Android 5: Not a Perfect 10

Android’s latest 5.0 Lollipop has been largely well received by the users and for the most part, I agree. It’s a solid update, but there are some fundamental fuckups that prevent it from getting a full thumbs up.

Let’s go over a few of them.

Guest mode is a security/privacy nightmare

All Lollipop devices come with a guest user enabled, which can be used to access the device regardless of it’s security setting. The guest user doesn’t have access to the primary users’ data, but the guest can see a list of all the installed apps. So you can grab anyone’s phone, login as Guest, check if they have Tinder or Grindr and figure out which way they sway. The guest user can even access connected WiFi, so you can browse porn on anyone’s phone at work and have them get pulled up for it.

Solution: This new guest mode can be disabled and it’s the first thing you should do when you upgrade to Lollipop. Pull down settings, tap on your user icon, click ‘Remove guest’. Jeez, Google, why couldn’t you ask the user if he wants this during the welcome setup?

Tip: If you want to hand over your phone to someone just to look something up, use Screen Pinning and pin the web browser.

Apps can’t overlay calls

Apps such as Truecaller do a real-time caller ID search and display the info on the screen even as the call is still ringing, enabling you to make an instant answer/decline decision with unknown numbers. You couldn’t get this on iOS or Windows Phone. Android (up to 4.4) and BlackBerry (up to 7) were the only platforms that let you do this and now there is NO latest mobile phone platform that supports live caller ID apps. This fucking tragedy renders the immensely useful Truecaller practically useless.

Solution: Go back to Kit Kat.

Update: A recent update to Truecaller has made it possible to show the caller id card right below the incoming call layer. I guess the old Truecaller notification, which came at the top, was being covered by the new Lollipop incoming layer. Phew!

Battery saver disables sync, paranoia ensues

Lollipop’s new battery saver mode a good idea in theory: it lowers CPU performance, goes all orange around the screen and disables background sync for all apps. This means that you won’t know if someone has replied to your WhatsApp message unless you unlock the phone AND open WhatsApp. And you’ll have to do the same for each app (Facebook, email, whatever). This anxiety is worse than a normal low battery worry and you’re likely to check your phone more often and kill the battery anyway.

Solution: Disable battery saver mode. Live with the fact that you didn’t charge your phone before leaving home in the morning.

Lock screen widgets are gone

I liked the ability to swipe to the left of the screen and get a calculator widget instantly without having to unlock my phone. Now, I can’t.

Solution: Custom ROM.

Interruptions a.k.a. quiet/night mode doesn’t go fully quiet

Instead of the silent mode, there are two options while lowering volume – None and Priority. There’s also a handy ‘Interruptions’ mode that you can go into for a short time (one hour, two hours, etc.) and you can also set it to automatically activate at night and go back to normal in the morning.

Priority is interesting because it’s supposed to only let very important calls and such things ring and silence the rest, but it doesn’t seem to work. For all practical purposes, Priority mode is no different from normal mode, making my phone make all sounds for all messages and everything, even after removing everything from the priority list (so that no one and nothing gets priority).

None is a little more interesting in that it’s a full 100% quiet mode – no notifications, no calls, no vibrations, nothing. Unfortunately, the automatic Interruptions timer only lets you go into the useless Priority mode and not the more useful None mode.

Solution: Third-party app, at least till a custom ROM fixes this.

Lock screen notification privacy options are annoying

Lollipop now gives you actionable notifications on the lock screen, but this shows the content of the notification too. For the privacy conscious, there is an option to hide the content, but this results in an annoying “Content hidden” line below the app name, making you look all creepy and surreptitious. Why can’t it say something more meaningful, like ‘1 message’ or ‘3 apps updated’ (in case of the Play Store)? The only other option is to completely disable the popups, but this is bad, because even the status bar icons are gone, so you have no idea what’s waiting by just glancing at your lockscreen.

Solution: Either user a third-party lock screen and/or a notifications app.

Tip: Just so you know, the option to hide notification content only shows up if you’ve set a PIN, password or any other lock method on your device.

Rotate lock only locks in portrait mode

Why the fuck can’t I want to lock the screen into landscape mode? I like to read comics and watch YouTube videos in landscape while lying down and this portrait-only lock feature is fucking useless.

Solution: Third-party app, at least till a custom ROM fixes this.


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