Beta on My Laptop & My Phone

I just installed the latest Windows 8 on my Samsung Series 9 laptop.  Much better than last version.  I am still not a fan of Metro and I think the UI took a step backwards in many ways, but still an improvement from the previous disaster.  The process was pretty smooth, except that it did a clean install rather than upgrade the existing system.  Installing all new programs is really a pain in the ass.

Recently, I saw someone with the new Samsung Note smartphone.  I took a picture of my holding it.  It’s the most awesome phone I have ever touched.

It’s nice and big and fast. However, it doesn’t run the latest version of Android.  This surprised me a little and got me thinking.  Why is it so easy for me to install Windows 8 Beta and so hard for me to install Android 4?  I have a Droid X.  I researched how to install the latest Android because Samsung announced that my phone will NEVER get a new version.  I would have to root the device and then go through a crazy bunch of steps to do it.

I am a pretty technically savvy guy.  I installed every beta version of Windows for almost 20 years.  I used to build my own desktops.  I was trained for MCSE certification.  This shouldn’t be too hard.  Yet, the instructions scared me enough to dissuade me from doing it.  Here is the thing: I can live without my laptop for a little while if I mess it up.  Worst case, I have to do a clean install.  I can’t live without my phone.  It is the most critical piece of communications equipment I own.  I don’t even have a home phone.  Worst case scenario? I brick the phone and have to buy a new one for like $800.  A mistake on a phone is much worse than a mistake on a laptop.

It shouldn’t be like this and I hope that one day they even out.  I want to be able to install beta OS versions on my phone and easily be able to re-install the factory settings.  Samsung should just provide a “Safe Restore” program that you can even backup your system to, like an image.  Samsung should encourage people to experiment.  It creates power users and more demand for your devices.

Companies (like Apple too) try to control every aspect of the user experience at the cost of alienating the people who are at the forefront.  These are your best advocates.  Help us help you.  Help US, help YOU!

UX note:  Never build your system just for the power user, however, always make the difficult things doable so you don’t send your power users elsewhere.

2 replies on “Beta on My Laptop & My Phone”

For some reason this reminded me about the “rooting” issue for phones. I can’t install an apps that really shuts downs apps from running in the background without rooting my phone. Rooting your phone apparently voids any kind of warranty or support and I worry about this; however, I’m not sure why. I never even thought that my desktop or my operating system even had a warranty to void in the first place. However if my phone has a hardware problem; I can’t fix it myself, in fact I have no idea who could (except the manufacturer). There seems to be more an integration between a phone and the software, than the desktop and the software (I don’t know if that is technically true, but that is my impression). Maybe it is that the latest windows OS is designed to work with almost any hardware made in the last 5 years. But phone OS is designed to do awesome things, even if only the newest phones can handle it.

My personal favorite would be some sort of sandboxing or dual boot. Give me a minimalistic phone addressbook (,may be music player) boot mode, that you control and that allows me to install the rest w/o fear of bricking. And allow some backup.

That way I can’t brick my device, unless through overheating due to overclocking, etc. And I’m free to experiment with the potential consequence of having a rudimentary phone experience for a while (until I get tired of tinkering).

Even make the limited profile a feature, so I can hand my phone to friend for making a call w/o him snooping on all software and data I have installed (business vs family use, hond your phone to your kids to talk to grandma, …). Or do it as a standby power saving mode, when I go on this weekend hike, where I don’t have a charger overnight.

Whatya think?