Kies To The Shitty

Samsung Kies

There can be little doubt that Samsung makes a fine phone. They make a few crappy ones too of course; a friend of mine has the Galaxy Y, which actually hurts slightly to look at. It is fair to say though that with the Galaxy S II, Nexus, and Note, they make three of the best phones you can buy.

But if one thing lets all of them down, it’s Kies. This is the software they provide for connecting their phones to computer, which you’d use for example to transfer music to the phone or photographs from it. Or, to synchronise the contacts on your phone and computer. That’s such a useful function that it’s one of the main reasons I use a smartphone. Having just one version of all your email addresses and phone numbers, kept in sync across all your devices, is heaven compared to the situation a few years ago when I had some addresses in one webmail account, some in another, some on the computer, some phone numbers on the SIM, some in phone memory, some more in another phone’s memory…

These are Android phones of course, so you can just do it the Google way and sync all your contacts with Gmail. Which is fine, but I don’t really want to put all my eggs into Google’s basket. Plus I use other email addresses as well.

So what I do is funnel all my email accounts into Microsoft Outlook. That not only gives me a way to gather all my contacts together, but allows me to read old Gmail and other webmail even when not online. (It’s simple enough to set up, and if you prefer you can use another email client like Thunderbird.) That makes it easy to ensure I don’t have multiple versions of the same contact with slightly different names, defunct numbers and so on. A bit of a pain, but so much better to do now than when you need to call someone. Then it’s usually a simple matter to sync the contacts in your phone with the ones in Outlook.

Unless you’re doing it with Samsung Kies, which takes bloody forever and fails almost incessantly. Time after time, the process would hang at 64% complete. Giving up and unplugging the phone, I find that it got stuck on one contact or another and copied it over and over and over again. Shit.

It can be hard, considering you’re syncing not just Outlook with your phone, but your phone with Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc., to pinpoint exactly where things are going awry. But it seems it came down to a few malformed address book entries knocking Kies for a loop. Things like a hyphen appearing at the start of a name field. I’m sorry Samsung, but that’s ridiculous.

I think I’ve combed these idiosyncrasies out by now (fingers crossed). It actually completes the sync anyway. Right now though it’s using almost half a Gig of memory just to display the contacts on my phone. It took forever to even reach this point, and now they are finally visible my computer is too constipated to let me scroll through them. Oh, and it also cannot transfer my audio and video files because I don’t have a sound card fitted at the moment. I don’t need to play them, or convert them, or run these media files in any way, just copy them from A to B. But because it can find no hardware, Kies won’t even acknowledge their existence.

And it takes forever to load, and it’s confusing to use, and it’s shockingly unresponsive. It is just a breathtakingly badly-designed piece of software. I used to think Nokia’s Ovi Suite was a bit of a mess. Ovi is a futuristic dream compared to this. It’s as if Samsung were so keen to outdo Apple that they even decided to make something more annoying than iTunes.

Samsung make great hardware, and the software actually on the phones seems to be excellent too, but Kies could really undermine your confidence.

I’ll get back to you when I figure out how to live without it.

6 replies on “Kies To The Shitty”

For synching music I just use Windows Media Player. It works way better than Kies. The only problem is that my phone as a memory card and no synch device has managed to figure out that I only want songs in the memory card and not the phone’s memory space. You can select where you want the songs stored but when you come back you have a bunch of them in the wrong place. Since every software behaves this way I stuck to WMP which is way better than Kies.

I never tried using Outlook for synching contacts. Maybe I should but then again I don’t mind the odd discrepancies since outside of work I average maybe a text a week.

A while ago I checked around online to see if Kies was as bad for your phone as it is for my older one. At the time there didn’t seem to be as much vitriol for the newer phones, but that seems to be because they were new. They synch marginally better but nowhere near satisfactory for the price of owning a phone. My personal plight is that Kies will only see the phone once. After that I have to run the Troubleshooter to reinstall the driver if I want to reconnect again. That adds 20-30 minutes to every session.

The one thing I learned about this is that no amount of reviews can prepare you for the full experience. I read a lot before jumping into this phone and was amazed at how an entire circle of hell was kept out of the reviews and ratings I encountered.

I suppose I was forewarned. I remember you were cursing out Kies a while back. (Which phone is it?) But I still wasn’t prepared for its overall levels of profound sadness. It just doesn’t seem like professional work.

Contact synching seems to be OK since I spent several hours weeding the database. About a year ago Ovi used to crash every time I tried to sync my old Symbian phone, and I wonder now if this was also due to the same malformed entries. If so it appears Nokia fixed the software to deal with unexpected field contents, while Samsung hasn’t.

As for syncing audio files, I’m just using Windows Explorer. Draggin’ ’em across. (I actually take the SD card out and plug it into the PC, but I haven’t established yet if that saves any time.) I may try the canonical way again when I fit the soundcard, but there’s really nothing wrong with this.

It is a Galaxy S.

I prefer synching instead of dragging and dropping files. I can drag and drop files but the music player often can’t recognise files imported in this manner. All other applications respond well to drag&drop but the music player won’t index them and/or won’t play them. Synching solves that bug. For files used sparsely, including podcasts, dragging them works fine. Not for one’s music catalogue.

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