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Things you should know before posting your comment on the Android market

Yeah, ok, this post is more of a rant that anything. I realize that people actually reading this article probably aren’t the ones that post my most unfavorite comments on the market, but I don’t care. I’m posting it anyway.

First and foremost:

The android market comments section is not a good place to post bug reports. There is no way for the author of the app to get in touch with you if they need more information about the bug, and no real reliable way for them to even respond to your post. Please please PLEASE try and find their bug tracker, if there is one.

With that in mind, it’s probably a better idea to use that same bug tracker to file feature requests. Especially if they are complicated. Sure, it’s fine for something short and obvious, like “I wish you could change the font size”, etc (though I’d prefer that no one ever use the market for any feature requests).

Do your research. I often see comments like the following:

“The latest update of this app starts up upon booting your phone, uninstalling”

Does this mean you just noticed that it requested boot permissions while installing it? Or you actually noticed it was running immediately after boot? The world will never know, because, as stated above, the developer cannot contact you based on your comment. Regardless, noticing that the app requires boot permissions or is running immediately after startup probably doesn’t mean what you think it means.

In the case of SupaCount, it starts on boot to reset the alarms that were wiped out during the reboot. This means it starts up, registers any alarms with the Android Alarm Manager, and then quits. However, because of the way Android memory management works, it’ll probably still show up in your Task Manager app (more on these evil things later), because the OS keeps it around for a while, just in case it’s needed again. If the OS needs this memory for something else before that happens, it’ll discard it, and that’s when it will stop showing up in your running tasks.

I imagine most apps are doing something similar to this. A lot of apps use the AlarmManager to wake the app up periodically so that it can perform some background task. For instance, the OkCupid app used to wake up every 15 minutes or so to check to see if you had any new messages. In order for the app to schedule these events with the AlarmManager, it needs to be started at boot, otherwise, those events will never get registered.

“One star. App is constantly running in the background hogging all my memory”

Likely the app is just waking up to check something periodically, like I mentioned above. Even if it is actually running in the background all the time, your memory is not what you need to be worried about. If the OS needs the memory and a certain app is hogging too much, that app will be killed. No exceptions. Giving an app a bad rating or uninstalling it all together just because you noticed it in your task manager is dumb.

What you should be worried about is your battery. If an app is doing something constantly in the background, it WILL eat away at your battery. You can find out what apps eat up the most battery by going to Settings->About Phone->Battery Usage.

For the reasons I just listed above, you should uninstall your task manager. There are countless articles out there about why they are bad (do a search if you don’t believe me), and the Android developers have stated themselves that they aren’t needed. Android memory management works differently than it does on your computer. An app in the foreground has priority over any app in the background. If the OS needs memory for the app in the foreground, it will kill apps in the background to get it. In order to improve response times, android may keep an app around in memory, even after you think you’ve exited, just in case you need to open it again. Like I said, though, if the OS needs that memory, the app will be removed.

So, if you see an app running in the task manager, it really has no meaning to you. There are several reasons it could be there, and you killing it is more likely to cause problems than anything else. If you’re worried about your battery, check your battery usage section, and if there’s an app behaving badly, uninstall it.

“I will give this app 5 stars if you enable installing to the SD card”

Uhg. It’s not as easy as that. There is a very specific set of criteria that determine if an app is installable to the SD card. You can see that list here: http://developer.android.com/guide/appendix/install-location.html#ShouldNot

A lot of it has to do with what happens when your SD card is unmounted (which happens when you attach your phone to your computer).

In the case of SupaCount, it can’t be installed to the SD card because the startup apps are run before the SD card is attached, so any apps that need to be run at startup cannot be installed on the SD card.

Don’t be an asshole. Especially if the app is free. The author does not owe you anything, and you freaking out the in comments is just going to get you ignored.

A lot of this stuff probably applies to the iPhone App Store as well. Just have some common sense. The rating and comment system is there simply so you can state what you thought of the app, and so that other people can tell if the app is worth installing. It’s not a place to report bugs or ask for features.

Filed under: Android
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