For Xmas, my wife bought me a Google Nexus 10″ Tablet, which soon became my constant companion. I loved the fact that it was far easier to lug around than my laptop and let me do most of the things I used my laptop for. Up until recently, I would have recommended the tablet to just about anyone.
Right after my tablet upgraded to 4.2.2, it started behaving badly. When I tried to get into my tablet, by swiping the lock screen, the home screen would appear briefly, but then the screen would blank and I’d be presented with the lock screen again.
I’m pretty comfortable with computers, since I build my own, and I knew how to reset the tablet, so I tried that. When I finished booting, I was able to get to the home screen and use my tablet briefly, until it timed out and went to the lock screen again, after that, it resumed it’s former intransigence.
I searched for others with similar problems, but none seemed to exactly match my experience. So I finally called Google Customer Support, and they quickly agreed to send me a new Tablet.
The new tablet arrived today. I was very happy, figuring that my previous problems had to have been some kind of subtle hardware glitch. I plugged it in to charge, put in my email address, and let it load all my apps. One of the really nice things about Android tablets and phones is how easy it is to get back to where you were if you have to get a new one.
At first, everything was fine, but then I noticed that the tablet wanted to update to 4.2.2. I should have resisted, but I’m not the kind of person that can resist having the latest and greatest. So, foolishly, I told it to update.
You can probably surmise what happened next. The lock screen problem came back. It didn’t take me long to call Google, but the nice young woman I talked to went to the engineers and they told her it “must be user error.”
Well, I can be sympathetic to the engineers. I’ve been there, myself. It’s tough to be presented with a problem that seems illogical and not be able to come up with a ready answer. It’s easy to fall back on “the user must have done something wrong.” It’s often true. But, when the user is someone who has been programming computer and building his own machines for the past thirty-odd years, it might be wise to listen.
I’m convinced that there is some kind of interaction between one of the apps on my machine and the latest update to 4.2.2, which has broken the lock screen. I could replace the tablet a dozen times, and I’d probably still have the same issue once it updated the OS.
I decided to try something in desperation. I rebooted and managed to get to the settings screen and turn off the locking screen before it timed out. It took quite a few tries. I no longer have any security, but at least I can get to my apps.
I suggested to the young woman at support that she try to bump this problem up the line, because it’s likely there are some other very frustrated people out there. She did her best, and said she’d speak to her boss, but I think inertia will win out.
If you have the same problem, all I can suggest is that you try doing what I did. It’s not the best solution, but it’s better than having an animated brick.
If I was really industrious, I’d try removing apps one at a time until I found which one was responsible, but I’m no longer that patient. I have other things I need to do with my time.
This is one of those problems that never get solved until they blow up into an emergency. Anyone in software development has run into them. They are nearly impossible to replicate which makes them nearly impossible to fix. They don’t affect many users, but the ones they do affect, they infuriate. Managers hate them, too, and move them to the bottom of the priority queue, because they suck up time and, after all, they don’t affect that many people.
But, sooner or later, you discover that the annoying, low-priority time-sucking bug that you’ve been ignoring, has turned into a complete catastrophe. Suddenly you have thousands of users calling in after the latest update, complaining they can’t use their very expensive tablets for anything more complicated than serving trays. Then, when the team of fifteen engineers finally track down the bug after 72-hours of non-stop caffeine fueled hacking, it turns out the bug was a single misplaced curly-brace.