Sunday, January 29, 2012

Issue 1273: the android proxy problem explained to users and developers

Hi guys! 

Have you already set the proxy in your favourite Android device? If you still have some problems, maybe I can give you some help. But first of all let's make the presentations! 
I'm LeChuck, I'm a developer, I love coding and I love Android. I'm not English, and I'm not a great writer, so please be patient. I want to thank the host of this blog to let me introduce you my little project (a Blog and some tools for Android such applications for end users and a library for developers). What's the main purpose of these things? Why did I chose to start this project? Simple! An annoying bug.. Can you believe it? Yes, only one single bug that has a sinister and frightening name:

What does it mean? In few words, that on Android you can't setup an HTTP proxy for Wi-Fi networks. Google partially solved this problem starting from the 3.1 version but our favourite OS still lacks the support for authenticated proxies. 
As you can see from the Current Distribution of platform versions more than 95% of devices lacks of native support for HTTP proxy for Wi-Fi networks.


Why is this bug so annoying? Because, as you will discover reading my blog, it could seems so easy to solve it, but no one ever found a simple solution to do it. A solution that doesn't need to root your new phone, or complicated operations to be executed by a normal user without a background in computer science. If you think that this problem isn't a big deal, here you can find thousands of people that think like me: http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=1273.

At this point one big question can be legitimate, why Google never solve this issue completely? I'll try to involve some developers, talk to some Googlers and also with your help, I hope we can find all together an answer to this question.
As you will discover reading my blog, the lacks of the possibility to set the proxy settings for and Android device can be overcome using some shortcuts. The main problem here is that we (all users!) need to ask to developers to use these settings in our favourite applications. Because what some developers need to understand is that the users want their phone to connect to Internet through their HTTP proxy server in a snap! They want all the applications that they installed on their phone to be able to connect through the proxy server, without setting for each application the proxy settings. They want the applications (or the system) to do the job in a transparent way (and they also don't know what transparency means in computer science!!!). Oh! I was forgetting.. 

The most obvious thing: they don't want to root their phone! 

In fact I would say that more than 75% of the android users still don't know what means rooting a phone. A normal user doesn't want to root his phone. A normal user want his phone to simply work, in any condition, in any place. A normal user sometimes can claim too much from his phone (I'm sorry it still doesn't prepare your favourite flavour of tea), but as a developers we have to work to provide to a normal user an easy and fast way to do everything with his phone. It's our job. It's what we are paid for. So please, stop asking a normal user to root his phone! They don't want to do it. They don't know how to do it. They don't know what means rooting!

So, what can developers do? They can start using the Android Proxy Library I'm working on, using it in their applications to easily support the proxy. 
And what can end users do? Directly ask to the developers to support the proxy settings in their favourite applications!

In the meantime I'm working on an application that will let to overcome the lack of support to authenticated proxies, so stay tuned!

If you are interested you can find more informations here: http://issue1273.blogspot.com/

10 comments:

  1. This is one of the useful and good tips.I like your blog details.This is one of the great post.Nice to read about your blogs.
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    ReplyDelete
  2. solved, install this https://market.android.com/details?id=com.droid.cntlm

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think it is some O.S. version issue that can't handle proxy settings.

    -Reylan | Labor Posters-

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  5. I agree with this blog. I am a "NEWBEE"but everywhere I go it seems like I HAVE to root my phone and although I know what it means I don't have a clue as to why I would want to even do this.I have tried several times and failed but also luckily I haven't bricked my phone but I have added apps and programs I have no use for and will ultimately get me in trouble. I guess the point of this is is for me to thank the people who make it possible for me to do things that I could only dream of when I was hacking away on my C64. Also to wonder why computer companies didn't make life this easy in the first place as to make apps for everything and make them work so seamlessly on almost any device. So again I say thanks to those who make life easy for the majority who want to play on their phone and not work 20hrs a day to play for the remaining 4 and now I don't feel the need to unlock my phone so I have to still be tied to some sort of provider who drains my check each month. When I can do the things for free that I can do now for 50 bucks then bug me about rooting my phone until then gimme more app stores and free downloads.Ciao,Chris Dubois

    ReplyDelete
  6. I agree with this blog. I am a "NEWBEE"but everywhere I go it seems like I HAVE to root my phone and although I know what it means I don't have a clue as to why I would want to even do this.I have tried several times and failed but also luckily I haven't bricked my phone but I have added apps and programs I have no use for and will ultimately get me in trouble. I guess the point of this is is for me to thank the people who make it possible for me to do things that I could only dream of when I was hacking away on my C64. Also to wonder why computer companies didn't make life this easy in the first place as to make apps for everything and make them work so seamlessly on almost any device. So again I say thanks to those who make life easy for the majority who want to play on their phone and not work 20hrs a day to play for the remaining 4 and now I don't feel the need to unlock my phone so I have to still be tied to some sort of provider who drains my check each month. When I can do the things for free that I can do now for 50 bucks then bug me about rooting my phone until then gimme more app stores and free downloads.Ciao,Chris Dubois

    ReplyDelete
  7. You are explanation is amazing and nice to see you and thanks for sharing any more suggestions on Android Apps Development.

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