Thomas R Alexander

Manager, Developer, and professional problem solver

Android Reset: The problem with the app model and why it’s not so bad to start over

Force Close.

Force Close.

Force Close.

GAHHHHHHH! That’s the frustration I’ve been dealing with over the past few days. I have an Epic 4G Android with Froyo (Android 2.2) installed and have recently been victim of Force Close messages popping up and closing the Gmail, Phone, and Calendar apps. After several attempts to resolve the issue (clear app data, uninstall new apps, remove updates, remove synchronization, etc…), it got to the point where I couldn’t even make a phone call, read text messages, or read emails. I had no choice but to do a Factory Reset.

All is good, right? Nope. I did a Factory Reset and when the phone rebooted, the “tutorial” app crashed and I was left with no home screen and absolutely no way to make phone calls. That’s it. I lost everything. All my apps, text messages, settings…gone. I. Was. Furious! I had to do a complete reset of the phone and install a fresh copy of Android. At first, I couldn’t believe I had to go through the trouble of resetting everything and starting over with nothing. Luckily my contacts, email, calendar, and text messages were synced to Google services (which is pretty much the core functionality of the phone). However, as time passed, it became more apparent that I couldn’t even name more than 4-5 apps that I really used often enough to remember. Although I had performed a backup with Titanium Backup in the past, I decided not to pursue that as a recovery option. Why?

I actually like starting fresh. I’m glad my phone reset and forced me to start over. Now my phone is clean and I can install only the essential apps that I actually use. I can honestly say that I had 30-40 apps on my phone, most of which I’ve used only a handful of times. I know I’m not alone in this. Smartphone users have become victim to carrying a ton of apps for their one-time-use appeal. The reality is, most of the apps that are essential to you are available out of the box.

The danger of the app model of smartphones is that organization actually becomes an issue. We have all of these apps and it is up to the user to decide when to use them. After obtaining a plethora of applications, it is hard to recognize each one’s use case quickly enough to be able to utilize them correctly . Smartphones need to have a push model, where apps are launched orĀ utilizedĀ based on user input and or actions (and no, I’m not talking about more notifications). For instance, when I plug my headphones in, ask me which music app I want to use (Pandora, Stitcher, Slacker, etc…). How about when I turn my screen on, recognize that my RSS stories haven’t been read and suggest that I open that app up?

So I guess the moral of the story is…start over. A fresh start will help you re-organize your app, speed up your phone, and give you a nice little baseline to begin with. After you get up and running again, make sure you do a Titanium Backup so the next time anything terrible happens, you can restore your phone back to a state with only your essential apps.

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