The problem with Android: The app and hardware ecosystem is a mess

A few weeks ago, someone asked me what I thought of the cheap endoscopes/borescopes that you can get for Android handsets. I had no clue, since I own a stand-alone unit that’s pretty decent.

So, I decided to take a look.

And sure enough, you can pick up something that’s half-decent looking at around the $20 mark. Camera on the end of a wire — sometimes really long wire — with a rather sketchy plug on the end that transforms between USB-A, microUSB, and USB-C.

So, I bought a few.

The “instructions” that come with these things are vague, but most recommend downloading some endoscope app from the Google Play Store.

Must read: I wish my iPhone had this amazing and useful feature

Ugh.

They’re horrible. The recommended app just fired up into a black screen with a few buttons.

Fail.

I tried a few others.

These too didn’t work, but added lots of ads, typos, random user interface elements, and crashes to the mix.

What’s weird also is that some handsets work great with the endoscope/borescope attached without any apps, while others don’t work at all.

It’s all weird.

And this is my experience with Android compared to iPhone. When stuff works, it’s great. But when it doesn’t, short of going to a different handset — I have plenty on the test bench at any one time — there’s little you can go. Add to that poor instruction manuals and abysmal apps, and the ecosystem feels cheap and nasty.

Now maybe it’s my fault for buying a cheap borescope, but the fact that hardware that works on one handset and doesn’t work on another is strange. All my handsets are essentially new and run Android 10.

And the more Android handsets I use, the more I’m finding my experience to be hit or miss. Things work great on one handset, and not on others, and there’s no clear obvious reason why.

Except that the ecosystem is fragmented, and everything has become a race to the bottom in terms of price and quality.

And in case you are wondering, no, this is not limited to just endoscopes. They’re pretty niche. Any time I need to connect a device to my Android, there’s a sinking feeling in my heart. I know that there’s a high probability that I’m going to have a fight on my hands just to get it to work.

Perhaps I should take a look at the Wi-Fi borescopes that claim to work on the iPhone? Because I’ve also come across some terrible hardware and software for that platform, but thankfully it’s not as common. Maybe I’ll have better luck.

Maybe…

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