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Why Is Upgrading Android So Painful?

by Sean P. Aune | May 25, 2010May 25, 2010 1:15 pm PDT

As someone who recently purchased an HTC Hero from Sprint, I knew that we were running Android 1.5, but I also knew we were due to get Android 2.1 (AKA Eclair) sometime in the near future.  The week of May 17th brought us the exciting news that the update was ready, and boy was I looking forward to getting some of those new features and increased speed!

I went over to the update site, and felt my stomach drop as I saw the following:

htc heroWARNING: Installing this software will erase your current user data. Please see instructions below for details.

Okay, so I went below for the details, and … yep, ALL data would be erased. Apps, text messages, picture messages, the whole works. Data on your SD card was safe, and of course your mail, contacts and calendar are always synced with Google.  I debated it for about two seconds and decided I’d do the upgrade any way.  I wrote down a list (yes, on paper) of all my apps, found that one of them named Key Ring, which allows you to make virtual copies of membership cards, would allow me to export my data to my SD card, so I did that.  (Bless you Froogloid for thinking ahead!)

As for my text messages, there was a way to save them.  It said I needed to go in and forward them.  Okay, easy enough, I went in to my biggest text message convo — well over 700 texts — hit forward to my e-mail and … only the last one showed up.  You were going to be forwarding one text message at a time.  So, yeah, all those texts are gone.

After the update I got to down load all my apps again and enter all my data again (except for clicking “restore” on Key Ring … seriously, you guys rock), and then I finally got to enjoy the benefits of Android 2.1.  I will say it is considerably faster, and I’m not sorry I upgraded, but I’m still confused.

Perhaps some kind soul with more programming experience than my one summer course when I was 10 could explain to me why this Android update required a complete wipe?  I have been using a first gen iPod Touch since its release, and funny how an update on it just requires a sync to iTunes with no data loss.  Did someone forget to tell HTC or Google this was the year 2010?  Updates should not be this complicated, and a good chunk of consumers are going to click those buttons without reading the warning.  Apparently they don’t care about screaming customers who just lost all their texts from grandma?

Beyond being time consuming, I didn’t really lose anything, and I gained more use out of my phone, but come on, updates should not be completely wiping your phone’s data in this day and age.

Oh, and for added fun?  My mother has a Sprint HTC Hero, also.  Guess what I get to do a second time!  Thanks, HTC/Google!


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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