I have multiple tablets – an iPad 1 (upgrade coming), BlackBerry PlayBook and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, initially running on Android 3.2 (Honeycomb). I also recently had an experience with the Microsoft Surface. When I went to install a new voice calling application for the Galaxy Tab today, it turns out I needed an upgrade to Android 4.0 (aka Ice Cream Sandwich). Getting there took over six hours exploring a desktop PC USB-connection issue with success only using a “random” hit-and-miss process. It was not a user-friendly experience. And the final resolution required a significantly non-conventional approach that verged on the comic.
Samsung supposedly supports a desktop manager product called Samsung Keis; amongst other functions it is supposed to provide Contact and Calendar synchronization as well as support operating system upgrades. But it has nowhere near the ease of installation and use experienced with iTunes (for the iPad) or BlackBerry Desktop (for the PlayBook). Here is what I went through:
- Install Samsung Keis upgrade (which uninstalled a previous version)
- Attempt to connect to Galaxy Tab (“GT”) – Keis froze with a “Connecting” message in the client – also could not find GT as a device in Windows Explorer. Connection troubleshooting wizard says I did not disconnect when, in fact, I had. Saw Device Drive messages in SysTray but no connection.
- Disconnected GT and closed Keis. Rebooted PC. Opened Keis and connected GT. Ran the Keis trouble shooting wizard which “re-installed” a device driver. Saw device in Windows Explorer but still no connection in Keis.
- Chat session with Samsung tech support, via Samsung Canada website. S/he concluded I should uninstall Keis and then reinstall it. (When I do this I also reboot the PC after the uninstall to ensure any traces of the previous installation are gone.)
- Uninstall/reinstall. Ran Keis, connected GT. Still no connection. Got message about device driver missing but no help suggested to repair.
- As I had acquired the GT through a Rogers promotion, I called Rogers wireless tech support. Got escalated to specialist. Tried to connect and disconnect. Meanwhile learn that this is not an uncommon issue for Rogers customers. She does Google searches and other internal database searches. And here’s the “last resort” out-of-the-box thinking” suggestion she found: Power down and power up the GT multiple times (maybe up to four times).
- On the second power down/up attempt I got a message saying that I needed to upgrade the GT’s software. Ran the upgrade (took about 30 minutes). It’s now six hours after I started this process.
The process rebooted the Galaxy Tab at the end. The tablet then had to update applications that would work with the new version. But at least it’s up and running. And I finally have an Android test platform that uses more recent firmware.
However, the outcome is that only Windows Explorer can see the device for dealing with file transfers to the PC. However, with the message on the right, it appears there is now no desktop manager for syncing contacts, calendars and media. It would appear that Contacts have become managed via Google + and its links to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
However, the entire experience is not one that would make me a fan of Samsung smartphones and tablets. It is symptomatic of one of the shortcomings of the Android offerings – namely upgrades and PC syncing are dependent on the hardware device manufacturer. It would appear that Samsung lacks any quality assurance process, especially with Keis, to ensure customers have a friction-free experience in the ongoing operation of their device. And it also exposes the need to rely on the hardware vendor for Android operating system upgrades. Will this device ever see Jelly Bean (Android 4.2); if so, what will be the upgrade path.?
Bottom line: Android has its applications security issues. Developers are not generating significant revenues; they also must support over 1400 hardware platforms. And, if this is the level of quality control beyond simply upgrading the operating system, it has the potential for challenging non-technical user experiences. Yet somehow they got it right with the Galaxy SIII or they have a significant support overhead.
And kudos to the Rogers tech support person who had the patience to wait out all the various attempts to connect; my Skype log says we were on the call for 29 minutes.
One final comment: It appears I could have done an over-the-air upgrade via Rogers wireless; however, with two data plans already providing 12 GB per month of data where I might use 20%, I do not need the extra expense of an additional data plan. And I tend to look for WiFi zones in my activities.
What has been your Samsung smartphone/tablet experience? Answer in the comments.