Be Careful What You Wish For

Every time there is a non-trivial Android release, the hue and cry goes up “when will we get «insert tasty treat here» for «insert device here»?” As a result, there is some amount of pressure placed on device manufacturers to get upgrades out the door, and sometimes that is not to our benefit as users.

For example, for my recent trip to the UK for Apps World Europe, I brought along my ASUS Transformer Infinity (with keyboard), instead of a notebook. My presentation was going to be delivered from a conference notebook, not my own, so I did not need to worry about projector connectors, and the Infinity is a lot easier to tote around than is a 15.6” notebook.

However, shortly after arriving, ASUS pushed out an update for the Infinity, moving it to Jelly Bean.

On the surface, this is perfectly delightful. However, the devil is in the details:

  • Unlike some devices, which will nag you once about an available upgrade and then shut up, ASUS’s version of Android will nag you every couple of hours. This gets old very fast. On the plus side, from ASUS’s standpoint, is that users are unlikely to stick on the older OS for long, reducing their long-term support issues.

  • However, the upgrade failed to work. After the upgrade’s final reboot, the device would not complete its boot cycle, getting stuck on an ASUS logo screen with a “spinning dots” indefinite progress indicator. Several reboots, warm and cold, had no effect. Research (done from a desktop PC from the hotel’s business center) indicated that the only way I had to recover would be a full factory reset.

  • However, while the full factory reset did get me back into the tablet, with Jelly Bean running, my attempts to re-encrypt my device, using Android’s full-disk encryption, brought me back to my original state. Hence, the problem appears to be that ASUS’s Jelly Bean version for the Infinity does not support full-disk encryption. And it appears that I am not the only one reaching this conclusion.

Had ASUS not been such a pest about upgrading the device, I would have held off until I returned to the US and was no longer dependent upon the Infinity. As it stands, the ASUS “won’t you please upgrade” nagging combined with a testing gap (not trying their upgrade on full-disk encrypted evices) to cause me a fair bit of headache.

(and for those subscribers wondering why I canceled Tuesday’s office hours without notice, now you know…)

So, be careful what you wish for. Android updates are good, but when speed negatively effects quality assurance, speed is not necessarily your friend.

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