It’s 2012. Why do Android Apps Still Suck?
I’ve just gotten home from CES, and I wanted to share my frustration.
One of the goals I set for myself for this show was to see if I could move all my work processes over to Android. I have an Asus eeePad Transformer, and I’d really like to use that as my main computer because of the 15+ hours of battery life.
Unfortunately, I cannot because several apps I must have are sorely crippled when compared to their Windows counterparts. This being 2012, I’m a little surprised that the apps don’t even come close to matching feature for feature.
For example, the official WordPress Android app is only marginally useful. It was updated recently, and that raised it from being complete crap to simply being crippled. It’s okay for the simplest activities, but the more complicated ones are difficult to impossible.
It will show me all new comments but it doesn’t say which post they are a response to. This means someone could ask a question and need me to elaborate on a point. But on what topic, exactly? There are also times where a reader will ask a question that I can answer by linking to another post. But finding and embedding a link in a comment is not easy in the WordPress app. I also didn’t find it easy to create a new post, but the issues there are so plentiful that I do not know where to start.
Now, you might think that I shouldn’t expect the WordPress app to be as useful as the browser based dashboard, but both were official releases from Automattic (the folks behind WordPress). That means that the official support for WordPress on Android is at best half-assed, and as a user I find that frustrating.
I’m also not happy about the Google Reader app. The stock gReader app is missing key features. I can live with out the stats options, but the app is also missing the translation options. A few dozen blogs of the blogs I follow are in other languages, and I cannot read them in the Reader Android app.The gReader app is also missing other features, but I stopped caring after I noticed the missing translation options. I simply cannot use it.
And then there’s the official CES app. Like the others, this one is only somewhat useful, but it is missing basic and obvious abilities like being able to import my online schedule, my list of exhibitors, and other data I’ve built up on the CES website. I would have thought that this was half the reason to have the app, but no.
Now, I know that I’m only finding issues in a few apps, but I really need them. And while there are probably alternatives (I’ll go look in a second), these apps are pretty good examples of an ongoing problem I have with Android.
It seems to me that more and more people are being led to think of Android as a mainstream OS, not as an accessory to Windows or OSX. Well, the apps simply are not there to support that idea. (BTW, if I wanted to I could point out the lack of a full featured Word app for Android.) And the amazing part here is that not even Google supports Android adequately. It’s their own app on their own Android OS, and yet gReader is crippled.
I’d like to pare my gear bag down to just the minimum hardware needed to get the most work done. And right now that means Windows, not Android.
And yes my title is a little over the top, but my point remains. I think Android simply cannot match the abilities of Windows. I said this 6 and 8 months ago, and it’s still true today.
CJJ January 13, 2012 um 10:46 pm
This might be even truer once the Microsoft-Nokia train starts chugging.
curiosity killed the… January 13, 2012 um 10:47 pm
id have to agree with you on here while i love my tablet for online browsing and android games i find work/art related apps still cannot do even basic things i require from a windows machine. however i have had moderate success using a vpn app to use my computer through my tablet(internet connection permitting) 1 idea you might could try next year if you dont already get a windows tablet by then is maybe turning on your laptop in the hotel room and then using a vpn remote desktop app to do everything through the tablet on the showfloor. that is if you can stomach turning your phone into a hotspot to give your tablet internet access better than the showroom wifi. im using splashtop remote desktop
and eventually i’ll get the hd version they have. it runs a heck of alot smoother than any other vpn app ive found to date for windows to android
LCNR January 14, 2012 um 5:23 am
I know I’ve already pointed to this in a comment to a previous post, but I’ve installed Linux (Ubuntu) as a dual boot on my Transformer, and it works really well (except that I have trouble connecting to WiFi, which for you might be a problem, but I’m sure there’s a solution, I just haven’t looked yet). Opening programs tends to be a bit slow, though, so I’m trying to get lxde installed instead, but no luck so far in creating a working image (although it loads incredibly faster than Ubuntu, I get stuck on the login page and then I can’t boot into Android anymore).
This kind of reinforces your point (i.e., Android alone is not enough) but it allows you to use the Transformer (Linux with a touchscreen! yey!).
(I’ve also found directions to launch Ubuntu directly from the running Android system, but I haven’t tried that as I prefer the dual boot solution.)
Nate Hoffelder January 14, 2012 um 7:48 am
That’s certainly a valid option.
fjtorres January 14, 2012 um 8:12 am
You’ve been around these toys long enough to know that Android, today, is prettier but not much more useful than WindowsCE on PDAs a decade ago.
For all the "Tablet-izing" Google has done, mostly on the gui, the core foundation is ricketty and the services lean. (Earings on a pig and all that.)
Factor in the hardware limitations (512Mb RAM is typical) and you’re talking the equivalent of a Pentium era CPU with an (old) WinCE OS. (There’s a reason why desktop LINUX slogs on them.)
It’s actually impressive the software guys get as much out of the things as they do. The things are useful but no substitute for a computer with a more robust and mature OS.
Mike Cane January 14, 2012 um 12:23 pm
You should have brought along the iPad. You’ve just uncovered what I’ve been bitching about several weeks ago: You can’t use Android for *real* work.
Blogsy for iOS will do everything I need a blogging app can do — and actually goes beyond desktop apps in that it will let me embed a photo that is *clickable to enlarge*. Not even BlogDesk on my PC can do that!! And then there are all the desktop-quality image editing apps too. iOS is OS X shrunk. Not something designed expressing for gadgets, like Palm OS and Android were.
We’ll have to see if ARM-based Win 8 tablets bring anything of value. I’m not hoping for much from Android since several iOS devs I queried have absolutely no plans to port their apps to it. All I expect out of Android now is browsing, eBooks, PDFs, and light tasks. Basically a step up from old Palm OS, period. What a wasted opportunity!
Mike Cane January 14, 2012 um 12:24 pm
ARGH "expressing" = expressly. Fix that typo and kill this correction. Tx.
cookie January 15, 2012 um 12:22 am
"All I expect out of Android now is browsing, eBooks, PDFs, and light tasks. "
Being that is all I do with my tablets, that is fine for me, although clearly people are considering buying tablets as substitutes for Notebooks, so productivity is an issue. While I hate the idea of going back to iTunes again, I would consider it if they ever come out with a 7″ tablet, which is my sweet spot.
Nate Hoffelder January 15, 2012 um 12:26 am
Actually, I bought the Asus Transformer as a netbook. Also, all of my complaints are drawn from my experiences with the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The same apps were installed on both devices.
Chippy January 14, 2012 um 1:26 pm
Your title is not over the top. Progress on productivity apps is moving at a snails pace. It’s one of the biggest issues stopping Android moving to other form factors.
Syn January 15, 2012 um 12:07 am
I have an android tablet and an ipad. They aren’t even in the same league when it comes to productivity apps. For me, I use Storyist and Scrivener is also on the way sometime later this year.
Mantano Reader is a very good PDF reader on Android, but that is one of the few apps I like. There are so many crap apps that I don’t buy any (aside from Mantano) and luckily Amazon gave me some of the office pro apps free so I didn’t risk losing my money on those.
I hope we get to the day that Mac and iOS are the same and can run each others apps..
cookie January 15, 2012 um 12:25 am
Do you think Mantano is superior to EZ-PDF. I use both, but I have been using EZ-PDF for pdfs exclusively, and have been working under the assumption nothing beats it on Android.
Syn January 16, 2012 um 1:59 am
I use both also, I like both…for large PDF files that won’t make yor app slow to a crawl, I really like mantano. I think for doing annotations, I like EZPDF… You can’t go wrong with either..
grannygeek May 31, 2012 um 12:11 pm
Splashtop. Worth every penny. Run it on my android tablet and on my iPad. Yes, paid for it twice for each device. It’s that good.
ivan November 7, 2012 um 10:03 am
Please try PDF reader https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.foobnix.pdf.reader
mata hari February 9, 2013 um 7:08 am
In 2013 the apps are still awful
Appsropos December 17, 2013 um 7:33 pm
Try InstaPress for Android, a WordPress reader app that doesn’t suck: