Weakness vs the Right Thing

Latest fad among Indians is to blame the central government, the Congress Party and Dr. Manmohan Singh. We know that Rupee is a habitually depreciating currency against every other currency. We bother so much when it happens against the US Dollar because our major imports of oil and gold (yes gold accounts for second largest imports for India!) which are paid in USD. We need foreign currency reserves for imports. Our current account deficit is at all time high, fiscal deficit is out of control, government spending has no austerity measures, so on and so forth. We keep blaming the present government of India because during early 2000, the country witnessed the best growth on records. That included US sanctions on account of Pokhran nuclear blast as well. So question is, how it went all wrong so quickly?

Most of the decisions taken at the government level will yield results in long run, be it good or bad. That means we Indians, have decided to go with the same set of people to rule us for years together. Since independence, it is six decades and we had only couple of terms ruling from different political parties. That had been a choice which majority of the people made consciously or unconsciously for good six decades. Once we elect a political party, or these days coalition government, we do not have a true mechanism of accountability. Only thing we can do is to throw them out of power in the next election. However, majority of us fail to recognise the larger goal of the country during key moments. We love to go with the flow, individually and collectively!

We have hardly been really thoughtful when it comes day-to-day activities. We do not understand that fact that, “my freedom ends where someone else’s begins”. We are habitually happy to complain, blame and relax. Indians’ time sense or lack of it is notoriously well known but we do not wait 10-30 seconds in traffic. If a vehicle has to start from point A to B with 100 meters distance in crowded town, I have seen enough people driving their vehicles speed past the distance at 60km/hr. Using a low beam headlamp, not speeding in an erratic way or not ignoring most traffic rules is not a weakness but it is the right thing to do.

We love the concept of ‘survival of the fittest’ instead of standing in a queue. Standing in a queue is not a weakness but it is just the right thing to do for human beings. In offices and high profile public restrooms, there are short write ups telling not to spit chewing gums and pan masala! We cannot switch off our computers when not in use for more than 6hours, knowing that 1300 millions of people need electricity in India. The majority of the votes cast by Indian crowd includes uneducated or less educated. What others do? Take a holiday! Who shouts in social media, the educated majority! So standing in a queue for casting the election votes is not a weakness but the right thing to do. Using less plastics might not look good but it is the right thing! Having a holiday on account of a film star’s death is what majority like but they also expect politicians to work harder! Society respects only white collar jobs over blue collar jobs. If we do the right thing at grass root level and think of accountability for every decisions, that could help for the nation. Do the right thing instead of going with flow for the sake of it.

Nexus 4 App Uninstall

One thing I noticed a while ago but confirmed today is the issue of app uninstall on my Nexus 4. If you uninstall an app, typically from ‘App Drawer’ the home screen shortcut should automatically vanish because the app does not exist anymore. But Android 4.3 powered Nexus 4 doesn’t work that way! After uninstalling an app you need to come back and remove the home screen shortcut again. Not a devastating issue but it shows the quality of stock Android operating system.



This App is incompatible with all of your devices

Yesterday I was browsing on the net, my flipboard app is amazing for that. I usually go through what I want and they include business news, technology and stuff like that. Happened to see that, there was an app that did exactly what the brand new Moto X could do – listen to your command “OK, Google Now’, your phone’s up and running for rest of the commands. Searched that on my Nexus 4’s Google Play found some crappy apps but not what I wanted. Signed into Google Play on the web saw the features again, hit ‘install’.


Here you go, ‘this App is incompatible with all of your devices’ showed up and I could not install that. Why so? It is because, application is not optimised for Nexus and so many millions of android mobile hardware specs and mostly customised android versions. So what is my problem? My problem is companies like Samsung advertising here in India for an entry level android phone, boast about 700,000 apps on Google Play. I had this issue with my old phone as well. It is quite frustrating when people boast about a cheaper and equal alternative to iOS device is android. I had this issue when my old Xperia tipo refuse to install apps like ‘fruit ninja’. Worst thing was, it used to download complete file but to tell downloaded file was not compatible. Most of the premier apps do not work on all devices which is understandable from developers point of view.
Most of us do give away irritation at free of cost after buying a product. I still remember the amount of frustration I had to go through when I could not make a call while an app called ‘My Tracks’ was running. I am not even talking about the android apps that are not making use of higher screen real estate in 7″ or above tablets. It is so pathetic when the best app is not compatible for your phone but you compare the cost and some customisation features all the time.

Android Jelly Bean 4.3 on Nexus 4

I bought my first smartphone Sony Xperia tipo in September 2012. It literally did not work well enough for basic activities such as opening contact book and making a call without lag. I realised that the phone did not have adequate RAM and processors to function. In fact it was never a smartphone but just a ‘smart feature phone’. I got rid of the Xperia tipo and bought Google powered stock Android LG Nexus 4 in the last week of June 2013. Compared to my prior experience, Nexus was definitely better in terms of day-to-day functions. Even though it felt convenient to have a larger screen, especially to watch a quick video, for an average height person like me, it’s quite a struggle to operate in one hand.

When I bought the Nexus 4, the objective was to have the latest OS, snappy performance of apps and a better battery life. When we use a handheld device, we expect to charge the battery early morning and to last till evening. I do operate the phone in similar fashion. Last night I slept at 12:30 with the battery status of 19%. I got up today morning at 6:15, and the phone was powered off due to battery drain. I know for a fact that, 3G causes more battery drain than Wi-fi and hence I have an app (Smart Connect) that takes care of scheduling so that during my sleeping hours, phone has no 3G and no vibration but in silent mode. I turned off ‘Google Now’ last week because it ate up so much data and battery from the background. So what was wrong with the phone that drained battery so fast in stand-by mode?

Let us look at the App settings and the way apps are designed for Android. Most of the apps have settings such as (taking LinkedIn app as an example) modify your contacts, read call log, read your contacts, write call log, read calender information plus confidential information, modify or delete the contents of your USB storage, control vibration, read sync settings, send sticky broadcasts, etc. To perform all or any of the automatic permissions, apps consume RAM, processors, GPU and battery.

App Permissions Screenshot_2013-08-18-11-11-56

In terms of tech specs, Nexus 4 is powered by 2GB RAM and 2100 mAh battery with a quad-core processor. It is not merely a hardware issue and instead, the OS itself has performance related issues. I did some research and installed an app for killing background tasks. However, killing background tasks is a never ending process. Literally every app in android has a (bad) habit of running in the background, automatically because of which RAM is consumed even on standby mode. Therefore, for an android phone, difference between actual battery usage and standby is not so much, except for display and graphics usage which use even more of battery power. It makes no sense as to why apps like ‘Flipkart eBooks’ should run in background. Moreover, I figured out that one can completely disable background processes but that does not necessarily help!

Screenshot_2013-08-18-12-21-36 Settings and Background Apps

I was quite happy with the TRIM function that was introduced in Jelly Bean 4.3 but performance issues remained the same. Android phones have numerous screen sizes and configurations. When I bought Nexus 4, I did not expect an extraordinary camera for that matter. On the other hand, I expected the Apps to be really optimised for the screen size, snappy performance that could last a day. However, my presumption was short-lived as one of the best games, Temple Run 2 start screen’s not optimised for Nexus 4 display and even with 2GB RAM experience’s itchy. The phone heats up too quickly and it becomes impossible to use for more than fifteen minutes at a stretch while playing a game or shooting a video. This made me feel like, Android is flawed and is worse than Windows Phone 8 OS. Notably, Android has been around for years together and of course there were incremental improvements.


So how can we find out the battery performance in an Android phone? It is fairly simple. Go to Settings > Battery. Here you can see whether the phone is charging or discharging and various apps that drain the battery, percentage-wise. Most of the tech reviews do not go further down. When you tap ‘Screen’ you will see actual number of hours the screen has consumed the battery, understandably, that many hours you practically used the phone! I mean you can not use the phone in a sleep mode, and if you look at the screen below, I had used the Nexus 4 phone for about an hour or so and battery had drained so much. Rest of it goes to the apps running in the background mode, i.e. Standby mode.

Battery Performance Screenshot_2013-08-18-14-39-34

Apps running on the background can be really troublesome to your pocket as well. Two days in the past week, my phone consumed more than 60 MegaBytes of data per day. I do work in a paid job for living and hence I hardly get a chance to really do much with the smartphone. It costs INR 250 for a GigaByte data per month which is about 33 MegaBytes a day. Unless you are really careful about your usage, you may have hard time paying the data related bills.

Data usage snapshot

There could be lots of arguments regarding various apps and customisation options. For me, if I buy a device at a price of beyond INR 26,000, I expect to use it rather than researching on the device itself. It may give me option to root and do hundreds of customisations. However, instead of spending time on the device to customise, I should either use it for productivity or recreation by installing apps that I feel appropriate. A computing device is supposed to make our lives better and not worse. Most of the people who buy Android, fail to understand that things could be better. Android is an open source code and hence Google does not seem worry for anything more than collecting data and trying to gain as much as from advertisements. I love this quote by Jim Dalrymple – “I wouldn’t like to use something that doesn’t work well enough every time”