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Investing in long-lasting design: Android 7 for the Fairphone 2

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This is a tricky one. I am 100% on board with transparency, but I feel that sometimes we should simply be a bit more patient. Mind you, the release notes for Android 7 have been available since release last November or December, and I always had the impression that FP has been on the ball with this one. I agree that updates on existing issues would be much appreciated, but (overstretched) devs will have to balance their time well between talking about issues and just trying to fix them. If there’s nothing to report, there’s not much point in stating that explicitly on a regular basis. Perhaps we should just be a little more patient and trust in the competence on the team. The expectation has always been one update per month, and now that the Android 7 upgrade is out the door I will personally feel that, despite the list of regressions, this is a reasonable expectation. That being said, I encourage Fairphone to keep us informed if they choose to diverge from the monthly update schedule this January.

On a slight aside, if I may take the freedom to vent a little bit: based on my personal observations, it is increasingly looking as if the Android 7 bug tracker is being mistaken for a first line customer support channel. Issues aren’t properly scoped, duplicates are reported every other day and multiple problems are aggregated in a single report. For a developer, having to spend a lot of time filtering the signal from the noise makes it less appealing to communicate in the first place, especially if work needs to be done. I applaud the transparency potential of the bug tracker, but it should be used responsibly and with the knowledge that most problems do not require developer intervening. Bugging developers for these issues rather than the community or customer support agents will direct their valuable time away from software improvements, holding back progress for everyone.

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I did not address the bug tracker but the official release notes for already released versions. (The remedy for overloaded developers here is to establish more discipline in the bug reporting process.) Their components should be known by the release date. Publishing them does not take much time. Overloaded developers may forget this additional task, I understand. But is it really unfriendly to ask for it more than one month after the release?

Hi kiepcool, apologies but I’m a bit confused regarding what you are referring to. Are you talking about the release notes? They are up to date.

Hi Monica, perhaps I don’t understand the following sentence:

  • See the Android 7 overview for a shortlist. The extended list will be updated later on this page.

This is unchanged since November 2018. And I understand it as if the details are still to come. Am I wrong? I do not want to bother anyone.

Ah thank you for that clarification. You’re right that I overlooked the promise there, and it’d be appropiate if they followed up on that! :slight_smile: If you’re interested in learning more: the phone status page in the settings menu reports a patch level of “1 September 2018”. You can look up the Android 7 security bulletins for this release and the previous few to find out more about which patches this includes on the security side of things. Potentially the release contains a few fixes from later patch levels, but at least one patch from the September 5 patch level must be missing.

Hi kiepcool, can you please redirect me to the source from where you got this quote?

Hi Monica
It is the official Fairphone release notes page that you are also referring to in your first contribution opening this subject:

Now is see, apologies!
I was looking and couldn’t find the quote in the blog above. I have raised this with my colleagues from the software team, and we have removed that for now - as they are not sure when or in what format they will create the list. Thank you for raising this! I hope to have more information soon :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hi all,
We have released a small information update on the Android 7 developments. You can read it here: https://www.fairphone.com/en/2019/01/23/whats-next-for-android-7-on-fairphone-2/

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Thanks for the update, which is of course appreciated, and I want to thank the development team for all their efforts, too.

However, it would be really helpful for understanding and asking people for patience, if we could get a clearer picture of where the trouble lies.
What I’m wondering about, for instance, since Android 7 came out:

  1. Are Fairphone still getting some kind of input from Qualcomm for Android 7 on the Fairphone 2 hardware, or has Qualcomm’s support indeed ended completely? (Great article on the topic, but old)

  2. In case there would be no further input from Qualcomm, are Fairphone in a position to fix problems in the parts of the OS which were serviced by Qualcomm until Android 6? Or would this be unrealistic because of missing access to source code or else, and would be needed to be worked around in more difficult ways?

  3. Could the following general problems described in the Android 7 update: most annoying bugs, FAQ, etc wiki and linked to the bugtracker be attributed to missing Qualcomm support for Android 7 on the Fairphone 2 hardware? …

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I’ll make sure to pass on your message to our software team, they will be glad to hear :slightly_smiling_face:
As for your questions, I can provide some answers. If you have more questions, please let me know and I’ll pass them to the team.
For Android 7, we are not receiving any input from Qualcomm. As for questions 2 and 3, indeed some of the issues are due to the lack of input from Qualcomm. However, here comes the ‘research and development’ mention in the blog update above, as the software team is looking into ways of getting around this.

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Thanks for this info.

Can you say for which of the issues I listed this was found to be the case up until now?

And, as I see people can get quite agitated, perhaps a mention of these circumstances in the corresponding bugtracker issues would at least explain better what’s so difficult right now in fixing those issues.

Well, not much else left to do than to cheer them on :slight_smile: .

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Would it be an option to continue monthly releases with only the AOSP security patches?

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For the time being, as they are still investigating which issues are related to a lack of input, but also which are fixable/which ones need longer workarounds, the team is reluctant to pin exact bugs from the list. However, I hope that once we narrow down the maintenance roadmap, we will be able to share more specific information.

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The team is currently looking into timeline options - if it will indeed be possible to continue the monthly pace, or communicate a different maintenance possibility. I will make sure to communicate any changes that will occur as soon as possible.

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Thanks for the update, appreciated.
It’s a bit terse, but between the lines I read that a January maintenance update is not scheduled. Shame, some people would like to see at least the bootloader fixes (bug #7, #26 and #30) rolled out.

Has the team been in touch with the Qualcomm open source people? There’s many helpful people over in the ##linux-msm IRC channel on Freenode that are working hard on upstream kernel and userspace support. The Qualcomm employees there know their way through the internal documentation and procedures, while a contributor from Red Hat pretty much single handedly implemented a GPU driver based on reverse engineering efforts. Even if you don’t want to go the “open source” route with components, you might be amazed with their level of technical knowledge on the matters.

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I’d suggest changing the link in the bugtracker that is included in the ‘small information update’ to also include issues that are listed as ‘in progress’ and ‘selected for investigation’ (which are issues that have progressed beyond ‘confirmed’, the only type currently shown). There’s a lot of duplicate issues being created because, for example, the reboot instead of shutdown bug isn’t listed by default when using the current link. A better option (imho) would be:
https://bugtracker.fairphone.com/project/fairphone-android-7/issues?order_by=-total_voters&q=&status=184,178,186

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I’ll make the change today :slightly_smiling_face: Thank you for the feedback!

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Is there any news already about the timeline and the possibility of (security) regular updates?

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Not at the moment, the team is still working on it. I aim to bring more news as soon as we know more, not just about this coming update but also on the process timeline.

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