Android 4.3 is almost upon us, but the truth is we probably won't get anything we're really looking for from the update. Google's Android may be the most popular smartphone OS in the world, but it's far from perfect. We asked our analysts to voice their top criticisms of Android and a pretty daunting list resulted. Let's see if the Android 4.3 launch, which is rumoured to be happening tomorrow, brings any of these key features to the table.
1. A 60-day rollout
New versions of Android are irrelevant if nobody can get them. It took Android 4.1 Jelly Bean a full year to become the most popular version of Android used, and even now 34 per cent of Android devices are running Gingerbread – from December 2010.
We can argue about whether it's the OEMs' fault, carriers' fault, or Google's fault, but regardless, Google is well behind all the other major OS providers in ensuring its updates get into customers' hands.
2. Mandatorily removable bloatware
All bloatware and UI layer changes should be removable. Microsoft has mandated this on Windows Phone, so it's possible.
And we're not demanding every Android phone comes without bloatware or uses Google's stock UI, just that users, not OEMs or carriers, get the last word on how the interface looks and works.
3. Project Cocoa Butter
Project Butter fixed some UI lagging, but we still see jerky Android UIs, especially in devices with slower processors. Stamp that out and make the UI as smooth as Microsoft and Apple manage, even with processors slower than many Android phones.
4. More granular permissions
Third-party apps tend to ask for way too many privacy permissions, such as the ability to make phone calls when they really don't need to. Allowing users to uncheck permissions they aren't comfortable with would give people much more faith in the security of Android.
5. Built-in security
Speaking of security, there's a busy and bewildering landscape of mobile security apps for Android. Google buying and integrating one of them (such as Lookout or NQ) would make sure every Android phone owner has a complete security package.
6. Fix the audio stack latency issues
Android's obnoxious audio latency problems mean audio effects don't respond promptly to finger touches, making it difficult to run pro music creation apps. This is nonsense.
7. Fix the pen support
Artists are also generally out of luck on Android. Unless you've grafted on a Wacom or N-trig pressure-sensitive layer to your device, the lag when you're using a pen is shameful and must be fixed.
8. Improve battery life
Those huge, beautiful, high density screens on today's Android phones are real battery guzzlers, and despite larger and larger batteries, useable phone time keeps shrinking. Power consumption is a continually moving target, and Google needs to keep shooting at it.