Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Friendly IT Rant

An open letter to Android developers.

To whom it may concern:

First, may I say some of you are doing great work! While I do not have a large number of apps on my phone and tablet, I am pleased with the ones that I have kept. Obviously, I deleted the ones that I was not pleased with.

Second, much of this would also include Apple products, but I have already stated how I feel about those. So, I am ignoring you lot!

Now, I would like to remind all of you that every Android device runs on battery power. Tablets, phones, mp3-type players are all powered by rechargeable batteries. Thus, power consumption is an issue with these devices. Users want as much battery life as possible.

With that in mind, I would like to inform you -- if you were not aware -- that CPU cycles use power. Whenever an application is running, it requires some CPU. Perhaps it does not require much, but any little bit can make a difference. Even an application that is not being actively used, requires some power as long as it is running.

That is why I am puzzled about your practices. I have a grand total of ONE application that quits when I back out of it. One! One Android developer was kind enough to quit the application when I am through with it. The rest require some sort of task killer application to shut them down. What?

I am not only blaming independent developers. I have a few apps on my phone that my provider has decided are required for me. I cannot delete them unless I root my phone which I am hesitant to do. (Although I am becoming tempted.) These things -- which I have never launched -- run in the background all the time. Some process that my provider will not let me kill launches these useless apps. Using up my battery!

Is it so difficult to cause an application to quit when it loses focus? I know it is possible because I have one app that does it. I realize it would make these task killer apps obsolete, but would that be so bad? There are dozens of killing apps out there. Filling a need that is not required to exist.

Another issue in power consumption is using the data network. Some apps get updates and interface with the internet. For some people, it would be nice to do that when they are not using their phones. Getting updates ahead of time can improve how quickly an app launches. I have a comment about that. It should not be the default to do this. The default should be to interface with the internet, etc. when the app is launched. That is how I have it set up where I can. After all, my phone is primarily a phone.

My device is secondarily an internet connected computer. I only want to check my e-mail, etc. on my phone when I absolutely have to. Thus, I do not want it to regularly check in with my account to inform me that I have new mail. Some people are not like that, so that option should be available. However, it should not be the default.

Also, since some services (all now?) limit data access. Think how upset a user would be if their data usage (and battery) was used up by apps they rarely used -- or in some cases -- never used. Hence, there are lots of reasons to be data-usage aware. It is not just that access to whatever internet provider you use greatly utilizes the battery.

To sum up: Android apps should only active when the user launches them. When the user is finished, the app should quit. It is that simple, and that is how you should be thinking about them. Thank you.



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