Posted on March 21st, 2011 in android | 1 Comment »
Update 6/17/2011: I received an email from GoogleCode that nonchalantly mentions that this feature has been added to Honeycomb (3.0). I confirmed that the ticket status is now changed to “released”. While it’s great that this feature is finally here, I wish that they had made more of a public announcement or address as to why it took so long. As of 14 hours ago ticket 1273 is still receiving plenty of comments (400 more since this post was written) and has been starred 3812 times. Google acquired the company that started Android over six years ago and I consider the lack of communication an utter failure.
There’s endless amounts of comparisons between the iPhone and Android phones regarding which is better. While I prefer to stay out of that debate, it can’t be ignored that the Android platform lacks a built-in web proxy—and for over two years running now.
As a mobile web developer, this makes development increasingly hard as embedded web views inside of games and other mobile applications can’t be rerouted to your local machine easily. There’s no immediate way of analyzing or redirecting HTTP requests, using Charles, or other standard ways of debugging. Sure there’s hacks out there to install custom roms, modify the IP tables of your router, or use the Android SDK to modify the phone’s etc host—but none of them work as cleanly and efficiently as a simple option under system settings or at all in cases like my own where we need to redirect production requests to a remote dev server. My company had to actually spend developer time to build a web proxy option inside our Android-port of our iOS game for just this.
Consumers also are affected by this lack of proxy. Many secure corporations and college networks require you to set up a web proxy to access internal resources. View the sea of complaints on the official Android ticket, over 1,300 comments strong and mostly consumers. While 1,300 might not sound like a lot for a platform as far-reaching as Android, that’s only the people savvy enough to know what a bug tracking system is and how to use it.
In short, the Android platform is becoming the new IE for us and consumers. If you use or develop on an Android and would like this missing feature prioritized, please visit this link and star the post. Feel free to leave a comment. Then tweet it up: “Google: please fix Android issue 1273. We need a web proxy! http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=1273″. Feel free to link to this post as well for a quick explanation of the situation.