Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 9th Oct 2010 10:09 UTC
Google Google's big Android chief Andy Rubin has given an interview to PC Magazine, in which he touches on some interesting topics. Sadly, PC Magazine didn't ask about the patent situation and why Google is seemingly letting its OEMs fend for themselves, but there's still a lot of other interesting stuff in there.
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Neolander
Member since:
2010-03-08

Ok I agree with that. Info on homescreen depends on widgets you put on it though... I think the homescreen(s) is good as it is, what needs to improve are the widgets.

I hate vendor customizations, but I have to admit HTC did a good job with Sense, at least what I saw on my colleague's desire looks useful and attractive.

Indeed, for what I saw of it, it's one of the sole Android widgets I know of which uses screen estate with excellent efficiency.

For me, "far enough" would be measurably better than iOS. I think Android reached parity with Froyo. It is as good as iOS yet it is still recognizably different in many, many respects. Some apps are really really nice, others need improvement. The Market is a mess, but that's a really difficult problem to tackle. How do you preserve openness while providing more security (for both users and developers)?

Through a better security model at the OS level. The fact that the Market display which of the phones capabilities applications need access to is a good start, Google needs to push something like this further, to the point where most applications are tightly sandboxed and malware is recognizable right away from the fact that it asks for unreasonably generous security permissions. Apple should work on something like this too, by the way, though they may be relucant to do so because of their PR strategy : without access to the source, the App Store review process does not offer any protection against backdoors, and it won't be long before someone exploits this flaw.

As to your question about multitasking - apparently you no longer need to kill apps, if you have enough memory. I've read a fascinating article about this, and I removed Advanced Task Killer since then.* Don't feel any difference. Anything that is active in the background shows up in the built-in "Running programs" option. ATK shows more, but they are all suspended, ie not allowed to run any code on the CPU (so they don't impact battery life). It comes down to how much memory you have. On my nexus, without killing anything in the past week, I have 150-160M free memory on average.

* http://geekfor.me/faq/you-shouldnt-be-using-a-task-killer-with-andr...

Yes, but can you still close an application stuck in a while(1) loop or something similar ? And suppose you're done with writing a message, check it in the "sent messages" folder of the messaging application, then do something else and forget about it. When you open the messaging applications 5 minutes later by tapping on the home screen icon, will you go back to the "sent messages" folder and be confused for a second, or to the main screen of the messaging application ? Third issue I have with not closing applications is that of memory leaks and other bugs that don't have a noticeable effect until the application has been running for a long time.

Edited 2010-10-10 09:49 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

molnarcs Member since:
2005-09-10

Yes, but can you still close an application stuck in a while(1) loop or something similar ? And suppose you're done with writing a message, check it in the "sent messages" folder of the messaging application, then do something else and forget about it. When you open the messaging applications 5 minutes later by tapping on the home screen icon, will you go back to the "sent messages" folder and be confused for a second, or to the main screen of the messaging application ? Third issue I have with not closing applications is that of memory leaks and other bugs that don't have a noticeable effect until the application has been running for a long time.


If it's running, it will probably show up in running apps and you can kill it from there. Another option is watchdog, which monitors the system for suspicious CPU usage and alerts you if there's a runaway app. Otherwise, Android kills applications as it needs resources. If I understand correctly, exiting an app via the back button quits it, exiting by pressing the home screen, suspends it. The neat thing is, if you suspend an app, its state will be saved. If there are enough resources on your system, you can return to it (without the need to start the app again, ie use CPU cycles). If it was killed (because you started up 20 more apps for instance) the app will be reloaded along with its state, ie you can continue from where you left it. Saving the state happens when you switch, not before it gets killed (so killing to free resources is instantaneous). Quite simple and elegant imho.

Switching from messaging works for me very well. If I'm typing a text message, then suddenly need to check something, I can quit either via the back button or the home button. When I return, I can continue from where I left off. I haven't tried this, but I think you can type several messages, then leave them and return to continue - my message list shows a draft label near the names of the people I was texting than switched to something else, meaning I have unfinished text message.

As to the security model, I agree completely. Froyo actually alerts the users of all permissions an app asks for. If a game asks permission to access your contact list, that's suspicious. Problem is us - the users. Since every app does this now, users can get used to clicking yes yes install without reading the list of permissions that app will have. This is true of me as well, I don't read them too carefully, though I don't install random apps, just the ones I need. And before installing, I always check what other users had to say about it, both on the Market (comments section) and AppBrainz (I use the latter to install apps).

I've seen badly coded apps on AppBrainz, for example this one photo app (with 50+ effects) that drained the battery after you seemingly quit it. And that's where Google oddly lacks a neat tool for testing. I mean there should be a comprehensive tool that catches misbehaving apps - this could be done automatically for each submitted app. Human intervention may be required to catch apps that need unreasonably permissions. Without the unreasonable censorship Apple sometimes exhibits of course.

EDIT: One more note about memory leaks you mention - those are not a problem. A metafor one developer used was swapping. Basically, you can think of running apps as buffer/cache on Linux - remember the unused memory is wasted memory mantra. Once Android starts to run out of memory, it swaps out these applications (kills them, while retaining their state). This results in always having enough memory. And when I say kill, it means kills brutally (like the kill command on linux). Somewhere in the article I linked they explain the Application Lifecycle very well..

Edited 2010-10-10 10:25 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2