for securing data. I'm wondering how this works. Is one of it's featues to allow the buisness side to be wiped if needed without touching the personal data? This was one of the major issues with BYOD.
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
7/5/2014 | 12:41:01 PM
Biometrics
I agree biometrics is something that needs to be incorporated into phones. I'm not sure how fast that will happen though. Are there any reports on how many people take advantage of the fingerprint scan on the 5s?

I have one and do not use it.
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
7/5/2014 | 12:46:20 PM
Siri
I look at Siri as a "cool" feature but not a must have. I actually don't use her, or it I should say. There are better things to improve upon before adding a voice assistant I think.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Moderator
7/6/2014 | 1:16:24 PM
Re: Siri
I have to say I don't see any difference between my android and my iTouch, with the exception of not making or receiving calls/texts from my iTouch. I am very pleased with my android and am impressed with my apps, amount of storage, amou t of screens I have up, speed of Internet, camera quality, voice recognition, and my overall user capabilities.
elroysully
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elroysully,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/5/2014 | 12:46:57 PM
deny individual permissions
You missed the most important one, disallowing individual permissions. Specifically, I'd like to disallow the push abilities of certain apps. iOS does this and it is VERY handy. You guys should do a better poll before you start spouting off like know-it-alls.
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
7/5/2014 | 12:51:53 PM
Camera
I agree on the camera software. The iPhone 5s takes great camera and videos along with the software on the phone to view and edit them. Not many have cameras anymore. The phone is becoming you camera and I can see someone choosing a phone over another because of the camera and software on it.
relmasian
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relmasian,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/5/2014 | 12:58:16 PM
Item 10 and then some
I have to second item 10, multiple windows.  Along with that should be process control, not only being able to kill a process but also to put a process/app in hibernation.  Even better, add a sandbox mode where a process can think it has complete access but actually is running on a virtual machine. Finally, why not have a snoop mode for all data being sent, with a log identifying when and what process/process-tree is sending.  Ideally, the log/data could be sent to cloud storage where it would not eat space and could be analyzed, if desired, by more powerful hardware and software.
Gigi3
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Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
7/7/2014 | 4:46:05 AM
Interoperatability
"Well, maybe Will Smith isn't so keen on android upgrades. But with Apple's iOS already being supported by 90% of all businesses surveyed in a recent study by JAMF Software, it is clear that Google's mobile operating system needs some serious adjustments if it is going to be a dominant player in enterprise mobility."

Rodney, it's important that cross platform support and interoperatability has to be support by all platforms for seamless operation.  This is one of the basic requirements from business community. Nobody want to get in to lock in system with any particular platform or OS or software.
Rodney Brown
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Rodney Brown,
User Rank: Author
7/7/2014 | 8:40:10 AM
Re: Interoperatability
Gigi3, I am not saying it is a bad thing for us that Apple has such wide support, but I am saying it is a bad thing for Google, as a competitor. I agree that interoperability and cross-platform support is mandatory for any mobile management product out there today. But Google needs to step up its game to make sure it has as large a share of support among the MDM providers as Apple does.
Gigi3
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Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
7/10/2014 | 12:48:57 AM
Re: Interoperatability
"I am not saying it is a bad thing for us that Apple has such wide support, but I am saying it is a bad thing for Google, as a competitor. I agree that interoperability and cross-platform support is mandatory for any mobile management product out there today. But Google needs to step up its game to make sure it has as large a share of support among the MDM providers as Apple does."

Rodney, you are right. Since Google is a major player, its Interoperability will help only the competitors.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/7/2014 | 7:35:18 AM
Reducing the number of versions
I'm not sure this is such a great idea.  I hear people complain about all of the different versions of Android but what I rarely ever see is a good reason for that complaining.  I have multiple Android devices that run multiple OS versions and one in particular is ancient in hardware terms but it still runs nearly every app I want to run.  I also have old first and second generation iPhones that are pretty much frozen in time because the OS can't be upgraded and that means you can't even install new apps from the app store.  Not everyone needs or even wants the latest OS and all the latest apps.  Some of use just want things to work and not have to worry about them.
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Strategist
7/9/2014 | 7:34:10 PM
Re: Reducing the number of versions
I have and android tablet and an iphone i'm pretty satisfied with both.  the benefits of android is that I'm in control of the different features and seating.  I heard stories that after upgrading your iphone, apple changes some setting automatically.  Since the enterprise demands different challenge it will take them time to adjust.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/10/2014 | 7:13:45 AM
Re: Reducing the number of versions
If you aren't updating iOS on your iPhone as soon as the latest version comes out then you have got to be part of a tiny minority.  Every time a new iOS version comes out that's all I hear for a week is how something changed when they upgraded and now they can't figure out what went wrong.
David Em
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David Em,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/7/2014 | 2:15:00 PM
10 Ways Google Must Improve Android
I have two humbler wishes for Android.

 

First would be STABILITY in the software of the cell phone itself. Every time there's an update the freaking Phone functions change!  How to EDIT contacts is a god-awful nightmare without always calling some one inadvertently.  NEXUS 4 by Google makes this inexcusable. Worse, consider NEEDING three ways to call someone:

(A) Numbers called from the US may require a "011 + country code +1 + area code + The Number."

(B) Calling that same number in their country might require just "The Number"

(C) Calling that person from elsewhere might require "00 + country code + The Number"

Here is the problem: The Android OS on a Google Nexus 4 is endlessly CHANGING one's contacts.

If all three esxamples above are entered as SEPARATE contacts, Android will conflate them anyway!

so re-dialing example A  may result in a wrong dialing pattern like B or C being actually dialed.

This is no good. It is an example of Google being TOO CLEVER to identify common elements of a phone number as only one and the same contact.  Not helpful and a huge pain. I'd like a dumber MORE PRREDICTABLE Android for basic phone service.

Second, support for external Human Interface devices like keyboards and mice.

Today's Andrid phones have huge screens; Android Tablets have even larger screens. They are tempting to use as laptops. It would be very nice to have a golbal control for how a mouse moves accross an Android screen, MUCH BETTER TEXT SELECTION CUT/COPY/PASTE when using a mouse. What is desired is the ability to assign keyboard keys and combinations (like vestigial F1... F7... F12 keys) to more meaningful purposes inside an Android app.  At the very least, better support for BlueTooth mice.

Clearer standards for NFC would be nice too... oh well.
Gigi3
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Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
7/10/2014 | 12:54:53 AM
Re: 10 Ways Google Must Improve Android
"First would be STABILITY in the software of the cell phone itself. Every time there's an update the freaking Phone functions change!  How to EDIT contacts is a god-awful nightmare without always calling some one inadvertently. "

David, frequent updation about the OS is very much required in competitive world. Apple is also doing the same thing frequently.  In frequent updation Google always have an edge, we can update the OS, if our hardware supports it. But in Apple such updation are difficult.
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