Android Bug Reports, Songs, Rovers

The following is a partial list of bugs in Android (or associated software) which have impacted my actual life in some way.  Some may have been fixed since I last encountered them.

  • When navigation is muted, but you hit volume down just to be safe, it unmutes and starts blaring, waking other passengers on the bus.
  • Sometimes the GPS stops getting locks on satellites until the phone is rebooted.  (This may be related to the GPSStatus app, installed to avoid this kind of thing.)  To be fair, satellites are very small and far away, so you can hardly blame it for having trouble.
  • You can say “Call <contact name>”, and contact names+addresses show up in the navigation search with “navigate to” options, but you can’t say “Navgiate to <contact name>” like you can with all other major actions.  This means you have to type their full address to find out which exit to take from the traffic circle, and it’s really hard to type while holding the wheel steadily to the left like that.
  • Sometimes, when arranging home screen icons, you feel sad and you’re not sure why.
  • If you follow Google’s guidelines and have your own Jabber DNS records set up in a particular way on your Google Apps server, it screws up Google Talk’s ability to authenticate, which in turn (for some bizarre reason) causes all app downloads to hang midway through.  This is rare enough that the error messages are not Googleable.  But don’t worry, it’s easy to figure out as long as you’ve read all of the source code to Android and to Google’s servers, which is good practice when you get any product.
  • Sometimes the home screen icons all disappear.  The only thing which fixes this is a restart, going through five menus to kill the “Home screen” process, or crying quietly for hours until the icons start to feel sorry for you and come back.
  • Occasionally, when swiping the lock sideways to unlock the phone, the lock button images are rotated by 90 degrees.  This is probably connected to your Jabber server somehow.
  • Sometimes an Android user will think they hear someone say their name, but they’re not sure, so they say ‘Yes?’, but then it turns out it was something else.
  • Maps Navigation doesn’t cache your route, so if you drive through an area with bad cell coverage, it may silently stop notifying you of upcoming turns, and you won’t realize anything’s wrong until you discover you’ve taken NH Route 2 all the way to the White Mountains, which are very cold.
  • Latitude doesn’t update well on either end.  Often times, it will tell you someone was in a particular place “5 minutes ago”, and then 10 minutes later — after multiple restarts — it will still say it got that last update from them “5 minutes ago” even if they’re actively using Maps, so you have no idea whether they’ve left.  This can continue for hours as you slowly run out of air in the closet.
  • The phone occasionally locks on full brightness and turns off the keyboard backlight, which is fixed by un-checking and then re-checking the “automatic brightness” checkbox, also about five menus deep, which is hard to see when you’re squinting because the screen is so bright.  Fortunately, it never gets very dark where I live in Boston.  Unfortunately, it’s extremely dark at night in the White Mountains.
  • Navigation instructions silence things like podcasts players, but don’t pause them.  Thus, to hear that missing sentence or two, you have to switch over to the podcast app and hit ‘back’ several times, then swerve your car to avoid the stupid stop sign that shouldn’t be in the middle of the sidewalk to begin with.
  • Google Voice doesn’t do push notifications, so you often get voicemails quite some time after the caller leaves them, sometimes after you’ve already called them back.  This can make you call your doctor back again and have a really confusing conversation where you accidentally get a second prescription. Which you can then get filled and sell on the street. Come to think of it, this bug might be a feature.
  • If you stop for gas, sometimes navigation suspends, but doesn’t resume when you start driving again (or just disappears without notifying you), so you miss the upcoming turn and think you’re already on I-95, and by the time you discover your mistake and turn around you’ve lost enough time that you totally get to the conference too late to catch Richard Stallman doing his acapella Bad Romance cover which is the whole reason you paid the entry fee in the first place.
  • If you have several Google accounts, there’s no way to select which one to use for Google Checkout purchases.  It just picks whichever one it notices first, even if it’s one from an old Google account tied to your mom’s credit card, so now she might know that you bought the app to turn the phone into a vibrator.  (The app doesn’t really work since the vibrate motor is too weak, but the reviews by people who don’t understand its purpose are hilarious.)
  • If you have a secondary account that it’s decided to use for Checkout, and you want to delete it so the phone will use your primary one, you can’t.  Why?  Because that account is used for an essential service and so can’t be deleted.  As far as I can guess, that service is Google Checkout.  This bug report is dedicated to Joseph Heller.
  • Google Chrome in OS X follows the Apple guidelines concerning the green “+” button, and has it make the window no bigger than it deems necessary to fit the current page’s contents.  This annoys a lot of people. Since there are no OS X Chrome extensions, the best workaround seems to be registering maximizechrome.com and putting a giant <div> there.  Whenever you need to maximize, you load that page before hitting the green button.  (This bug is not, technically, related to Android in any way.)
  • There’s a Fantastic Contraption app on iPhone, but not Android. This is probably a feature rather than a bug, since it means Android users can spend time on things other than playing Fantastic Contraption.

These issues aside, I’m really happy with my Droid.  The screen is incredible, it’s much faster and easier to use than the G1, and I wouldn’t trade away the physical keyboard and persistent SSH for anything.


I just about fell out of my chair when I saw this.  Thank you to everyone who appeared in it, and to Olga and Elaine for doing whatever black magic they did to get them all together. <3. (Side note: I met Neil Gaiman once, back when I was in college, when his book tour came near my town. At the signing afterward, I talked awkwardly to him for what seemed like several minutes while he signed stuff for our group. Later, my friends pointed out that I was speaking too quietly for him to hear—or, in fact, to notice that I was standing there at all. I’ve been quietly embarrassed about that ever since and this video makes me feel better.)


If anyone is still sad about my Spirit comic, maybe this person’s rewrite – author unknown, found on a random image page – might provide some comfort.  Also, I got a couple of nice letters from members of the Spirit/Opportunity teams, and it’s very clear how proud they are of these little rovers. Next, Europa!

166 thoughts on “Android Bug Reports, Songs, Rovers

  1. “Sometimes, when arranging home screen icons, you feel sad and you’re not sure why.”

    That’s a feature, not a bug.

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  4. Personally, I think the rover comic was a call to action, that we should as quickly as possible mount a manned expedition to bring the hero home!

  5. “Sometimes an Android user will think they hear someone say their name, but they’re not sure, so they say ‘Yes?’, but then it turns out it was something else.”

    Maybe some creepy feature Peter Molyneux was involved with? I remember “Black & White” calling my name sporadically…

    Can’t verify since I’m still stuck with Android 1.5 on my Hero. :P (an update to 2.1 has been announced for next month, though)

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  7. “Sometimes, when arranging home screen icons, you feel sad and you’re not sure why.”

    I believe this is, in fact, a bug in the Human OS, rather than the android OS.
    Bug reports should be submitted to your relevent deity via the usual channels, and the FSM will eventually look into it.

  8. “Sometimes, when arranging home screen icons, you feel sad and you’re not sure why.”

    This happened to me, but it was only for a moment. It later turned out that it was because my dog, who was off exploring another room, was killed by a falling-rock trap. I never did find that amulet.

  9. I love my G1 but my favorite bug is one which, when making or receiving a phone call, blocks both the phone user and whomever is on the other end from ending the call. You cannot hang up. Even, possibly especially, when it is some SUPER WEIRD GUY from a weird area code and you didn’t mean to pick up and he keeps screaming profanities into the phone and is actually really scaring you and you have to take the battery out of the phone to get him off the line. Or when your landlord calls asking about your late rent payment, or your boyfriend’s mom calls to talk about your future plans.

    Etc.

  10. “Also, I got a couple of nice letters from members of the Spirit/Opportunity teams, and it’s very clear how proud they are of these little rovers.”
    Can we see it? :3

  11. Even with a list that long of bugs… It’s still better than my Motorola Crush… It completely disables the touch screen every time I call my voice mail, keeping me from pinning in my PIN to listen to my messages. So far 8 unread messages…. Motorola’s software sucks.

  12. Glad the Droid’s working out for you. I got the Eris after having a truly horrible Moto dumbphone and never wanting a Moto again. I’m still waiting for the 2.1 update, a month at max to go.

  13. I’m not sure, since Voice Commands aren’t activated for Non-US phones (like the Motorola Milestone, aka non-US version of the Droid >.> ), but Engadget just mentioned the command “Directions to X” rather than “Navigate to X”

    As for your home screen troubles… have you tried a different home screen yet?
    I personally use Home++, but dxtop and GDE are getting great reviews as well. Or if you feel like abandoning the icon-based homescreen altogether, take a look at SlideScreen ;)

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  15. People calling it a “problem” that the zoom button doesn’t maximize the window is really funny to me. It’s kind of like complaining that the close button doesn’t open a new window.

  16. Aww… That rewrite is adorable! I must admit I cried at the original, but the rewrite makes me smile so much. It wouldn’t have if the first one hadn’t been so alarmingly sad though.

  17. I am saddened by there not being a YouTube video of Richard Stallman covering Bad Romance. We should do something about this.

  18. When adding a new phone number to a contact, the “new contact” option is right at the top of the list, but if you accidentally hit the first real person in your list, the new phone number is added to that contact immediately, without confirmation. There’s no undo — you have to copy the phone number from the old contact, then go create a new contact and paste it in. Blah.

  19. Wow! I was really surprised at the things I read in this article about the Android. I’m not sure if I understand this one, \Sometimes, when arranging home screen icons, you feel sad and you’re not sure why.\ Maybe you have to own an Android to get what it means, but after reading the article and a few of the comments, I’ll pass on buying in this time around. At SportAid.com, we use G3 PDAs with Windows mobile. The IT manager can run the entire network from home with his.

  20. People calling it a “problem” that the zoom button doesn’t maximize the window is really funny to me. It’s kind of like complaining that the close button doesn’t open a new window.

  21. I can fix at least 2 of these problems: don’t drive through NH. Nothing good can come of that.

  22. HTC Droid. Designed by people who have never used a phone, mp3 player, or computer.

    Bluetooth interaction is a joke. Answer with bluetooth = turn on touch screen. Great idea! Except I keep my droid in my holster (since I’m answering with my bluetooth) so it immediately hangs up unless I go rigid as a statue. Fortunately I found a solution for this: Set a lock code. It’s required for Exchange security at my workplace anyway, so that’s a win, right? Heh. So now, when I answer a call and make it through okay, at the end of the call it brings up the unlock screen unbidden. What happens when you answer the unlock code wrong 8 times? (in other words, take 8 steps without remembering to get it out of the holster and dismiss the unlock screen) It blanks the phone! After the 6th time in two days, I just removed exchange mail and left the code as a screen-draw code which won’t blank the phone. I can’t get my emails, but hey, at least I don’t have to re-download all the apps and re-upload my contacts repeatedly.

    On Bluetooth, I can answer a call but not make one without touching the phone in some way. Genius! This is a feature that has been standard on cell phones since 2004 or so. In Oregon, we have a hands-free law, which means that I get a ticket for futzing with this hunk of poo while trying to make a call. So I basically have to forward all my work calls to my personal phone, a V3 Razr… which doesn’t have any of these problems and is six years old.

    I really like the way the Droid can play movies and music. The interface is clunky, but at least it works. Oh, wait! The HTC has no headphone jack, and refuses to play through bluetooth headphones, so that means it is using its pitiful internal speaker. Great! I can watch half a movie or listen to two whole albums before the battery dies!

    It’s a good thing my workplace provided this phone to me or it would’ve had impromptu flying or swimming lessons long ago. If I ever meet someone from the HTC design team, it *will* have spelunking lessons… that’s for sure.

  23. Ok, so i’m kind of well-after-the-fact here but when i saw this it reminded me of a song i wrote about the same time, the song was about a satellite becoming self-aware as it approached the end of its working life. You can listen here if you have

  24. The correct implementation of that Dildroid app:
    thetoy.co.uk

    Best line from their advertising:
    “No matter how many text messages she gets today,
    Yours are the ones she really, really WANTS!”

  25. As crazy as I’m sure this makes me sound. I’m very glad you posted the spirit rewrite. YEA Rovers!!

  26. Learn to satisfy, so-called he who is content is always happy.
    love life, love sports, lovers nature ,lovegoogle
    Learn to independence, can’t blindly bother other people, their own things done, so-called heaven hel those who help themselves.
    Learn to forget, cannot live in the past time, memory has gone, continue to present life.
    Learn to grow up, can’t again so capricious, so naive, so childish.

  27. After just a few apps into droid dev, I still find many of the default apps to be inexplicably slow and bugged. That being said, whenever I find myself feeling sad when rearranging home screen icon, I can bolster my spirits by caressing my physical keyboard and cooing its name, Leviticus 1 15.

  28. Sie amk. I was so sorry to hear what you were going through since November….and seeing your Monday April 4 comic – I wonder if things are better or how you’re coping up with the illness in your family. Your comic strip has made so many, many of us laugh through the years and have a sense of humor about life through our tough times, wishing you strength during yours. vay ak.

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