The Android lag fix that really wasn't

How to win friends with stuttering Android phones and alienate the development community

Credit: Image via Wikimedia Commons

Google’s announcement of Android 4.1, or “Jelly Bean,” was a remarkable moment at the Google I/O conference in June 2012. Not in the usual sense—”Hey, new Android! I’ll be seeing that in 8 months, or maybe when my contract is up!” It was remarkable because, in describing their “Project Butter” efforts to smooth out the frame rate and speed of many interactions, Google was, in essence, admitting that until then, Android could have had better performance. Google even offered high-frame-rate video proof.

Android, being an open-source project (for the most part, anyways), allows anyone to peek and poke around at the core code that runs the system. If you’ve got the mind and patience for it, you can see exactly how Google’s engineers believe their system should interact with the hardware, how it should conserve or spend resources, and how it displays things. If you have a fix in mind that might improve things, you can submit a patch and see if it makes the cut, after a review.

[2012: The year Android truly challenged iOS and Top 15 Google Easter eggs of 2012]

Or you can post your fix to the very vibrant xda-developers forum, where it might just catch fire. Especially if you provide a file that can be installed on rooted phones. And particularly if your fix is something that seems like something Android developers might have overlooked, like a pool of random numbers that sometimes runs out and slows down the system as it re-populates itself. Furthermore, if your post hits Reddit, and then Lifehacker, and quite a few of the Android blogs and forums. Seeder, the app/fix in question, did all those things, and it’s quite an interesting example of the wonders and frustrations of open source development for the masses.

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