18
Sep
Jelly-Bean-Logo
Last Updated: January 25th, 2013

In my reviews, I frequently abuse and pick apart TouchWiz, Sense, and MotoBlur. I point out flaws, say "that's stupid," and wonder what the heck was going on when someone approved whatever half-baked change they've come up with. A lot of the UIs shipping on phones today are bad.

But it's not just the 3rd-party skins. Stock Android isn't perfect either, and that's what we're here to talk about today. Jelly Bean has all sorts of confusing user interfaces, weird bugs, things that don't make any sense, and things that desperately need polishing.

I criticize because I care - that goes for Sense, TouchWiz, and MotoBlur too. I want the Android user experience to be good, and this is a big component in making it better - open, honest discussion of what sucks (and, hopefully, receptive developers). If you always think everything is awesome all the time, and that polish, "nit picking," and user experience don't matter, then you turn into desktop Linux. No one wants that.

First though, a few ground rules. I'm not going to talk about just Android. Any reasonably popular Google app is fair game. Gmail, Maps, Voice, Docs, etc. - the big ones that you think about when you think "Android." So let's get to it. Jelly Bean and its assorted Google Apps are going in front of the firing squad. These are the things that are wrong with Android.

I Never Have Any Idea What The Back Button Will Do

Here is a screen cap from Google's official Galaxy Nexus User Guide (PDF), explaining what the Back button is supposed to do:

Capture

So the Back button should open the previous screen. Use of the word "History" makes me think it should work like the back button in your browser. Boy, would that be awesome. There are so many times when that just doesn't happen.

The back button is broken in a million different ways. Here, I'll show you.

Sometimes It Goes To A Screen You’ve Never Been To

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Open an email from the Gmail widget, then hit back. According to the manual, you'll go back to the previous screen, which would be the home screen. You don't. You end up at the beginning of your Gmail inbox. That's not the previous screen; that's a screen I've never been to. That's incredibly unexpected. A second press will take you where the first one should have: the Home screen.

Sometimes It Works The Way It Should

Since we can't believe the user manual, let's be smart users and learn from this interaction: the Back button takes you to the "main page" of an app, then a second back press will get you to where you were - lesson learned.

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Ok, so, with our newfound knowledge that Back actually takes you to the main page of an app, let's take a screenshot! Open your screenshot notification and you'll be viewing it in the Gallery. Now, from here, back should take you to the main screen of the Gallery, right? Gmail took you from a message to the main page, so Gallery should do the same.

Nope! Gallery closes. This time, the back button is working as the manual states, and just takes you to the previous screen. So here are two Google apps that treat the back button completely differently. What is a user supposed to think?

Sometimes It Skips Several Previous Screens Entirely

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We’re going to McDonalds! Screen 1: I’ve searched for it; I’ll click on this MickyD’s to see the info. Screen 2: Ok, looks good, let's get directions. Screen 3: Navigate! Screen 4: No wait! I picked Driving Navigation but I actually need Mass Transit Navigation, let me just hit back and change that (and hit ok on the "are you sure" message). Screen 5: We’re back to… screen 1?!

Yes, here, the back button completely skipped 2 screens of UI for no reason. My search was over, and I just wanted to hit back and change the navigation settings, but the Back button threw me all the way back to my search results. It also zooms out for some reason. This is even more frustrating when you take mass transit, because then the "directions" screen has all sorts of settings. Settings that you had better get right the first time.

Sometimes It Takes You To A Screen You Opened Hours Ago

Things get even murkier when you add 3rd parties into the mix. Before we try this one, open the Play Store, hit menu, go to "My Apps" and pick an app. I'll go with Chrome. Now hit the home button and you're primed for some Back button mayhem:

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Screen 1: OK, so, here's Beautiful Widgets, the #3 paid app in the Play Store, and owner of a "Top Developer" badge. Let's tap it and check it out. Screen 2: Oh, a popup that takes us to the Play Store. Ok, hit "yes." Screen 3: Actually, on second thought, let's hit Back and read that message again...

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Wait. We're looking at Chrome now?!

Remember, Chrome was the last thing we opened in the Play Store, so for this particular quirk, the Back button goes to that. If things followed the user manual and went to the previous screen, we would be looking at the Beautiful Widgets popup. If you've got a lot of RAM and processes never die, looking at Chrome in the Play Store could have happened several hours ago, and you would be thoroughly confused.

This doesn't even go up a level in the Play Store's navigational hierarchy, it just throws you into the Play Store back history (a "Back Stack" in Android developer lingo). Hitting back a second time takes you to "My Apps," and a third Back will load the main screen of the Play Store. Where did Beautiful Widgets go? We are just totally lost now.

Yes, I know this is probably Beautiful Widget's fault, but why is Google letting developers screw with the back stack in the first place? If it is only supposed to "open the previous screen," like the user manual states, why would developers ever need to mess with it? “The back button loads the previous screen” is the only way this button should ever function if you want users to understand it. Have the system keep track of back history and don't ever let anything change it, and you'll have a consistent, understandable button.

Right now, "Back" is a seemingly random command that takes you to something sort-of related to what you've been doing in the past few minutes. You never quite know where it's going to go, or which quirk it's going to exhibit this time. Every single time the back button does something other than load the previous screen, it is incredibly damaging to the user. When you aren't quite sure how a button works, each time is a learning experience, and all it ends up teaching you is that the Back button is a totally unpredictable, inconsistent mess that shouldn't be trusted. I firmly believe that Andy Rubin himself could not reliably predict what the back button will do at any given moment. It's a mess.

Navigation Is Still Gingerbread-Themed

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This is not a "new vs. old" comparison of Google Maps. The left picture is Google Maps 6.11.1, and the right picture is Google Maps 6.11.1. Both of these shots are from the same application running on the same phone. The left shot is the layers menu in regular map mode and the right shot is the layers menu in navigation mode.

Google has just totally forgotten to upgrade Navigation through two versions of Android now. Google Maps is a flagship Android app, and some of it is still Gingerbread-themed. How can you go around tell people to upgrade to Holo (the name for the ICS and above theme) when you don't even do it on all your apps?

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Same thing goes for the menu button; this is an old-school Gingerbread menu. Navigation actually has both Gingerbread and Holo menus. Hitting "More" will bring up the normal layout.

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There is just so much wrong with Navigation's design. Just look at these two pictures, and tell me if the UI matches. Android doesn't used rounded gradients on everything anymore. Things are supposed to be flat and clean looking. Check out how regular Maps, on the right, handles the UI elements. Do that. Flat, semi-transparent backgrounds would look great. These two screens are from the same application - they need to look like it.

See that button in the lower right? That's also not what a menu button looks like anymore. This is trying to emulate the hardware menu button symbol you see on many older devices like the Nexus S, but the vertically-stacked lines were replaced with vertical dots in Ice Cream Sandwich.

The Recent Apps List Gets Confused

Recent Apps can't keep its thumbnails, icons, and apps straight. Sometimes it will say one app, and open another; sometimes it will have the name and icon of one app, and the thumbnail of another. Things can get seriously confusing. Here are some examples. Feel free to follow along.

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Open up any browser, and search for an app, like Angry Birds. Find the Play Store link and open it in the Play Store app (not the browser). You're now looking at Angry Birds in the Play Store. Great.

But now, hit Home and check out your recent apps. You get your browser's name, and your browser's icon, but the Play Store's thumbnail. Here you can see it failing in Chrome and the stock browser, so it's definitely an OS-level bug. I'm pretty sure you can replicate it with any link from any app (Talk, Gmail, Text, etc.).

Ok now, pop quiz: If you tap on one of these hybrid entries, what do you think will open? It says "Chrome," but the thumbnail is of the Play Store. So which is it? It doesn't really matter. It's broken and confusing and should be fixed. For the record though, it's the Play Store. The thumbnail wins.

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Oh, but don't go thinking "The thumbnail is always right" is a rule or anything. Here's a totally different way to break Recent Apps. Find an email with a picture attachment and hit "view," you're now looking at your picture in the Gallery. Hit Home and check out your Recent App entry: It says "Gmail" and has a Gmail thumbnail. So it's going to open Gmail, right? Nope. It opens the Gallery with your image.

This is all especially ridiculous when you see it with the transition animation:

The thumbnail starts as Gmail, begins to expand, and then fades into the Gallery. And no, you weren't seeing things, occasionally (especially with slow animations on) this causes a crazy tear to happen mid-animation, because, understandably, Android has no idea what the heck it should do when this happens. Sometimes System UI will even crash, and the software buttons and status bar will go away completely.

Sure, in this example, Gmail is only a back button press away, but you could go further down the rabbit hole and do things like hit the menu button and start doing image editing, and the thumbnail would still be blissfully unaware that Gmail is now the Gallery. In the Angry Birds example, you navigate all around the Play Store and the Recent Apps listing will never update.

It's never ok to tell the user you're going to do one thing and then, when they tap it, do something else.

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This bug also gets seriously confusing when you do something like open a YouTube link from Google Reader. Say I get interrupted in the middle of my YouTube video and have to jump out. Even though I was using YouTube, there's no YouTube thumbnail in recent apps. Where did my video go?

Icons Will Open The Wrong App

Here's some really basic UI functionality that I can break: I can make an icon open a different app. The most popular apps that do this are Google Maps and Latitude. So, if you'd like to follow along, grab yourself some shortcuts.

Tap on Maps, Maps will open! Great. Now, hit Home and tap on Latitude. Latitude will open. Everything's good so far, hit Home again. Now tab the Maps icon again. You don't get Maps anymore, you get Latitude. You will always get Latitude until you close it. So the Maps icon will open Maps, until you open Latitude, then it will open Latitude. The same trick works with Google+ and G+ Messenger, where the G+ icon will open G+, until you open Messenger, then the G+ icon will open Messenger.

This is incredibly disorienting, especially when, like with the Beautiful Widget/Play Store bug, this could have happened hours ago on a modern, high-RAM device.

There are three Android quirks going on here that make this possible.

1) Android icons work differently than every other icon ever made, in that, if the app is already open, it will switch to it and load the last-used screen instead of opening a new instance and showing you the default opening  screen. Sometimes, there is no difference between opening a running app with an icon and using recent apps.

2) Android presents Maps/Latitude and G+/Messenger as separate apps to the user, when to the system they are the same app.

3) This would all actually be fine if the icons worked the same, but they don't. Latitude will open the existing Maps process and force the display of the Latitude screen, while Maps will open the existing Maps process, but it doesn't force the display of the default Maps screen. So once you open Latitude, Maps opens Latitude. The same goes for G+ and Messenger. Apps like this should really force a consistent opening screen. Recent apps should be for switching to an app and saving the screen state. Icons should always open a certain screen.

No Two Icons Are The Same Size

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If you’ve ever thought two icons looked “weird” next to each other, this is why – icon sizes are all over the place. The tallest, the Google Maps “Local” icon, is 94 pixels high on a Galaxy Nexus, while the shortest, Movie Studio, is 72. A 22 pixel swing is not ok. Local is 30% bigger than Movie Studio!

There isn’t even a single dominant icon size – it’s a pretty even distribution from 72-94 pixels. This is like, interface design 101 stuff. Make everything a consistent size. The varying text heights are from the icons centering themselves, that’s not consistent either.

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This mess of iconography is particularly noticeable in the home screen dock, where things like the above picture are possible. Some icons just don’t “look right” next to each other. These are all stock icons that come with the phone. Heck, the two on the right are from the same app. Yes, Google Maps somehow managed to include both the tallest icon and the second-shortest icon in my survey. Amazing.

You people make Android design guidelines, follow them! Surprisingly, the Android Design Guidelines don’t specify an icon height. They give launcher icon dimensions of 96x96, but then say “You can also include a few pixels of padding in launcher icons to maintain a consistent visual weight with adjacent icons.” Translation: “Eh, whatever, just eyeball it.”

NO! Bad Google.

The Google Voice Icon Makes No Sense

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Speaking of icons, this one kind of makes my head hurt. On the left is the first screen that pops up when you click on Google Voice. It's your text inbox. Voice will also show you missed calls and voicemails (so will the phone app), and the initial setup will hook up your Google Voice phone number, but I think we can all agree that, day to day, this app is used for texting. Right? Good. So then, what the heck is up with the icon?

So tell me, those two icons in the center, if you've never used Android before, do you think you'd be able to guess which one was the phone and which was for text messages? They look like the same thing!

If this is a texting app, why is it called "Voice"? Why is the icon a picture of a phone? This app doesn't make phone calls. I recently switched my Dad over to an Android phone, and I always feel like an idiot when I have to remind him of this: "The texting app is called "Voice." It's got a picture of a phone on it, in a speech bubble."

How is a normal person supposed to keep this straight? I understand why it's called Voice, because I know the history behind the app and I know what the desktop version does, but normal people don't know that, and it's ridiculous to expect them to.

The Play Store Doesn't Remember Your Scroll Location

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Open the Play Store and search for something; I'll go with "Clock Widgets." Scroll down a bit (note the scrollbar location) and pick an app. Now hit Back. You're back to the top of the list. It totally forgot your list position.

Every list in Android remembers your location except for this one - even other Play Store lists.

Google Music Has No Status Bar... In Landscape

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This one makes me rage every. single. day. Why is Google Music a full screen app?! It has no status bar in landscape. Is dealing with a notification while listening to music an unheard of use-case or something? This isn't a video game, sorting through music does not require my full attention. Taking away the status bar in a regular app is completely crippling and makes me never want to open music in landscape.

I use my phone in a car dock (while stopped) all the time. If music is open and you get a notification, you have no easy way of dealing with it. You have to leave the music app just to see what the notification is. This is completely ridiculous. Google Music breaks one of the core UI elements of Android.

Portrait, for some reason, is completely ok with having a status bar. I have no idea what was going on when they decided to do this.

Gallery is the same way. No status bar in landscape. I don't browse through the Gallery that often, but it's not acceptable here, either.

Horizontal Support Sucks

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Landscape mode was introduced pre-Android 0.9, and, something like 10 versions later, it has yet to trickle down to every app. Most notably the launcher, app drawer, dialer and answering a call. Do you have a horizontal car dock or kickstand? Did you want to launch an app or answer a phone call? Good luck with that.

Unmanageable Cloud Storage Pictures In The Gallery

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Google+ Instant Upload, if you don't know, automatically uploads every picture you take to a private Google+ folder. If you use Google+, it makes sharing super easy, and if you don't, it's a free, automatic, unlimited picture backup that you should really take advantage of. When they launched this feature, they decided to sort-of integrate it with the Gallery.

The Gallery displays your instant upload pictures, and that's it. You can't delete them, you can't move them around, you can't edit them or do anything you can with a normal picture. There is only a teeny, tiny Picasa icon denoting this, and I bet no one understands that.

Automatically uploading every picture obviously makes this folder pretty spammy, and just about everyone with an Android phone has asked me "How do I delete pictures from this folder?" The sad answer is "Go find a desktop computer and log into this website," which makes absolutely no sense.

This has the bonus effect of storing picture in two places on your phone, the camera folder and the Instant Upload folder. So for most people, pictures that they think have been deleted aren't deleted. I can just imagine all the panicked, late-night Googling from sexters that suddenly discover their thought-to-be-deleted dirty pictures are permanently stuck on their phone. If you're going to integrate something, Google, go all the way. Don't show people pictures they can't delete.

Instant upload is the most obvious example of this, but it happens to a million other Google services too. Have a Blogger blog? You'll have an untouchable album in the Galley. You also have untouchable albums for G+ Posts, Google Maps Picture uploads, G+ Albums, and Instant upload will spawn a new album every 500 pictures. All in all, I have 15 albums in my Gallery, 3 are from the phone that I can touch, 12 are untouchable, pointless crap.

Small Things That Give Me A Headache

Yes these are small, but when people say things like "iOS is more polished than Android," this is what they are talking about.

Jelly Bean Broke The Menu Button Glow

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Jelly Bean changed the color of the software button glow from blue (in ICS) to white. The problem is, when it came time to do this, they updated the glows for the big buttons and copy/pasted it over the Menu button. This looks terrible. The Menu glow used to be smaller and sensibly sized; now it overlaps the other buttons. This makes my OCD hurt. *twitch*

GTalk Messages Are Buttons That Don't Do Anything

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Every message in Google Talk is a button. They turn blue when you tap on them... and that's it. A tap doesn't actually do anything, and neither does long press. Maybe someday you'll be able to long press and get some options, like copy text, but right now they are just pointless.

This probably happened because Google Talk was obviously a copy of Messaging, and Messaging actually has some long press options.

This Calculator Button Is Broken

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OK - Calculator. Notice the delete button: A nice, uniform size that's in line with the other function buttons. Now, do some math and hit equals, and "DELETE" changes to "CLR."

Two things: 1 - Why is the button bigger now and out of line with everything? "Delete" is 6 characters and "CLR" is only 3. CLR doesn't need a bigger button. And 2 - Why abbreviate "Clear" with "CLR"? "Clear" is 1 character shorter than "Delete" - you could have fit the whole word. Go with all full words or all abbreviations.

Note: This doesn't happen in ICS, it's actually a Jelly Bean regression.

The Uninstall Interface is Half Popup and Half Full Screen

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This cool little popup uninstall interface was added to Jelly Bean, but they only changed half of the uninstall interface. You still get this huge, empty, screen-filling UI during and after the uninstall. On the Nexus 7, you get a little window for both interfaces, and it looks much better.

The On-Screen Button Rotate Animation Is Completely Wrong

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Why do the buttons move during the screen rotation animation?! They don't actually go anywhere! They start at the side, rotate downwards, and are replaced by a second set of buttons.

Go open the camera app and rotate it. The icons rotate on their axis, they don't move out of position because they don't change position. This is misleading, confusing, and it looks broken. The whole black bar should stay and the app area should rotate.

Contact Pictures STILL Look Like Ass

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An old favorite from way back in 2009. Still unfixed. ICS and above is designed for 256x256 contact pictures, which is probably too low of a resolution. Google Contact Sync likes to hand out 96x96 images, which are way too low. Artem admirably tore this issue apart right here, after Google claimed they fixed it.

There Is No Way, Anywhere, To See Your Purchased Apps

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Yeah, so, tell me, what apps do you have purchased in the Play Store? You used to be able to tell, but at some point a Play Store update happened that wiped out that feature, and currently, for months, there has been no way, anywhere, to see what apps you have purchased. Personally, I have no idea what apps are floating out there that I've paid for. It's gotten so bad that people have taken matters into their own hand with things like the Legacy Play Store.

Google Makes A Million Texting Apps

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Google is the Baskin Robbins of texting services. You want to send a text message to a friend? Pick your poison: Messaging, G+ Messenger, Google Talk, or Google Voice. Messaging is for sending carrier text messages, G+ Messenger is for Google+ messages, Talk is Google's multi-platform IM service, and Voice is Google's carrier texting replacement. All of these do basically the same thing with slightly different UIs.

App Navigation Styles Are Diverging

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The picture on the left is the "normal" way to navigate and switch accounts in ICS and above. You tap on the current location (in this case, "Inbox") and a drop-down appears. This style is used in Gmail, Email, Maps, Calendar, Drive, Talk, and Voice. Google+ and YouTube, however, were recently updated with this crazy side-menu thing that pops up when you hit the app back button (the app icon in the top-left).

I like this design, I really do - the problem is that these two apps use roughly the same idea but implement it in totally different ways. YouTube doesn't slide the top action bar over, while G+ does. In Google+, tapping on the icon opens and closes the side bar, while on YouTube, it will only open it. YouTube's side bar can be opened and closed with a swipe gesture, but G+'s can only be closed with a swipe. It's just a mess.

Conclusion

Android still needs a lot of polish. There is hope though, one of the coolest things about Android is the phenomenal rate at which it improves. Just over the course of writing this article, I've had to remove some complaints because they were fixed.

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Google Drive, for example, had an incomprehensible paste icon, and in the latest update, it was revised to a more normal, clipboard-style icon.

Since Matias Duarte took over Android design, consistency and UI issues like this have significantly improved. There's still plenty of work to do, but Android is in good hands. Things are loads better than they were a year ago. Hopefully stuff like this gets fixed, and we all end up with a prettier, more user-friendly, more cohesive Android.

Ah. Well. That was cathartic. You should try it! Let's have a hate-fest in the comments. Tell me, what bothers you about Android?

Update: Matias Duarte commented with the following:

It's true, we still have a lot of work to do. Personally I feel like I've gotten only about a third of the way to where I want to be with regards to consistency, responsiveness, and polish.

Better get back to work!

Ron Amadeo
Ron loves everything related to technology, design, and Google. He always wants to talk about "the big picture" and what's next for Android, and he's not afraid to get knee-deep in an APK for some details. Expect a good eye for detail, lots of research, and some lamenting about how something isn't designed well enough.
  • http://www.gamerjunk.net GamerJunkdotNet

    Really detailed post. I would love to share in your woes over Jelly Bean but I have a Galaxy S2 Epic 4G Touch so I probably will have an iPhone 5 before Jelly Bean comes out for it or some type of value pack.

    • Tomi Golob

      Jesus Christ,just flash it! It's so easy!!

      • FrillArtist

        I know this is an Android site and most of its visitors are at least knowledgeable of tech to some degree but why is it always "just flash it" or "root it"? The average mainstream consumer doesn't even know what rooting is and won't care enough to do it. Unless OEMs address the elephant in the room, more and more people will keep switching because of their bad experience.

      • http://www.gamerjunk.net GamerJunkdotNet

        I shouldn't have to and that is my point. I shouldn't have to settle for a hacked together version.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      At least give it a go - flash CM10 or something similar.

    • http://the-jade-domain.com Jaime J. Denizard

      Jelly Bean is now out for your phone. Enjoy. :)

  • Anand Thakur

    My main beef is the new "app chooser" popup. There are some cases where I still want to freedom to pick which app I want to open a URL. Before, you just tapped on the app. Now I have to tap on the app and then on "only once" every time. It's a small thing but when you encounter this multiple times a day it gets old.

    • Sarah Puls

      I have an issue with that, too. Even worse when I breeze through and tell it to always use a certain app even though I might use something different each time. >_>

      • http://twitter.com/Twitteninja ZZ

        Doesn't the new style make that less likely than the old one? I think thats what it was even designed to prevent.

    • moelsen8

      yes, for some apps i definitely like to be able to choose what i want to open links or whatever with. it's annoying to me too.

      it's a nice feature for the general masses, i bet... unless they choose wrong, then it'll probably frustrate them to all hell to have to figure out how to change the default (i bet they wouldn't even know that it could be changed). there needs to be some kind of default chooser built into android.

      • Elijah Carter

        There actually is..but it's only on HTC devices :( . They have an option called "App Associations," just like in Windows.

    • Mike Larrabee

      Getting into Windows UI, but a default associations setting app (somewhere in Setting) would help a lot here. Don't base it on the extensions of files either, obviously, but on a hierarchy of preferences. For example, videos files would attempt to open in this order: Youtube, Video player, 3rd party video player, etc. Understandably, this isn't really user-friendly, but a lot of Android already isn't.

    • gramps

      Ever tried opening PDF files? I have - and it forces me to choose between Adobe Reader (in my opinion the best and, strangely, lightest PDF reader on Android) and the built in Document Viewer. Every time. Almost. Makes no sense.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=629336906 Andy Glover

        I disable the app that I don't want to use and that problem goes away.

        • gramps

          Gawd, why didn't I think of that?! I did it with the built in keyboard, the stock browser. But nooo, why do that with Document Viewer? That would be stupid.

          Thanks bro.

      • Michael Morris

        Also never had this problem. I may have selected "every time" the first time I opened something with adobe. Adobe reader is really great on phone and even better on N7. Just looked at my N4 and looks liike document view is not even installed.

    • mrsbelpit

      My main problem with that is that it now requires 2 taps. If I tap chrome without making it default, doesn't that automagically mean "just once"?

      • smithers85

        since this has become a problem, i always thought a quick double tap of the selection should be like choosing the "just once" option

        • http://www.facebook.com/magnet.man.54 Magnet Man

          That is precisely what I thought should be the behaviour. It's a simple solution that would work well.

          • Milind

            The old way with the checkbox is more obvious. This is another regression in ICS.

          • http://paleografie.tk/ S.W. Leefers

            In Jelly Bean, you mean—it used to be fine in ICS.

        • http://cassidyjames.com Cassidy James

          It does that, actually. Perhaps that's a 4.2 feature? Works here on my Nexus 4.

    • FrillArtist

      If you don't want to always have to choose then set it to "always". You're just nitpicking.

      • Mark Rietveld

        I don't think it's nitpicking. I do always want to choose. Doing so used to require only one tap, but now it takes two.

      • http://wheeqo.web.id R. Bambang Widiatmoko

        how about three options: Just Once, Always, and Only This Session - well it too long sentence...

        • Mirko Schenk

          That's because there is no "session" in Android, and the selection doesn't effect the current app but the kind of target (like different URLs, file types, etc.).

      • setspeed

        Because sometimes you don't want an app set as default.
        I'm currently liking Chrome as my main browser, but it doesn't do Flash. So I don't want to set it as default because sometimes I'll click a link (like in Facebook, or G+) that I KNOW is going to take me to some Flash content. So at that point I need to have the option offered of which browser, Chrome or stock.
        Another example is when I'm offered a Youtube link - for quite a lot of music and tv video links I get the message "The user has not made this video available on mobile" when using the Youtube app, but it will work fine in the stock browser. As a result, I don't want to be directed to a default app, I want to be able to choose at the time. And I don't want to have to keep making two taps instead of what used to be one, ON EVERY SINGLE CHOICE. It's totally annoying.

    • HenkPoley

      I think they should have used a drag-and-drop interface: move the icon into the "only once" bin you'll get the same interface the next time, move it into the other bin the interface should be gone the next time.

      That way it doesn't feel like having to tell it twice what to do. And they could still support the Jelly Bean two tap UI for the people who don't get it.

    • Raven

      I wholeheartedly agree with this. The old with a check box worked great. I don't know why they had to go and mess that up on JellyBean. I hate that every time that I see it on my Nexus 7.

    • Dwayne

      I was just reading through the comments with no intention of making one of my own even though I agree with so much that has been said, until I got to this issue. It just simply bugs the fire out of me. I think it is because it happens so often. I really wish Google would fix this, and I don't understand what made them change it to begin with. If there was a problem with the old way of doing it, they certainly didn't make it better.

    • Brandon Price

      Google said that this was on purpose. Non-power-users supposedly are put off by the permanence of checking that box, and Google's goal is to make the experience more fluid by making the 'always' option less scary so that box never shows up. I think, though, that the simpler solution would be simply to invert that checkbox's functionality: "Ask me again next time" and have it unchecked by default BUT stay checked for each intent where it pops up once it has been checked by the user.

      • Mirko Schenk

        That "always" option wouldn't be so scary if it wasn't so complicated to remove that default later, and if you had some idea which situations are covered. E.g. if you set the browser as default, you never know which kinds of URLs will now be opened with it.

    • Scotty

      Me too would love to get rid of this .

    • http://ludovicurbain.blogspot.be/ Ludovic Urbain

      I think that wouldn't be a problem if the apps weren't broken. If youtube app behaved exactly like the real youtube, you wouldn't ever want it to open in the browser. Same for maps or media player. If they worked as they should, you wouldn't even need to choose an association to begin with.

  • murr4y

    Google should really take a look at this post. I noticed many of these quirks as well. But the Linux comment.. really? :-P Most environments have a more logical approach than Win7(horrible), just sayin'!

  • Alpha_Axl

    You're holding it wrong...lol

    Kidding aside, great article. Some things I've never even noticed before.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1745689461 Hal Motley

    I have to say Ron it's people like you that will make Key Lime Pie (and future Android versions) better to use.

    I still can't believe though the inconsistancies within Google's own apps, terrible!

  • http://profiles.google.com/pbooker117 Phillip Booker

    Its like you were reading my mind while you wrote this. I cant imagine trading my Nexus 7 for anything but I can attest to each and every one of these issues. Hopefully Google takes notes and releases a few fixes.....SOON!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mitch.zelmanovich Mitchell Zelmanovich

    You forgot the google maps get directions. If you hit the one that comes up next to a search pop up you do not get access to the direction list and will only see the path

  • http://twitter.com/FQdeB Felix

    Have you tried the app Smart Statusbar?
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kiumiu.ca.statusbar.free

    I can't live without it (or in my case with the built in MIUI equivalent)

    I know you say all this because it's in stock Android, but in the meantime, fix it yourself.

    • randomchars

      What does it fix?

      • http://twitter.com/FQdeB Felix

        Why don't you read the description?

        • randomchars

          Why do I have to open a page only to find out that I don't care about the app?

          • Abhijeet Mishra

            "
            Smart Statusbar is the first and only Status bar enabler in full screen app. You can now reveal status bar in any Full screen app with gesture."
            There, I did it for you, now get me that innovative iPhone 5 for free pl0x! :P

  • http://twitter.com/redbullcat Phil Oakley

    Why have Google/the Android team not employed you to fix these issues yet, Ron?

    In all seriousness, I hope Matias Duarte is reading this article. We should probably send it to him on Google+ until he confirms he's read it.

    • Patrick Rochon

      juste did

    • Tomi Golob

      Hah! My thoughts exactly!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Thanks, but I like Ron where he is. :)

      And I'm sure Matias will see the article.

      • http://twitter.com/redbullcat Phil Oakley

        I like Ron where is he is too :)

        Hope he and the rest of the team does. If all these issues are fixed in Key Lime Pie/K____ I'd be extremely happy, as I'd imagine Ron and the rest of AP's readers would be.

  • Cristobal Martinez

    Please send this article to Google :D

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I'm sure they'll see it.

      • John

        Mind giving Ron a hi-5 from all of us next time you see him? Thx

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          You got it.

  • RedPandaAlex

    Another issue with Google+ and YouTube's new side menu is that they haven't come up with a good way to visually communicate what's going on. Google+ uses the same left-facing "up" carrot that every other app uses to get to the app's homescreen. Yet in these apps, it does something totally unexpected. You have no idea how many time's I've pressed G+ icon thinking I needed to go up a level to get to the homescreen.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      Yeah they totally tacked it on to a function that does something else. And who came up with the idea of calling the left facing arrow "Up"?

      • http://twitter.com/Twitteninja ZZ

        IIRC when they were asked that at Google IO, they said in HC it actually did point up but nobody noticed that it was there.

      • http://www.google.com/profiles/MetalMessiah78 José Gómez

        Hi, I don't mean to hijack this comment, but this has already been asked twice and no one has answered it. What app are you using in your notifications, with the slider, Rotate and BT? I've never seen it before. Thanks!

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

          It's part of a rom, AOKP.

          http://AOKP.co

          • http://www.google.com/profiles/MetalMessiah78 José Gómez

            Thanks for the reply Ron, I appreciate it! Great article as always!

  • Mark LaFlamme

    Play Store scroll position! Irritating as hell. This a good list: The Emperor Has No Clothes and all of that. I love Googletopia as much as anyone, but let's face it. A lot of their products in and out of Android have these kinds of UI, navigational flaws. Google Voice is kind of a horror. I don't even like the Gmail interface very much. You learn to live with the shortcomings because, what else are you going to do? Abandon Google?

    • Chris

      Absolutely. I really hate that one. Really annoying when you want to work through the list of updated apps to check out the changelogs.

      What I hate possibly more about the Play Store is that the view refreshes any time a loading event occurs. e.g. Open an app listing, then open the description before everything has finished loading. Once everything *has* loaded, the view will snap back to the top. Same happens if it starts downloading, or finishes downloading, or installing etc..

    • ari_free

      The solution is to identify each and every little problem and tell Duarte about it and he'll be more likely to fix it. He probably already knows because there are lots of other little things from webos that would be nice on Android.

      • Milind

        The mail app and the calendar on WebOS are outstanding!! In fact, I'm surprised that the Fragment Views haven't yet been changed to behave like the collapsible panes of WebOS.

    • http://www.facebook.com/magnet.man.54 Magnet Man

      It would also be really helpful to be able to bookmark play store items for later viewing. It's small, but when you're comparing a bunch of things, it makes a world of difference.

  • Alex Flynn

    You can delete your g+ photos from your gallery by deleting them in the photos section of the g+ app

    • marcusmaximus04

      While helpful, that really just points even more to the UI inconsistencies and issues surrounding that.

  • zarlwilliam

    I came into this article expecting nonsense.. but the article is pretty spot on. Good job.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Ron doesn't mess around.

      • ks

        From the completely screwed up Note 10 review we remember all to well that he certainly doesn't get it each and every time

        • http://www.facebook.com/tylerjehills Tyler James Edward Hills

          Every gripe he had with the Note 10 was dead on from my experience

        • GazaIan

          Completely screwed up the Note review? His review about his experience was spot on, and consistent with even the most biased of tech blogs.

      • Vincent Hon

        Hi, actually apart from Matias Duarte, another googler +Romain Guy gave his comment "Most of your navigation confusion comes from the Android notion of "tasks." For instance, if app A launches an activity of app B (Reader -> YouTube, etc.), that new activity is part of app A's task. Tapping a recents thumbnail or a launcher icon takes you back to the task." Hope this may be helpful.

        • Anthony Kelly

          That's fine but I wish the multitasker presented it as that. Perhaps there should be two names on the multitasker to show that the YouTube instance is in fact running under G+

        • http://twitter.com/arrioch Milos Mirkovic

          Agreed, if you open Play Store via Chrome link, when you get back to Chrome and check recent apps, you can see that Play Store is not even open. But not all apps do that, some treat new apps as tasks, some don't.

        • Matt

          As someone else said, this is a obviously engineer's answer. While technically correct, the end result is still wrong. An apps icon/name/thumbnail should ALWAYS be consistent. Something is wrong if they are not, regardless of any explanation.

        • Chris

          icons should be the same size. it doesnt matter where you tap

    • John

      Got that right. I wish I could send this straight to Google.

    • http://richworks.in Richie

      Ron has an excellent track record of writing amazingly thoughtful articles. How could you have expected nonsense? As soon as I see Ron's name and I know it's going to be worth the read.

    • http://ludovicurbain.blogspot.be/ Ludovic Urbain

      I was actually expecting to see the things I find broken, but none of them were there.

      IMHO, there's far far more.
      why is gmap for mobile WORSE than gmap on the web ?

      why do I have to FORCE using the web for desktop version if I want an app to work ? ditto for youtube, the mobile version lacks most videos it's incredibly hard to run the desktop version on an android mobile.

      Worse, you go to maps, find a nice location, want to set your gps to it ? no way dude that's not possible . Dafuq google ?

      And if you're not disgusted yet, welcome the free apps. They're free, almost worthless, like a flashlight or angry birds AND YOU GET FREE ADVERTISING WITH IT. dafuq again.

      So many more things that are pitiful, it looks like android is a half-baked phone linux written by beginners.

      I mean seriously, how can a google product that has lots of devs working on it still be in the state of a low-quality open source project after so much time ?

      And don't say scale, there is no scale in getting one OS variant (it's still a linux) right with a few icons and a few dozen tools on the level of ultra-basic webapps.

      If I actually cared, I could maybe fix it all, but then I don't have access to that on my own phone AND I'm allergic to java... too bad.

      • randomchars

        So you want us to believe that you alone could fix everything that's wrong with Android, but you can't even put together a comprehensible sentence and you're allergic to a programming language? Seriously I don't see anyone who would believe your story.

        Hey why don't you rewrite Android and all of Google's products in your favorite language? It shouldn't take longer than a week right? You're awesome like that.

        • http://ludovicurbain.blogspot.be/ Ludovic Urbain

          Thanks for explaining your -1, sir random, and please go on commenting on subjects you do not understand, it seems like it's totally worth your time.

          • randomchars

            Why, exactly I don't understand it?

            From your blog: "most android phones today are powerful quad cores"
            Dude you need a reality check.

          • http://ludovicurbain.blogspot.be/ Ludovic Urbain

            The short answer is that you would be unable to write android or google maps for android if you had to, and are thus unable to estimate the time it would take.

          • randomchars

            You're delusional. Or do you have a portfolio of awesomeness that I missed? Thought so.

          • http://ludovicurbain.blogspot.be/ Ludovic Urbain

            Thanks for all the fish.

          • http://ludovicurbain.blogspot.be/ Ludovic Urbain

            Would you count an Intel Pentium Dual Core in "most processors today" ?
            I wouldn't.

      • Realistic

        Thank you for that...it's been a long day and I needed a hearty laugh.

        "If I actually cared, I could maybe fix it all..." <-- Ha! :D

        You win the award for most absurd jibber jabber of 2012!

      • MsErica lee

        Obviously an iSheep troll

    • Chris

      Expect non stock phones are selling real well, mostly because of this problem.

  • http://twitter.com/SLotH13 SLotH

    I don't know if I'm the only one this has happened to (although I've heard of one other case) but the buttery smoothness of my stock JellyBean is gone. All gone for no reason at all.

    Why can't Google put a scroll so that a folder can have more than 16 items? Not exactly rocket science there.

  • RedPandaAlex

    By the way, I don't mind the "back" behavior in the gmail example. I've come to expect that if I go to an item within an app
    from the launcher (rather than from a parallel item or from another app), back will actually take me up, because there's nowhere else to go except home, and if I wanted to go home, I'd have pressed home. It's right next to back.

    But like you said, that's still inconsistent with the screenshot example.

  • marcusmaximus04

    It's funny, as a developer, I'm reading through this and fully understand the reasons for all the unexpected behavior.

    That said, Google Voice DOES make phone calls. A lot of people use it for free texts, but users can also choose to have it intercept outgoing phone calls such that they call using your google voice number.

    • Aaron Berlin

      But if you're using GVoice for all of your calls, you rarely (if ever) actually originate calls through the app.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        Can you even do that? I use GVoice for all my international calls - GVoice intercepts them, but I don't think I can actually call from it.

        • Aaron Berlin

          I think you're right, actually. On a tablet, there's an "initiate call" button, I guess you can only toggle it on and off in the phone app.

        • marcusmaximus04

          I don't believe you can, but you do set up which calls(if any) are intercepted by google voice, along with listening to voicemail, which, in my mind, fully justifies the "Voice" name and the combination phone/texting icon.

        • http://twitter.com/JCLedge Ledge

          You can call out when you have a message open, but you can't pull up a dialer. It just opens the regular phone app and dials the person with that.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      As a developer, I also understand the lifecycle and types of activity, but I also realize that while it's convenient for developers, it does make it a complete clusterfuck sometimes for the users. Hell, even as a developer, I get confused with all the types of flags you can pass to an activity if I don't look at them for a week. It's really tough to get things right sometimes.

      • marcusmaximus04

        True. The back button is one in particular that I think there's just no good option for(well, MAYBE a developer being able to remove it entirely would help... maybe). I'm an independent game developer for android, and I need the back button to load up a menu when you press it. That's not going to a previous screen, the menu likely wasn't up before so in theory, the behavior is broken.

        But it's what users expect to have happen and for practical reasons it's what NEEDS to happen(the possibility of accidentally hitting the back button is too great to have it just completely, immediately exit back to the menu). If the OS enforced back button behavior to make it go to the previous screen, that'd be impossible to accomplish. Moreover, a lot of the time the OS isn't and shouldn't be aware of what the previous screen *was*.

  • Greg Sanders

    Contact pictures for me are just fine.

    +1 anecdote.

  • Mgokeefe

    I always find it irritating that when I'm using voice to dictate a text message or google now, if I accidentally turn the screen too much and force a change from portrait to landscape it'll stop listening and I'll have to re-press the icon. Just annoying.

    • Rick Diaz-Albertini

      This is also a problem when responding to an email. when you change orientation the cursor moves to the address list.

  • strikeir13

    Wow, really great article. Hopefully articles like this make Google remember to fix these things in the next version! That would be awesome but I'm not optimistic. Maybe CyanogenMod will be able to devise fixes for some of these issues!

  • Tommy Thompson

    Google Voice isn't your text inbox, it does display your texts, but it's not the default app for texting. Messaging is....

    • http://twitter.com/A2Eric Eric S

      It is the default text app for me. Why pay for texting when you don't have to.

    • Tomi Golob

      Captain Obvious to the rescue!

  • Abhijeet Mishra

    Great article, touches on some important points. There's a lot of stuff Android needs polish over, and I hope the polish is coming in Key Lime Pie or whatever the next version is.

    My biggest gripes with the Play Store are that it is a very badly optimized app and just doesn't run well on my GNex, and the other is of course the scroll position that resets. How can your most important app be a) poorly optimized b) have such a stupid inconsistency as the scroll position not being remembered?

    And a few things missing from stock Android that really shouldn't be missing:

    1) an inbuilt Notepad app. No, not everyone wants to go to the Play Store to download such a simple app.
    2) the camera app does not have a timer, nor does the GNex have a hardware camera button. So basically, self pics of you must be low-res front cam pics, (full 5MP if you can manage to press that shutter button on the display while phone is facing away from you). These are some of the things these OEM UIs fix, but they love to add this stuff along with heavy bloat, which Motorola is changing thankfully :|
    3) No ability to change SMS center no. in Messaging, must know #*#*4636*#*# to change that.

    Lots of inconsistencies and things missing in stock Android. Seriously hope Google takes a look at these articles. They might have improved the UI a lot since Android 4.0 (I still hate the grey background in the Settings menu etc, that isn't gonna give off a good impression to anyone), but still a lot of work to do.

    Like someone else said though, gotta live with these, because other options are iOS and WP (or Blackberry if you are awesome). No thanks, Android is great :D

    Oh, and YouTube app developers: at least make YouTube remember the position it was on if I pause it, screen turns off and then I turn it on again! I mean, send to background, restart video. Pause video and turn off screen, turn it on and restart video. Really poor.

  • http://twitter.com/mxpwr4 Stan Power

    I can't stand the YouTube app!!!! sometimes it saves my position in a video, but most of the time it puts me back at the beginning! it seems inconsistent and hard to predict. i wish it would save my position in a video even if I reboot my phone half-way through.

    also there is a little blue triangle icon at the top of the youtube app with three waves coming out of the triangle. I still don't know what it does!

    • bevardimusg

      That icon enables/disables bluetooth audio stream. It should only appear when you have a bluetooth device attached, and if you press it, the audio will come out of your phone's speaker even if your bluetooth device is still connected. You'll also notice that button in GMusic (when bluetooth connected). Very handy functionality, actually! I love that button.

      • http://twitter.com/mxpwr4 Stan Power

        thanks! I suspected something bt-related, but couldn't figure it out for sure!

  • Aaron Berlin

    What bugs me about horizontal support (maybe not in the dialer, but everywhere else in the main system) is that it's there! There's just no checkbox to turn it on! Download Ultimate Rotation Control and see what I mean!

  • Sava D.

    and what's wrong with desktop Linux ? O_O

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      Desktop Linux is extraordinarily hard to use and unpolished
      because they never consider the needs of a normal user and react hostily or
      dismissively toward any and all constructive criticism.

      The standard response to everything is "Works for me," or "You don't need that" or "You can do it with a command line." This all leads to an inability to improve, and is the reason why Windows and OS X have more market share.

      And yes, I've used desktop Linux lately. It's not any better.

      • John

        Man, you're on your game today ;)

      • Sava D.

        personally, i don't find it neither hard to use nor unpolished. distributions like Ubuntu or Fedora nowadays are quite visually pleasing and do their job at the same time. but, well, tastes differ.

        i've been using desktop Linux as my OS of choice for last 3-4 years on at least 4 different laptops and never really ran into any serious problems. and, mind you, i'm not a highly paid IT specialist or what. i'm a housewife. in the end, you really can do anything with a command line.. :) but, well, experiences differ too.

        p.s. please note : i'm not a troll. i find your article very interesting and you definitely make a good point. but talking about Linux, we are just not on the same page concerning balance between "the contents and the form", i guess.

        • ChavaM

          It is extremely unpolished.

          • Sava D.

            i beg to differ. but, again, everyone has an opinion.

      • Gamwich

        "Desktop Linux" is a pretty heavy generalization - there are distros that do pay attention to usability. I understand what you mean, though.

        • ari_free

          Every part of the platform needs to focus on usability. Not just the small bits that distros get to work with.

      • http://twitter.com/redbullcat Phil Oakley

        Ubuntu is good. Still has issues with Unity, but it's coming along really well.

      • WestIndiesKING

        Ron please for the love of god at my issue i enter. Its a google now issue with sports teams like the San fran giants and New york giants as an example.

        http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=37408&q=google%20now%20sports&colspec=ID%20Type%20Status%20Owner%20Summary%20Stars

        I will love you for ever PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Lie Ryan

        If you limit yourself to a single desktop environment, Desktop Linux usability is actually pretty good and well polished. Things only go haywire once you're mixing and matching between different DEs or GUI toolkits. For example, Firefox and GIMP uses their own GUI toolkit (XUL and GTK+ respectively), and this means they always look slightly off compared to pure Gnome apps (if your DE is Gnome).

        Then there are the oddballs like Chromium/Chrome or Adobe Reader or Blender, these apps just never fits in, nor do they make an attempt to.

        It's the cost of free choices, there is no "standard" Linux experience, and everyone want to do it their own way.

        Note that this problem is not really unique to Linux; Windows and Mac have it too, although to a much lesser degree since they have a preferred DEs and GUI toolkit.

      • Osvaldo Torrisi

        Regardind Linux I don't agree with you at all ..Linux doesn't have market share because Marketing ,Driver stuff and people like you...sorry.....KDE Desktop is always evolving and introducing user fedbacks, GNOME has evolved to a new user interface and they are taking into account user feedback. your consideration to linux desktop is not fair. How often MS o Apple took into account user request or feedback?....Linux Desktop have not money enough to compete against MS or Apple or even Google and in many instances is more usable and more user friendly.
        Regards

  • D4niel

    Maps and Latitude are the same app. To see this, open maps, tap the navigation dropdown, then tap Latitude. The Latitude icon on the launcher just opens a specific activity in the Maps app.

    The reason you're seeing that result is because pressing a launcher icon to launch an app may re-open an existing instance of the app (just like you would get from the Recent Apps list in this instance) rather than always taking you to the main activity of the app.

    • TimTheK

      Google just "fixed" this problem with an update to maps. Now there is no more "Latitude app" its just part of maps now..... so there is no Latitude icon anymore to cause this confusion. 1 bug down!

  • Billy Porter

    all music on my phone gets added to google music. any mp3 on my phone, even if i don't want it to be seen by google music is added. in order for google music not to show it, I have to delete it off the phone. Which sucks when you keep audio lectures or if you have downloaded an mp3 recording of a voicemail. Google music inconsistently lists the music I have loaded. There is no other app, I more frequently have to go into settings>app to clear data than I do for google music. Still unclear what the music queue in google music is as I can't seem to find it after I've hold-clicked a song. is it like a winamp queue that I can see, or am I just supposed to expect it to play. I would love more features in google music such as sleep timer.

    I get annoyed with how google chrome asks how I'd like to open the url that I clicked in chrome.

  • DarthPugz

    Thank God someone else mentioned the inability to go back to your scroll location in the Play Store app. It drives me *$&*!~ing nuts!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      The silly thing is it's actually pretty trivial to fix. I realize why the Play Store does it, but they can spend a little more effort on making sure the list is up-to-date and still scrolls to the right place without having it rebuilt and the position forgotten.

      To add insult to injury, it's not the full list in the case of All Apps - it loads it in chunks, so you can't scroll in one flick to where you were - you'll still have to load it chunk by chunk.

      • gorkon

        Nevermind that search in the phone's play store SUCKS.

        • Azaraith

          Ironically...

          • DarthPugz

            Exactly what I was thinking! The number 1 search company in the world has one piss poor search for their own app store. No way to sort results, no way to filter results, etc. Fail!

    • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

      ^ this times a million

    • blunden

      I think it gets even worse because of the way they are sorted in that list. It's certainly not just "the ones you have recently installed first". A few months ago I did a wipe and had not noticed that my gapps pack was broken and the automatic redownloading of my apps didn't work. Installing 85 apps manually through that list was painful. It was even worse because some apps were really far down, mixed together with apps like the CM petition app that protested the C&D back in the CM4 days.

  • wolfkabal

    An array that captures all the processed intents sounds like all the back-button would need. If the previous intent is called then that in turn would be the previous action.

  • Karthik Sridhar

    I'm not sure if this is specific to swift text/swype but my main gripe is there is still no autocorrect on searching via chromes omnibox. It makes obvious sense to have autocorrect because most people don't type in urls into their mobile browser

  • Gary D

    I never used google voice for texting (other than to text to myself when debugging something.)
    For me, Google Voice is my universal voicemail box that's not tied to a specific carrier, SIM, etc. In that regard, the icon is fine. I know of others that use GoogleVoice as a way to give out one number and have it ring no matter which phone they are using - or as a way to call OUT with a single number (again - without regard to which phone they are using.)
    It's bad to assume that just because YOU use something in a specific way (and ignore all the other features of it) that everyone else uses it in the same way.

    • myqalan

      Agreed. I only use Google Voice as a way to retrieve my voicemail. The texting feature was only added recently.

      • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

        Same. I didn't know it could be used for texting until I read this. I guess you learn something new every day.

    • http://twitter.com/neurocyclist Sudar P.

      Totally agree. I have a business, and use my google voice number for that purpose. Now, I can call out from my single cell phone, either on my personal or business line. Also, I can give out my business number, and answer calls on my single cell phone.

    • periferral

      agreed. google voice is not a texting app thought it can be used for that. It is a complete phone app (though not a dialer) which includes calling, voicemail and texting.

    • Milind

      I don't understand this. If you are using Google Voice as a universal number that you, how can possibly *not* use it for texting? If you hand out your mobile number and you text from the messaging app, then people will call that number so only your mobile phone is going to ring. The whole point of Google Voice (for *everyone* that I know who use it) is to not ever hand out another number! Even if you are on your desktop, you can respond to an SMS. Google Voice is the only texting app I use.

    • Jaochoui

      I think he just meant the text message section of Google Voice, and not Google Voice as a whole. Or am I mistaken?

  • moelsen8

    i hope you're sending this to some googlers!

    the play store not remembering your scroll position is one of my top complaints. i can't stand it.. compounding the issue is that there is no place to see your purchases, so [before the play legacy store solution came along] you had to use the "all apps" list to go through hundreds or thousands of apps you may have tried once years ago to find them. move from the list and you start again at the top. talk about frustrating.

  • UmangKedia

    One more thing that annoys me. You can insert same apps number of times in the same folder. It doesn't detects duplicates. At least this happens with me on ICS. Maybe someone can confirm whether the bug is there on Jelly Bean or not.

    Atrix 2 with Stock ROM

    • gramps

      Happens on JB as well. Nexus S, stock from Google.

  • Tri Nguyen

    ppl at google whoever in charge for UI and UX need to read this article and make a to-do list

    • Dibyajyoti Mohapatra

      There again, about making a to-do list: Android doesn't sync to gmail "tasks"(to do list). Google calendar on desktop does. I have to install an app for the same!! That annoys me a lot!

  • http://twitter.com/Pascalwb Pascal

    Only think they annoys me is Navigation Is Still Gingerbread-Themed, everything else is nothing big and I am use to it :D

  • tylerwatt12

    one thing that i hate is how the copy paste route is different and doesn't even work on some apps

    • Julio M

      copy paste route??

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      You long-press and select copy or paste - how does it work differently?

      Some apps choose to disable copy/pasting, but that's on them, not Android. Android gives them an option, and for some reason they decide to use it. In fact, Facebook itself had it disabled until a few versions ago, which was super annoying since checkins failed so frequently, and I wanted to just copy my checkin message in case it fails and paste it the 2nd time. They fixed it, thankfully.

  • Matt Tithof

    A small thing that bothers me with Google Now is when swiping away sports scores, 90% of the time it says the message about when this card is going to show again and you have settings or okay. Another bug is I can't delete a team from showing up. Everytime I delete it in the settings part of Google Now, it shows up the next time I open it.

    • Jere

      ^ This. Hate when I have to swipe away a score reminder several times. I dont need to know that my team lost badly over and over again!

  • Romain Guy

    Most of your navigation confusion comes from the Android notion of "tasks." For instance, if app A launches an activity of app B (Reader -> YouTube, etc.), that new activity is part of app A's task. Tapping a recents thumbnail or a launcher icon takes you back to the *task*.

    • http://twitter.com/scottjenson Scott Jenson

      But that isn't *his* confusion, it's Androids. If you show thumbnail of app X, you need to go to app X. If it takes you to a task within app X, that's fine, but then show the thumbnail for that task, not the parent app.

    • Mirko Schenk

      If only that would work as you explain it here. For example, if I open a video from a twitter app, I'd think I'm in some "Twitter usage task". So Twitter shouldn't be in recents, which would be confusing as well. Or maybe "Twitter" with a "YouTube" screenshot to signal that "task"? And when I want to return from that video to the Tweet, I first get the entire history of previously seen videos, then I get to the YouTube start screen, and finally I'm at the Home screen (with JB, ICS finally returned to the Tweet).
      Also, Maps and Latitute aren't the same task. For the user, they're not even the same app.
      Sorry, but this "task" system just doesn't work. It sure is a good basic idea, but use cases are too different and implementations too inconsistent.

  • http://twitter.com/JoshuaBuergel Joshua Buergel

    Many of the issues you bring up here, especially those relating to navigation, have to do with the way the activity stack works for an application. Each time you open up a new activity (basically, a screen), it gets stuck on top of the stack for that application unless the developer does something different. So far, so good. But there are things that can change that: the developer could finish an activity before opening the next one, so if you hit back, it doesn't return to the now-closed activity. If you enter into an application via a widget, the new activity gets stuck on top of the existing activity stack, so when you hit back from there, it goes back to that old activity, rather than the home screen. An application might have an Activity that spawns a second activity right away. Etc. The back button, therefore, is actually this: "go back to the previous activity within the current application, or back to the homescreen if there is none". Once you get that, and realize that application developer can close out activities when transitioning to new ones, most of the behavior you observe here is understandable.

    • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

      Understandable but not excusable. It IS confusing, and users shouldn't need to understand application stacks. They should get consistent behavior out of the box.

  • http://twitter.com/nedlog2000 Jeff Golden

    I could forgive all of these issues if they'd just add pinch zoom in gmail.

    • randomchars

      I don't see why someone downoted this. It's my number one issue. html emails suck in the Gmail app.

    • GazaIan

      THIS. My God I'd leave Gmail in an instant if here were actually an email app that could do better. Gmail is pretty good but the lack of pinch to zoom kills it.

    • http://tasomaniac.com Said Tahsin Dane

      you are absolutely right. I am looking forward to this every update.

    • http://www.facebook.com/aleksandr.popov.313 Aleksandr Popov

      And for GMail to crash less. I was very surprised to see it *silently* crashing.

    • furball

      I made an outlook.com account just to check it out and it was so beautifully simple. Just neat and tidy. Gmail by comparison looks cluttered and messy. I still have to hunt around the UI to find a simple function.

      • Chris

        maybe in the old UI or maybe you just like pretty colors and thats cool. no problem with that. :)

    • http://twitter.com/ralgozino Ramiro Algozino
  • John Keyes

    Amen sir! Now let's all yell at Google until we get a unified messaging app!

  • Matze

    Wow, excellent post. It sums up almost everything that bugs me in Jelly Bean.

  • Kevin

    One thing that annoys me about Android is the mess it makes on your SD card.
    All apps place their data on random places it seems, creating tons of confusing folder in your root of the SD card.

    They really should force apps to structurize that!
    /apps//data

    • marcusmaximus04

      In fairness, the easiest way right now to place things on the sdcard in an app automatically puts it at /sdcard/Android/data/(app package name)/files. The problem is that some apps still use the old method that lets them put it anywhere(note that sometimes this is desireable. For example, you wouldn't want a photo-editing app to place the resulting photo somewhere like /sdcard/Android/data/com.photo.editor/files/photos)

      • Mirko Schenk

        So true. I think there also should be separate permissions. Also, Google didn't really promote the new directory structure, so many developers didn't even notice it. Up to Android 2.3, even Google apps put their data to totally different directories.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      As Marcus said, this is all on developers, but a lot of times it's done for legacy reasons because Android didn't have guidelines of where to put this data for a long time.

      • kkjdroid

        Why not just force it on any app that doesn't manually disable it? Just add some way to say "don't do this" in the apk (for file explorers, etc.) and then tell any app that doesn't set that flag that /sdcard/apps/your_app is /sdcard?

        • randomchars

          Because for some apps it's actually useful to have their data in a top-level directory.

          • Milind

            Like Dropbox - which completely screwed up a superb app by moving the dropbox folder out of the SDcard into internal cache in sdcard/Android/data/com.dropbox.android/files/...

          • http://twitter.com/partha_biswal Partha Biswal

            Agree. Why TF would they do that? Makes looking for a file that you know you have downloaded before so much more difficult.

        • Lie Ryan

          because that will break a countless of existing apps; there are many apps that uses the external storage (e.g. SD card) as a "shared workspace" between multiple unrelated apps (in fact that's the primary purpose of external storage, app-specific data is kept in private internal storage, while shared user data is on public external storage). In other words, a lot of of the data stored in the external storage do not belong to any single apps.

    • randomchars

      This coupled with apps not making use of `.nomedia` is annoying as hell.

      • HenkPoley

        That's supposed to stop the Gallery from indexing it or something?

        • randomchars

          Exactly.

        • jathak

          It makes sense in some cases (for instance, if you need to download some icons to be used within an app but don't want them showing up in the Gallery or you need to download sound clips that you don't want to appear in music players), but it is overused. Google uses them songs downloaded from Play Music which is the reason why I still use Amazon MP3.

    • http://twitter.com/ImSteevin ImSteevin

      And then your nightly of Cyanogen Mod changes the mount points and shit gets even worse

  • http://btwnworlds.tumblr.com/ Lou G

    I can honestly say that I have not noticed these 'problems' on my nexus 7. You would think that someone coming from iOS to Android would notice odd things about Android.

    It is an excellent article, and I will sit here and fret about things I can't control now, just an observation by me.

  • Keith0606

    at first i said to myself when i saw the article... come on I love jelly bean on my nexus 7, then I read your list and most of them I agree with, some don't bother me so much. There is one more though that drives me nuts..

    Please give us a empty trash button on the email application! As of now you have to go into trash and manually click each email and delete it again. Seriously it's been that way since android 2.1 and it drive me nuts!

  • http://www.facebook.com/erodriguez87 Eddie Rodriguez

    Great post! I agree. Some of these things are so brainless that it baffles me they've made it so far... The Picasa/Google +/Gallery sync is currently what hurts me the most. The messaging is bad too. They need to integrate and simplify the services.

  • Bruno Pedro

    awesome article, it's spot on

    things i hate are the mess some apps make of the sd card folder, files everywhere, but my biggest complaint is the gallery, it's just a complete mess!

  • Tomi Golob

    I actually hate with passion how icons are not the same size...many times i wanted to place the icon of Dolphin browser instead of the stock browser but because the icon is so small compared to others it looks aesthetically unpleasing...same goes for G+ icon vs the Messenger icon.
    And that scroll thing...it doesnt remember the last scroll locationin Play Store...that is so extremely aannoying!!!. I also want play store to show me various cathegories in the recent installed apps list...
    And please...make Messenger and Talk interchangaeble. If i send a message in Messenger the other person who doesnt use this fine app wont get a message in Chat even if on Google+ web page!! What the fuck is up with that nonsense??? They get an email instead... i love JB but Google should fix these things asap...and not untill Key Lime Pie,but now!!

  • mauric

    Great article, it nearly made me being disappointed in google. I hope they read it and fix it the next weeks!

  • Jeb Hoge

    Interesting list...a lot of the items are ones I've never noticed and probably still won't, but I do especially see the point about Navigation getting left behind in terms of visual polish and theme.
    I do know this much...my boss (who's a quality assurance/control manager) attended a conference last spring and said she talked with some Google people who basically said they don't have a corporate QA program. I suppose different groups do their own QA their own way (if they do it), but that lack of standardization isn't helping Android.

    • Tomi Golob

      Thats very interesting...makes sense now

      • http://twitter.com/core_form coreform

        Testing runs as a separate entity (in ways) to Google, I doubt they are responsible for all testing so Jeb's silo-ed hypothesis makes a lot of sense. They need rovers/silo-surfers to help align things

  • Chris Guanche

    There are many little things about Android that annoy me, and this article perfectly details all of them. A few things I'd add that also annoy me:

    1. In addition to your comments about Play Music, I'm not a fan overall of the app's design (especially the ugly blue background) and think it needs an overhaul. CM9's Apollo player is a step in the right direction.

    2. The Play Store is woefully outdated. I was hoping for a more substantive redesign when it was rebranded from the Android Market, but alas. There's too much Gingerbread green still hanging around, both in the app and the web version.

    3. Some Google apps like Shopper and Offers have received Holo redesigns, but offer no tablet support and are thus blown up on a tablet.

    4. I don't know if Finance has been abandoned, but it sure looks like it. It's hideously green and in desperate need of Holo-fication.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      I totally agree.

      The Play Store, especially, needs a thorough Duarte-ing, I understand if Music, Shopper, Offers, and Finance are low-priority, but the Play Store is one of the most important apps on Android, and it's currently a hideous mess.

      • Chris Guanche

        Even if Google just copied the Play Store mockup that Liam designed, it'd look immeasurably better than how it does now.

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      And the Play Store needs a lot of optimization and performance improvements. I mean, I have your flagship Android device, your pure stock Android, but your app store app is the slowest app there is on the device. Oh, apart from Play Music, which is also slow, and since it's the damn music app, it should be great instead of what it is right now >.>

      • Chris Guanche

        Play Music is definitely a bit lacking on the feature side. I wish it had podcatching for both the desktop and app versions. I use Google Reader to listen to podcasts on my desktop, but I'd prefer to have Play Music as a unified solution on web and mobile.

        • Abhijeet Mishra

          This is the reason I find it hard to say "get a Nexus or don't get anything" to my "simple-minded" friends, because I know they will come later and say "this stuff didn't work well, or this was missing". Google needs to really improve stock Android in a lot of ways before I go about recommending a Nexus device to everyone. Stock Android is too bare bones to be a compelling experience.

          • Chris Guanche

            For all its faults, I still prefer stock Android over TouchWiz and Sense, both of which have annoyed me on the devices that I've used. All other things being equal, I'd choose a Nexus device to avoid having a skin and to get timely updates. Then again, I suspect that all of us who post here are more advanced users than your "simple-minded" friends, so we can probably deal with these issues without too much complaint.

      • setspeed

        Apart from the Facebook app, you mean...

        • Abhijeet Mishra

          Um, Facebook isn't an official Google app, so it isn't in contention here. :)

          • setspeed

            Fair enough, I misread your comment, didn't realise you were just comparing Google apps :)

          • Abhijeet Mishra

            Hehe, I was wondering for a while why you were mentioning the Facebook app. That app is gonna take quite some time to be smooth and fast :D

  • http://twitter.com/havens1515 Randroid

    Another inconsistency I see among Google's own apps is the location of buttons like "OK" and "Cancel". Sometimes OK is on the right, other times it's on the left. It changes over OS versions too, even in the same app. But yet even though it changes across versions, it's not standardized across apps even after the change.

    Similar gripe... in the Play store, when updating apps, for "downloaded" apps, such as Facebook or Twitter, the buttons are
    "Uninstall" (left) "Upgrade" (right).

    but for "system" apps, such as Google Maps, it's:
    "Upgrade" (left) "Open" (right).

    Why does the "Upgrade" button switch sides because it's a system app and it's not uninstallable? That "Uninstall" button should just become "Open" instead of switching sides as well. And this issue has been around even when it was the "Android Market"... you know, before "Play Store" existed.

  • Tomi Golob

    Let me repeat this: make Messenger and chat/Talk a connected services thing...if i want to use Talk,fine...i wont be able to send pictures and shit. But if i use Messenger,please make it so that the other person gets the message in Talk/Chat! I really hate their messaging fragmentation between two of the basically the same services...i cant wait the day when we can do this

  • http://www.facebook.com/dgemus Don Gemus

    The back button actually makes sense to me that way it works, but the other stuff like the play store annoyances are huge.

    • randomchars

      Wait, it makes sense to you that it does compelty different things in different apps?

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        The Back button is more of an Escape button than Back - it's multi-purposed, and I like how it works most of the time. But there's that 5% where it does something completely unexpected like exit the whole app, and that could ruin the experience until you get the hang of it.

        • randomchars

          Well "ve got the hang of it, but it still makes me want to throw my phone out the windows sometimes.

  • Stephen

    I use Voice as a voicemail client...I have no idea who would use it to text. The icon and name make perfect sense to me.

    • randomchars

      Anyone who doesn't want to pay for texts?

  • Arcest

    These are the things that I can't stand about Android:

    - No full backup feature, similar to iOS using iTunes. At least, I have to root and install ClockWorkMod. ADB backups suck.

    - Similar to previous, the apps settings cloud backup sucks and is not on demand. You must use Titanium Backup over Google Drive or Dropbox or similar.

    - The recent apps list doesn't distinguish between closed or already running apps, normal, superuser or service type.

    - On AOSP (nexus) menu, you can't change applications arrangement. They're arranged alphabetically and there's nothing you can do about it.

    - No feature to to automatically close the active app long pressing back button.

    - Unable to create virtual folders or virtual albums (i.e. a folder that shown at same level pictures from selected folders recursively). Only the Galaxy Note has something similar.

    - Google voice and Google Talk really suck compared to FaceTime.

    - AOSP has bluetooth file sending limited by default. Some Samsung Galaxy come with it unlocked by default. See http://android.stackexchange.com/questions/22422/my-phone-denies-certain-file-types-when-sending-from-pc-via-bluetooth/

    - Flash support on Jelly Bean and up. The HTML5 is very slow, not completely equivalent and even on the iPhone goes much better.

    - AOSP can't add a Google account only via 3G / 4G network for the first time. It requires wifi.

    - Music app automatically assigns random pictures as covers to mp3 files that are accidentally on the same folder.

    - No SMS / MMS cloud backup.

    - Some Android versions add hyphen automatically to phone numbers without my consent.

    - No stock battery percentage

    - On devices with no Mass Storage capabilities for the internal sdcard, can't view full contents on the computer.

    - Youtube app: clicking home button and leaving youtube video paused on the background, when going back starts downloading the video again from the beginning losing already downloaded precious data.

    • randomchars

      "Music app automatically assigns random pictures as covers to mp3 files that are accidentally on the same folder."

      Man organize your music! Seriously, what's up with people and their untidy music collection? Tag it, embed album art, add folder.jpg and everything will work.

      • Arcest

        Suppose I put a mp3 folder on the phone, it has to try to be smarter than me. There's the nomedia app that I run then to hide and such really sucks.

        • randomchars

          That's why I'm telling you to organize your shit man. If it's a mess how do you expect it to figure out what is there? Seriously it takes like a minute per album.

          • Arcest

            Well ok let's leave the music apart. It's not my biggest concern.

    • randomchars

      "No stock battery percentage"

      It would confuse the shit out of most users, when it started jumping up and down after some inactivity.

      • Arcest

        Confuse what, iOS has and not a single one skull complained about that.

        • randomchars

          And does it show increased charge after waking the device?

          • Arcest

            If it happens with the percentage it will happen the same with bar, doesn't it? There's no sense to show the green bar at the middle when is full charged.

          • randomchars

            I'm sorry but I don't understand this.

    • randomchars

      "Flash support on Jelly Bean and up. The HTML5 is very slow, not completely equivalent and even on the iPhone goes much better"

      Which part of HTML5? It's a pretty big spec.

      • Arcest
        • randomchars

          (Facepalm)

          Flash is not the solutuion to that. Facebook doesn't use flash for UI at all. They're migrating to native UI. HTML5 in general is not slow and if you actually read the piece that the facebook employee wrote you would know that he meant parts of it. As I said it's a big spec and even things like the element are part of it. Is rendering that slow? Exactly.

          And this has nothing to do with Android. It's an issue everywhere.

        • ari_free

          Native code will always be faster than html5.

    • ari_free

      "Google voice and Google Talk really suck compared to FaceTime."
      Please try to be more specific. Saying it sucks isn't going to help fix the problem.

      • Arcest

        Video quality, sync and lag issues, etc.

  • toyosi shekoni

    Ron has to be my favorite android blogger. never afraid to criticize google and the OEMS unlike the Google lapdogs over at droidlife & androidcentral

    • http://twitter.com/redbullcat Phil Oakley

      The guys over at Droid-Life definitely criticize Google...they just have a different style of blogging.

      I agree about Android Central though.

    • ari_free

      There are plenty of Apple fans that do but they usually don't offer constructive criticism.

  • Adam Epstein

    Here's a fun one: In the launcher, some apps are abbreviated with an ellipses at the end because there are too many characters to show in the space provided. It's one thing to abbreviate "Google TV Remote" to "Google TV R..", but why does it need to turn "SoundHound" into "SoundHoun.."? How is that ellipses better than showing the d?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      That would piss me off - and in general, Android's handling of ellipsizing has always been pretty broken for developers. I remember having a ton of problems with trying to implement it correctly. Thankfully, in JB at least, there is no ellipsizing in the app drawer and the ellipsizing style on the home screen uses fading instead of "..."

  • master94

    Excellent article. You hit it on the nail. Its sometimes so annoying to use Android because of these little flaws.

  • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

    Great write-up. A lot of these things people can't necessarily put into words or take the time to figure out, but they cause confusion and dissonance to the user that you can't quite put your finger on. I hope some Android devs see this article and take it seriously, if they don't have these things on their short list already...

  • idroid

    thanks you just made me want to go ios.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Oh give me a break. These are minor issues in the grand scheme of things.

  • marcusmaximus04

    Another issue with Google Voice: open it right now and try to delete, say, 20 items in it in a row. The annoying fact that you can't multiselect aside, the items you delete insert themselves back into the list and then delete themselves again seemingly at random.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Actually just did this 20 minutes ago and noticed the same. They reinsert, then disappear a few seconds later. Looks like the app sends off the request and verifies they were deleted on the server, but the process is less than ideal.

  • mr.mister

    thing that I can't stand about android is that beyond stupid, never changing, clock app

  • bevardimusg

    if you have root access on your jelly bean device, use root explorer to navigate to the "build.prop" file in the /system/ folder. add the following line to the end of the file:

    launcher.force_enable_rotation=true
    boom. everything now rotates like you'd want it to (except for certain apps that simply don't accommodate screen rotation, but that's not Jelly Bean's fault).
    WARNING: if you're going to attempt this, make a NANDROID backup first! As you should always do before messing with system files!

    • randomchars

      Now explain this to my mother.

      Yeah thought so too.

      • Abhijeet Mishra

        Well said. Easy for us to think "yeah, there's a solution", but if Android has to be a great experience out of the box, these solutions shouldn't be needed, specially when it's someone like your mother trying to operate the device, haha.

    • bevardimusg

      lol @randomchars:disqus I agree! It should be a standard option in the display settings somewhere. I don't understand why it isn't there. It simply makes no sense to not give users this option. However, at least this method achieves what so many people want, without the use of a third party app. Your mother probably doesn't care enough about her home screen rotation to go through the process of rooting and editing system files, though, so perhaps she'd be happier with an iPhone :D

      • randomchars

        Actually she does. Two days after she got an android phone she asked me how to rotate the home screen because she prefers to use her phone in landscape. :)

        • bevardimusg

          lol your mom sounds like a cool lady. My mom wouldn't even know that screen rotation even exists! This is such a stupid issue, over such a simple thing. For God's sake, Google, add this option in!
          Also, I'm curious: does the iPhone or iPad allow the OPTION of home screen rotation?

  • Sergii Pylypenko

    I'm also missing the option to read user comments in all languages in the Play Store, currently it shows you only comments in the language of your phone interface. Could you please add that request to the article?
    I speak English and Russian, and thanks to my development background, I
    can understand phrases like "does not work", "do not install" and
    "shitty app" in five more languages, and I'm sure there are many people like me around (the great Artem himself for example).

    And other thing - the +1 button, added to the Play Store a year ago, is kind of over-reaching. I understand that Google wants to promote Google+, so it forces people to use it in any way possible. However, people who use Facebook won't be jumping to G+ anymore - everyone who wanted to ditch Facebook already did that. So, Google should show that they are not evil indeed (as they claim), and make those 100 million Android users of Facebook happy, by adding Facebook "Like" button near that +1 button (and also Tweet button, to make it even for every social platform, it also got 50 million Android users). There is just enough empty space in that UI panel in Google Play.

    My third suggestion is to add a tag support, although it might be complicated to understand and implement.
    The "tags" are short user-submitted comments about the app (20-25 characters), and their main feature is that they are searchable.
    The tags are shown in the Search dialog, so you can search for "Platformer game", but exclude games with IAP or advertisements.
    The tag is shown only when several users added it to the particular app, and similar tags are merged into one.
    When user adds a tag, she is given a list of the popular tags to choose from (but she may enter a custom tag of course). One user may add several tags to the app, or may up-vote tags others already added, just like comments (or mark as spam, of course). Also, users should be able to translate tags to their native language, or maybe even add a longer description to each tag, which is shown when you click or long-click the tag.
    Examples are: "Platformer game", "Tower defence", "Running game", "In-app
    purchases", "Forces IAP to play", "Intrusive ads", and, of course,
    "Malware" - everything that cannot fit into the list of categories in
    the Play Store.

    Play Store app list used to remember it's position, they've broke it like a halfyear ago.

  • PhineasJW

    LOVE the critique and *attention to detail*, Ron. Bravo!!

    Hopefully Matias or someone in his group catches a glimpse of your writeup. You probably caught a few things that even he wasn't aware of.

  • Dan

    You, sir, are a giant among men. The headline made me think this could be a freakin' annoying article. The byline made me think it almost certainly wouldn't be. The article itself is fantastic. Thanks for taking the time to actually write articles, not just blurbs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/archercc Ryan Stewart

    If not yet mentioned you can manage your instant upload from the G+ app. Yeah, its annoying that its not in the gallery but its still a way to do it on the mobile phone.

    • mrsbelpit

      Are you saying you can delete the gallery viewer from the app? Or will it delete it from the cloud as well?

      • Lien Wee Hoo

        Go to Settings > Accounts > tap on your google account. You'll have options to unsync instant upload.

        • http://www.facebook.com/archercc Ryan Stewart

          That is only if you want to stop syncing that altogether

      • http://www.facebook.com/archercc Ryan Stewart

        If you go into the G+ app and view photos under the photo you have the delete option. That deletes it everywhere. From +, from Picasa and since your gallery is syncing from Picasa it will remove it from the instant upload or from any of the Picasa galleries there. It clears out the whole cloud of the image that way.

        It, however, will NOT delete it from the local folder, so it would still show up under "Camera." That will only go away when you delete the local copy of the image.

        I agree with the author on the other comment about this subject. Its obvious that the back-end exists to do this so it would be nice if the gallery were updated to include the same functionality.

  • Julio M

    This is like a therapy session, we need to get these things out :D
    A wikipedia article perhaps!?

    Here are just some of my thoughts about these annoyances.

    Maps: I think the navigation app is a standalone app, not tied into Maps, because of the load time it takes once I switch to it from Maps, unlike Latitude which is now just part of Maps, explaining the "broken" button behavior. Latitude is essentially a shortcut to Maps. However when are we getting that Navigation thing revamped??

    Tasks: There is indeed a serious problem with the task manager which sometimes represent the last screenshot of an app or the last app to which the app transitioned to after opening something else. I really hope that there could be some live tiles/thumbnails for that one, thereby showing the actual behavior of the app in the background. 'Sup Google?

    Back Button: Some efforts have been done with this one, especially when a keyboard pops up, but the experience is still not universal for all applications, even the ones by Google. It sometimes even has conflicting behavior with the the top menu's ICS styled back button, that has the icon of the app. Sometimes, the latter will send you to the app view or back to the app that triggered it in the first place.

    Messaging/Voice: I use Voice for texting and calling. In my opinion, the icon which has a speech bubble (messaging) and a phone (calling) is a fair description of the app. And all those application for messages are entirely different to each other. Messaging is for carrier texting, Talk is for Gmail chat and online status, Messenger is for Google plus contacts/circles, and Voice is for google voice texting/calling but it is a close replacement of Messaging.

    For the rest: I wholeheartedly agree! Especially the nightmare that is navigation for installed apps in PlayStore. I always end up going to my laptop browser when it comes to quickly manage my apps, it's that bad. One other unfortunate thing is Google Now popping up when my finger accidentally slides right above those three menu buttons (always happens when watching something full screen). The copy paste menu is confusing too. At least the icon size don't bother me, since they are all have lined up labels, though a sue-able solution would be to put them in boxes.. on second thought not really.

    PS: I wish app info in settings had a shortcut to the app in PlayStore.

  • crankerchick

    I have noticed almost every one of these inconsistencies you mention and they drive me nuts! Your comment, "It makes my OCD hurt" is exactly how I feel! (I'm borrowing that term, by the way). When I point these things out as things that annoy me about Android, my friends tell me I nitpick too much, that I'm never satisfied, and that I should just go to iOS. What is SOOOOO wrong with calling out places where things don't make sense or work right? That's how things GET FIXED. Thank you for writing this!

  • Comboman

    Sorry, Apple has a patent on "all icons the same size".

    • randomchars

      I don't think they do. Might have one for rounded rectangles though.

    • http://www.facebook.com/thelastsaint Fernando Santos

      patent on geometric shapes are stupid, I am gonna patent the round shape and sue every car company because of roundness of tires... stupid

      • http://paleografie.tk/ S.W. Leefers

        Patenting the wheel would be a smart move! Get the right man to be chairman of your (American) jury and ignore prior art, yay!

    • Matthew Fry

      Which doesn't matter since they have a patent on interacting with a screen by touching it... and icons.

  • makapav

    Here are a couple more: 1. When you launch the Google Voice app and click on an entry related to a call (not text message) there is a line which implies 'call contact and the number'. That text box does not expand and instead the second line of text gets partially hidden by the row below. This is major fail.

    2. The Google Talk app does not allow for copying information from the chat messages. Another big fail.

    I personally feel, that employees don't really use Android at Google as much as they should or their dogfooding claim is just lip-service. Most of these things are very obvious. I am willing to bet they also have a useless testing/QA team.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      GTalk lack of copying is very annoying. The fact that it's not a Play store app is equally as annoying. I realize it's used for a lot more than just gTalk, such as push notifications (if you watch logcat, you'll see C2DM messages using the Google Talk framework), but I really want to be able to update GTalk using the Play Store and get more frequent updates.

      • randomchars

        I still remember the old days when I couldn't download anything from the market because Gtalk couldn't login because I had Gmail sync disabled. It was messy as hell.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    This annoys me greatly - some apps, especially ones that have really long lists, have a scroller that you can grab with your finger and drag to quickly navigate the long list. Apps have to explicitly enable it, as far as I can tell, and if they don't, it's a pain in the ass to deal with long lists. That behavior should be on by default, especially now that the ICS scroller thingy is so skinny and compact.

    • Gamwich

      Has to be manually enabled by the devs indeed. I think that one's so rarely used that most people/developers don't even know it exists, although it's actually quite useful...

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      I think that's what is a problem with Android, there's a lot of things left to the developer to enable. I mean, it's nice that you give the dev a choice, but take multitasking for example. You'd think some game devs would have the decency to make their game stay on as a service (or whatever it needs to be to stay on in the background when minimized) so that it doesn't easily get killed (or worse, simply get killed instantly when sent to background). EA is one dev company whose games stay on in memory for a long time and instantly resume, almost never had an EA game shut down in the background).
      On Symbian the OS extended multitasking to each app automatically, on Android from what I gather is that if the app doesn't set the flag to pause and then resume, Android will shut it down.
      So wish I had Symbian-style multitasking on Android, though it was a very non-user friendly implementation in that people would need to kill apps themselves when memory went low >.>

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        Ha, I know of a ton of people who rage every time they see a game run as a service who would disagree with you on that.

        • Abhijeet Mishra

          That's the problem, that's why I preferred Symbian's multitasking, there was no problem of anything closing down on its own. Oh well, gotta live with Android, haha..

    • http://mikelward.com/ Mikel

      Scrolling this page in Browser or Chrome for example. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/geoff.baysinger Geoff Baysinger

    This is exactly what Android's user experience people (assuming they exist) need to convert into a requirements document. Now. For the next release.

  • Gamwich

    The Play Store back button confusion is NOT the fault of Beautiful Widgets - if you hit the home button on your phone, the app that is currently open is just sent into the "background", it's still in memory. So if you "start" it again - out of another app or whatever - it still has the "back button history" from before.
    Just noting since as an Android developer it can get tiresome to be blamed for flaws you can't do anything about ;)

  • Aku

    Good article - I agree with it all. Android really needs to polish up its presentation simply because well defined and consistent products usually sells and Apple is living proof of that. I am an android fan but every apple lover friend of mine says the same thing "the over all experience on apple is simpler and more consistent" and I agree with them on that. But that being said, I love the customization and freedom Android allows. Hopefully they will pick up tips from the article you wrote.

  • http://profiles.google.com/markgoho Mark Goho

    Awesome! Very comprehensive!

  • http://twitter.com/Darkmyth_pt Darkmyth PT

    Great Article one fo the best ever!!!! i have to say im in CM9 but i still have the majority of all this little stabbings

  • MrJigolo

    my main problem are the colors of the status bar. They should make them black to white for the time and green for the battery. Also make the status bar transparent like HTC did.

    • http://www.JWesCampbell.com/ Wes Campbell

      i think that's more of a preference than a problem...

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1559995258 Alec Smith

    I believe you forgot to mention constant force closings.

  • Arcest

    Default Video editor (if existent), nothing to do compared to iMovie.

  • http://twitter.com/WhiteGorillaMan White Gorilla

    Man, what a thorough and detailed review. I definitely noticed some of these myself, and with others you are so spot on, it really makes me frustrated about some of their decisions. I hope Google sees this and corrects all of the imperfections you pointed out with your fine-toothed comb.

    My only disagreement is on Google Voice: I use it as a calling service for all of my international calls and as my voicemail service. It also functions as my "business" line with the free additional phone number that google provided. For me it is not solely a texting app (or even one at all, I use the stock Messaging app), and I'm sure I'm not alone. I 100% agree with you at how confusing all of the messaging services they put together can be (even my techie friends get confused by it).

  • Arcest

    Hardware part: No single manufacturer does it right. Examples:

    - Samsung Galaxy S3 included a Pentile screen that is worse than HTC One X or Galaxy S2.
    - Galaxy Nexus shows colours yellowed.
    - No dedicated camera buttons except for some Xperia.

  • mikeym0p

    I love that most Holo apps have the icon as the back in application heirarchy. It somewhat mitigates the problem because that button is more consistent. I think it happens with the gallery app because when you view the screenshot it opens the gallery viewer as opposed to the picture in the gallery application. Gallery, Music and a few others have this and helps me predict better what the back button will do.

    ... however I completely agree about the market, it behaves very strange sometimes. I am however very glad they almost cured the issue where the update wouldn't show up for apps sometimes.

  • wickets

    thanks....excellent article

  • wajanga

    This should required reading by all engineers on the Android team before the release of Key Pie Lime. Good job Ron!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ShitizGarg Shitiz Garg

    Completely agree on pretty much everything, the recent apps list makes me go nuts, and, hell, I'm so used to the back button screwing up I generally tap it a few extra times and end up screwing it even more.

  • Arcest

    > GTalk Messages Are Buttons That Don't Do Anything

    You are not supposed to copy the message when the other user has selected "do not save conversations" so you can't save them. But you can with external software that implements GTalk.

  • http://visionaforethought.wordpress.com/ Oflife

    As a 20 year veteran software and UX designer (still in the game), I am so happy to see this article because it validates much of what I have been frustrated with about Android.

    The problem is, Google have not employed any TRAINED or EXPERIENCED UX/GUI designers who have either been taught or self taught the fundamentals of UX design and human nature.

    Like any subject, knowledge is power, and Google have throughout their history, and WAVE is an example of this, employed a Fire!, Aim, Ready? approach to what they do.

    Even Apple are not perfect. The single HOME button on iOS devices has it's benefits, but there are times in iOS when the lack of a dedicated BACK button, icon or RIM PlayBook/WebOS like swipe drives one nuts.

    Do you know how produces the most intelligent UX, even if it isn't pretty?

    Nokia with Symbian!

    So many smart features, such as holding down over a calendar day to perform contextual actions on the entry. Or the superb multitasking.

    Google are still a young child and have much to learn before they mature.

    RIM's PlayBook has the best UX of any device I have ever used and if only they could skin Android with it, life would be perfect!

  • Cornholio

    I wish it was as perfect as iOS...

    • ari_free

      ios is skeu-gly

  • mrsbelpit

    Dammit, I cannot unsee the navigation menu thing now. :(

  • Mike Loomis

    I actually didn't know that Google Voice could be used for texting.

  • Sven Enterlein

    I love articles like this. Blindly "liking" something will not help improve it. There are a lot of issues with the Android ecosystem just as there are problems in all of the competitors' OSes. But only if one sees the problems they can be fixed!

  • Ray G.

    You, Sir, are my favorite AP writer. Very, very well put.

  • http://twitter.com/branaja Branimir

    what bugs me most is that app you're currently running is not shown in recent apps and can't be closed immediately, but I have to click home button and so on..
    I'm glad you wrote this article because I'm sure they will read it :)

  • BrianLipp

    Not everyone uses Voice exclusively for texting, since there is a seperate app called MESSAGING. I use it as a VOICEmail service instead of the Verizon or built in voicemail apps. Also, isnt Voice a different PHONE number from your cell provider number that it uses for calls/texting? When you look at it that way its a perfect icon. The phone because you can use it as your main phone number and dialer and voicemail, and the messaging bubble because it can be a messaging app. Im with you on some of your points but that one just seems like whining because the icon isnt styled to your specific use of the app.

  • Mathieu

    I agree with most of these remarks but they mostly apply to Google proprietary apps, not AOSP.

  • peterfares

    Sorry guys but I can't help but notice that Windows Phone doesn't have 95% of these problems. I love my giant screen on my Note but I can't wait for a WP8 - probably ATIV S

    • ericl5112

      Because you couldn't write a similiar article on ANY OS (mobile or otherwise) on or coming to the market? Wrong. WP8 will have it's own problems. WP7 sure did, and yes, I really liked that OS. I used it a lot of a Focus, Focus S, and Titan.

  • Deltaechoe

    And this is why I use custom Roms. especially for the horizontal support

  • gramps

    Read tons and tons of comments, but had to stop. Getting late here. But I just had to add afew things:

    1: Sometimes, I see the unlock-screen in landscape mode, but it changes back after 1/10th of a second. The feature is there, but Google doesn't want us to use it. A user explained how to enable "true landscaping" - but I don't think it is really disabled, since I've seen small signs of it.

    2: You missed the inconsistency between the bright white-and-light-blue People app and the dark Phone app. Not just the colors; the contact image switches from left (Phone) to right (People).

    3: Any app that links to Play Store opens a new instance. An ad for a game inside a game opens Play Store. Download game, launch, not good, exit. I want to start the last game, but reaches Play Store. That is, making sense task-wise or not, broken.

  • Mathieu

    The back button behaviour has changed at Android 4.0 or 4.1 (for many good and bad reasons).

    What I hate the most is when I click on the Action Bar icon and it goes to another app or the launcher.

    Most of these flaws should be fixed by (Google) app developers and they are not inherent from AOSP.
    Of course, app developers need to have a way to understand how it's supposed to work,

  • ericl5112

    You have a lot of good points, but you over simplify some of them.

    "Have the system keep track of back history and don't ever let anything change it, and you'll have a consistent, understandable button."

    You don't want that, not entirely. Close a dialog box? That's now the last screen you were on (They are often done in such a way that they are seen as a normal screen). Back button now opens a dialog box? No, developers need to be able to tag that as not being in the backstack.

    Also, lots of apps use splash screens that load resources then force you to another screen. You want to hit the back key, go back to the splash screen that forces you forward? No.

    Not so simple. Needs fixing, but your solution wouldn't work either as is. A lot of these things are more complicated than they seem at first. They need fixing, no doubt. Just saying, there's stuff behind the scenes that makes fixing *some* of these things non-trivial.

    • Mirko Schenk

      Closing a dialog already removes the dialog from the stack without the developer having any work to do. Google only indroduced stack manipulation to enable that stupid "Screen you've never been to" feature, which even is described as desired behaviour in the UI guidelines. (And started quite some discussion even back then.)
      Also, manipulating the stack trace isn't the same as handling the back button in the app, like it's often done to enable some "in-window history" like recent videos, web sites, directories, etc. or nasty "do you really want to leave?" queries.

      • ericl5112

        In my experience, a lot of dialogs that are more than just text are activities with a dialog theme. These are kept in your back history.

        Also, "screen you've never been to" isn't desired in the guidelines. back button is never supposed to take you were you haven't been. The "up" button in the activity is the only place that should.

  • Ian Kavanagh

    When I saw the title I was really hoping you would include something about the calendar app. Then looking at the url its more of a UI issue than a UX issue. It amazes me how ugly it is and how things look so out of place. The nicest part about it is the settings screens which are only nice because their UI comes from the android core and not the designers of the calendar app. The home screen widget is ok as long as you can resize it and there are no events showing in it. UX in android may be bad but UI is even worse in many stock android apps.

    Out of everything you mentioned the differing app icon sizes is the one that really annoys me and it gets worse when you put widgets beside apps as the widgets don't show any text and they fill more of the area with an image. It just makes your home screen and launcher look all wrong, I normally leave my home screen clean and put my icons on other screens so I don't have to look at them. You have to admit iOS really trumps Android when it comes to launcher icon sizes.

  • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

    >> Google Drive, for example, had an incomprehensible paste icon

    What do you mean? It was clearly an Elmer's Glue.

  • Daz Kuffs

    I hate how I need to reboot my devices before I can use Google Talk. All my contacts show as offline until I reboot. Happens on all my devices.

  • Andy_in_Indy

    The Issue with the back button is in Gingerbread, too. From what I can figure out, there are several separate histories: Once you hit back and go into an app, you have to go through that app's history, rather than a global history. That is why you can back into you browser, and then have to step though all of those pages you looked at two days ago, of when you open an app from the widget, it thinks you were on the home page fro the app (The app was there, it just jumped you to a part of the widget).

    Something that you missed about Landscape mode that makes me nuts is that the Google Apps have their own voice button that disables the voice button on the stock keyboard. When you turn the phone to landscape, the voice button is gone, but you are still locked out of the voice key on your Keyboard. This is most frustrating when your phone is in a car dock!

  • asphantix

    "Contact Pictures STILL Look Like Ass" is somewhat fixed for me. I have a Nexus 7 and a Nexus S and I set the highres profile pictures on my Nexus 7 tablet and almost all got synced to my Nexus S. Anyways, not all were synced and I really don't know why but I had to set some again till they finally got synced, too. It's somewhat broken but I managed to get them synced ... somehow.

  • faceless128

    this article is amazing.

  • Daniel Streit

    Very nicely structured constructive critic:)
    I personally just don´t understand why this Icon height thing is such a big Deal.. Eyeballing their Visiual weight makes Icons, which use similar Colourschemes, much more distinguishable, because they can differ in more ways.. If they all are more consistent regarding size, Eyeballs will need slightly more focus when searching. At least in my humble non-Developer opinion.
    If all are exactly the same size Icons with shape and colour like Flipboard will be more intrusive. All rounded, or not rounded, rectangles look more similar.. and this is a very common shape, in at least my own app drawer.

  • dotaleg

    When I want to download some attachment, I can't see it's full name in potrait, so I rotate to landscape. Then, wtf. Where the attachment? I need to scrool again..it's gone..

  • Zaeem Shahzad

    Oh, Ron! You're absolutely amazing! What a wonderful article! I hope El Goog reads this. They really need to sort themselves out if they want to continue beating Apple (which I sincerely hope they do)!

  • BrianBreniser

    Google does things a certain way. They don't spend millions or billions building an already polished product, they just build something with an idea and a dream. They come out with that dream in stages. It is difficult for normal people to understand why things are constantly changing, or why there are 4 apps that all lead you to maps, or why Google maps is different from Google earth, or why there are 4 messaging apps... But all of this is because Google is playing it by ear, seeing what works, and running with that.

    But with Android on over 50% of smartphones, we need to see some consistencies show up. I think it's time to polish up old apps, make some decisions (and stick with them). Make things easier for normal people to use, and get rid of redundant apps, etc.

    Overall I think this article was spot on, I just hope some changes from Android reflect this.

  • jamaall

    Chrome doesn't remember your location on your last page either! It was frustrating reading this! (Nexus 7).

  • GSAI

    Off topic: what status bar mod is being used? I'd love to have it!

  • jamaall

    You actually can see your purchased apps. Just go to apps, all, and scroll through. It isn't organized at all, but I some apps that I purchased, but weren't installed.

    Oh and something else that pisses me off on android is the tick mark that you use to select a a spot in your text. It takes multiple tries to get your spot. I liked having the arrow keys on swype in ICS. Wish I had them on my N7.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Anucool Anukool Karvir

    I was lost in darkness, I totally could not find my purchased apps. Only thing i saw was a long list of app install history. WTF? Needed to resort to Legacy store.

  • gorkon

    Some of these are pretty nit picky. The back button behavior I get. That should be fixed.

    The plethora of texting apps all have different reasons for existing. The standard messaging app is for SMS or traditional text messaging. Google Talk is IM. Messenger is more like BBM. Voice does texting because Google Voice DOES texting. Even iOS has some different apps that seem to do the same thing.

    Buttons move on rotation because they should. Why? Well if you look the three buttons DO change which way they are pointing once you rotate. You can make the case for the buttons just rotating while staying put but to be honest I don't rotate that much and when I do it's so fast I don't even see it. This is a nit mostly.

    App Navigation its.....valid...but remember these are three different apps and probably done by different teams. I thing Google does need to do a little in house checking at least amongst it's own apps to make sure THEY follow the standard.

    Play Store needs another tab with purchased and another one with your apps that are free.

    Gallery DOES need to be able to delete photos from the Instant Upload folder. You CAN edit pics up there though. Slect the photo and tap the thre dot icon (which should be something else....3 dots? Really?? )

    Landscape support is inconsistent except where it makes sense. The dialer should ALWAYS be portrait.

    A lot of valid points but a lot of nits too. Even with that, I think that 4.1 is great!

  • http://twitter.com/dominiquelemieu dominiquelemieu

    Great article !

  • Paul Fulbright

    "This makes my OCD hurt."

    That pretty well sums this up. BTW, GTalk is not texting, Messenger is for carrier text, GVoice is NOT a text app (YOU may only use it for that but that isn't it's main drive nor is it all plenty of people use it for). So three of the four "texting" apps aren't texting apps, two of them aren't texting AT ALL, and one only offers that as less than half of it's functionality. At which point it probably replaces or integrates with your carrier messaging in which case, just turn the notifications from the one you don't use off.

    Maybe you'd prefer an iPhone, where they configure everything for you.

    • FrillArtist

      I swear. Most of this is just like wtf nitpicking.

    • bigga

      Actually, no matter what skin you put on it, someone else configured it to what they wanted, so unless you're a developer, you're still not getting exactly what they want. Think of iOS as a choice of skin, and some people prefer it to any custom ROMs on Android.

    • Jaochoui

      What I think he meant might be "messaging app", and not texting app. But I suppose one day "texting" will have its meaning broadened to cover other kinds of messaging.

  • DannyBiker

    Could you leave my head please ?

  • UniBroW
    • Matthew Fry

      Yeah. I've seen that, and I'm totally ok with that way of pulling up the notification bar, but it needs to be consistent.

      • UniBroW

        It's consistent with any full screen app, at least one Galaxy S III. You can do it in games, full screen mode on your favorite browser or what have you. Never looked to see if it works on my wife's Nexus. Will check later tonight.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      That's awesome, but it must be a TouchWiz thing. My Nexus won't do it.

      • UniBroW

        Yeah, it's pretty cool being able to pull down the notification bar mid game if I get a notification or just want to check the time without exiting a game

  • Lien Wee Hoo

    You first need to unsync the instant upload, then delete the instant upload folder. This will delete duplicate photos in your mobile, but it still available inside Google+.

  • Ryan

    Am I the only one who is horribly bothered by the volume in landscape? When you turn the galaxy nexus (or any other Android phone) to landscape and press the volume up (which is the left most button) the volume increases and the progress bar slides to the right... if you press voume down, which is the right most button in landscape, the volume is turned down and the progress bar slides to the left... Every time this happens to me it frustrates me more and more.

    • Al McDowall

      Yes, this bothers me sometimes as well, especially since my girlfriend's Acer tablet DOES use the volume control in an orientation-sensitive manner. If you rotate it 90 degrees, and use the volume button, the results will be different (correctly different) each of the four times you do it.

      Sorry, my writing is dreadful this morning. Late night last night and sentence grammar stuff is obviously the casualty.

    • Freak4Dell

      How would you propose to fix that? That's going to happen no matter what, because it's a hardware thing. I guess you could put the volume rocker on the top of the device, so it would be pushed right and left when in portrait, and up and down when in landscape. That's going to hard to do when it comes down to hardware design, though, simply because of how everything fits inside.

      The other option is to just rotate the device the other way. Things are correct then, even if the volume rocker is hard to access.

      I don't think making the hardware button do different things based on the orientation is a good solution, because that is bound to break.

      • Lie Ryan

        some custom ROMs actually implemented exactly that, and while I was a bit surprised when I first used it, orientation-sensitive volume rocker actually makes more sense once you get used to it.

        • Freak4Dell

          Oh, it makes sense, no doubt. I've always been irritated by the naturally opposite way that the volume rocker works in landscape, too. I just feel like making it depend on the orientation gives it another point where something can go wrong. Maybe I just don't trust software, haha.

    • http://www.facebook.com/magnet.man.54 Magnet Man

      I completely agree. This really irked me when I first used my Nexus 7. It seemed counter intuitive that the volume would be backward depending on how I was holding the device, especially since the UI is supposed to react automatically to orientation.

    • setspeed

      Now you have pointed that out to me IT CAN'T BE UNSEEN! Thanks for that!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sander.roelofs.nl Sander Roelofs

    No word prediction while searching from the search bar..

  • MoogleStiltzkin

    most of it makes sense and is even indepth, but i somewhat disagree with what you said concerning horizontal support especially for the phone conversation....

    think about it, if your talking to someone, who the heck holds their phone horizontally ? thus why would there need to be a horizontal mode then ?

    Not everything needs horizontal, nor should we make the argument everything ought to have horizontal support simply for the sake of it.

    in regards to desktop showing the app list, for me personally i am perfectly fine with just vertical as i can flip between pages to browse apps just fine. whether the apps are shown vertical or horizontal they will still occupy the same amount of space wouldn't it ? so then what is the point of it ? just because you make it show horizontal doesn't mean you get more apps to show ....

    the only time i go horizontal is when i watch movies, or browse websites occasionally. I prefer typing in vertical mode. horizontal keyboard is just too impractical most probably because 1 handed typing in horizontal is mission impossible.

    • Matthew Fry

      if you have a car dock and it is oriented sideways it should show a phone screen right side up. It does with slider keyboards so it should work by default.

    • Matthew Fry

      A good middle ground would be a way to lock orientation on an app by app basis.

      • MoogleStiltzkin

        i saw pandroid rom is revolving around the idea of turning the S3 into a tablet mode :X

  • xliquidaznx .

    You forgot to mention how, when updating apps in the Play Store, the default screen on the right panel is security permissions, not "What's New." I think that as a manual updater myself, I want to see what the updates are instantly. I don't want to have to select an app and then go *into* the app to read about those updates. Too many steps for something that could be easy.

    Additionally, If there's only a single update available, why do I have to click on that app and select update? The same "update all" button that pops up for multiple updates should be there all the same even if it's for a single app.

    Lastly, for manual updates that require permissions changes, the right-hand panel for those apps should display information pertaining to both "What's New" and what permissions have change.

    • White Pawn

      Actually, when there is a single app to update, not only do you have to first go into the app to tap on the 'update' button, you then also have to 'accept' the terms. However, when you are updating multiple apps, there is no need to accept any terms for any of those!

      • xliquidaznx .

        Excellent point!

    • http://www.facebook.com/thelastsaint Fernando Santos

      and another thing, there are apps I dont wanna upgrade bc features that nerf them, like games, we should be able to select which apps we want to update and the hit a button that says: "update selected" =)

      • xliquidaznx .

        Precisely. If it nerfs an app, there should be an option to "Uninstall update" like some *other* apps have (that you can't install for devices that have bloatware).

  • BigMixxx

    Yup, good read, I thought it was just me on the app store thing. Pissess me off. But I'll deal. Works better on a tablet. Nova launcher solved a lot of the uninstall things. press, click, done.

  • Matthew Fry

    I would like to say, as most everyone is, that this is very awesome Ron. It is human nature to become accustomed to the way things are, regardless of whether they make sense or not. While I assuredly have encountered every one of these issues on my many Android devices, I couldn't have enumerated them at gunpoint and I think that is the very reason they remain unfixed across multiple versions. High five for taking a very objective view and tearing apart the inconsistencies. If Google hasn't fixed these within the month, (except for that damn play store thing- we've complained about that for at least 3 months and they apparently don't care) I'd be surprised.

  • Dillon B

    It annoys me where you search for a location in maps then hit navigate to it, it opens it up in navigation, but upon leaving the app and coming back later the destination is not saved as a location recently navigated to, so if you want to navigate to it again you have to look up the locations information again.

  • White Pawn

    Excellent article. I am sure there are many more (possibly less significant) inconsistencies that didn't make it here, and hope fixing all is ongoing. However, I just wanted to point to a few listed here, that I do not completely agree with.

    1. Messaging apps. Just as some comments already point out, each of these apps has a different purpose, and uses it's own unique medium. Of course, if there world were ideal, this would really be a mess. But given what we have outside of the Android world, I believe we need all of those apps. Although, I do agree that at some point in the future GTalk and G+ Messenger may get merged (thus also merging video chat on GTalk with Hangouts).

    2. I am not sure I understood the Google Play's missing purchased apps issue. I believe you can find all apps you have ever installed using a particular Google Accounts right in the screenshot you have posted. They should be alphabetically ordered though. Did I miss something?

  • http://twitter.com/physicalist09 Physicalist

    A lot of these issues have NOTHING to do with stock Android. Maps? Voice?
    The real issues (there are some!) are buried in a see of nitpicks or personal preferences that are mistaken as real issues.

  • http://www.facebook.com/YAYSAVERGN Eric James Salcido

    I can live with everything else, but please, give me back the Data/Wifi Sound and battery percentage on the pulldown. It literally gets in the way now, giving you less information than you had before.

  • http://twitter.com/Codexx Cody Curry

    I have on disagreement, but it comes down more to personal taste. I prefer the dropdown style to the navigation sidebar. It takes up more space, doesn't look very "Android", and isn't all that useful. I'd rather just switch views with a dropdown.

    For all its flaws with its spin-offs, the baseline Maps app gets Android styling nearly perfect.

  • http://profiles.google.com/andreas.ostrin Andreas Östrin

    I can add another one about Play store: the inability to remove "once-installed-but-then-not-wanted-anymore" apps from your list of "installed apps" is... quite irritating.

    • Jose Caballero

      This!!

  • Nathan Bent

    This is a great article, great points, most of which I only noticed after reading this article. I love Android, and cleaning up the smaller parts of the interface would really be a welcome part of Key Lime Pie

  • TiTaN

    The Google Voice app can place calls, as well as send texts, thus the combined logo. It is intentional.

  • http://www.kovdev.com/ koveleski

    Just a note, you claimed that the Navigation app had both Gingerbread and Holo menu systems. However, the "more" menu has always looked that way. If anything the Holo menu, when it's not attached to the AB, is borrowed from that Gingerbread appearance. And actually, even as far back as Froyo, the "more" menu had that streamlined appearance that you are attributing to Holo.

  • grellanl

    And why the hell does GMail on the web use a different icon for 'archive' to the GMail app on Android? That one always grinds my gears.

  • Davelemas

    Can't believe I'm joining in... but I hate that Google maps seems to have eradicated the onscreen zoom in/out +/- now you need two hands or your device docked to pinch zoom out. Double tap to zoom in with one digit, easy... where's my - gone to tap my way back out. Aggghhh!!!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      From Maps: Settings -> Display -> Zoom Buttons

  • crankerchick

    Someone pointed out that Android lacks a "Notes" app and I will add, why oh why doesn't Android have suitable "Tasks" application as well? I mean, they HAVE tasks integration with gmail on a desktop (albeit basic) yet they have NO solution on the mobile device and apparently have YET to produce the API for developers to easily interact to sync with tasks on the desktop gmail. I know this is probably minor to most, and even to me, but it is annoying. There are options in the Market like Astrid, gTasks, etc and they are all good but none of them give me what I need which is simple integration of tasks and notes lists across my mobile, tablet, and laptop without me having to go a web page. Apple doesn't do this "well" yet, but they do it with the "Notes" and "Reminders" apps along with iCloud. I don't use Google Tasks at all because it is useless to me if it is only natively supported in the browser from a desktop or laptop.

  • crankerchick

    Another peeve, since we are being allowed to rant. Why are we on Jelly Bean at this point and there is still no percentage for the battery life in the notification bar?

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.duhart.v John Du Hart

    Here's the change that broke calculator:
    https://github.com/android/platform_packages_apps_calculator/commit/3f892cca0a6f647b879e1f4998207a1e7ef4bc5a

    I'm not sure why they chose to use different minWidths there, I'll dig more into it an maybe submit a patch.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      That's awesome. Thanks!

    • JohanS

      I guess that there are longer strings for other languages which they perhaps took into account when enlarging that button. That the label is "clr" in english is only half the story.

  • Blake Forehand

    Wow. I never have disagreed with one of your articles, but wow. I know that for some reason people like to claim they have OCD, but I actually have it and I kinda feel like telling you to get over it in some places. I do agree with you on some points (icons, calc, back button) but others are just petty. You do know that Google Voice does make phone calls right? And collects voicemail? Making an icon that is a mix between a dialer and an inbox perfectly legitimate.

    I had a few more points but I read this article in three different sessions so I forgot the rest, and don't care enough to re-read I guess. But I do have one last thing to mention. It looks like you are running Cyanogenmod correct? Since you are on Verizon, you are either running CM10 or a test VZW build. Do you really think you are qualified to report on something so late in the build process at UI finishing touches? It sounds like you have a Nexus 7, which would be the best thing at your disposal to base this article off of, especially because even if you are somehow running a final VZW build it isn't going to be pure Google. VZW got their hands in there a bit.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      I was aware that a ROM could mess something up while writing this. I tested everything on my Verizon Galaxy Nexus running a port of the GSM build AND AOKP JB Build 1. I also tested everything on my friend's bone stock Nexus 7 and provided instructions for just about everything so you can follow along at home and double check. All of these bugs are real, reproducible on any stock device, and Google's fault. Verizon didn't touch the Nexus UI.

      • Blake Forehand

        I never thought I would hear you say that last sentence :D.

        Well there you go, good on you for doing your research.

  • Knlegend1

    I STRONGLY disagree with the back button. I think it works fine. Pop ups are pop ups, if you by pass them you shouldn't be able to go back to a pop up. I agree in that it would be nice to go back to it, but that defeats the purpose of a pop up. Its a quick action icon always have been. Everything else like recent apps I don't even know why you use it. Now as far as it working like settings button in the navigation is terrible. That's something that can't be over looked.

  • FrillArtist

    Most of these are just so pointless and minute. Then again, you said you have OCD so there...

  • Nex-Unit-Xyber

    Well my only complaint is the screenshot procedure that was incorporated as of ICS. Hold the Volume - and the power button. WTF? Who would have ever figured that out without reading it somewhere. I like it how on AOSP builds you hold the power button and select screenshot. Also They need to add toggle control on the notification bar like touchwiz, all that extra space for nothing!

    • Freak4Dell

      Well, the process is similar on the iPhone. It's some sort of combination of buttons there, too. Personally, I would never think to hold down the power button to do a screenshot, either. I don't think there's any way to make the screenshot feature really obvious other than to give it a dedicated button or something. Most people don't take screenshots, so it's not something that has to be really obvious.

  • DudeO

    Mind-blowing. I love Android but the things you mentioned are so obvious that it annoys me how Google hasn't done anything about them.

  • roman129

    I have another complaint.
    The on-screen buttons move to the bottom of the display on the Nexus 7 in landscape mode. This makes landscape browsing extremely cramped. In Chrome I can see more page content on my Galaxy Nexus than on the Nexus 7.

    The onscreen buttons panel needs to remain fixed to the short side of the display. (Just like it works on the Gnex) Because using 81920 pixels to display three buttons is retarded.

  • Gagan Gupta

    I find the volume widget, that appears when you press physical volume button, very annoying. When watching Youtube/Netflix in fullscreen mode it blocks the video. Either I have to wait 5 seconds or tap on the screen twice to dismiss it. Will prefer a less intrusive volume indicator (smaller in size and on the side). Don't understand why it has to be right in the center and why doesn't it auto-dismiss sooner.

  • Kevin Hamilton

    The clock app pisses me off. When I want to set my alarm from a locked phone, I have to put in my pin, (required by my exchange policy) open the clock app, hit the little alarm icon, put in my pin again, edit the alarm, go back, and put in my pin again to do anything else on the phone.

    What the fuck Google?

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