The Whizzo Blog

Android 3.2 bugginess and update woes

ASUS pushed out the Android 3.2 update to its Eee Pad Transformer devices a few days ago. This has caused the expected problems for my application, most of which were easily resolved.

However, my testing has revealed what appears to be a significant bug in Android 3.2 itself. This bug prevents the default application selection dialog from appearing in landscape mode. This dialog can only appear if you have one or more applications installed that have the android.intent.category.HOME category set on their main activity's intent filter. Since the dialog is hidden, you end up with a black screen when you power on the device in landscape mode.

I've found that rotating the device into portrait orientation will cause the dialog to appear properly, allowing you to select an app and return things to normal. However, unless you explicitly make an app the default launch application, you will run into this problem every time you hit the home button in landscape orientation.

This bug may not sound that serious, but explain that to someone who updates to 3.2, reboots their tablet and is greeted with a black screen that prevents them from using their device anymore. It took me a little while to figure out what was going on.

This brings to light what I perceive to be a serious issue with how Android updates (at least from ASUS) are being handled. The Eee Pad automatically started downloading the 3.2 update as soon as it was able to hit the Internet. Once downloaded, the device prompts the user to either apply the update or postpone. Unfortunately, the maximum the update can be postponed is 1 day (there's no option to postpone until further notice). I haven't found a way to turn off this auto-update feature (it appears to be an ASUS-specific service) so Eee Pad Transformer users are essentially having Android updates crammed down their throat whether they like it or not.

As a company trying to create and maintain an Android-based product, this is unacceptable. I have yet to find a way to test unreleased versions of Android on real hardware and the emulator doesn't cut it for testing my app since multicast doesn't work properly. At this point, I'm getting the update at the same time as my customers. And I can't tell customers not to install updates until they are supported by my app if there's a dialog nagging them to do so every few hours -- it's just a matter of time before someone even accidentally taps the install button rather than the postpone one.

I really hope this simply speaks to the infancy of Android-based tablet devices and this issue gets resolved.

Posted on Jul 31, 2011 by Dan.