The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[By Nic Lindh on Sunday, 01 September 2013]

Trouble in Nexus 7 land

Nic encrypts his 2013 Nexus 7 and bad things happen.

I decided to turn on encryption on my 2013 Nexus 7 because why not, right?

Well, here’s why not. (Yes, I know this is a data set of one, but it was frustrating as hell.)

After encrypting the device, it started randomly rebooting itself when sitting all by its lonesome being charged. Usually in the middle of the night.

What makes this extra bad is that when an encrypted Nexus boots, it needs your PIN at the beginning of the boot process—which makes sense, otherwise it couldn’t decrypt the storage. But it’s an impatient little bastard and makes a key click sound (which is a pretty harsh sound on Android) every few seconds until you give it what it wants.

Why are you letting me wait, human? Why are you not servicing your robot overlord?

So my wife and I have been woken up at night several times by the Nexus going clack … pause … clack … pause … clack until I leave the comfort of my bed to enter the PIN.

A device that wakes you up at night for no reason is not your friend.

As a side note, I’ve also seen reports online from people that their Nexii slowed down significantly after encrypting them, but didn’t notice that particular issue. Randomly rebooting while doing nothing is bad enough for me.

Note also that if you’re determined to prove me wrong by encrypting your device and having it not wake you up at night, encryption is not reversible. So if you want to go back to your care-free un-encrypted ways, you have to do a factory reset. Which is a bit annoying.

The good news is that so far, going back to hippie life without encryption has kept the Nexus from robo-rebooting at night.

I think.

I’m not about to grovel through log files to find out if it’s still doing it and I’m just not noticing since it’s not clacking at me whenever it reboots. Sigh.

Which is definitely something to note about the Nexus 7 compared to the iPad: It’s much more unstable. Apps randomly enter a vegetative state for a few seconds every so often, and they crash with a much higher frequency than iOS apps. This includes Google’s own apps like Chrome and the Play Store. It doesn’t happen often enough the device is unusable by any means, but compared to iOS where an app freeze or crash is something of an event, the frequency is a lot higher.

To trot out a tired analogy, using iOS is like driving a Lexus: Smooth, and you can tell people have been obsessing over the details, while using Android is like driving a Chevy: Sure, it’ll get you there, but there’s a funny squeak and something rattles every time you hit a bump.

And don’t even get me started on the fonts. Gods of Cobol, the fonts.

For background on this journey of discovery, read my initial impressions of the 2013 Nexus 7.

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