I mentioned briefly that Sprint had begun to OTA the new Android 6.0/Marshmallow over the weekend. I decided to take the plunge and try an in-place upgrade.
This failed for a number of reasons the most important being that my SD card was too big for the zip to be recognized (32gb limit evidently.) I decided I’d just try the RUU which is a piece of software that resets your phone, installs the OS, and otherwise gets you back into factory shape.
So, verifying that HTC Backup had completed, and that I had a Nandroid and a Titanium Backup made, I took the plunge from a highly customized rooted Lollipop level Android OS to the stock HTC Sense 7, unrooted.
I’d considered rooting the thing, and considered it even more so after, but decided to give it a go for a bit and see if I could handle it (On my Nexus 9 I’ve actually been mostly happy with stock unrooted).
I ran into some problems pretty quickly. Problems I’m not sure how the average user could surmount easily, but then again the average user probably isn’t running an RUU or factory resetting in the field.
Two factor fail
My first problem was I have two-factor authentication set on. This requires an app called Authenticator by Google in order to give me a second timed password. I’d just wiped this phone clean so I no longer had it. Shouldn’t have been a big deal as it has the option to text you the code.
I chose that, the code showed up in about five seconds via Google Hangouts on my computer. I went to enter it on the phone and there was no place to enter it. It was waiting to receive a text message through the default messaging client, which would have been Messaging at that point, not Hangouts.
I decided to go back through and enter the code it was texting to hangouts as the code when it initially asked. That did not work. I went back and had the code re-sent, and it was the same code that had come previously. This was well over a minute between the tries so I’m not sure why the codes kept coming back all the same.
With it not accepting the codes that were being texted and not feeling like disabling security (I really work with next to no time these days. Kids tend to not stay napping,) I looked and found the text file with the timed password string (I’d saved it,) and slapped that into Keepass to generate a timed password, and was able to move on.
HTC Backup fail
Upon getting further into the setup I was asked by the system whether I wanted to restore data from another phone. Unfortunately the ones listed were my tablet and my old phone that’s being used as a house controller. This was Google’s attempt, no biggie, I knew HTC Backup had been doing backups.
So I restored… it claimed it had 91 files and data to restore. I thought yippee! I don’t have to go through and TB all of these to get my data back. As you may have guessed by the title I was disappointed shortly thereafter.
While 91 programs downloaded and installed (most of these were things like a recently updated version of Hangouts,) absolutely no data came over with them. Everything I had was lost. I had to add my Twitter, Facebook, secondary Google accounts, go through each program and kill the things that make them annoying (beeping, pinging, etc.)
It was no different than if I’d just signed into a new phone and installed a bunch of stuff.
It also let me know it wouldn’t be working with Android Marshmallow to do anything but restore old backups. Great. Can I uninstall it now? Nope. They’ve end of life’d a program and refuse to let you remove it.
It also didn’t restore half of my items. I’m pretty sure nothing I purchased was restored. Several free items were missing as well (such as my choice of keyboard.) I’d checked immediately before starting this that the backup had completed successfully. Nope.
An end to fail
Now, those problems would not be an issue for too many people that don’t factory reset or RUU their phone. But if you ever had to factory reset while on vacation the Hangouts as SMS client could bite you in the butt. The losing all your data could as well.
I started using the now unrooted, unmodified phone running Sense 7 and Android 6.0.0. I noticed immediately it was quite a bit faster. As someone who flashes phones left and right that’s a sentence you should realize is fraught with problems. When you remove 80% of the applications and wipe a system it’s always going to run faster.
But it was running a lot lot faster. Strangely so. I ran a benchmark, which also are generally useless, and it confirmed that the phone was running with numbers that were significantly more than the numbers before. ~30% score increases.
This is not normal. I’m going to chalk it up to vile wizard tricks for the moment. Perhaps I haven’t reached the tipping point in installing software that will make it bad again… but this is really weird how snappy it actually is at the moment.
I managed to get my call recorder working with two checkboxes that didn’t have to be checked before (I now have to document all conversations with a couple of company’s CSRs.) Evidently something has changed, or perhaps my rooted ROMs were just easier to deal with. Whatever the case I was ok with that.
I installed CF.Lumen (as it helps me get to sleep,) and got hit with some messages in other apps later that I couldn’t accept permissions while there was a screen overlay going on. I’d seen this before, but it was neat seeing some enhanced security on the phone. Swiping down and choosing to disable it from the status fixed that.
The camera is noticeably faster. I still have 700 or so photos on the external SD and it still is flying through snapping them. I always had a little delay before. No idea.
You are stuck with the Sprint bloatware if you choose to run stock. It’s probably going to make me migrate away to rooted again fairly soon. You can choose to uninstall, but that just replaces the thing with a factory original version of the software which will ask you to update later on.
I have zero use for Lookout Security, and their app spotlight and most of the stuff they pre-loaded that I never use (sorry, not into the NBA, not interest in apps based on data mined from watching my keyboard, etc) but you can theoretically disable these.
I say theoretically because you go in (settings, apps,) choose disable and it says disabled next to them. I had an instance where Lookout still appeared in the app launcher and launched, went in and re-disabled it, seemed to stick that time.
The only app that really refuses to go away is voicemail. I think Sprint is convinced you have to have this to survive and refuses to let you disable it. Oh well. I blocked it from notifications as I use Google Voice/Hangouts for my voicemail and I hid it in the app layout.
Hopefully Google’s backup will kick in and start cloud storing data and account information. Were that the case with chucking the Sense launcher for TSF Launcher I’d almost consider going rootless.
Well, for a week or two at least.