In the past I’ve championed Android as the platform of freedom and openness. We don’t live inside the walled gardens that users on other platforms are forced to endure — at least not yet. Just because we enjoy extra latitude with your devices doesn’t necessarily mean that we can have everything that we want.
What are some things that we’d like but we can’t have? Let’s look at some items that are high on my list!
Shared App, Music, Movie, and Book Purchases
I’ve got my fair share of kids. They get my hand-me-down devices, like my old Nexus One. They like playing games. Plants vs. Zombies and various Angry Birds titles rank among their favorites. I’ve already purchased these apps on my devices, but now that they have their own Google Accounts, they have to get their own copy of the apps. Basically, I have to pay for them all over again.
I know what you’re thinking: Joe, you should pay for them again! I can’t entirely disagree with that, but what about my game of Jenga, or Life, or Monopoly that I’ve got in the closet. I bought those once and the kids can play them any time they want. What about my XBOX games? I bought them once and the kids can play them any time. Why do I have to buy a separate copy of each game for each person in my family when they’re playing it on their Android-powered device? As long as the game is only being played by one person at a time, there shouldn’t be a problem with this. There isn’t in the “real world”, right?
Transferable Apps, Music, Movies, and Books
I’ve got apps that I’ve paid for long ago that I simply don’t use any more. They’re just sitting in my Play Store account gathering dust. I’d like to be able to resell them.
One app cost me US$15, I’d gladly resell it for $5. Another app I bought on sale for a few dollars is currently selling for around $35. I could sell my copy of the app for $20 and make a nice profit. Alas, I can’t transfer apps that I’ve installed to another person. If I buy a video game for our Wii, I can sell that to someone else, so why not an app purchased from the Play Store?
While custom user interfaces like TouchWiz and Sense UI certainly have their place and are liked by many, there are plenty of us who overlook a device simply because it’s not running the pure Android experience with the stock Android apps. OEM’s could allow users to pick which UI/app suite they want to run while setting up the phone for the first time. Doing so would bring Android purists back to their product line and expand their user-base. But it will never happen.
Take a look at Apple’s products. You can get them in 16GB, 32GB, even exabyte configurations (okay, maybe not that last one). Apple has made their products portable media players. Google and their partners, on the other hand, have stayed away from putting massive amounts of storage into the majority of Android-powered devices, trusting instead on “the cloud”, and missing the fact that tablets are typically only cloud-connected when under Wi-Fi.
A 64GB or larger tablet or phablet would be welcome. A 128GB option would be ideal. With Google’s Nexus family, we’re left with a choice between 8 and 16GB — with no external expansion. What’s up with that?
Universal Media Platform
I like eBooks. My preferred reader is currently Play Books (though I’m not too fond of the name). I own books that I can only read in my Nook reader, and others that I can only read in my Kindle reader. It’s lame. An eBook should be an eBook and they should be cross-compatible with every other reader out there. I don’t have to have a different reading lamp for physical books that I bought from one store versus another store, so why should I have to have and maintain three separate eBook accounts and have three different apps in which to read those books? Lame.
The same goes for magazines, TV shows, and movies. I should be able to have one app to do each activity, and be able to buy content from any provider for consuming in my app of choice. Will it ever happen? Probably not, but it’s still lame.
The Soapbox is Yours
Those are my five top things that I’d like to see on the Android platform, that will probably never arrive. Now it’s your turn. What are some things that you’d like on Android that aren’t there? Do you think we’ll see them in the future, or are you resigned to the fact that they’ll probably never land on our favorite platform? Let me know in the comments!