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Five things Google needs to fix in Android 3.0 Honeycomb

Melissa J. Perenson | May 9, 2011
Make no mistake: Google's tablet-optimized Android 3.0 represents a huge improvement overall over previous versions of Google's mobile operating system. But that's not to say it gets everything right.

5. Improve Handling of External Storage

Many of the Honeycomb tablets have, at the least, a microSD card slot for expanding storage. And some have USB ports, either directly built into the tablet, or built into a docking station that connects to the tablet. That's a lot of external storage options. Unfortunately, Honeycomb appears ill-equipped for handling external storage. For starters, every time you insert a card or device, the Android OS needs to mount it-and that sometimes seems to take forever. Not that Microsoft Windows achieves this instantaneously, either, but then again, I shouldn't feel the need to evoke comparisons to Windows when I'm talking about the lighter, theoretically more nimble Android OS on a mobile, flash-based tablet.

I've had Android 2.2 choke on an SD card I inserted, and return an error saying the card was corrupted (experienced on Dell's Streak 7). On Honeycomb, I haven't experienced that type of issue, but I have had to remove and reinsert media multiple times to get it to be recognized. And if I dare to remove the card without first unmounting through the Android operating system, Android 3.0 gets very cranky (either giving a "force close" error, or not recognizing the next media plugged into that port or slot).

Unmount media? Is that really a step Google has to insist on? The truth is cards and USB drives get inserted and yanked out all the time, and insisting on that extra step just bogs things down. One of Android's big differentiators is the fact that in can give users file-level control (see point 4). But if Google can't get the OS to play well with those files, that's going to be an Achilles' Heel, and one that limits whether the tablet can aspire to become an interoperable replacement for a laptop.

Where's the Update?

The OS has yet to have more than a minor point update, so presumably the programmers at the Googleplex are working on how to deal with these points, and more. After all, I've only pinpointed a handful of weaknesses. Others issues I know about: Honeycomb also has to be able to better deal with standard Android 2.x apps on a tablet (too often, I'll see such apps crash); it has to become more stable (the code needs to get cleaned up so "Force Close" errors on core, included apps are a thing of the past); it needs to enable HDMI output to support full 1080p output, and dual video streams, so you can do one thing on the device while outputting a separate stream via HDMI; and it needs to enable full rapid charging via USB. And that's the just a short list I'm aware of.

Hopefully these points, and many more, are on the docket to be addressed. And maybe, we'll hear a bit about them at Google I/O this week.


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