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Laptops

Motorola backtracks on Android app criticism

Motorola clarifies its view on third-party Android apps and the reasons for poor performance of its tablets.

Third-party Android applications are not solely to blame for poor tablet performance and high return rates. That's Motorola's stance as it seeks to clarify comments made by its CEO last week, Computerworld reports.

Sanjay Jha had suggested that 70 per cent of returns of tablets such as the Xoom were due to problems caused by third-party apps. Motorola spokeswoman Becki Leonard stated: "He did not state that 70 per cent of smart phone returns was due to third-party applications, but that examples of potential contributing factors are battery life, sluggish operation and third-party applications."

We're not quite sure that Motorola has clarified what the main issues with its tablets are. Presumably the majority aren't genuine hardware defects or stupid users cracking the screens and trying to get a refund, which still leaves us with software issues.

Apps that hog a tablet's resources are likely to drain the battery more quickly than well-behaved ones (though trying to watch 8 hours of HD video will kill any unplugged mobile device). Sluggish performance may be caused by multi-tasking too many apps or running bug-laden software.

Motorola's statement suggested that the company "work very closely with developers directly to test applications and optimise applications" but the sheer number of available apps makes it unrealistic to test them all.

We don't know the actual return rate of Motorola's tablets. It's probably somewhere between the Samsung Galaxy Tab's reported 16 per cent US rate and the iPad's 2 per cent. Great though Android is, it's quite a different beast to iOS and we wonder whether most returns are due to mismatched customer expectations. Hackers may bemoan the control Apple maintains over apps and devices, but its devices' ease of use makes them more suitable for the average Joe on the street.

Many people place the blame squarely at Motorola's door, accusing MotoBlur "bloatware" of causing the problems users are encountering. Moto has countered by suggesting that MotoBlur is an essential part of its diagnostic toolset. Some developers believe Google is developing a system that will allow apps to be fine-tuned before being released into the wild.