The Hills Are Greener: Why Google Needs to Fix Android 4.2 Now

The Hills Are Greener: Why Google Needs to Fix Android 4.2 Now

Nov 26, 2012

So, a while ago, I complained that Android 4.2, a new version of Jelly Bean, was really not needed at this point. And in a proud moment for punditry, I’m right. This is a version of Android that seems designed solely to hype up the Nexus 4 and 10 with new features, and for current devices, it really isn’t ready.

There’s new issues with the OS. There was the much-publicized December bug in the People app (still not fixed). There’s some curious design choices: the new clock font with different bolding for the hours and minutes display seems like a questionable decision after the original Jelly Bean clock worked as such an understated design, the new one sticks out like a sore thumb. That, and the new lockscreen widgets, while handy, are just not visually appealing. The new split dropdown notification bar is problematic: it’s just not a good thing on the Nexus 7, where now I have to drag down from the left side of the top of the screen to get my actual notifications, and the right side for settings. That status bar in portrait is too thin to actually do anything. Android Police has a great rundown of all the other issues that have been popping up.

Of course, a lot of this stands out because usually, Android updates have been a good thing, often making the device they’re installed on quite better, thanks to new optimizations along with the new features. But this update feels like it wasn’t quite ready for prime time, that Google wanted to release an udpate along with the Nexus 4 so that they could tout new features on the phone, and it just wound up not really being ready for the Nexus 7 in particular.

Compare this to iOS: a major OS upgrade has at times spelled doom for older devices (the iPhone 3G was not meant to have iOS 4 despite it actually being released for the platform) but lately, updates have had minor effects on devices, beyond the usual quibbles about battery life that usually come along with it. But the new feature usually outweigh any of the complaints that come along.

But the funny thing is that Google actually benefits a bit from getting to see how it’s performing in the real world: considering how long it takes for updates to circulate out amongst the manufacturers’ phones. So, in a way, this gives Google a chance to actually fix these problems before they hit mainstream consumers. After all, Jelly Bean 4.1 only just hit the Galaxy S III when 4.2 came out.

As well, this was a minor update, not a major one. But still, 4.0 to 4.1 was not the kind of overhaul that ICS was and it was still an improvement. Hopefully this is just a bump in the road, a reminder that while Android is generally getting smoother and better to use, there will be bumps in the road.

But these bumps need to be smoothed out, as the Nexus 7 was one of the more impressive Android devices out there because it was so smooth, and 4.2 has hurt that. Google needs to sort this out soon, especially as these are their flagship devices, the ones that guide Android as a whole.

Google Cancels Christmas!

Google Cancels Christmas!

Nov 19, 2012

Google’s power has gotten out of control: they’ve canceled Christmas! Heck, they’ve canceled Hanukah and Kwanzaa too! They’ve canceled the entire month of December! Well, kind of. The People app on Android 4.2, which ships on the Nexus 4 and 10, and is now available on the Nexus 7 and Galaxy Nexus, doesn’t support picking dates that are in December. It skips right to January, as initially reported by Android Police. The good news is that the bug has been reported to Google and they have acknowledged it. A small over-the-air fix seems likely, if not potentially the app becoming a Google Play app that could be easily updated, much like Calendar.

The funny thing is that this is a situation where Google actually benefits from not having widespread OS distribution. There’s a minority of users on 4.2 (Galaxy S III owners are just now getting Jelly Bean 4.1!) and it’s likely that this will be fixed before it reaches new phones. And for the affected phones, Google has the ability to push out software updates themselves. So in a short wihle, this should be a non-issue.

Still, someone’s getting fired over this.

Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 Go On Sale, Then Sell Out, While Jelly Bean 4.2 Starts Its Rollout

Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 Go On Sale, Then Sell Out, While Jelly Bean 4.2 Starts Its Rollout

Nov 13, 2012

Happy Nexus 4, HSPA+ Nexus 7, and Nexus 10 day! By which we mean unless you were awake at that random hour in your home country when Google put their devices on sale on Google Play, you’re probably feeling miserable right now over having to wait for Google to get more stock in. Considering how the Samsung Chromebook is still backordered, prepare to be patient. This was the case around the world, as widespread reports of not only the Nexus 4 being sold out but also the Nexus 10 were reported as the devices rolled out worldwide.

As of publication in the US, all of the Nexus 7 models are in stock, including the new HSPA+ Nexus 7. The 16 GB Nexus 10 is still in stock, but the 32 GB is out of stock. Both Nexus 4 models are out of stock.The new Acer C7 Chromebook, which boasts less-impressive specs compared to the $249 Samsung Chromebook, is still in stock after going on sale today for $199.

We’ve also learned that the HSPA+ Nexus 7 comes with an AT&T SIM. It will still work with T-Mobile networks, but users will need to provide their own SIM cards. They cost about $10 in-store, but the mobile broadband SIM runs for $6.99 from T-Mobile’s website, and phone SIMs are free.

Until Google gets adequate stock (or releases more stock after getting all this press for being sold out), for those still on the pedestrian Galaxy Nexus or wi-fi-only Nexus 7, there’s still a way to be part of the future. Jelly Bean 4.2 has started rolling out to these devices, but in the slower over-the-air rollout that came with 4.1.2 earlier this year, meaning that it may be a few days before the newest version of Android is on that Nexus device.

However, for those that are impatient and not afraid of tinkering around in recovery, Google has made the 4.2 updates available for the GSM-unlocked Galaxy Nexus and the Nexus 7. They require booting into recovery mode and transferring the files via ADB, but they can be done without rooting. Otherwise, while there aren’t any reports of the update being distributed over the air yet, it should just be a matter of time.

Anyone make the jump with the 4.2 update, or have success buying a new device?