13 things that bug us about Android – cupcake or no cupcake

We like Android. But let’s be honest, even without that little beta tag, we know this is a work in progress. Having had a chance to use our Android phones regularly for several months now, we’ve come across all the issues one would expect in a massive rollout of a mobile OS. Sure, battery life is way better now than it was at launch, and I don’t have to reboot my phone to free up memory any more, but there are still plenty of things we’d like to see added, improved, or fixed.

With the long-awaited Cupcake update coming, we’ll be seeing a lot of new features, but these particular ones seem to have missed the cut. So, without further ado…

  • Notifications are buggy and arbitrarily limited. For god’s sake, Google, you’ve got a good thing here, now make it work. I like notifications; they’re handy and versatile. But they only work maybe 70% of the time. When I get an email to my primary account, my phone is set to vibrate twice, ding, and blink its little light. Sometimes it does all three. Sometimes it just dings. Sometimes it vibrates once. Every combination of these things has happened, including nothing at all. Give me a break! I know some apps futz with settings, like the useful but terminally buggy SMS Popup, but if it’s that easy to break Android, it’s time to tighten up.

    And while we’re on the topic,

  • Why can’t we customize notifications a little more?

    If I have two text messages, display the first line from both. Why not? Emails could pull a little of that information too — “1 new email, from John Biggs: ‘solutions not excuses.'” What’s so hard about that? And lastly, we know the LED can show like a billion different colors. Let me choose one for my default. Why won’t you let us do that, Google? Why do you hate the rainbow?

  • Let us exit apps for real.
    When I hit that home button, I have no idea whether my settings are being saved, the state of the app is being remembered in RAM, my game is being paused, or none of the above. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. I’m not saying it’s wrong either way, but let us really quit if we want to. How about if you hold the menu button for three seconds, it force-quits an app and clears it from RAM? Sure, sounds good, let’s do it.
  • Let me remove and organize app icons in the app drawer.
    Yeah yeah, that’s why we have home screens, but just when I start to remember where seldom-used apps are in the alphabetical layout, I download something starting with “A” and everything’s shifted. I just want to move stuff around a little or delete stuff from the drawer, and then there can be a button to repopulate and re-alphabetize. I’m don’t use Amazon’s mp3 service enough that it has to sit there at the top of my drawer all day! I’m a big boy, I can always find an app in the settings menu! How about this: in the uninstall/info screen, just put a check box: “Show in App drawer [x]”
  • When I dismiss my notifications, dismiss the voicemail for real.
    I know it’s there, and it bugs me to have that little reel-to-reel icon up there like 90% of the time. When visual voicemail comes out, you can tweak it again.
  • The search box autocomplete is over-aggressive (and laggy).


    When I hit enter in that box, I want it to search for whatever text is in the box, not whatever your algorithm has had time to select for me. I type in “Wilkie” and “Wal-Mart” comes up before “Wilkie Collins.” So if I hit enter too fast (and hey, maybe I’m rushing it) it ends up searching for something completely unrelated. Just have enter submit the text, and I can always select the menu entry with a touch.

  • contacts

  • The contact list needs some minor, but important changes.
    Just get an alphabet in there somewhere. All my friends late in the alphabet think I don’t like them because I have to scroll all the way from the top every time (sorry, Xavier. We’ll talk soon). The onscreen keyboard in Cupcake will make this a piece of… a breeze, we’ll say. Just pop that sucker up, I hit the J, and up come all the Janas, Janes, Jennys, Jeannettes, and Jims. Also, just have the little tab on the right visible from the start. Why wouldn’t it be?
  • The GMail and regular mail apps are unpredictable when they open.
    Half the time when I open GMail, it’s the inbox. Great, that’s where it should go. But the other half of the time, it seems to pick a random email, and certainly not one I was in recently. Just have it go to the inbox every time, G. Same for the regular mail app. Sometimes it starts up with the inbox open, sometimes not. It has to do with whether you had an email open when you last closed it, but it leads to the button being a kind of mystery. Just pick one and go with it, we’ll adapt.
  • More “long touch” stuff.
    Context-sensitive actions are awesome, and the long touch works great. We just want to see more of it!
  • Why not have ring profiles?
    All I’m saying is, a quick switch between “Night,” “Work,” and “Out and about” or something, with different ringtones or settings for each, would be really easy and really useful. Locale kind of does this, and I use Bedside for when I’m sleeping, but this would be handy.
  • Key illumination.
    When it’s dark and the keyboard has dimmed because I’m reading a web page or something, as soon as I select an editable text box the keyboard should light up again. As it is I have to type something random in there or wiggle the trackball, often deselecting the box.
  • Android Market needs a changelog section.


    Make it expandable or whatever, but don’t make developers haveto cram version notes into the app description. That way when I see an app has an update, you can just show me the update part.

  • Sometimes the menu button just won’t wake the phone up. It’s not like it’s that hard to just hit the on/off button, but why does it sometimes just not work? Pretty shady. I don’t know, if I’m the only one, I’ll shut up.

That’s all we could come up with, but it’s by no means a complete list. We love Android, but we also want it to be all it can be, and these little changes and bugfixes would make such a difference. Obviously Cupcake is making the rounds and some of these bugs may be exctinct soon, but this is how we see it right now.

What about you guys? Any pet peeves, frequent bugs, or plain old feature requests? Sound off in the comments.