Top 10 features we’d like to see in Android 3.0

UPDATE:

Hello HaD readers,
Sorry for the delay in updating this. I was on probation while the editors worked with Jason to figure out some things.

Clearly, for my recent debut article, I didn’t research Android OS well enough. After reading each of your comments, I realize that the article fell short of HaD’s and its readers standards for high-quality writing and reporting. Every point I made in the article were problems I noticed in my experience with Android, but I should have done more research on others’ experiences and the capabilities of each version of the OS. To each reader, I am sorry and will do better by you in future posts.

Poor Google. Despite its numerous capabilities with smartphones spread across a variety of carriers, Android still struggles to garner the prestige and positive perceptions of iOS 4. Sales continue to rise, but at the end of the day, the average person is still left lusting for an iPhone. Well, here are 10 features  that should be added to Android 3.0 that could change the tide.
1. A no-brainer task manager.
Google says Android doesn’t need a task manager, that it closes programs efficiently without any user-intervention, substandard apps often suck memory dry. Because of this, Android users are forced to download complicated task-managers, each with its own odd UI, and weigh which one works the best. Google, please fess up to the problem and put something in there a computer novice could use.  Something with big buttons would be nice.
2. Stable Multitasking
Speaking of crashes, multitasking on Android is a mess.  A little optimization here wouldn’t hurt. Better yet, while this may run counter-productive to us power-users, why not release a lite version of Android 3.0 that doesn’t support multitasking? Not every user needs it and lower-end phones would appreciate it
Google, your Android keyboard sucks. That’s why the fine folks at Swype Inc developed their product. Sure, some of the newer Android phones like the Droid X are releasing with it built in, but it would be a boon for the OS to come packaged with this software.
4. IR- sender support
On the hardware side of things, an IR-sender support is a “duh.” Imagine a next generation of remotes running on Android. Better yet, how would you like to control your lights and home-entertainment center with your phone without the sometimes-complicated mess of configuring through a network?
5. Universal pinch-to-zoom
Some apps have it. Some apps don’t. C’mon, this should be standard by now.
6. Folders
Google, you copied iOS’s homescreen UI, why not do it again? Many of users have outgrown their limited pages and would like a way to add some organization to their mobile lives.
7. SD-Card support for app-storage
If users are going to download a ton of apps from the Android Market, they need somewhere to put them. Users with rooted phones can already do this, but expandable storage should be standard in app-filled world with insatiable memory lust.
8. Built-in syncing
If the Android is going to succeed as a user-friendly platform, it needs to make it easy for people to add their music, photos, and video to their phones. It’s simple Google. Develop some web-based software and launch it as a beta. You do it for everything else…
9. Standardized UI for all apps
I’m all for artistic interpretation, but the reason so many functional apps get low scores is because they work differently than the rest of the OS. Once again, do what Apple did and come up with better UI guidelines.
10. Better market
Why can’t I queue downloads from the web? That would be awesome. How about a better way to navigate the store from my laptop? Despite the thousands of apps the Android Market hosts, it is stuck with the same problems as Apple’s iOS4. More importantly than any of the above, Google needs to innovate here. Change the way mobile markets work Google and you could win this war.

Photo courtesy [quinn.anya]

Comments

  1. Jon Ward says:

    I hear everyone talking about Swype, which isn’t even out yet when I’ve been using SlideIT for a while now and LOVE it. I’ve used the Swype beta and I gotta say, SlideIT just works better. Its dictionary is better, it’s word prediction is better and it’s way of choosing alternate words is better. Instead of forcing you to choose from a popup menu, it makes its best guess then gives you an unobtrusive menu of alternate words to choose from in case it got it wrong. Please, try SlideIT, it’s a superior keyboad and it’s already available.

  2. Michael L. says:

    Froyo has built-in a2sd support fyi. No need to request it in 3.0 when 2.2 has it.

  3. Michael L. says:

    @jon swype is out, its on my phone i just think its not all that great. It may not be standard but grabbing the apk isnt hard

  4. remne says:

    Ok, I’ve read on hackaday.com for a few years almost everyday. I like the articles. But seriously, what the f*ck is this for bs article?

    Apple-fanboys have other places on the net to whine. Keep hackaday clean from stuff like this, as it should be!

    • roberto305 says:

      I completely agree. And iPhone is only popular becuase of the stupid apple fanboys who wont use anything unless it has a half eaten apple on it

  5. ktosiek says:

    @Michael L., except the built-in a2sd in Froyo is broken by design – it’s not users choice, it’s app developers choice in this model. It would be great to have decent a2sd _with_ user choosing where to put _any_ of the apps (I’ve never seen something like this in official version of mobile OS, and it’s basicly a given in any modded version, be it Symbian, WM (not really sure here), or Android)

  6. ktosiek says:

    oh, and about swype – reall keyboard FTW (G1 owner here)

  7. dustin says:

    wireless syncing for all android devices:

    http://www.appbrain.com/info/fast-web-install

    you have to install two apps but after that any app you pick from their site will automatically be installed on your phone. it also does updates to the apps you’ve already got.

  8. Jacob Nahin says:

    Hey all. Glad to be part of the community.
    @ktosiek you took the words out of my mouth ;). @Michael L problem with getting apk is in order for android to be the smartphone leader it needs simplicity. My parents should be able to use their phones without any complication.

  9. Michael L. says:

    Id agree i ould be nice for full control but this is a start and if you really want full control just root your phone ive got a mytouch slide (using it to post here) and im rooted on droid 2.1

  10. Mike says:

    This seems more like a request to developers rather than Google. They left it open for a reason, the best apps will become popular and be successful.

    A number of your requests are already in Android, app2sd, folders, stable multitasking. A lot of the problems my friends have I would attribute to HTC/Sense rather than Android, my Nexus One is solid.

  11. Ranadok says:

    Homescreen Folders have been on Android for quite some time, since at least 1.5 (the earliest I’ve used). Just long press on the background and choose folders. You have the choice between a basic folder for apps or a couple different types of presets, (all contacts, starred contacts, etc). The implementation isn’t perfect (For example, you can’t organize the items IN a folder, the icons just appear in the order you put added them). But, no need to wait for 3.0 for that. Unless you mean something else and I am a moron.

  12. Hackius says:

    >Why can’t I queue downloads from the web?

    What the hell? I can on my 2.1 phone.

    Stop drinking the Apple koolaid

  13. toaster says:

    #6 – android has folders. long press on any (not full) home screen. “add to home screen” –> “folders”

  14. Gordunk says:

    Clearly the writers here don’t actually use android, or they use a retarded Motorola phone running 1.5 w/ MotoBlur

  15. Cynyr says:

    I’ll disclaimer this post: “I have not used an android phone outside of a shop, nor an iPhone”

    1)I thought it ran linux, isn’t top+kill[all] available?

    2) Multitasking should be left up to the user to figure out how much they can run. Granted a phone with 2GB of ram and a 2ghz ARM A9 dual core would help that too.

    3) see disclaimer

    4) Again, linux phone, can’t you write to the IR port from the java environment. If you can, shouldn’t this be a fairly simple app to write, granted it would need IR receive as well so i could make my phone learn codes.

    5) I thought all apps could use it if they wanted too. How would you like it to just work in all apps? always zoom in/out? or?

    6&7) sounds good, but again never used it…

    8) I thought android just let you dump things on the SD card and it figured it out? or do you want an app to ensure format compatibility? aka imagemagik/ffmpeg “andriod” targets.

    9) So you want google to vet all apps to ensure that they look “nice” before putting them on the store? umm apple store much?

    10) sounds good. My huge complaint with the iphone app store is while I might like one, i have no idea if it has the apps that i would like on a phone like that. I only have linux computers, so no iTunes for me. I want a real terminal(full curses support, visual/audio bells, etc), SSH, and VNC or X(Hello N900). Flash would be nice too, but with some apps to take over the games i’d play online meh.

  16. BP says:

    I thought folders are way older than iOs.

  17. therian says:

    Isnt you suppose to know the product you writing about ?

  18. emuboy says:

    X11 client app?

  19. Jacob Nahin says:

    @BP @Ranadok @toaster True sub-standard folders have been around for a long time. My first experience with an Android device: it was running 1.5 and even for a techy like myself, folders were not intuitive or convenient. They were annoying and no way are folders (as they are implemented now) and the way they work obvious for the average consumer.
    Regarding what I said about organization: I am a bit OCD and like all my apps alphabetized. I’m not the only one and figuring out the organization is a real pain. All I’m asking for is a bit of simplicity for the next version of Android. Given that Google has announced a revamp of the UI, I’m hoping this will be a part of it.

    @Cynyr regarding #9, yes. I am not an apple snob. I don’t own an iPhone, but they are #2 in sales for a reason. It is to the benefit of developers and consumers to have a standard of quality. in the ever-ending argument between those who prefer openness vs Apple’s walled-garden, both have important points and Apple’s success and the buzz they generate can’t be ignored. After all, When was the last time you saw the general public line up around the street and overnight for an Android device?

  20. maslow says:

    Swype is ok…. After about a month of using it on my android, i’ve found that it suffers some issues. first, you can’t stop mid-word which is a killer for people who are multitasking (no I don’t own a car, thanks). stopping mid-word should bring up the same prediction type menu that T9 offers.

  21. hawth says:

    Folders have been in android since 1.5 or so… iOS copied android on this one.

  22. hawth says:

    fuller responses:

    #1 – This is a catch-22. You can’t have a task killer which kills apps automatically, as that hurts battery life significantly.

    This is always going to be limited to power users, since knowledge of what program is misbehaving is necessary. I’d prefer a program which better measured which programs are often waking. With well behaving programs, and no task killer, my HTC magic gets almost 4 days even with background data enabled.

    Also worth noting, you don’t need a task manager. The manage applications screen in settings lets you kill applications.

    #2 – Crashes? I’m not certain what you are referring to. I’m not sure you have a clear idea either. Multitasking is a fundamental part of android and I don’t believe that this hurts performance or battery life. Don’t forget that android is run on top of the linux kernel, I’m not sure there’s much sense removing multitasking from linux.

    #3 – Swype owns (for us power users at least). Fair point.

    #4 – I have a wifi-only (no sim card) G1 I use to control my XBMC box. It owns. Creating a real remote that does similar is a great idea.

    #5 – Pretty recent feature. Would also like to see it around more. Probably waiting on application developers to update (not really something you can globally apply, just grant as nice an api access as possible)

    #6 – Folders have been in android since 1.5 or so… iOS copied android on this one.

    #7 – This is in froyo… Where have you been?

    #8 – I think that 3.0 does address this somewhat.

    #9 – There is a standard UI. It is the job of developers to use it properly rather than rolling their own. Not much google can/should do about this.
    #10 – They demoed this at I/O. It’s in 3.0. Good.

  23. therian says:

    @Jacob Nahin
    “After all, When was the last time you saw the general public line up around the street and overnight for an Android device?”

    After all, When was the last time you saw the sane public line up around the street and overnight commit mass suicide

  24. Cynyr says:

    @emuboy

    Yep, so i can ssh forward X and run programs from my desktop on my phone.

    @Jacob Nahin
    I though the iPhone was #2 only when compared on a per model type comparison, and they usually lump all the iPhone models together for that, and only compare to smart phones.[1]

    As for the walled/open garden, i feel there is an easy balance apple could strike. Simply mark vetted apps as such, with a logo, and let all apps(non malicious) on the store. Then let users choose to enable the non vetted apps to show up.

    [1]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_mobile_phones (Yes I realize i linked to wikipedia, but thats the best i could find quickly)

  25. chris says:

    how about a better music app with a simple freaking EQUALIZER? how hard can that be?

  26. Vonskippy says:

    Great, now we have some Apple fanboy writing for HAD.

    Except for the drooling horde of Apple drones – NO ONE is lusting for an iPhone or it’s walled garden DRM riddled iTune centric OS.

    RIM (i.e. blackberry) is the leader of Smartphones – NOT Apple. with Android being the newest player AND having the largest percentage of new market growth.

    Geesh, if you’re going to drool over your iPhone crap – at least get your facts straight.

  27. svofski says:

    Why do articles like this appear here on HaD? Did I miss some format change? I vote: uninterested, I can read stuff like this in some other place.

  28. Riley says:

    Well I know what we would like to see from Android 3.0: more stable camera API, and proper shell script handling so I don’t have to do some crazy hacks just to make software work. Also, maybe making the documentation match the code would be nice…

    Seriously, guys, college software design classes, you should all look into them.

  29. MRE says:

    I have a sony ericsson xperia so-1b (Japanese market)…
    yeah the touch keyboard is a pain.. landscaping it works a lot better. but its pointless to complain about it when it can easily be replaced (dont know about changing keyboard software on an iphone.. is that possible?)

    ir – i really miss the ir on my old phone. honestly, in japan, using ir to control your tv or air conditioner or any other appliance is kind of unheard of. it is downright awesome when exchanging contact info. two taps and point your phones at each other… phonebook updated with a photo image so you never forget who that was. android really needs ir support.

    i am a bit tired of apps that dont shut properly on exit. but task managers being clumsy with weird interfaces?? no. most are simple, clear, and to the point. smart kill, kill all apps, kill all services, and selective kill. if you cant figure out what those mean, put down the phone and go back to 1985.

    Id really like to see some sort of cpu throttle access for non-rooted phones. even with minimal services and no apps running, battery life on the xperia is about a day. that could be extended considerably if when the phone locks, the cpu went to sleep, waking on either a power button touch or a radio module signal.
    sleep would have to be smart enough to detect that a music player is running, and throttle down the cpu while giving that software higher priority.
    I know there is some built in, but at least on the xperia, sony has their own ideas as to what those settings to be. Obviously, based on my observed battery life, they are wrong.
    At any rate, I want more direct control over cpu speed/power usage.

    sd card support – almost everything from the app store installs to the sd card on the xperia. this cant just be a sony trick?

  30. docksider says:

    I lolded bad when i read you want one w/o multi-threading, considering how android works this is not possible if you want apps to be able to run graphics etc. The way android developers develop it is impossible. Also i dont believe that it is the threading that is the problem, it is how is used and encouraged! With the current philosophy within android it is doomed to be like this

  31. David S says:

    This post seemed as silly as this comment.

  32. plasmarobo says:

    Is the pinch-to-zoom functionally somehow trademarked by Apple? I remember there being some sort of contention there, and so Google disabled it by default to avoid lawsuit. That might explain that, cause it is a very intuitive way to zoom.

  33. lad1337 says:

    @ remne
    i would call myself an applefanboy
    and its so true what you said …
    i dont need that kinda stuff here …
    keep posting hacks nothing else !

  34. Frank26080115 says:
  35. SS says:

    What about fixing the Bluetooth part? Andriod is very crappy supporting the hands-free protocol. I got one of these awesome Bluetooth Ericofon phones http://www.sqnewton.com and the Android is the only phone that has issues with no voice recognition, speed/favorite dial and is a pain to pair. HFP needs a serious review on Android. The BT Ericofon works awesome with my iPhone 3 GS and an enV3 from LG (including text message notification). Fix it, Android!

  36. James says:

    So… “top ten” lists written by people that are utterly unfamiliar with the subject about which they’re griping?

    Is that where we’re going with the ‘new’ HAD?

    If so, count me out. This is purest garbage, and reflects simple ignorance of the sort that causes one to avoid shopping mall phone stores.

    1) this assertion is Not Even Wrong.
    2) ditto.
    3) If you want Swype, install it.
    4) Again with the N.E.W. You’re complaining that a 3.0 SOFTWARE release ought to somehow magically include HARDWARE. nevermind that 1992 called and wants it’s syncing tech back.
    5) Now you’re complaining that the OS developers ought to go and rewrite all of the myriad vendor’s apps in order to include a feature. COMPLAIN TO THE AUTHOR OF THE APP IN QUESTION, you toolbox.
    6) As has been pointed out, Apple stole the Folder functionality from Android. Android doesn’t need to steal it back – it’s already there.
    7) Again, already there.
    8) Once more with feeling: ALREADY THERE.
    9) Missing the point, Not Even Wrong, etc.
    10) … this is word soup that makes no sense. You’re spouting catchphrases about ‘winning wars’ and other such nonsense.

    Hack-A-Day editorial staff: please, in the future, if someone submits this sort of garbage, ask them first if they’ve ever bothered to use the technology in question before you hit the ‘publish’ button.

    jesus.

  37. Dattas says:

    I can’t believe this post made it onto Hackaday. Not only is it poorly researched, it doesn’t belong here! What does wanting things in a new version of android have to do with hacking? I hope this continue.

  38. Dattas says:

    Sorry, I meant to say I hope this DOESN’T continue.

  39. biozz says:

    is Jacob Nahin even an android dever?

    he seams to not know much at all about what Google is doing whats out and how you develop an android app

    multi tasking is up to the user folders is being devolved 2.2 has sd card storage for apps IR transfer is already in dev for 2.3 and the IR transmitter is already on a few phones multi touch zooming is up to the dever syncing is a third party program and google has no mind ot make a easy syncing program input methods is up to the user
    THERE IS A STANDARD UI! thats the first thing you learn after “hello android!”
    using this is up to the dever

  40. Joe says:

    Bad articles are bad.

    I rarely comment, but this is about the most misinformed & worthless article I’ve seen on HAD.

  41. Xyroze says:

    @biozz
    Thank you. I was becoming frustrated as I read the post. If you aren’t going to bother reading up on the features for releases that are already available, then don’t bother making suggestions about what you think they should change. Android could definitely use some tweaks to optimize its capabilities, but I don’t think this is the place to be discussing it.

  42. MS3FGX says:

    This is an absolutely worthless post, if this is the future direction of HaD it is a real shame.

    A number of these are already in 2.1/2 or are in development for a future release. Did the author even look past his G1 before typing this up?

    By the way, “IR-sender”? Really? The technical knowledge of HaD editors has never been terribly impressive, but this is getting ridiculous.

    Perhaps worst of all, the writing style and flow here looks even worse than Mike’s, which is honestly something I didn’t think was possible.

  43. therian says:

    Mike actually improve a lot, I cant tell anymore the author by reading article name ;)

  44. Jim Doyle says:

    Coming from an iphone to a desire, can’t believe this post was ever written. I am disappointed that HaD published such an inaccurate article. Most of the points are false or stupid. You shouldn’t allow posting about things you don’t really know.

    And to my humble opinion android is much better than ios. After moving to android I realised that apple made me stupid, forcing me to do (and install) things their way. Sorry apple. not going back.

  45. michael says:

    Sync is coming, the already announced it. Soon the appstore will be online and you will be able to push to the phone… IR support, definitely want it.. but tell HTC, Moto and LG about that, they control the hardware.

    Hardware keyboard reigns supreme. Thats why I love my Moto Droid.

    Advanced Task Killer is probably the best task killer I have ever seen, let them make their money. They deserve it!

  46. damntech says:

    Hmm… I have had a moto droid for a while now. I have a friend who has had a G1 up until he switched to a droid incredible. He said he had some problems with the G1 up until the later moments, then it was just an issue of performance. I haven’t had any considerable issues or desires as the 3rd party market place fulfilled my needs and it’s easy to take control of the device. I can ssh and rdp to work. I can connect to all my mail boxes. I can connect via bluetooth, wifi and my carriers network to everything I want to connect to. And no GOOG doesn’t have to do it all nor do they need to tighten their grip on the market place. In fact I think it is critical that they remain open so we can hack our phones and/or purchase open market tools so we can use our phones the way we want to. As a platform Android is moving along quite fine for my needs and wants. If someone wants something that is more controlled or closed up than they can go with the iPhone.

  47. biozz says:

    @michael yeah i chose the droid over the incredible and waiting for the X for the keyboard … its a tad small but after some getting used it its awesome … the only touch keyboard i like is the one on my blackberry storm … that’s it

    @Xyroze exactly … hackaday should have had an interview process for accepting people reading these comments we appear to have a lot of informed devers here … personally im just starting out

    @Frank26080115 a usb host with an adapter would be great but so much can go wrong like attaching a device that draws the full 500MA and fried the phone but attaching a flash drive or a card reader or even a friggen webcam or maybe a DSLR to control would be wonderful

  48. damntech says:

    Something even more interesting is when ever I start to think hey I wish my phone had this feature I search the dev API and start to figure out what needs to be done and after 6 or so hours I find out there are already 5 apps and one or two of them are under 5 bucks and have over 20,000 downloads and 5 stars. So I am just feeling almost uninspired because the Droid market place is already there and doing everything I need and want. I guess I can just go back to work and maybe do a few personal exercises one day I’ll think of something worthwhile! :P

  49. inedible says:

    That’s it. I’m off to find a different website. Later guys. It’s been a fun four years, but this is fucking bullshit.

    You just lost yourself a reader.

  50. damntech says:

    The usb host hack is kinda old. Just search it up there are hard/software hacks that cover this.

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