Android is at its best when Google is at its worst

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Android is at its best when Google is at its worst

Postposted on Sun Apr 28, 2013 8:55 pm

I recently got a Nexus 4 for dev purposes and possible use as a personal phone, overall I really like it but there's some features that I don't particularly care for. One of them is how, Google being Google, any contacts you make with the supplied contact app have to be synced to a Google account and thus be condemned to a lifetime of slave labor in Larry Page's data gulag. This is supposedly a bug in 4.0 but I'm fairly sure that Mountain View is quite alright with the status quo and it won't change anytime soon. But in pondering what I could do about this it dawned on me that, far from an indictment of an OS that exists to service the leering eyes of a chronic privacy offender, this is exactly why Android is the best choice for people who care about this sort of thing.

If an iPhone does something I don't like, I'm screwed because I'm not allowed to do anything with my device that hasn't been authorized by Central Committee and any attempt to get around it will bring down the wrath of a crack team of legal commandos feared for their ability to dual-wield C&Ds. I should also be kicking myself for paying twice as much for the same performance as the other guys.

If a Windows Phone does something I don't like, I'm screwed because Marshal Ballmer has decreed that I should never question his infinite patriotic wisdom and any attempt to get around it will probably fail since nobody really cares enough about WP to bother with jailbreaks. I should also be kicking myself for buying a phone with a paralyzing identity crisis.

If an Android phone does something I don't like, I fire up Eclipse, pull down some relevant code snippets from Stack Overflow, bang out a homebrew app to do exactly what I want and away I go. Boom, an hour later my contacts are liberated like France in '44, suck on that Larry. I should also be giggling to myself that I have just bent my phone to my own unyielding will and the mightiest of tech giants can be outwitted by a simple 12th level developer.


While I agree that none of the three is a best-case solution, only one offers the power to have things your way. Heck, if the thought of any Google involvement ruffles your feathers you can roll your own alternative to Android itself since all the code is GPL open source.
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Re: Android is at its best when Google is at its worst

Postposted on Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:08 am

A little over exaggerated don't you think? You're free to write as many apps as you like on any of those devices. In Apple's case, you only need their blessing to sell it in the App Store, not install it on your own device. How do you think software gets developed and tested that has not yet been approved for the App Store? I don't know Microsofts App Store model, but I'm quite certain you can write .NET app s for your own device without hindrance.
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Re: Android is at its best when Google is at its worst

Postposted on Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:28 am

NovusBogus wrote:any contacts you make with the supplied contact app have to be synced to a Google account and thus be condemned to a lifetime of slave labor in Larry Page's data gulag. This is supposedly a bug in 4.0 but I'm fairly sure that Mountain View is quite alright with the status quo and it won't change anytime soon.

I don't think this is true. You can have phone only contacts with no sync (I have not tested for sure because I did give up my list of contacts to Larry Page's gulag). I believe the bit about contacts from SIM or phone (like the good old days) is still there, but ever since I switched to a smartphone I chose to use Google as my contact list backup+sync. As I wipe my device and/or move to a new one, I login with my account within a few minutes I get all my contacts back.

As for the "cloud storage", I believe Android can still act as an Active Sync client and talk to Microsoft's live/hotmail/outlook.com system if you want that to store your list of contacts. And I think there are apps out there that can sync contacts with iCloud if you come from iPhone and use the Apple ecosystem for your contacts. I actually use a separate gmail account just to store my contacts. My actual gmail account contains too many contacts I don't really care for.

Buub wrote:How do you think software gets developed and tested that has not yet been approved for the App Store? I don't know Microsofts App Store model, but I'm quite certain you can write .NET app s for your own device without hindrance.
I don't know Apple's App Store model, but for Microsoft I believe you can write and test your apps in the emulator on the PC, but to load the app into an actual device you need the developer's license (and key) in order to sideload your non-published app to the phone. So there is a slight monetary barrier of entry to the WP app dev ecosystem AFAIK.
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Re: Android is at its best when Google is at its worst

Postposted on Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:57 pm

Flying Fox wrote:I don't know Apple's App Store model, but for Microsoft I believe you can write and test your apps in the emulator on the PC, but to load the app into an actual device you need the developer's license (and key) in order to sideload your non-published app to the phone. So there is a slight monetary barrier of entry to the WP app dev ecosystem AFAIK.

Yes, that's certainly a possibility. However, other than buying a dev license ($100/yr for Apple, if necessary), there is no getting permission to install your app on a local device.
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Re: Android is at its best when Google is at its worst

Postposted on Mon Apr 29, 2013 8:05 pm

Buub wrote:A little over exaggerated don't you think? You're free to write as many apps as you like on any of those devices. In Apple's case, you only need their blessing to sell it in the App Store, not install it on your own device.

As you said in a later post, this requires a $100/year protection fee to Cupertino, in perpetuity, that they can revoke for a number of reasons or just lock you out for the lulz since that's what DRM is really for. MS copied the Apple model verbatim except that they can make additional demands on what sort of long-term support you have to provide, and they've already put the for-the-lulz clause to practice with the Chevron bait-and-switch "experiment". Given that I already paid them once when I bought the device I would definitely count that as requiring permission.

On the subject of exaggeration, I thought about quoting some Thomas Paine to drive the point home but decided that might be a bit much. :)

Flying Fox wrote:I don't think this is true. You can have phone only contacts with no sync (I have not tested for sure because I did give up my list of contacts to Larry Page's gulag).


That's the way it's supposed to be but it was conveniently broken in one of the 4.x versions and, best I can tell, has not been corrected. There just isn't a "local only" option when creating the contact in the standard contact-management app, though the underlying functionality is obviously still there via the API. I believe a lot of carriers are loading their own bastardized contact-management apps because they want the data in their own tightly clenched steel-plate gauntlets so YMMV if you didn't buy direct. The point is that none of the three lets you pick and choose what you want for core functionality off the shelf but Android offers the most (legal, free) workarounds.
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Re: Android is at its best when Google is at its worst

Postposted on Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:13 am

NovusBogus wrote:
Flying Fox wrote:I don't think this is true. You can have phone only contacts with no sync (I have not tested for sure because I did give up my list of contacts to Larry Page's gulag).


That's the way it's supposed to be but it was conveniently broken in one of the 4.x versions and, best I can tell, has not been corrected. There just isn't a "local only" option when creating the contact in the standard contact-management app, though the underlying functionality is obviously still there via the API. I believe a lot of carriers are loading their own bastardized contact-management apps because they want the data in their own tightly clenched steel-plate gauntlets so YMMV if you didn't buy direct. The point is that none of the three lets you pick and choose what you want for core functionality off the shelf but Android offers the most (legal, free) workarounds.

I have to try it next time before I re-sync, but I am on Cyanogenmod now and everything seems fine. Which phone and its vendor ROM are you referring to?

If this is really that prevalent we would be seeing iphonearena/iengadget/iverge to complain bitterly about it already, or better, a Scroogle ad from Microsoft.
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