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Some see things as they are, and ask "Why?"   I dream things that never were, and ask "Why Not".  
Robert F. Kennedy

“Impossible” is only found in the dictionary of a fool.  
Old Chinese Proverb

Monday, September 10, 2012

Google Android - Robotics Gone Wrong

Today I am seriously, and officially, PISSED at Google / Adobe and the so-called "Android" operating system.

I have a client, (a Chiropractor), who wants to use a tablet computer to record patient notes as he goes from treatment room to treatment room.  Great idea, right?  What's even better is that his medical app is Web-based - all you need is a browser and an internet connection, and you're in!

I go to Micro Center and shell out Huge Bucks for an Acer IconiaTab tablet for him.  Hi def, the latest and greatest Android O/S. great big screen, etc. etc. etc.  I do the initial setups and then deliver it to the client.

So, after getting his internet connection working - we go to the web service that provides his record keeping.  And wadda ya know, it wants Adobe Flash installed to work with the site.  OK, no biggie.  Many sites want you to install Flash.  So, I go to do it and that's when the fun begins.

First:  Setting up an Android system is a pain.  It is so fubar'd up that it makes Microsoft's nonsense seem like child's play.
  • You cannot even THINK about downloading apps until you sign up for a Google mail account.
  • Then. . . .  You have to sign up for a Google Play account - and by doing so you give Google the right to wander all over your device and collect whatever data they damn well please, personal or otherwise..
  • It is also noteworthy that - as far as I know - there are no third-party sources for Android apps.  Just like Apple, it's so tightly bound to Google that they are the only source of anything for your system.
  • Since you can only get apps from Google Play - and most are payware - you are stuck if you want anything for your system.

The real plum?  Google no longer supports, nor offers, any version of Adobe's Flash player.  Period.  If it weren't for the fact that many content rich sites use Flash, it would not be such a big deal.

It turns out that my client's medical records service requires Flash.  Ergo, the tablet is as useful as Teats on a Boar Hog and he, rightfully so, refused to accept it.  Which leaves me out mucho hundreds of dollars unless I can convince Micro Center to let me return the little beggar.

But it gets even better.  Suppose you want to go to The Weather Channel, or even the National Weather Service's web site to get the weather.  Fuggeddaboutit!  Many of their pages use Flash.

You want to go to You Tube or a whole host of other video sites?  No dice there either.

If you want to do just about anything more complicated than lurk Facebook, take pictures with the built-in camera, play silly Android payware app-games, or doodle - you are totally out of luck.  I would not be surprised if much of Facebook's content requires Flash as well.

To make things even more interesting, the Android system - at least on this tablet - makes using the tablet an exercise in frustration.  The Google / Android people have decided on exactly how they want you to use their system - and if you want something, even slightly, different, you're out of luck.
  • If you have a WiFi network setup using WPA2-PSK, and your passphrase is "kitty", it won't let you connect as it does not approve of your passphrase.
  • You are expected to have multiple Google accounts, like them or not.
  • The available configuration settings are either useless, or nearly impossible to find.
    Go on, try to change the browser's home page.  Go on, I dare you!  Oh, it can be done, but it requires a level of patience that most of us do not have.
  • It is so tightly bound to Google, and things are so proprietary, it's a real pain trying to get anything done.

I have been seriously thinking about getting a tablet for my wife's Real Estate business - but after this, it's not gonna happen.

As you might expect, there has been a mighty wailing and gnashing of teeth all over the Internet about this.

Summary:  If you decide to go out and purchase any Android device, you can count on being out tons of money for something that is a very expensive paper weight / digital picture frame.

And, it's a real pity.

What say ye?

Jim (JR)