March 2024: The update that broke the Pixel’s back5 min read

I have been a Google fan for decades, since Gmail was first released about 20 years ago (April 2004). Still, the March 2024 update to the Pixel line is the final straw that pulled the wool off my eyes and made me realize that Google is not a company worth supporting anymore, and they certainly aren’t a company that cares about their customers. 

This post will likely come off as a hit post, so I want to preface that by explaining my history with Google because I was all in for a time. For several years, I was deep in the Google ecosystem and loved it.

Back in 2004, I got my first Gmail account; it was revolutionary, and more importantly, it set me down the path of Google support. Three years later, the first iPhone would come out, and I wanted it, but as a sophomore in Highschool being able to afford an iPhone was outside the cards for me. However, when the Motorola Droid came out two years later, I was completely on board. I bought a Droid and have used Android ever since. A quick history of my Android usage includes; 

  • Droid
  • Samsung Galaxy S Epic 4G Touch (terrible name)
  • Samsung Tab 7.0 (Their first version of a tablet)
  • Nook Color (with Android ROM)
  • Galaxy S3
  • Sony Xperia Z3
  • Nexus 7 Tablet
  • Galaxy S5
  • LG V10
  • LG G7 ThinQ (also terrible name)
  • Pixel 3A XL
  • Pixel 5
  • Pixel 7 Pro
  • Samsung S24

I’ve used Android exclusively for years; in 2016, I bought the very first Google Home device and still have it today. When my kids were born, I put Chromecasts in every room of my house to save my TV remotes from toddler’s hands. I used Nest cameras and security systems to protect my family, Nest smoke detectors to protect my home, and Nest Thermostat to preserve my energy bill. I connected it all with Google Wi-Fi (which I strongly dislike now). When Google announced Stadia, I replaced all my Chromecasts with Chromecast Ultras. It’s safe to say that I was on board with Google and heavily invested in their ecosystem, but the cracks started to show. 

My first Google Home broke after an update; it updated, restarted, and never turned back on. Google RMAd it for me, so no big worries there. My first big issue came up in October of 2019.

Google pushed a quarterly update that broke mDNS on the access points. Without jumping too far into the tech side of the house, mDNS is incredibly important for Chromecast to work (read my Chromecast VLAN post). This update caused Casting only to work when the phone and Chromecast were on the same access point. However, Google Wi-Fi is a mesh network, so devices roam between APs. This meant that casting suddenly became a frustrating experience because you could never tell when which devices would be available to cast to. Let me sum this up: Google made an update for a hardware product they created, breaking the feature they developed in another product. This would become a recurring theme. Google would fix this issue three months later (2 months after Stadia launched and was crippled by this), but the update that fixed this also broke device prioritization. 

Fast forward several years to 2021, and the news would report that Pixel users were experiencing issues calling 911 on their phones. Google reportedly fixed this issue, but in November 2023, when my house was on fire, neither my Wife’s Pixel 6A nor my 7 Pro could call 911, so I question how fixed this issue is. 

These things annoyed me, but I could handle them when they happened; I could deal with Stadia shutting down because of fractured leadership. I could deal with Google Play music being dissolved and moved into YouTube music in a barely functional state. I could handle the death of Google Podcasts, the poor hardware in Pixels, the heating issues, the Google Wi-Fi update issues, and even the 911 dialing problem. 

The straw finally broke the camel’s back was the March 2024 update and Google’s “non-answer.” 

March 2024 Pixel phones received an update, which caused calls and notifications not to come through. I would be sitting in my office, where I am right now, writing this using Samsung DeX, and would suddenly get a voicemail; no ringing, no notifications, just suddenly a voice mail, followed suddenly by a flood of text messages. This became a more widespread issue and significantly impacted my wife. Her grandmother fell and was rushed to the hospital (ever wonder why my blog posts have been delayed for a while? Life has been busy), but my wife never got the call about it; Google had decided her phone didn’t need to act as a phone. 

We were done; I traded my Pixels in and got S24s, and it’s been great. I finally have a computer again, not a smartphone from the mid-2010s. 

Like I said at the start, this may seem like I’m writing a hit piece, but I’m not. Google’s development quality has dropped, and I’ve watched the steady decline of a once excellent software company. Google treats its customers as beta testers, subjecting us to untested software updates that break the core functions of their hardware. There is no reason Google cannot ensure the hardware and software work flawlessly together; instead, they push updates that aren’t compatible with their hardware. 

Google, I like beta testing, but not on critical core features. I didn’t opt-in to be a beta tester for notifications. I didn’t opt-in to being a beta tester for calling 911. The core functions of a phone should ALWAYS work. If you don’t value your hardware and software enough to quality assurance test it, then neither will I. 

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