Welcome to the brand new and shiny all encompassing Android Thread. This is a place where we can discuss Android in all of it’s many forms, and boy does it have many forms.What is Android?
Android is an open source operating system. It lives on everything from Phones, to tablets, to Fridges. The folks around these parts know it mostly on phones and maybe tablets, and that’s what we spend most of our time talking about.
Yea, I’m mostly here for phones, tell me about that.
Sure, Yes, Android is mostly known for user on Phones. Android currently runs on about 81% of all smartphones operating in the world. It may not seem like to to those of us in North America, but leave that continent, and if someone is using a smartphone, it is Probably an Android phone.Why is it so popular?
The easy answer is scale. Android runs on phones that vary in cost from $50 US to $1100 US (and higher, if you count boutique phones). This makes android very accessible to a majority of people. This is mostly because as an open source operating system, Android itself is free to use.
The other answer is customization. Again, because it is free and open source, anyone can take Android and build and modify it to suit specific needs to a group of people or device. This makes it very extensible and powerful. No two android phones will be/look the same, because everyone can modify it. However, this can be a bad thing, more on that later.
To prove the Customization, here are a bunch of Android homscreens. In here is mostly the "stock" launchers on a few well known phones, as well as a couple custom looks
You haven’t even mentioned Google yet…
That’s on purpose. Google does own android, and does the majority of work on Android, and 99% of the the time we associate Android with Google, for good reason. If you own an Android phone chances are it has google services on it. Google services are what most people actually associate with Android. Google services are the apps and, err, services that OEM’s have to put on android phones to get the Play Store, which is another Google Service. It’s kind of complicated, I know).Who makes Android phones?
The list is too long, literally everyone who makes phones but Apple makes Android.
But the popular Android phones are Samsung and…. Well in the mass market space, Samsung. People may gripe about Samsung Android phones, but they’re popular for a reason. Samsung makes the best high end phones for most people in the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lines. They’re phones are less competitive in the midrange but the brand name means they also sell a metric ton of them. They probably sell more Galaxy A and Galaxy J phones than any other OEM outside of china sells of all their phones combined. I personally own a GS8+ and I frankly love it.
Now, for those of us more likely to read the Android thread on the Penny-Arcade Forums, phones from these companies are generally well regarded:
Nokia (seriously)What about Tablets?
Oh boy. This is a thing. Look, I personally own 3 Android tablets. But Android tablets are terrible and basically no one should buy them. The first android tablet was released in 2011. In 2018, there are still probably less than 100 truly good tablet optimized apps for Android. Because of that, even with good hardware, the software situation makes them not a great purchase.
Ok, what about Android apps on Chromebooks?
Also a thing. Look, the same problem exists, just in a slightly different context. Android apps on chromebooks can run windowed, but again, 99.9999% of apps run in the small phone screen mode. You can run them full screen, but the same problem exists as on tablets. Some apps support dynamic sizing (think apps/windows on Windows or MacOS). But the number of apps that support that is basically the Microsoft Office apps.
So yea, the future of Android tablets might actually be chromebooks, but honestly it’s not a great future either.Is rooting and rom’ing still a thing?
Yes, but not as much as it used to be. You’ll still of course find some people that think that rooting a phone is the only way to make it useful, but the reality is that the vast majority people, including power users, don’t really need to root anymore. Back in the Android 2.x days it let you add features that were legit missing from the OS, there’s just less need for that anymore.
Loading a custom ROM is also not as popular as it used to be, but there are still legit reasons for it. If you’re stuck on a phone that sill works but won’t be seeing another OS update, a custom ROM can breathe new life into it. Your mileage very much vary’s here, and honestly, if you’re looking to put a custom ROM on your phoen XDA is a better place than here, and we wish you luck.Talk about updates
I left this for last because this is a shitty subject. I’ll tackle the Major updates first. Think Going from Android 7.0 to 8.0.
To get it out of the way: Android will never have the platform adoption numbers that Apple has. Full stop.
If you’re not getting a Google phone and want a phone that is most likely to get updates, though not exactly timely, Samsung is the next best choice. Samsung generally updates their phones for 2 years after release, and as of this writing there is indication that the 3 year old Galaxy S6 will be getting Oreo.
With that out of the way: If having the latest Android release the day it becomes available is the most important factor to you, Get a Google Pixel device. End of story.
Past that, it gets a bit nuanced and difficult and complicated and it sucks.
Basically, you have to look at the history of the company that makes the phone. Look at prior phones as a guide. Back to Samsung, they do update their phones for a couple years, but usually 6 or so months after the code drop. Others, like OnePlus are…. Not consistent. They usually update, but the time it takes them to update varies widely. LG…. I guess they update most of the time, but it’s not a guarantee. Some smaller manufacturers also do update, Nokia has promised Android 8 on their newer Android phones, but we havne’t seen it yet so we don’t have a track record to go on.
Oh, and then there are carriers. IF you live in the US and bought a carrier branded phone they have to give their blessing before their phoens get updated. Yea, it’s a mess.
Basically…. The state of Android version updates is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Lastly, security updates. This is almost as ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ as the platform updates. Google releases a monthly patch to Android, just like what Microsoft does with Windows. Except that Google doesn’t get to push the security updates like Microsoft does. So Some phones get updated every month. The Pixels do, the Blackberry Android phones do, Unlocked Samsung phones do. Past that: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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