UX Fail

by Matt Cholick

A little over an hour ago, I decided to transfer 250 or so mp3s to my phone. I have a really long drive coming up and wanted to load some different music. This seems like the sort of task that should be completely trivial. Plug in the phone and toss on the songs - a 60 second job.

  1. First obstacle: No mass storage mode on the phone. Maybe this is an Android issue or maybe this is a Samsung thing; I just know it's unfortunate. Mass storage mode is a feature that's worked flawlessly on any device & OS combination I've had for years. It's explicitly on my list of requirements when I shop for an mp3 player.
  2. The task still seemed pretty trivial. My choices for transfer were PTP and MTP (or rooting the phone), so I tried both. Nothing happens; the OS just hums along like there's no phone attached.
  3. I searched a bit and tried installing gMTP, a graphical MTP client. Nothing.
  4. I searched a bit more and try install mtp-tools and the mtpfs Linux packages. The mount looked successful and mtp-detect gives back feedback about my device, but trying to navigate down to the mounted phone just results in a hung terminal.
  5. I give up on a physical cord and decide to try Dropbox. Here I discover the Dropbox phone UI doesn't support downloading directories; it can only export individual files.
  6. I found a dedicated tool for downloading Dropbox directories, but decide against granting access for something with such a small install base to my Dropbox account.
  7. I decided to install a SFTP client on my phone to get the files. This is finally successful.

This is the most epic user experience fail I've had in years. I'm sure there's blame on all sides. The lack of mass storage mode on the phone is really unfortunate. The bigger fail in my mind, though, is the OS support. Plugging in my phone should just work. It's late 2012; PTP was introduced in 2005 and MTP is even older.

I'll say this: I really think this is my last Linux desktop. I'm not happy with many of Apple's decisions, but life's just too short for Linux on the desktop.