Android Needs A Human Face.

I have been a long time Android user. I like the OS, hell, I am even trying my hand at writing some Android apps, but every day I am less and less inclined to do so. The problem is that there seems to be a culture at Google that wants to keep the great unwashed, you and I, behind a wall of automated responses and less than helpful help pages. Google goes to great lengths to NOT talk to it’s users whether you are actually paying them money (commercial customers) or not (the rest of us).

Today I was going to check out an app that I purchased on the Play store a while back and had uninstalled. Purchased and uninstalled apps are displayed at the end of the My Apps list, which makes it easy to find them. When I look at the Play Store apps, my list of purchased and uninstalled apps were missing. Fine, not the end of the world, so I tried to contact support and guess what? There isn’t anyway to contact Play Store support on Android. Nothing in the app and there is no entry for Play Store in the Play Store app. All of the other Google app entries, Earth, Google+, so on, merely point to web pages in the section called “Contact the Developer.”

There is no way to contact support from the phone. So I go to my computer, and hit the Play Store and I finally navigated to a contact form where someone from Google Play Store Support will call you back. The support gentleman I spoke with was very nice, but couldn’t help, so he escalated. I’ll see what happens.

But why is this process so difficult, I wonder? Why make it so hard for someone to contact support for a mobile device? Hell, why should I have to go to my laptop to find a support contact for my smartphone? What if I was traveling and needed to get support and I didn’t have a laptop with me? Why not provide a support email account for such a critical app? Horrible.

But wait, there’s more! Did you ever find a bug in Android that you wanted to report or have a feature request? Do you know where to look to report bugs or make feature requests? If your not a developer, you don’t, because Google doesn’t want to hear from you. (It’s at the Android Issues list, btw. If you have a bug or want to request a feature look for one similar first, and then star it or if you don’t find it, add it.) There’s no easy way to find the Issues List except through search and how many people, regular users, think to do that?

While I like to joke about Apple’s Genius bar or that Apple is so good at support because they have so much practice, Apple gets it and they want you to have a good experience. A good support experience doesn’t sell a product, but it keeps customers happy after the fact.

I am not, right now, happy.