Using Bluetooth on Android sucks. It's just miserable. It doesn't have to be, so why is it?
Before we dive in: I'm not an iOS guy. I haven't owned a iPad since the iPad 2, and I've never owned an iPhone. My first Android phone was the first Android phone, the T-Mobile G1 (or HTC Dream). I'm an Android fan.
But Bluetooth on Android still sucks.
It's not a matter of signal quality, either. Bluetooth hardware did suck for years. It was slow, tough to pair, and provided unsteady signals with subpar audio. These days, though, that stuff is solved. There's a lot of stellar Bluetooth hardware out there, and the codecs that transmit audio have gotten way better. Once you're paired up and playing, Bluetooth can be an absolute pleasure to use.
It's just using the software that gets in the way.
Now, I'll admit, I have more Bluetooth devices than a lot of people thanks to reviewing headphones, speakers, and soundbars. I have two pairs of headphones, three speakers, and a car stereo that all link up to my phone, as well as a Daydream controller that doesn't get as much use as I was so sure it would when I bought it. So this might annoy me more than it does a lot of users.
When I open my Bluetooth screen on my Pixel 3 XL, here's the screen I'm greeted with. Even allowing for smaller phones, this is empty.
If I'm not connected to anything, I have to drill down into "Previously Connected Devices," and then find my item in a list. Why do I have to drill down like that?
If I'm connected to a device already – say I'm switching from my bedroom, where I connect to my alarm-speaker-noisemaker, to my kitchen to make breakfast – it's even worse.
I pull up the Bluetooth screen, drill down into the Previously Connected Devices menu and select my device. Because Bluetooth is still finicky, though, sometimes I also have to disconnect from the previous device, which requires that I click on the gear icon and hit disconnect.
Companies like Google and Apple like to go on about how intuitive their menus are, but the Bluetooth menu seems like a throwback to that G1.
Why isn't the phone smart enough to have a "Frequent Devices" list filling the bottom part of that wide-open screen? Or maybe a self-curated "Favorite Devices" list?
And why am I tapping down 3 or 4 levels to disconnect from a device? I should be touching and holding to bring up a context-sensitive menu.
In fact, I shouldn't even be drilling down into the full-screen Bluetooth menu. Holding that Bluetooth button should be bringing up a quick-connect list. Other menus don't work that way, so I'll forgive it for now – even though app buttons absolutely do, and it seems silly that menu items wouldn't.
Why isn't Google's base operating system using its own features? At the very least, I should be able to put quick-connect widgets on my screen. I'll admit that last one may be possible through third-party apps, but a lot of time spent searching Google and the Play Store have yielded lots of old posts asking for this and a lot of widgets for just turning Bluetooth on and off – which is not difficult enough to warrant its own widget these days.
I'm not surprised that menus on our smartphones are inscrutable and mysterious. My phone can tell me what music is playing, make calls for me, play high-def video, act as a computer, and also send memes. There's a lot of stuff in there. But why are basic functions we've been tangling with for years still such a headache?
The Galaxy S20 Ultra's Space Zoom camera is amazing and a bit creepy
The Galaxy S20 Ultra supports up to 100X zoom, which Samsung calls Space Zoom, but is it any good? Can a phone really product usable photos at 100x zoom? We've got our Galaxy S20 Ultra already so join us to find out!
Win an iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch with the Reader's Choice giveaway!
What's the best phone of 2019? Is it the iPhone 11 Pro, Pixel 4 or OnePlus 7T? What about the best laptop, games console, tablet and more? Vote NOW in the Reader's Choice awards and win BIG in time for the holidays!
Here are the best products from IFA 2019!
Here are the products announced at IFA 2019 that were worthy of our Best of IFA 2019 awards. Also featuring MrMobile's single best product at the show!
The Dungeons and Dragons loot you always wanted
These are the accessories you need to be at the most prepared D&D player at your table.