UPDATE 28/04: In the comments, an ooVoo representative reports that they have developed an update that addresses the below complaint. If you install this update on your Dell Streak from the Android Market, ooVoo will no longer start up at boot unless you want it to.
Dell obviously thought they had a winner on their hands when they managed to get up-and-coming video calling service ooVoo to support the front-facing cameras on their Dell Streak line, so decided to bundle it with the latest official firmware (based on Android 2.2.2) for the Streak 5 and Streak 7.
I installed the 2.2.2 OTA update on my Dell Streak 5 yesterday. It took me all of about 5 minutes to begin to detest ooVoo.
Basically, I wasn’t interested in using it yet. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a choice. It runs at startup and nags you about not being signed in, whether you want it or not, and there’s no way to stop it doing so. It also continues running in the background, even after you click Exit, and because it’s baked into the firmware, it can’t be uninstalled without rooting, which is something I’m really not interested in (and shouldn’t be necessary).
I contacted a couple of Dell reps on Twitter about it, and got mixed responses. @DellCares directed me to telephone support, who didn’t really understand what I was talking about. However, Stephen Jio (@stephenjatdell) clearly understood:
That’s reassuring, but while I think Dell probably should have held off bundling ooVoo until this annoying behaviour was rectified, ultimately it is ooVoo that needs to change their product so it’s not so sodding annoying. And doing so is not rocket science.
Here’s what needs to happen
Look at this:
That’s the Preferences screen in Skype for Android. See that top option? If I don’t want Skype to start automatically, I just untick that box.
ooVoo needs this option. It needs it badly, and it needs it now. This option should either be accessible before the login screen so I can simply turn off the automatic startup, or automatic startup needs to be off by default until the first time a user logs in with an ooVoo account. So to be clear, it must not be on by default and hidden behind the login. No potential customer should have to create an account just to opt out of using the product.
This needs to happen quickly if ooVoo want to avoid alienating their potential customers before they even get a foothold. They certainly need to do it before Skype get video calling working, because right now the UI for Skype on Android is pretty much spot on, and ooVoo will be utterly and deservedly crushed if they can’t even get the basics right. Hell, I don’t even know if ooVoo is worth using yet, but I do know I won’t even bother trying so long as they are trying to force me into it.
Ever since the Android 2.2 upgrade on my Dell Streak, one particularly annoying problem plagued me. Every morning after powering up my Dell Streak, the email application would crash, and my Exchange account would vanish from the device.
The application Email (Process com.android.email) has stopped unexpectedly.
It didn’t do it every time I powered on; just in the mornings. I suspect it was specifically happening after a power-on when there were new messages waiting, since a quick power cycle never left time for new messages to arrive.
I tried a shorter sync period (2 weeks instead of a month). I tried clearing the data of the email app and starting over. Nothing helped. I even tried living with just IMAP again for a while, which stopped the crashes, but for some reason push notifications didn’t work any more despite working fine in Android 1.6. So, after I became thoroughly bored with my new morning routine of re-entering my Exchange account details over breakfast, I sat down and had a think about what the cause could be. Other 2.2 devices weren’t this broken, or Google would damn well know about it. It had to be something specific to the Streak.
Then it hit me. The Dell Stage isn’t just specific to the Streak, it’s unique to the Streak. There’s a stage widget for email that I’d been using since it was one of the few parts of the Dell Stage I actually liked. But was it so horribly broken that it was crashing the email app every day?
Of course it bloody well was. I removed it 5 days ago and haven’t had a single crash since. Screw you, Dell. Now, can you please fix the intermittent touchscreen freeze while the phone is locked?
After the 2.1 update debacle, and a slightly misleading announcement a week ago, I finally received the OTA update to Android 2.2 this morning on my Dell Streak. Against all reason and sanity, I hit install and went for my breakfast, knowing full well I would spend the rest of the morning trying to fix my phone.
You know what they say about pessimists. They’re never disappointed.
My Dell Streak came with a free copy of Quickoffice, which is a handy little program, and especially useful on the large screen of the Streak. When I registered, it signed me up to an occasional mailing list, which I tolerated on the grounds of getting a useful app that I might otherwise have had to pay for.
I woke up this morning to find my PC in the lounge powered on. This is rarely a good sign, since it routinely goes into hibernation after its nightly backup at around 1am, so if it’s powered on unbidden when I get up, it means something didn’t go right.
It became immediately obvious that the machine was running outrageously slow, taking a good minute just to unlock the screen. An attempt at opening Task Manager hadn’t completed two minutes later. If I’d been in a hurry, I’d have simply rebooted, but since it was Saturday, I fired up my laptop and settled down to breakfast.
When I came back, this is what I found:
On Friday, I picked up a brand new Dell Streak from my local O2 store. It’s the first non-Nokia phone I’ve owned in more than a decade, and the first smartphone I’ve had for 5 years.
Since 2005, I’ve been something of an oddity in my profession, in that I’ve eschewed expensive gadgety phones in favour of something simpler. The most advanced feature I ask for in my phone has been ‘sync address book to PC’, right after ‘send text messages’ and ‘make phone calls’. It became a point of honour that I spent so little on them. My last phone cost £29.99 on PAYG in 2008, and in the intervening years I topped it up with £15 of credit exactly twice.
It wasn’t always this way. I used to have smartphones (such as they were at the time) even before I went to university. However, I got sick of them. It only took me a single weekend with my new one to remember why.
I haven’t been a fan of Adobe products ever since Creative Suite became a total pain in the backside to install on a network, and when they took over Macromedia and inherited Flash, I liked them even less. Nor am I a fan of Google, whose laissez-faire attitude to privacy runs utterly contrary to their stated company ethics, and whose Windows software is too often amateurishly designed with support for managed networks either not present at all, or added several months late as an afterthought.
My own distaste, however, pales in comparison to that of the CEO of Apple, as reported by Gizmodo:
“That ‘Don’t be evil’ slogan Google’s known for?… ‘Full of cr**,’ Jobs said, after which he was reportedly rewarded with a big round of applause from the gathered throng of Apple employees… ‘Make no mistake, they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them.'”
The attacks became more specific when it came to Adobe:
“Jobs also criticized Flash for being buggy. When a Mac crashes, it’s usually because of Flash, he reportedly told the crowd. ‘The world is moving to HTML5’, he said.”
I’d have to agree with the first part of his assessment: Flash, along with other Adobe software, has more bugs than a world-class entomologist. I cannot recall a single instance of my browser crashing within the last year that wasn’t down to Flash or Adobe Reader. That said, if a browser plugin is taking down the whole system, Jobs needs to level some rage at his own developers, since the OS should be able to cope with one piece of miscreant user-mode software.
However, the world ‘moving to HTML5’? I think that’s a little premature…