Volume 55 answers for the DL Q&A Sessions have arrived! This week, we got some great questions from our readers, some concerning 5G, what our favorite Android-related memories are, and also if we’re a bit cynical to Google’s development practices. Thank you to everyone who submitted a question!
Let’s get to it.
Reminder: K is Kellen and T is Tim.
If you could fix one thing Google does what would it be?
K: I gotta say messaging, right? And I don’t say that to make fun of Google and their 18 messaging apps. I say that because messaging is so important to how we communicate today and Google is one of the few companies with the resources and clout to be able to make an app that so many of us could use. But here we are, with no choice for a Google messaging. So yeah, I’d fix messaging.
T: Google has a tendency to start something, get folks really hyped about it, and then not really follow through with it. Messaging services have been a major example of this, but lately, it’s YouTube Music and Google Play Music. Feels like forever ago when we learned that Google would essentially kill Play Music and replace it with YouTube Music. Spoiler alert: That hasn’t come close to happening yet.
Do you miss the rooting/modding community?
K: It was a lot of fun at one point. The fact that we were bettering our phones faster than phone manufacturers could was pretty cool. But today, mostly because of time limitations and the number of phones available and the difficulty in rooting, I don’t really miss it. What a community that created, though. Good times.
T: Back when it felt like you needed to root and ROM to make phones run smoothly, it was the best thing ever. However, with phones running super smooth these days, I’m not sure I’d say that I “miss” the rooting and ROM’ing. There was a real sense of Android love and community back in those days, but the need just isn’t there anymore.
What do you think is the next big smartphone innovation?
K: I just want it to be battery life. I want there to be a breakthrough there, but have no faith in that happening. It seems like display tech, as far as refresh rates go, is the next wave – and I’ve no complaints about that.
T: Well, 5G is probably the big one. That and foldables. If you want to talk about more fringe stuff, I’d say the graphene battery tech has me pretty excited. Once graphene batteries are mainstream, we’ll have insanely fast charge times, higher capacities, as well as flexibility use cases. We always talk about Lithium-ion batteries needing to go away, so we’re getting there, but it’s definitely not ready quite yet.
What keeps you from switching to iOS?
K: Quite a few things. Choice in manufacturer. Choice in an OS skin. The ability to customize my $1,000 phone’s software. Being able to quickly get into WiFi settings without having to open the f*cking settings app and then hunting for WiFi. There really are a number of reasons. I also want no part of the elitist bulls*t attitude that iPhone people carry.
T: Easy answer — the amount of money I’ve invested in the Google and Android ecosystem. All of my purchased apps and services are catered to owning an Android device. Sure, I’d try out an iOS device for fun, but I don’t think I’d make a major switch unless I have about $1,000 laying around to rebuy all of my favorite apps and games. Seriously, I’m heavily invested in Google.
Do you think Google will continue making ‘a’ Pixel devices?
K: I hope so! The Pixel 3a sure surprised me with pricing and how good it was. I think it could be the new mid-range king, now that the Moto G line is kind of snoozy. The 3a is going to be a top 3 phone of 2019 for me.
T: According to reports, the Pixel 3a is a success. So long as Google is making money on them, I don’t see why they would stop. Before they launched, I was a bit confused by them, but I think Google knocked it out of the park in terms of affordability and what they offer. Google was right and I was wrong. I underestimated the love people have for cheaper phones. Never again will I do that.
What carrier is in the best position to actually cover the country in 5G and how long is that actually going to take to really roll out?
K: New T-Mobile, because Sprint has all the proper spectrum for it. It’ll be so many years, though. 5G won’t be something you should care much about for a couple of years, but even then, it might be limited.
T: 5G, the way we envision it will be down the road, is a combination of the various technologies being deployed by the different carriers. For example, Verizon is focusing first on the mmWave, which is great for super fast speeds, but can only stretch a city block. Then there’s Sprint’s approach, which is the sub-6 GHz. This tech is good for pushing relatively fast speeds across more coverage area. Once we have carrier willing to invest to deploy both technologies in partnership, with a solid 4G LTE network that blankets the nation, I’ll take 5G more seriously. For now, it’s all baby steps. If I had to guess which carrier will be first to do this, I suppose my bet would be on the T-Mobile/Sprint power combo.
Have you become cynical with Google’s approach to development?
K: I should probably have a deep answer to this, about how Google is evil and will get more evil. I guess I still enjoy the Android they put out.
T: This question touches on one from earlier, but I wouldn’t say I’m cynical. I am a little flustered that Google likes to throw things at the wall to see what sticks, but when you’re a company with that much money and always on the hunt for that next great service or thing, the releasing and then immediately killing off of products can happen. For example, smartwatches and Wear OS. Google, are you all in on wearables or not? If you aren’t, you just have to shut it down. Half-assing a platform won’t help it sell anymore units. Hmm, maybe I am a bit cynical or at least disgruntled about it.
Which OEM do you wish would make a strong comeback (but you know it probably won’t happen)?
K: I tend to think Motorola since they basically started this all, but as long as Lenovo owns them, it’ll never happen. So because of that, I gotta go Essential. You all know how much I almost-loved that first phone and I need another bigly.
What do you feel is the biggest Android or Verizon news that Droid Life has broken?
K: There are two things I tend to think of. As far as level of breaking news that resulted in mega-traffic, the day we showed off Pixel 2/2 XL, Pixelbook, Home Mini, and new Daydream through a series of posts that were a couple of weeks before Google announced it all was wild. However, we leaked word that Verizon was going to add a new $2 convenience fee onto customers’ bills when they paid online at the end of 2011. Because of our leak and the couple of weeks worth of pushback from customers, Verizon actually cancelled the fee. That’s one of those where our reporting impacted millions of people. Had we not leaked that info, I can almost guarantee you that Verizon would have implemented that fee.
What has been your most memorable Android-related memory?
K: Picking out a single memory is tough, but I’m really starting to get weird (in a good way) over the idea that I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years. Like, I’ve never done anything in my life for 10 years straight before this, outside of playing basketball and being married to my wife. So the fact that Droid Life is there with those two things, is pretty wild and special.
T: It’s hard to pick a specific memory. I’ve been very fortunate to travel around and talk about Android for a long time now, but I think my favorite part has been the random interactions I have with people who enjoy the site. Whether I meet them at industry events or just on the street and by some miracle they know who I am and appreciate what we do, that’s very special to me.