Update V1.8 was there a beta test?

It might be a usual procedure from hotlines, but it’s not unfair to tell the people to read the instructions (RTFM :wink:), that’s what they are made for.
It was a strange thing to see, that after installing the system update and after seeing the system to update a lot of apps automaticly that there are further updates necessary, but when I did them, everything worked. Only the lost homescreens are odd, but as I understand, it had nothing to do with the update but with the updater, so it wasn’t noticed during beta test.

2 Likes

You are mixing up two different things: It is not unfair to tell to read the instructions - but It is unfair to subject useres they didn’t read them.

Very strange “beta test” which doesn’t test the update process.

2 Likes

Do those who rise the RTFM argument ( @Roland768 ; @Reid_Sommerville ) really say that the update instruction included the following:

“If you, when trying to reinstall the play store, get the message that Fairphone is updating in the background, then you should…”

?

If so, it must have been put there in the smallest print available.

And the instructions contained no information about how to handle/tweak the new app launcher, nor that the home screen had to be set up from scratch.

We are taking all your feedback into account to improve the software dev, testing, and general update process.

I see one particular issue that you mention that is a bug and should not be happening, the message:

“If you, when trying to reinstall the play store, get the message that Fairphone is updating in the background, then you should…”

We are working to see what is happening there - and other posts explain the workaround is:

Open the Fairphone updater app and close it again, now the google apps installation should run if you hit the installer

But other issues like re-installing Google Apps or the keyboard not working (because user needs to re-install app store) - are issues that will occur with every update because Google Apps needs to be re-installed with every update. A very annoying thing for the user experience, indeed.

I see the other issue coming up on the forums is that people are missing all apps and shortcuts on their home screens. This happens because an entirely new launcher/home screen comes with this update. It was intentional. We communicated this in our owners email - so I’m interested what advice you have for how we can better communicate this (even now: should we ‘warn’ owners now to keep track/make a written record of the layout of their home screens before they do the update?) I’m open to suggestions please!

As for issues like the icons being too big, that was a decision as I understand it to make the look and feel look more like Android 4.4 KitKat. This was done by our UI/UX and software dev partners, Kwamecorp. Of course FP team members also approved it, but I want to emphasize it was intentional. I think my colleague @anon12454812 can best explain the reasoning there.

All in all, I’m also unhappy how stressful the update is for users. Each update is a mix of making sure we communicate the process and making sure the actual software behaves. I speak for the team in saying we’re sorry to cause headaches or even lost hours of trying to get the software up and running.

We’re listening to all your feedback and making sure it’s fed back into our process next time. We’re also finding solutions to immediate problems this week. Again, I’d like to apologize for problems you’re experiencing from the update. Thanks for your patience as we sort this out.

In an even more proactive sense, you’ll see we have four job vacancies for building our Android software team. Too late now, but hopefully good news to show we are building up the team to improve in the future.

http://www.fairphone.com/join-the-team/

1 Like

Thanks for your input - but there are two points which are not clear to me:

  1. The decision with the big icons I really don’t understand. Why should anything be
    pretending? Fairphone has Android 4.2.2. Why should it look like
    4.4?
  2. The software partner should develop a software which Fairphone
    orders. Why can this software partner decide what do do? Did you
    ever ask the users (also in this forum) to make these changes? I think
    no.
2 Likes

Personally, I couldn’t foresee that a new launcher/home screen meant that my old home screen setup would disappear. With hindsight I realise that this was a perfectly logical outcome, but since I never before had replaced the default launcher (and I confess that I hadn’t even a very clear idea of what ‘launcher’ signifies) it was an unexpected experience.
A ‘better’ (or more exhaustive/informative) way of communicating this change would have been to state exactly what would happen: namely that you after update would have to start with a blank home screen (this has now been added to the ‘update log’ website, thanks) and also how it could be expanded - and preferably that the start screen (after restart/reboot) would no longer be the centre one but the leftmost one.

For me, the issue was not the size of the icons but that the new launcher is limited to 5x4 positions while the older allows 6x4. I guess (although I’m not sure) that this won’t change even if one resizes the individual app icons?

…is of course well-known by first batch owners that have performed updates before. But for 2nd batch owners it might be different - especially that not only the app store but also the keyboard is dependent on a reinstall.

What also could have been stated more clearly is that repartitioning can’t be done after upgrading to 1.8. No problem for me, I’ve already done it, but possibly there are other owners that now realise that they have to downgrade if they want to make the change.

2 Likes

Three people including myself took the time to post the solution in the main thread within an hour of the update being announced, way before the angry people started posting.

regarding there being no information that the home screen had to be set up from scratch, I read that in the very first email direct from fairphone about the software update where it said

“*Please note: Due to the new format of the launcher, this update will erase the icon shortcuts on your Home screen. You can easily put your icons back after you complete the update.
For a list of interactive tutorials, search on our new self-help tool.”

1 Like

I agree completely with @tin

Actually, I am surprised that we need to give advises to a phone maker about how to beta test their software and how to handle their software contractors. But ok, let’s say it again :

  • You decide what goes in your OS. Not your contractor. Your contractor might make constructive proposals but it should be the exceptions. It implies of course that you know what should be added, modified or removed from your software.
  • Your contractor must QA its software extensively.
  • You should beta test the software with a subset of users, following the exact procedure that will be used and using the exact binary that will be made available. Iterate with the contractor to fix the bugs and beta test again each version.
  • Don’t release until you are satisfied. Of course, the bigger the update the longer you will have to wait. This is why you should deliver often small updates. Not like you are doing now.

As for the “users should have done this or that, read the manual and been smart” :
You might not like it but your users are always correct. I am a software engineer and I know how frustrating it is when a user does stupid things with your software. But why did you let him/her do it ? make you software fool proof. Do not consider anything obvious to him/her.

I hope that the software side of the FP will mature in the coming months and years !
Barth

3 Likes

I understand all replies here, and like to address this: Fairphone is hiring Android-developers. And yes, maybe some of you think this is too late. But if you are or know someone capable of joining the Fairphone-team, do not hesitate! :smile: Btw, I don’t work for Fairphone, if I had my bachelor in computer science I wouldn’t hesitate for a second, however I’m still studying :smiley:

1 Like

@tin and @Barth I agree with making the software fool proof and we will work hard on maturing the software.

I read through both of you posts and your points are clear on the more negative aspects and strategic level. Seeing both of you have experience in software/beta testing, would you be willing to add what kind of methods/systems/setup you would see in a “perfect BETA test” for a next update? How do you see the practical setup of an extended beta program for Fairphone owners - to help us test new releases?

3 Likes

@Marco I appreciate your comment and the positive way you receive our criticism.

I think that you answer to a certain extent your own question. A good beta test involves end users, if possible well motivated people but that is not a problem in our community. First step would be to open a page where people can register. Once you have a beta ready, contact them with a link install it. I don’t know well the android platform from a developer point of view and thus can’t advise on how to provide this installer only to selected people.

The beta testers should have a way to report via a special way to the developers, and maybe a dedicated (open? not sure) forum.

I hope it can help you.

2 Likes

These are some great ideas and I’m sure the Fairphone will receive them with open arms :slight_smile: Thank you @Barth !

I’d be up for beta testing the next upgrade. I’d have done so already now, if I had known …
Having a “Beta” topic would be nice, and I’d prefer that to having to check yet another information source, yet another forum to register to.

One idea could be to have an option for the updater app to receive beta updates or not, and have it disabled by default. This way the entire roll-out procedure could be checked (including how it is handled by the update app), yet only users who knowingly changed the option would receive the upgrade, while non-testers do not get bothered.

3 Likes

Fast thoughts:

  1. “Perfect” doesn’t exist.
  2. Build a beta tester group and give them the opportunity to install
    all updated OS versions (nightly?) via a “normal” update process -
    same as the release version will have.
  3. Build a bug report platform (Bugzilla eg) where beta testers can
    describe as detailed as possible what they have done and what they got.
  4. Take all these reports in consideration - do not say “its only
    cosmetic” and try to verify the reported bug or problem with your
    phones and development systems.
  5. Try to fix the bug --> new build
  6. On a mailing list all fixed bugs/problems are reported
  7. At the end of this process --> release version

(Sorry, English is not my mothertongue, hope it’s clear enough)

3 Likes

The main homescreen, which comes up, when you push the home button, is always the one in the middle. You can drag your preferred homescreen to the middle, so to have the other screens on both sides of the main screen. Edit: This is being discussed in this topic.

Actually you can have “secret rooms” on the Discourse platform, e.g. a room only visible for the people, which applied for the beta test group.

I moved a post to an existing topic: New launcher is… optimizable (Feedback)

1 Like

I like your idea of having an option in the updater. Also, having a Beta topic in the forum is good for me.

Hi @ all, I too appreciate the idea of beta testing and would join a team of beta testers.

I wonder if anyone has noticed the following:

When you had the version 1.6 on your FF, the automatic update updated to VERSION 1.7 !!!

If you wanted version 1.8, you had to START THIS UPDATE AFTER THE AUTOMATICAL UPDATE TO 1.7 YOURSELF.

I did so, and now I have 1.8. Some things I did not like about the 1.7 Update (which I thought would be the 1.8 Update) are gone now that I have the (real) 1.8 Update.

I will check if I find this observation elsewere in the forum, but I have not found it so far.

Hi all,

Please, let me apologize first: English is not my natural language. For this reason my explanation may sound rude, but it’s not my intention in any way! :smile: Also, it expresses my humble opinion.

I agree with @tin and @Barth, quality assurance is something to take in serious consideration.

Right now I’m working as software quality assurance analyst and developer (when needed), and testing is a crucial part of software development. Having a beta test phase is a very good initiative, but testing process has to begin a lot earlier.

Let’s imagine those scenarios when a beta version is released:

  • The update bicks the Fairphone. And the Fairphone is the only phone the beta tester has.
  • Counting all the beta testers, no one has one of the FP models and/or a FairphoneOS version. Those scenarios won’t be tested.

Also, the testing process would be very random. If there is no strict test plan, there’s no assurance that the testing was deep enough, only the superficial bugs would appear.

Of course, having a quality assurance department with ten people can’t guarantee in any way that the software will be bug free. Also, there is no way to test, for example, bluetooth compatibility with 100% of devices, that’s just impossible. But quality assurance is needed to minimize issues as much as possible, and it needs a great effort and a lot of time.

I checked the team profiles and there’s no software quality assurance role. Fairphone is hiring Android developers, but it’s not the profile they should be looking for (for this matter), as KwameCorp is developing the software (please correct me if I’m wrong). A quality asurance profile is very different from a developer profile.

I don’t know if KwameCorp has testers and QAs in their development process, but even if they do, quality has to be checked deeply from Fairphone.

I hope I explained myself well, and sorry for the novel I just wrote here :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

And let me congratulate Fairphone team, they are doing a great job. Hardware and software development is very, very difficult, and there is quite a long journey ahead.

Cheers!

1 Like