From iPhone to Android: hilarious addendum

September 14, 2010 | 10 comments

I thought this was worth its own post; you can read about my overall Android experiences over here.

Today, my HTC Desire told me it was out of storage space.

That’s funny, I thought. I installed a 16Gb SD card. That was plenty of space on my iPhone, and I’ve had my Desire for less than a month. There’s no way I’ve used all that.

And, indeed, I hadn’t.

The trouble is, on Android versions less than 2.2, you can’t install apps to the SD card. Indeed, on an HTC Desire, the effective internal storage for app installation is 120 megabytes. Now that’s not something they’re going to print on an advert.

It’s absolutely true that Android 2.2 (froyo) finally fixes this insane oversight. It’s something that should have been in Android from the beginning, but they’ve finally managed to make it available. However, my carrier, O2, has been holding back the update for quite some time – and recently pulled it after finally making it available.

Am I cross? I’m mad as hell. It’s probably my fault for not researching this more fully, but these kind of shenanigans suggest that Android won’t be fit for purpose for some time to come. Meanwhile, I’m stuck on an eighteen month contract; seventeen months of tough love with an unfinished open source mobile operating system to go. I feel utterly cheated.

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  1. Worse than that – the mail app I’m running stores its mail cache on the phone memory, not the sd card. There’s a patch in the works, but they’re still working the bugs out on it.

    Not a massive problem for me, thankfully, I’ve only run low on install space twice, and I had a load of rubbish installed both times that I got rid of.

    Andrew Ducker September 14, 2010 (8:31 am)
  2. Also remember that devs have to explicitly allow installing to SD card in the app’s manifest…

    Simon September 14, 2010 (9:18 am)
  3. I agree that’s annoying, but that’s one negative. Overall I have found the OS far better than apples. Would you not agree?

    dan September 14, 2010 (10:41 am)
  4. 1) You shouldn’t've got a branded phone. Phone companies always make the software worse.

    2) I think the app storage silliness is equal parts
    a) People wanting the OS to be able to inflict DRM/copy prevention on apps,
    b) The fact that the OS can’t access the SD card while it’s mounted over USB, which can have unpredictable effects on apps that run in the background or on startup, creating a support headache from non-techies.

    I’m of the firm opinion that any restrictions in Android are purely to serve Google’s, manufacturers’ or phone companies’ corporate interests, either in terms of supporting users, or total control of what they consider a content delivery platform rather than a phone/computer that belongs to the user.

    Sven September 14, 2010 (11:46 am)
  5. The app storage stuff has been sorted in 2.2 though, so I can’t see how it’s Google deliberately putting in limitations. I suspect it’s just part of the ongoing work on the OS.

    I know that most of the work that’s holding up the mail app moving its storage to the SD card is “What do we do when the SD card is removed?” which happens when it’s mounted over USB.

    Andrew Ducker September 14, 2010 (11:49 am)
  6. Also, I find the whole “something that should have been in the OS from the beginning” thing funny, coming from someone who used to use an iPhone…

    Andrew Ducker September 14, 2010 (11:51 am)
  7. Heh. Regarding the last point, there are a bunch of things that made it into iOS late – for example, famously, copy and paste. But from version 3 onwards, it’s actually a very solid mobile operating system.

    There are some things I really love about Android. The notifications system, and how apps can work together in a modular way, are brilliant. But the app storage issue seems incredibly short-sighted; I’d actually prefer that Android devices had contiguous storage locked-in like the iPhone. It was annoying enough having to buy an SD card separately, but then to not be able to use it fully is an irritation too far.

    Ben Werdmuller September 14, 2010 (11:53 am)
  8. @Andy but only apps that specifically allow it themselves can be moved to SD, and even then it’s into some sort of encrypted format.

    Sven September 14, 2010 (11:56 am)
  9. Mine came with an 4GB one, which is what I still use (it holds all the music and photos I’ve had a use for so far – although I’m now down to 1GB of space left, so I’ll have to upgrade at some point. I find it surprising that O2 were so cheap as to not give you one.

    The limitation is sorted – if O2 can’t get their act together and ship it to you then that’s a limitation with your phone provider.

    Sven – it’s new functionality, and it requires apps to deal well with the situation where the SD card vanishes. Putting in a flag to show that you can deal with that seems like a good idea to me.

    Andrew Ducker September 14, 2010 (12:01 pm)
  10. Yep, I’d agree that the issue is currently at O2′s end. As they also sold me the phone, I kind of feel that they falsely represented it to me.

    (They did pack a 4Gb card, but I’m used to my 16Gb iPhone; I swapped it out for a larger one so I could carry my music around.)

    Ben Werdmuller September 14, 2010 (12:04 pm)

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