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Syncing Android Devices: Use Google or Die?

Is it just me or are mobile phone carriers being forced by Google to remove the local synchronization options from their offerings of Android devices? It seems that it is a lot more work syncing Android devices these days.

I have always used Nokia phones and that manufacturer provided the option to sync the data on the device with a local computer – laptop, netbook etc. Recent trends with Android devices are becoming troubling.

The first thing that seems odd when you buy a new Android device is that users have to sign into a Google account before they can even access the device the first time. I noticed that trend with recent devices we tested – the Nook tablet, Asus Transformer, MyTouch G, Samsung Galaxy S2 etc. The only way to avoid this is to provide the wrong login information and restart the device after which you are offered the option to “Skip” signing in. This is wrong at so many levels. Not everyone has a Google account and just because you provided the Operating System that runs the device does not mean you have to force users to use your service.

And it all seems to be OK. What would the reactions of users or the industry be if Microsoft or Nokia or Apple “forced” users to create an account before they could use their devices or Windows computers? I’m sure there would be cries of “Monopoly”, “Heavy-handed”, “Violation of the right to choose” etc. Why does this seem to be OK with Google?

Now comes the most annoying part of this Google Android thing: the carriers are removing (or appear to be removing) the option to sync with a local computer by not providing a native tool to do so. Pick up any new android device today and see if there is a tool that will allow you to sync your data with your laptop or desktop computer. My bet is, you won’t find many. There was a time when your new device came with a CD that had tools you could use with. That practice has been conveniently dropped by most manufacturers. Samsung has the Kies tool which you can download from their site and HTC has the HTC Sync tool that users can download although some carriers like T-Mobile apparently disabled this tool on their HTC devices. And when you ask about how to sync your device, the answer is always “Use Google”. As if we are all totally willing to give Google our information so they can blast us with more “targeted” ads.

Now contrast that with, for example, Nokia’s OVI Suite which allows you to sync your contacts, calendar, notes and messages as well as music, pictures and Video if you so choose. The tool even allows you to send messages from your computer when the device is connected. The key word here is choice. Why are Android users not being given this choice?

There are not many sync applications in the Android market, for those who will be quick to scream that. There are a couple of Third-party tools like like CompanionLink (paid) or MyPhoneExplorer (free), but that is just adding another overhead to an already tricky situation, what with constant reports of malware infestation in the Android market. I would rather that the device manufacturer added a native tool that can be trusted to a reasonable degree.

Beyond that, not all of us are Google fans. We just want a phone because there are not a lot of options out there. Agreed that the current craze is “the cloud”, but should that be rammed down our throats? Many people have data they do not necessarily want to put in “the cloud”, especially if Google is going to read that information and use it to serve advertisements. So the question is, are the carriers being forced by Google to remove sync options?

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