Forced Upgrades

Editorial: Should I be FORCED to upgrade my paid apps?

Forced Choice

Forced Choice

It seems the most common question about upgrading to Honeycomb (Android 3) is, “Will all my apps still work?” The simple answer is “NO!” The reason: Some developers have used Honeycomb as a way to FORCE you to purchase an upgraded version of their application.

Gingerbread (Android 2.3) and earlier versions of Android were all developed for mobile phones. Honeycomb (Android 3.0) was developed to take into consideration the larger screen size of tablets. The new “Ice Cream” version (due out at the end of this year) will merge the two branches. The idea is that all applications should scale to the screen size of the device upon which it is installed.

However, some developers have created versions of their applications that are SPECIFICALLY designed for tablets. It is difficult to say whether they misunderstood the direction that Android is going or whether the profit motive was driving the change. Whatever the reason, some of the apps that worked in Gingerbread will NOT install on the same device if it is loaded with Honeycomb!

My first experience of this was with my purchased copy of QuickOffice Pro. (See Note1) I originally purchased it for use on my G2 phone. Later, when I got my G-Tablet, I installed it there also. (Note: Customer Support at QO informed me that according to their EULA, such dual use is NOT allowed. Kristina, Sr. Customer Care Specialist, advised me, “if you want to use the software on 2 devices at the same time, you should have 2 valid purchases.”) So, I uninstalled the G2 copy but it still would not install on the G-Tablet.

QuickOffice Pro worked fine on my G-Tablet loaded with CyanogenMod7 (Gingerbread). However, when I upgraded to Honeycomb, not only was the app not restored using the Android’s auto restore function, but the app was not even included in my list of purchased apps! I checked the online Market and the app was showing there but it stated that it was NOT compatible with my G-Tablet – the same device it worked on previously.

When I contacted QuickOffice about the matter, they responded that I would have to purchase the new tablet-enabled version (QO Pro HD) to use on the tablet. They stated that the HD version was developed specifically for Tablets and that I could not use the Pro version (that I had previously purchased) on my tablet. They were willing to refund the $9.99 that I paid for the Pro version last December but I would have to purchase the HD version on the market is currently priced at $19.99. (See Note2)

Although QuickOffice advertises that the HD version is “more useful” and makes “you more productive with powerful Microsoft® Office document, spreadsheet, and presentation editing along with highly advanced file management”, those features were already in the Pro version. Even if they have added some “tablet-enabled” features to the HD version, I did not ask or want them.

The availability of new features in the HD version is not the issue for me. The issue is, “Should application developers be allowed to FORCE upgrades on their customers?” I am not speaking of (free) updates. I am speaking about forcing me to PAY for an upgrade that I may not want or need.

Just stating that and app was “developed for Honeycomb” does not answer the question of why users can not continue using the same version that they were using previously on their tablets. Just because one upgrades the OS on their device does not mean that they want to upgrade all their apps – at additional cost.

The manner that one uses a particular application will not change just because they upgrade their OS. Even if a new tablet-enabled version may offer additional features, the purchase of additional features should be an OPTION for the customer – not a requirement of the developer.

I urge QuickOffice (and all other developers) to reconsider any policy of forced upgrades. This is not just an economic debate. It is the inherent opposition of people to being forced to a decision against their will. Developers who fail to consider this concept, may see their customers bail out and purchase an alternative product rather than submit to what they consider an oppressive policy.

This situation includes users who PURCHASE a Honeycomb device as a second Android device. The standard Android Market policy allows users to expect that all their previously purchased apps will work on any new device that they acquire.

Caveat emptor – Let the buyer beware!

Note1, Quick Office is not the only paid app that I have which failed to install in Honeycomb. SwiftKey has also developed a similar approach with their new “X” version. 

Note2, I have now uninstalled QuickOffice Pro from my G2 and am waiting for the refund to show up. I don’t know which “office” software I will purchase for my GTab.

Your comments are always welcome. Tell us what YOU think!

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9 Responses to Forced Upgrades

  1. Juan C. Zayas says:

    I think that was the original one. Now it shows version 3.0.27. After removing uninstalling updates it shows 2.2.11.

    I run it once. Next time I try to run, it is already in version 3.0.27.

    Forced update…. ?

    • Ray Waldo says:

      That is strange. My version does not offer to update or anything and it works great. It displays in the “tablet” format and updates all the apps, etc as it should.
      I wonder what are the advantages of the newer version? Guess I will google it to see what pops up.

  2. Juan C. Zayas says:

    Hi…Just turned on my gTablet, and noticed that the Android Market has been updated. And after a few seconds it just crashed without even interacting with it: process com.android.vending has stopped unexpectedly.

    Then I went to Settings->Applications->Manage Applications-> (click on Market) -> Uninstall updates

    After this, I got the previous market version working fine. After a while it just updated again, and got the same error again…..

    Is this an isolated case or has anybody experienced this?

    • Ray Waldo says:

      I have market version 1.0.17 & all Apps are updated. No problem.

    • Chris says:

      I’m using vegan ginger on my gtab and have the issue. I have found that when market starts crashing, that if I turn wireless off, start market, then turn wireless back on, that market is fine for a few days. it appears to be a bug with the way the new market handles network connections.

  3. Ray Waldo says:

    Thanks for the comment Bryan!
    As to QO pro, I already purchased it – that is the problem. The Customer Care rep said that they are looking into the issue and perhaps they will take a different approach soon. We shall see.
    As for holding off on Honeycomb, I totally encourage everyone to flash the newest beta from Zyhong (b3.3). It has not displayed any of the lockup issues that I had with prior versions. It is clean and slick. And once you use HC, you are hooked!

    • Bryan says:

      Sorry, I meant Officesuite Pro, my mistake.

      • Ray Waldo says:

        Thanks. I do have some apps from Amazon (mostly their one-free-paid-app-each-day) but it is such a pain to re-install them every time I rebuild my device. So, as much as I can, I try to buy from the Market. That way, they are automatically re-installed.

  4. Bryan says:

    This increases my hesitation to upgrade on my gtablet, along with some concerns you’ve expressed with Honeycomb in other articles. I think I’ll hold off for a bit and stick with Cyanogen’s current offering.

    As for a replacement office suite, Quickoffice pro is on sale on amazon’s app store for $5. There’s a free 1 month trial on the android market, so it’s worth seeing if it works on HC. The reviews are a bit mixed though.

    Love all the articles, by the way. They’re a great help and very informative.

    -Bryan

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