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Google’s Android operating system and the issues that will never allow it to be perfect

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Android 13 will not be enough to overcome the long-term problems with the ecosystem.

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Google’s main I / O 2022 speech was disappointing if you were expecting a major Android update that addresses deep issues, at least based on the details shared so far. The company did not spend much time discussing Android 13, and most of the announced updates were known, minor or both.

They have been largely defined by media and privacy controls. Launching as it is will not be a revelation unless you own a tablet. Although you may not have seen all the features of Android 13 yet, and there are already some really useful improvements (such as a brand new Wallet app), the status quo will remain largely intact.

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And that’s unfortunate. While Android is a highly capable platform with exceptional hardware to match, there is no single device that is constantly reaching every experience.

It’s time for Google and the manufacturers to work together to make devices that you could more easily recommend to others.

Software: Too much or not enough?

To be fair, Google is only partially responsible for the current situation. The beauty of Android itself is the potential of vendors to add their own rotation – a uniform experience created by Google would be nonsense.

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However, the company continues to play an important role and it is becoming increasingly clear that it can do more. You’re using a “pure” Pixel 6 or another Android 12 phone, and you’ll realize that the stock operating system, while visually okay, is still relatively straightforward. You won’t have an advanced camera app, extended media integration, special browser features, or other clever tricks you often get with personalized Android experiences.

Apple has had some unsafe updates over the years, but it seems to have fixed issues that Google sometimes forgets to fix.

You can install apps, launchers, and other apps to complete things, but this is unrealistic for some users. I wouldn’t give a Pixel to a newcomer or anyone who wants strong capabilities right out of the box. Google could improve its functionality and quality to compete more directly with its partners, beyond the few temporary exclusives of the Pixel.

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While phone makers don’t exaggerate with customization as much as they did in previous years, some Android experiences that aren’t available in the base model still include their share of arbitrary adjustments. Samsung is the classic example. Although One UI is much cleaner and more third-party friendly than previous Samsung interfaces, it still tends to duplicate Google features or push services that you probably won’t use.

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OnePlus initially attracted enthusiasts precisely because its customizations were limited and usually very useful, but there was evidence of the creepy influence of Oppo’s parent company’s top software design on devices such as the OnePlus 10 Pro.

Update policies have also sometimes taken a step back, as Motorola still does not guarantee more than one major operating system update for some phones.

It would be great if OnePlus or other vendors achieve a more delicate balance, which adds serious stuff without going back too far or limiting software updates.

Hardware

It’s pretty easy to find an Android phone that works great in most ways, but at least it has a weakness that stains the experience or even proves to be a dealbreaker.

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A quick study of Android phones illustrates this well.

The regular Galaxy S22 series is one of the best versatile devices on the market today, but it has a modest, non-expandable storage space, a 1080p screen and reduced functions in its smallest version.

Pixel 6 is a very interesting model, but the notorious fingerprint reader and limited storage space can quickly destroy interest.

OnePlus 10 Pro is just a slight improvement over its predecessor and still suffers from poor camera quality.

You can overcome some of these limitations if you buy some premium models such as S22 Ultra or Xperia 1 IV from Sony, but then you will probably spend well over $ 1,000 for this privilege.

It becomes even more of a challenge with more affordable models. Motorola is becoming more popular with low-budget users, but its weird range, along with missing features such as NFC, is causing serious problems for buyers. Samsung’s mid-range phones can be slow, and the Galaxy A53 really feels like a step backwards.

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Phones like the Poco F4 GT and the future Pixel 6a offer superior processing power at a low price, but you can certainly assume that you are compromising in areas such as camera technology.

To be clear, every phone has its trade-offs. It would not be realistic to expect a perfect product from any brand, including those beyond Android.

Apple is often conservative about its iPhone design and has been slow to embrace common Android features, such as 120 Hz or USB-C. Most of the time, though, you choose an Android device based on the major flaws you’re willing to tolerate, not because it’s clearly the best model you can get for that amount.

Combine that with the software issues mentioned earlier and a truly complete Android phone can be very hard to find.

There is hope

This is not to say that the Android phone industry is in a terrible state.

Even this article actually shows how far the platform has managed to go. Android 12, and soon 13, is definitely more polished than previous iterations. Samsung has shown some restraint and it is much easier to buy a budget phone that is exactly what you want to be truly happy, even if there are clear shortcomings.

While Sony’s recent Xperia phones are becoming more expensive and niche-oriented, they tend to offer powerful performance, good cameras, top displays, and moderately custom software. And if the Pixel 7 can solve some of the problems of its predecessor, it could be the best Android phone to be launched in the second half of the year.

Rather, the concern is that there is much more room for growth.

Companies should take a more holistic approach to phone design where there are few obvious sacrifices in terms of price, praise, extra sales or marketing services.

Google could do more to lead by example, such as providing more advanced software features similar to those of its allies.

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