Very dear Google, at the moment, it seems. In both money, time and torn out hair.
Two years ago my folks bought me a Google Nexus 7 (by Asus) for Christmas as I couldn’t afford the £200 cost myself and over those two years it has remained a terrific gadget, so useful to me, checking emails, quick notes into Evernote, streaming my entire, extensive, music collection over a bluetooth speaker system etc, as I’ve mentioned before.
Then Google announced Android 5.0 – Lollypop. A new look, a new heart, faster, leaner, better – for every device that would take it. Until I clicked on the download button on the update my Nexus 7 rarely stuttered, only very occasionally did it slow down, usually down to an errant website or, very rarely, a misbehaving app. Now though it can’t even display Google Earth street views without crashing completely, touches are completely unresponsive, though sometimes it’ll do what I’ve asked a minute or so later. Google Maps zooms out when I make the gesture to zoom in, bouncing back out to the original map size like it thinks I’ve changed my mind.
I’ve read the forums where others afflicted like myself have tried to suggest fixes – I’ve cleared the cache by booting into its safe mode” and it seemed to work, for a day or so and then we were back to the same sorry state of affairs of frustratedly stabbing at the screen like it’s going to suddenly notice that I’m doing something. The Jellybean version of android introduced Project Butter which made Android smoother and slicker, I think Lollypop must refer to a toffee apple as this feels more like Project Treacle.
In tech parlance our Nexus 7s (Nexii?) are as good as bricked, and it’s all the more annoying that it’s on Google’s own device – they should know their own hardware. The Nexus line was originally a kind of reference hardware of sorts, the first out the gate with a new O/S to show how other manufacturers should make their devices. The thing is that the Nexus devices have been so good and such good value for money that they’ve not been just bought by techies who will accept that they’re using a beta-test device and can get round any bugs, these are mainstream devices with respected names engraved on them, a major update like this shouldn’t effectively break the hardware or ruin the user experience.
To be fair, briefly, it’s not just Google as Apple too have had a similar experience with iOS 8 making many iPhones etc unusable after the update, issues which took some sorting out via various updates.
I have a Sony phone which will never be updated beyond Android 4.3 because Sony doesn’t feel that 4.4 (Kitkat) would run well on it, this I can accept and because of this the Xperia still runs beautifully and unless something I load onto it changes that it will for some time. I also have a laptop which sometimes loads to a black screen and I can’t log on until I put it to sleep and wake it again and it sometimes crashes yet I don’t mind one bit – because it’s running Windows 10, which is currently only in its experimental, technical preview stage.
That’s the thing pre-beta test operating systems will inevitably contain bugs, that’s the point of beta test software, you use it, you accept it, but Android 5.0 on an older Google device feels like a piece of beta software pushed out as finished.
So Google, please make it work, I can’t afford a Nexus 9, I want my Nexus 7 back.
[Really Google, I mean it, I can barely type at the moment, I’m pleading, hands clasped, on my knees, which are starting to feel sore…]
Update: Ok, so it’s a couple of weeks later, Christmas has been and gone and I’m now less than charitable, my Nexus is still next to useless, every time I go to use it the battery’s flat, it’ll work fine for a while then I’ll try to browse the internet and it’ll start locking up again, sometimes Maps will work, sometimes it won’t. All I’m thinking now, while looking for contingencies of cheap non-Google tablets (I did find myself thinking “if only I had an iPad” the other day but in reality I’m thinking more the Asus/Acer route), is how long will it be before someone sues Google over this.