26
Oct
Screenshot_2012-10-26-17-19-51

After BriefMobile leaked what appear to be the first shots of a near-production-build of Android 4.2 running on a Samsung Nexus 10 tablet this morning, the response from many people has been absolutely vicious: the new UI looks like a giant phone, it doesn't look it's meant for a tablet, the pull-down notification bar doesn't make sense, the centered navigation buttons are going to be harder to reach, etc.

I think, though, that this is reactionary. It's kind of what I expected, honestly. Not the reaction, but the look - because Google never really said whether or not they were keeping the old tablet UI, which inherently put its future in peril. I guess I sort of expected the reaction, too. Android fans have made a talking point of the fact that the iPad's UI is "just a giant iPhone" because of its inefficient use of screen real estate and near exact resemblance to iOS on the iPhone.

And Google (indirectly) pulled that rug out from everyone today (or will, come Monday) with the Nexus 10 leak.

Let's just look at it, side by side with the Nexus 7's portrait mode.

Screenshot_2012-10-26-17-19-51 homescreen

First impression? It's a really fat Nexus 7. And I'm pretty sure that's all Google wants it to be. There are very good reasons for this.

Uniting the platform

When Google unveiled the Nexus 7 and Jelly Bean at I/O earlier this year, the response of many enthusiasts to the new "tablet UI" on the smaller N7 was "uhh, this looks like a big phone." Even I, at first blush, wasn't too hot on the use of the notification bar. Then again, I didn't really know any better at the time.

Having used my Nexus 7 for around 3 months now, I'm completely sold on this new layout. The notification bar is one of Android's greatest strengths. The control / notification panel of Honeycomb/ICS tablets was interesting, but it took away a defining feature of Android. In the new large format landscape mode of Android 4.2, the notification tray has been pushed to the right edge of the display, for easier access.

quick-settings1-620x3871

Woo quick controls!

As Liam very correctly pointed out on Google+, what Google has done is taken the "four corners" approach of the Honeycomb / ICS tablet UI, stabbed it in a dark alley, and replaced it with the new tablet UI that has just two primary interaction areas: the top right, and the lower center.

compare

Again, credit to Liam for pointing this out. It's very clear what Google is doing - keeping users' attention on two general parts of the homescreen UI. The search / voice / notification area, and the app drawer / nav button area. Just like a modern Android phone. It makes sense - the experience across all [stock-ish] devices is now extremely consistent.

Sort of like... Apple. Yep. Google is doing, in a way, what Apple did with the iPad: making it feel like a bigger version of a phone. And some people will hate that, but I think by and large, everyday consumers will appreciate it. If you have an Android phone, going to this UI on an Android tablet will give you that "it just works" sort of feeling. At least more so than the previous UI did.

And even if you do hate this new approach, in reality, that doesn't really matter. It's not the underlying UI of a tablet that's the biggest barrier to usability: it's the apps that are designed to work with it. Right now, Android is still lacking in that department. But by moving to a consistent UI across multiple hardware form factors, at least it's more likely normal consumers will be able to pick up an Android tablet and go, "Oh, I recognize this." And that's a good thing, even if you don't have your quick toggles and super-sized clock in the lower right-hand corner. Of course, if you really do want those things, XDA is just a click away, and I'm sure there will be plenty of community support for such features.

But for everybody else, and Android at large, this probably is a good thing. Love it or hate it, this is the direction Google is taking Android, and I, for one, am happy to see them adopt this unified philosophy. So what if it doesn't feel "tablet optimized?" I'm using a tablet because I want to see more content than I do on my phone, largely doing the same activities I would there - not because I want "efficient use of homescreen real estate."

So I say: you go, Google.

Now, start bribing those developers to make tablet apps, because seriously, we need more of those.

David Ruddock
David's phone is an HTC One. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, imparting a legal perspective on tech news, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • NeedName

    BAD! Very bad!

    • http://photo.katzmatt.com Matt Katzenberger

      I agree with you on this one. This approach is all wrong for 10inch tablets (hell, I still think it's wrong for the 7 inchers), but judging by your downvotes I'm going to guess that the Android fanboys (I identify myself as one typically) are ready to swallow whatever google cooks up.

  • Skitshin

    You're wrong, it sucks.

    • http://photo.katzmatt.com Matt Katzenberger

      It's a pretty terrible design decision...

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

    I don't mind the unified look. Apple's just looks ugly. Google on the other hand is a unified way of making sense. You go from phone to tablet then there's no reason to relearn anything. There's no extra buttons or screens.

    Coming from iOS to Android, I'll take Android's unification any day.

    • Glenn Patrick

      How is this any different from how you go from the iPhone to the iPad without having to relearn anything? Not trying to be snarky, I genuinely want to know. Using an iPhone is just like using the iPad, only the iPad is bigger. It seems that google is taking that same approach.

      • Rui Araújo

        That approach worked great for Apple, it will be better for Android too.

  • makapav

    Putting home buttons in the middle, thus making you move your arm halfway across the screen each time, as opposed to just twiddling the left hand thumb. I seems like Matias has not thought through the ramifications of the changes on user hand movement and this makes me pissed.

    The back button is so frequently used in Android that when you are holding a tablet this big on its lower sides, as the usual way to prop a device like this, it's going to be annoying after the first few tries.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I'm pretty sure they expect people to use it like an iPad - one hand supporting the device, the other moving freely around the screen. And for that use pattern, the centered buttons are fine. Not a 2-handed "grip" around the left and right, which I've always found awkward and annoying.

      • http://www.facebook.com/vivecuervo7 Isaac Dedini

        Still, for those that do prefer to use a two handed grip, I'm sure it wouldn't have been difficult to include an option in the settings to toggle between centered and left buttons. I don't mind the change, actually, but as a two-handed user I can see where a lot of people could be irritated by this change. I'm sure xda will provide a solution in no time for those that prefer left aligned buttons.

      • http://emoutrocastelo.com/ Maximus Decimus

        I hold my tablet with both hands, especially in landscape. There is not a "true" way to hold a tablet. Most of my tablet use is done laying in bed, before sleeping and after waking. Saying "You are complaining because you are not using it in the RIGHT way" sounds very similar to what Apple fans say, among the lines of "Who needs multitasking in a smartphone, that is not the right way to use"

        • http://twitter.com/binglut9 Brian

          Let me get this right do you hold your 10 inch tablet over your head in bed or are you propped up and its sitting on your lap?

          • Kent Andersen

            when i use it in bed, i most of the time, use two hands... the thing is just to big to sit comfortably in 1 hand

          • Tim Harper

            "The thing is just to big to sit comfortably in 1 hand" twss

          • Kent Andersen

            Lol...i knew i was going to get something like that.

          • http://photo.katzmatt.com Matt Katzenberger

            I have occasionally held my tablet over my head while lying in bead, but usually I hold it with two hands or leave it on it's stand. Any way you slice it having the control buttons close to the resting place of one hand, and the notification center at the resting place of the other makes infinitely more sense than putting them in the middle of a landscape screen.

          • http://emoutrocastelo.com/ Maximus Decimus

            As Matt said below, I usually make it "stand" on my chest (near the solar plexus) and keep it from falling into my face with one/two hands when in landscape

        • http://twitter.com/Twitteninja ZZ

          The position of the front facing camera, LED light and speakers means the tablet itself agrees with him (if it could speak).

        • lbrfabio

          Sure, with the old Tablet UI you can use the back button(or the other
          two) while holding a 10inch with both hands, but only in rare case you
          use it this way.

          For the majority of the time, those buttons are used while your other hand is moving freely around the screen (you are actively using the device ), unless, of
          course, you watch videos all the time....

          I don't know how left-handed people use tablets or phones but I'm right-handed and I hold my phone with the left hand while using the right to touch the screen in portrait), so the right hand can easily touch the three buttons on the center.
          I guess left-handed people prefer the reverse mode, so this new UI could be better if you consider this too.

          Holding the device with both hands is one thing but if you aren't watching videos, especially with a bigger screen like 10", you have to interact with one hand across the screen while holding the device.
          You don't have three hands where two of them are holding the device and another one is using the screen.

          • Magnesus

            Speak for yourself, will you? "but only in rare case you
            use it this way" - I always use it this way.

          • lbrfabio

            just out of curiosity: when you always use it this way, what do you do?

      • PhilNelwyn

        The iPad's physical home button goes to the side in landscape (of course) and so do the on-screen buttons on the Galaxy Nexus, that's the more intuitive way to do it.
        You hold your tablet with one hand? Good. Isn't it better to have the navigation buttons near that hand?
        Google should just have an option in the settings to choose between right-handed and left-handed layouts.

        • player911

          Genius

    • DDW

      in my opinion. give the ppl a choise. ad 2 themes. one is old design, one is new. issue fixed. to me. i use a tab, i wanna see the differences between phone n tab. also i hate the bar is hidden in some apps. my wife was using old design for a year. now, new design, she had to reset and learn new. anyone of yr guys got a wife w/o any feeling for devs like tabs, smartphone n pc.? thats a realy hard job, even the small changes in UI like that. looking forward to switch her PC from Win7 to Win8... same thing will happen and I'm close to an suicide! :)

      • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

        The problem is, people don't like choices. People want to be held by the hand and told what they want. Choices only satisfy people like you and I. We aren't the overwhelming majority of people who buy Android devices.

  • IncCo

    The location of the on screen buttons is definitely the worst offence here. Have fun moving your hand(s) all the time to reach them..

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Again, that all depends on how you hold it. I don't think Google moved them just for the hell of it. When I use a big tablet, I have one hand around the back propping it up, and the other floating around the screen doing all the work. For that use pattern, centered buttons are better.

      • Christopher Lee

        I had some pretty substantial reservations about the Nexus 7's UI, but it's proven more than usable on a seven inch tab. I'd be keen on seeing anyone from the Cyanogenmod team (or anyone else willing from XDA or such) tweaking one of the existing jelly bean ROMs on say, the old Galaxy Tab 10.1 so we can get a better example of what Google has planned.
        (typed from a Microsoft Surface, which has me wondering a bit if we shouldn't just go for very well-implemented gestures over buttons. But even Microsoft conceded the need for a home button here so it's a moot point).

      • http://twitter.com/simp1istic simp1istic

        They aren't better, they're just not awful. However if you hold it by the sides, they suck a lot.

      • James C.

        Hey. Even though this thread is 7 months old, it still seems to be the best discussion I can find on the new UI, so.... I'm going to use it to ask my burning question. Like many other users, I like to hold my large tablet with two hands, especially when lying down. Reaching into the middle of the screen for the back button is a serious pain, so I'd like to know: is there any way to move the onscreen buttons or duplicate the back button to move it elsewhere *without rooting*?

    • http://twitter.com/binglut9 Brian

      What's different having them in the bottom right? My nephew hits the home button almost every time he plays something on my tablet (Xoom) so I actually think this will be better for usability

      • http://photo.katzmatt.com Matt Katzenberger

        1) a lot of people (as evidenced by these comments) hold their tablets in landscape, in such a way that their left thumb has quick and easy access to the left handed buttons, and so that their right hand has quick and easy access to the notification/settings area.
        2) now we've got two bars on our screen instead of one. I get it on a phone because we're coming off of hardwear buttons but on a tablet there's enough room to fit everything comfortably on one bar.

  • http://twitter.com/binglut9 Brian

    Yep my thoughts exactly the old 10 inch ui had horrible usability and confusing. I like what they are doing

  • http://twitter.com/frozensolidone Matt Schraeder

    The problem with a 10" tablet in landscape mode is that it's not at ALL comfortable handling it by holding it in the center, and the back/home/recent apps button is not useful where your fingers aren't spending 90% of their time.

    The old Honeycomb style of bottom left and bottom right is far more ergonomic While I agree having a "phone" mode in portrait, landscape is just too big to be centered like that. The Nexus 7 style of tablet interface is fine on a 7" tablet, and on a phone, but the extra 3" makes a big difference, and I can't imagine using my Transformer Prime with centered buttons.

  • http://twitter.com/KickingLettuce Kicking Lettuce

    The techy side of me hates to see Tablet UI go. But Joe Average will appreciate this more!

  • Ash Hanna

    I'm loving the unification also
    Thanks for this
    Maybe more people will hop on the bandwagon and quit their bitchin.
    Sure, tabletUI was different, but honestly, it was way to freakin busy
    You think you like tablet ui cuz you used hybrid mode on paranoid Android? Guess what, that's not tablet mode. It's hybrid.
    And this new layout takes the best of all worlds and makes the UI(that's USER INTERFACE) much cleaner, much easier to use, and much nicer to hop from device to device and feel like you know where things should be.
    Great job Google
    Can't wait to see where you take us next!

  • http://emoutrocastelo.com/ Maximus Decimus

    The centering of the buttons is terrible. On a 10 inch tablet, in particular in landscape mode, I (at least) like to hold it with both hands using my thumbs to manipulate the tablet, especially . In this new layout I will be forced to take one hand off the tablet to do something as simple as hitting back

    • http://twitter.com/binglut9 Brian

      You will still need to take your hand off the device to do things its not like you keep both hands holding the tablet and get things done. You still need to press icons and such. Tbh my 10 inch tablet is either laying on the table, dock, or on my lap so I don't think there will be problem. It looks way cleaner this way and probably way better usability wise

      • http://emoutrocastelo.com/ Maximus Decimus

        Comic book reading, Google reader, Gmail and the browser (with that ring that comes from the edge of screen) are some apps from the top of my head that are easy to use holding with both hands. I hope the position is customizable out of the box. One of the main advantages of android is giving choices to its users.

        • http://twitter.com/binglut9 Brian

          I aagree, I just think the pros out weigh the coins in the situation Google is in. I can't imagine holding my tablet over my head in bed because sometimes I do with my phone and it attacks me!

    • http://twitter.com/Twitteninja ZZ

      The left thumb will be able to reach the back button using a circle motion if you're holding it in a two handed grip.

      • Peterson Silva

        ... And you got this from...?

        • http://twitter.com/Twitteninja ZZ

          Pick up a 10 inch tab and try it. You can cover the majority of the bottom region of the screen just by following the natural arc of your thumbs.

          • http://www.facebook.com/vaughnb21 Brandon Vaughn

            Uhhh....no? I can barely reach past the proprietary Menu button with my thumb. Just because you have big hands doesn't mean everyone else does.

      • Magnesus

        I have Samsung Note 10.1 which has button in the center of the bottom bar and it's unreachable while using the tablet normally.

  • Mustang5Oh

    I love they switched to this UI. The old tablet UI was ugly and annoying to use IMO. Much improved and will help users want to use an Android tablet as it will be similar to their phones.

  • soapisclean

    Finally some analytical analysis and commentary and not just a repost of a repost with no additional insight.

  • http://twitter.com/MysteryMannnnn Mystery Man

    Just give us an option to move the nav buttons like cynogenmod does. Problem solved.

  • http://twitter.com/edditnyc Eddie Maldonado

    Really its not a big deal because you can customize an Android tablet's UI if the "phablet" UI bugs you. Most important thing for Android is to develop iPad caliber apps for the tablet.

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

    Also you all might want to take into account that Google may have realized that some people may not absolutely love the lay out and the home buttons may be adjustable. Let's wait until Monday and then come back and comment.

    • http://photo.katzmatt.com Matt Katzenberger

      I feel like that this is a valid point, and I truly hope you are right.

    • http://www.facebook.com/rob.mahon Robert Mahon

      Hope so. I think Google's missing a trick here in not allowing these things to be more customisable. Tablet/Phone UI, positioning of the buttons, even functionality OF those buttons (I love the CM's hold BACK to kill a task). What's there is good, but could be better; by allowing us to move things around, we can make it work the way we like it to work, and isn't that half the fun of Android? Being able to customise as much as possible?

    • PhilNelwyn

      That's not what they did with the Nexus 7.
      That would be great, but in my opinion it's very unlikely.

    • Rui Araújo

      I don't think that they will include the old layout. One can always use a 3rd party launcher with the tablet layout. I don't understand why people are freaking out. It's not like you're stuck with it.

      • blunden

        You need more than just a launcher. The buttons and status bar are part of the framework so you need a completely new ROM. Otherwise this would really be a non-issue for everyone since you wouldn't even have to unlock it to "fix it".

        • Rui Araújo

          You're right. I forgot about the status bar. Still not impossible to change. I bet that CyangenMod will have both.

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

          Coincidentally though ParanoidAndroid is CyanogenMod with the function to switch UIs. Primary from phone to tablet:

          http://paranoid-rom.com/

  • sgtguthrie

    I've always preferred to use my tablets in portrait anyway, so i don't really care. I think it takes away from the confusion of the non-nerd types. My wife was lost when I put a 10" tablet in her hands, even after I explained it.

  • Sean

    I would love for the lower buttons to use a gesture to activate (eg. swipe up) rather than a single press. In this way it would be very difficult to activate a button like back or home by mistake, but extremely easy to hit if you specifically want to activate the function. Some UI elements are close to the bottom, and I have accidentally hit these more than once.

    It would also be nice if the bar was semi transparent, and apps were designed with this in mind. In this way, apps would feel far more fullsceen, without having to sacrifice the bar. A web browser could thus show content over the entire screen when full screen, without hhaving the notification bar, the action bar, and the home/back/app-switch bar all eating up screen real estate.

    Just some thoughts.

    • oneillperson

      That's a fantastic idea. Have the app be "full-screen", and the buttons are overlaid in the middle. No need for the big black bar on the bottom!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      This would definitely be an interesting experiment.

    • lbrfabio

      I've seen on the new Xperia T that in the camera the black bar has the same color of the camera app with the usual three dots. Also, watching video is fullscreen(the real one)
      I think a few other apps use this approch.

      The semi transparent bar would be good(like the new motorola's UI?)

    • Guest

      I've had a Playbook for the past few months and the implementation is actually quite good. Swipe up from the bottom bezel to go to multitasking/home, swipe down from the top bezel from the left or right corner to show the notification bar.

    • Tyler

      What if you were to use the same style as the Stock browser in android when you have the popup on the side when you swipe. I feel that wouldn't be too complicated add a considerable amount of functionality along with it as well. Obviously you would need that to be an option and not default but hey it could be nice i feel.

    • Magnesus

      I would like them to be gone completely while at it. Allow hiding the bottom bar completely and use swipe or power button to show it. On 2560x1600 display they are wasting almost 400 000 pixels (!) for three buttons.

      • PhilNelwyn

        Yeah, that would be better.
        But still, the method used to show/hide the bar is debatable.
        UI design really isn't easy...

      • Bleakvision

        The burn in on this Amoled display thanks to the bottom and top bar is going to be insane.

        • daniel candelaria

          It's not a plasma display... you really don't have to worry about burn in.

      • blunden

        You can already get such a feature in custom roms. After a few code improvements it's awaiting merging into CM as well.

      • Koui

        I'd like a combo status/notification tray that would swipe down from the top and center the tray depending on where your finger was when you initiated the down swipe. Same thing with the bottom navigation/google now tray. Similar to the way Windows auto-hides the taskbar.

        Just give me fullscreen ...whatever it takes!

    • PhilNelwyn

      The gesture is already tied to Google Search, and I don't think that swiping to activate elements used as often as navigation buttons is a good idea.
      The semi transparent bar doesn't sound good to me either, it reminds me of how confusing the previous version of Google+ looked.

      • Sean

        The transparent bar works really well for Google maps for JB. The action bar is transparent into that application, though could be lighter still. It gives the impression that the app fills more of the screen.

        I think there is still room for a gesture in the bottom, even if you want to accommodate something like Google Now.

        • PhilNelwyn

          Yeah, you're right, it actually looks good in Google Maps.
          Good example.

          Well, why not.

  • BrianLipp

    ok, but now 80% of the nav bar is just wasting space. The old Tablet UI at least made it seem like that entire bar needed to be there, and the space in the middle even let OEMs do some cool things with that space (ie the Nav Bar Lock on the Transformer). Honestly, they could have just moved the Search and App Drawer onto the nav bar, putting them in the middle or moving the nav keys to the middle and putting them somewhere else, giving you one entire section of the tablet to look at whenever you needed something. I know ill get used to it if i get a Nexus 10 and use it, these are just initial thoughts

    • defred34

      Oh hell yeah, funny AP hasn't mentioned how hideous it looks like. Such a glorious waste of space. I agree that before, the nav bar deserved one whole like.....not anymore.

    • Billy_Joe_Bob

      Look closely, the new lower and upper bars take up no more space than the old lower bar. They simply split it and moved it. But I agree that simply moving the app button to the bottom would have been the better fix. As for the search bar, it's a widget, do with it what you want.

      • BrianLipp

        I was talking about the wasted space to the left and right of the nav buttons

      • NicholasMicallef

        To me it looks like they left the nav bar the same height but added the status bar.

      • Adam Byrd

        This isn't true. See for yourself. All I did was take the picture in the article and move the screenshots side by side. The nav bar is the same height in each shot.

        • player911

          You don't really gain/lose any thing though using the stock launcher. Because the Search widget bar on BOTH are persistant, EACH launcher has the same amount of usable space for widgets and shortcuts. Where you GAIN space is by using an alternative launcher.

          The problem with Phone UI on a large tablet is that your hands are on the sides. Tablet mode made the UI accessible with either thumb. Phone UI requires you to hold the device with 1 hand and navigating with the other.

          I like tablet mode. Phone UI on a large screen feels weird.

      • http://scarydevil.com/~peter/ Resuna

        They absolutely do take up more space. The button bar by itself takes up the same amount of space as the combined bar, and then you add the navigation bar to that.

    • http://profiles.google.com/charitojohn John charitos

      i agree, now you have even more screen real estate wasted with black.

    • Tyler

      I agree and it makes it harder to a little bit but i think it would be cool if you could take from the left side a swipe to move the buttons over towards where your swiping so that you could access with the hand holding the tablet or something like that. Not sure if it is really relevant though.

    • Piotr Teicher

      Well, new nav bar is ok if you have monkey-long fingers ;) I liked old one much more.

  • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

    Obviously, I agree with David here. Nothing about this decision was an accident, and frankly I think bringing the 10" UI into line with the N7 was a good choice. All the same information and functions are present on the screen, but they are grouped in a way that makes sense - one that centralizes the things you need rather than spreading them out.

    I also want to note that design can't be dictated by individual comforts. Many find the lower-left nav approach comfortable, but for my hands it's a pain. And that's why I think that even if this UI doesn't get points for having ergonomics for the two-handed grip in mind, it gets major points for introducing consistency across all form factors.

    • Ben Baggley

      Hey Liam, I tried commenting on your G+ post earlier but didn't have permission. I think the old layout makes more sense for two hand use (one hand on each side), putting the controls in easy to reach places. With newer, lighter tablets though the best way to use it is one hand holding it and the other operating, which would work better with this layout.
      When I first saw this I thought it was horrible but then I remembered this is probably because I came from using a Xoom, where the weight meant that two handed use was really your only option.

      One thing I want to point out though is I don't think that the right hand pull-down will be for notifications; I think we'll see two separate pull-downs on the left and right for notifications and settings.

      • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

        I agree with that. With the old layout, holding the tablet with one hand means your other hand is flying all over the place to reach things, while centralizing the controls at least marginally cuts down the travel time.

        That being said, in Ron's teardown of 4.2 it appeared that the notification shade was also the settings shade - swipe once for notifs, again for settings.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wrg25 Will Gonzalez

    bring it on....take my money already.......................... is it Monday yet!

  • http://twitter.com/jamesbarone97 Alexander Barone

    This layout makes sense if the primary layout and orientation of the tablet is portrait but not landscape, it makes sense on an iPad because the iPad is more of a 4:3 squarish device, this is a 16:9 rectangle that would be a pain to use with centered buttons. something about this whole layout looks incorrect, I don't think this is the final layout, and if it is, I hope there will still be a way to revert to the old layout, even if I must root.

  • John O’Connor

    so this means i can now play dice with buddies without accidently hitting the home or back buttons?! for joy!! lol

    • http://twitter.com/binglut9 Brian

      I know! That's the most annoying part of the ui is always hitting the home or back buttons

  • Glenn

    I never thought the notification styling of the old tablet UI was a great implementation, so I'll probably welcome the new UI when it gets merged into CM10 for my tablet - although I have no doubt devs will allow users to put the buttons back to the left one way or another.

    AOKP already has the ability to have 7 nav bar buttons on the Nexus 7, so it'll come pretty quickly if people don't like it. I'll be fine with it though.

  • http://profiles.google.com/dc4316 Ismael Rodriguez

    Honestly, I think it's hideous. The four corners approach was great. It made even the most minimalist setups appear less empty without cluttering up any particular area on the screen or nav bar. The whole idea of unifying the OS doesn't work for me at all. My tablet is a tablet, I don't expect or want the experience of a phone to be enlarged on a tablet. I also think having a wide dock bar on screen like that is repulsive and I'm glad that it's removable on most 3rd party launchers. If that's the shape of things to come, I just might jump boat to a Windows tablet in the future, after my Prime has lived it's life.

    Yes...I hate the new UI that badly.

    • John O’Connor

      If I recall correctly the windows tablet experience mirrors the windows phone experience. I fail to see the difference.

      • http://profiles.google.com/dc4316 Ismael Rodriguez

        That's not that one aspect that's killing it for me. (The relation between phone and tablets.) I specifically do not like the new tablet UI or the excuse of unification. Mind you, I didn't care much about fragmentation either. I'm saying that I do not like or believe that Android's phone UI works for me on a tablet. If it's going to be like that, I'd rather use a Windows tablet, where there isn't much of a difference in experience between actual "computing" devices...Tablet/PC...and just let the phone be a phone (or "smartphone"). I'd never leave Android altogether, though. WP7+ don't do for me as a phone OS, but as a tablet and upcoming (or is out now) PC OS, I can work with that.

  • Ben Baggley

    I don't think notifications will be top right, I think there will actually be two drop downs, one on the right for toggles, and one on the left for notifications.

  • Kent Andersen

    How can google expect developers (like myself) to make tablet optimized apps, when they are in fact, not optimizing their own tablet layout? And I dont see how this change will push devs to make more tablet apps...as a dev, I will still run into the same problems. Having a back button on the center bottom isn't going to change that.

    • Kent Andersen

      and no, unifying is not the same thing as optimizing.

    • http://twitter.com/Twitteninja ZZ

      They are:

      Phone = 2 dock icons on either side of the app launch icon
      7 inch tablet = 3 dock icons on either side of the app launch icon
      10 inch tablet = 4 dock icons on either side of the app launch icon

      • Kent Andersen

        that would mean its consistent/unified....not necessarily optimized. If you had a 30 inch tablet, you wouldnt want them to just keep adding icons on the launcher....you would want them to re-think the layout. At least i would want them to

        • Peterson Silva

          Yes, but then again you'd only use a 30 inch tablet if you're Hagrid.
          Google TV doesn't have any icons - but it's not meant for touchscreen either...

          • Kent Andersen

            Lol at hagrid comment, good stuff. Was just trying to make a point. Also, my google tv has icons

  • http://photo.katzmatt.com Matt Katzenberger

    This is going to sound extremely reactionary...because it is. Honestly I am overreacting. I just can't believe this nonsense.

    I do want a layout that makes "efficient use of homescreen real estate". Not because I'm an android fanboy root nerd, but because the layout should make best use of available space. It's common sense. The Honeycomb/ICS/JB tablet layout is damn near perfect. The control buttons are near one thumb, and the notification area is at the other. It makes so much sense.

    This just doesn't. A ten inch tablet is too big for this layout, even in portrait. I shudder to think what hitting those buttons is going to be like in landscape.

    This is utter folly. Whether or not XDA puts out a hack to fix it is irrelevant This is embracing bad design in the name of some false sense of unity.

    Now for the overreaction This "opinion" (or as I call it, a flagrant lack of good sense) is so bad it actually calls into question how reliable the opinions of AP writers are when it comes to Android. "I don't want efficient, I want 0-learning curve" is the line of thought that drives me and many others away from Apple. It doesn't have to be difficult, it doesn't have to be complex, but can we please not make our tablets look like phones to appease the lowest common denominator who can't figure out what to do with a slightly (and it is slightly) different UI?

    UGH.

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

      I don't necessarily disagree with David, he has a great point with UI unity. Personally, I'm kind of conflicted.

      But, really, where do you guys get the idea that one article from one website represents the views of everyone that writes for that website? This has always bothered me.

      I would certainly say we should hold fellow writers accountable for a post's quality, which we do, and this is a high quality post. You can also say a post's quality reflects on everyone that writes for a website, but I don't see how we are all supposed to all voltron together into one giant, super-blogger with synchronized thoughts and opinions. We are individual people with individual opinions, and the (often heated) debate that happens in our chat about this stuff is part of what makes this site what it is.

      • http://photo.katzmatt.com Matt Katzenberger

        Don't get me wrong, I know that. That's exactly why I made it clear I was overreacting and that I knew it. It's just that this seems like such an absolutely terrible UI decision from my point of view as a tablet user, and this post lapped it up as the next great move by google. It was hardly questioned. Does AP do polls, cause I'd love to see one on this subject.

        Do you like the new unification between the tablet and phone layouts?
        1) Yes
        2) No
        3) Don't really care
        4) Don't own/use a tablet

        Either way it just bugs me how easily this became "of course this would happen, how brilliant of Google!".

        Honestly the tablet and phone UI are pretty in sync now, they just aren't literally the same thing, mostly because they are two different devices with very different form factors.

      • Djones

        You know, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a editor "debate" style article when it comes to opinion pieces like this (that is, if there really is a difference of opinion.) That way you can show everyone the benefits of both sides, while it doesn't have to seem like the site is taking a "stance" on topics like this.

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

          A counterpoint has been in the works since about 1 minute after this was posted. Don't worry.

  • Jim

    Lol guess I'm getting this for christmas.. I don't really want anything and my mum doesn't want to buy me more Warhammer stuff.... damn guess I'm getting a Nexus 10 and the LG nexus 4 then...

  • Ricardo Moura Rocha

    I like the consistency idea, except I like the tablet ui much better than the phone ui, specially with bigger phones than when Android started I see a lot more sense in having both bars unified in the bottom of the device...
    That's why I use paranoid android in my galaxy nexus, because I love the tablet ui and because I wanted the consistency across devices... I'm happy google went the consistency way, too bad for me that they went this way with the wrong ui for me... But as the article says, XDA is right there and that's what I love about Android.
    Your device is any way you want, not the way they want, cough...cough...Apple...cough...

  • Adam Byrd

    "I don't care if Android is tablet-optimized, I just want tablet optimized apps" What? Aren't you simultaneously glossing over and asking for the exact same thing?

    Personally, I dislike the new layout. A lot. It's a tremendous waste of space having two large black bars going across the entire screen. I want a tablet experience on a tablet. That means I don't want to have to reach across the device to get to commonly used buttons. How do people hold tablets? Most often with two hands, one on each side. The new layout requires letting go with one hand and reaching toward the center of the display, where the old layout let you keep your two handed grip and just lean your thumb in.

    The argument that they've reduced the number of places you have to pay attention to is a little misguided when applied to the notification bar change. The nav buttons and notification tray are still in two different places, just like before. What's really changed is that they've moved the search bar and app drawer button. They could have moved those without separating the the notification try just as well. In fact, simply moving the search bar and app drawer button straight down would have been the more efficient solution. Then, you still get two areas to concentrate on, and they're both within easy reach of the nature tablet grip.

    To each their own, but I hate the new layouut. Not because I don't like change (I love change), but because it's a set backwards in usability. I don't need my tablet to look like my phone. My tablet isn't a phone, I don't use it like a phone. For the same reasons I don't want Android on my desktop or Windows on my tablet. OSes need to fit the form factor they are installed on to be efficient. If the simple folk need their tablets to look exactly like their phones, there's already a company that handles that for them...

    • PhilNelwyn

      But maybe Google wants to sell some tablets too... :-P
      The first time I tried a Google tablet, in a store, I was with a friend who didn't know Honeycomb, and he hardly found how to open the app drawer, he was really confused by the different layout.
      "Is this Android?" he asked.

      But I agree with you about how this is not adapted to a tablet grip, and I wonder why, in landscape, they've put the buttons on the bottom on tablets but have left it on the side on the Galaxy Nexus... if there's gonna be inconsistency, it should be the other way around, so that we could reach buttons more easily on tablets.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mrlarge863 Jøey Pallares

    Awesome

  • http://www.facebook.com/joshua.zinewicz Joshua Zinewicz

    It was inevitable. Wasnt sure if I would like it till I got my N7 and having used it every day for the last few months I am officially sold.

  • heat361

    This is a great article

  • wewewi

    It still is a stupid move.

    4 corners UI was the way to go; you get all the important interaction zones under the fingers.
    Now, you'll have to hold on the tablet with one hand to intereact with the center.. (I admit this might be a bit harder to notice on a 7inches tablet.. especially if you have big mans hands..)

    I'm sure we are going to see a bunch of custom UI or lunchers that'll try to go against this..

    ++ Notification zone Icons are soo tiny; almost useless. Thats lame.

  • defred34

    Defend the move as you may but I honestly feel the current 10-inch tablet UI is very good. It gave a real 'desktop-like' feeling when using the tablet. Now, its just become an oversized phone, much like the iPad is to the iPhone.

    • defred34

      Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but we're now going to get less usable space as well, because there's a new status bar at the top. It is a thin strip no doubt, but while web browsing etc, every small vertical space is important. I think the usable screen area has decreased by 8%.

  • Glenn Patrick

    I fell like, if this is the way they're going to go, then make the device a predominantly portrait held device...like the iPad and nexus 7. Using the iPad in landscape mode from the home screen seems a bit unwieldy, but its perfect in portrait, how it was designed to be used for the most part. The notification shade, the layout, the whole setup would be more attractive if the device was used mostly in portrait mode.

  • Casey Artner

    I think it's pretty clear that the people testing UI changes at Google are all huge-handed righties. Also, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that they have never met a left handed person.

  • EH101

    The only thing I dislike about the UI change is all that empty space to the right and left of the navigation buttons. At least let us pin apps there...or something. Actually, now that I've put a bit more thought into it, I believe it would be best if they stuck music controls in there while Google Music is in use. That would surely be better than needing a widget or pulling down the notification shade.

  • Eye4Detail

    I HAD been hoping that 4.2 would bring the controls/notifications hide feature from my Nexus. For those who don't know, when you launch a compatible video app on the Nexus, the three buttons (and bar) disappear completely instead of just turning into dots on a black background. This gives you a true full screen viewing experience. Instead, it seems Google wants to eat up more of my screen by adding an unnecessary bar across the top.

    Why do we need to eat up the top of the display when it's already been proven that everything fits conveniently on one bar. Move the buttons to the middle for all I care but why clutter the top? With as big as phones are getting, I could see a better argument for moving notifications to the bottom of the phones (I tried it in CM7.1, it was nice.)

  • RedPandaAlex

    First, very few android users will find this familiar because very few android users have a galaxy nexus. If you use an s3 this isn't any more familiar than the tablet UI

    Second, Google had been trying to get developers to make tablet layouts to better use the available space for years, and now they're bringing the system ui in the opposite direction. Having all that wasted space in the nav bar makes me think of an android app stretched out on a tablet

    • storm14k

      You make probably the best argument against it so far. I was ready to agree on it being beneficial Android users new to tablets but you killed that logic.

  • Fritz T

    Don't think anyone said yet. Apple gonna sue google for the unifying idea because they did it first lol

    • Kevin Schotts

      Yup they have a patent on unity, unity, unified, and united. This just in, Apple sues the UN for patent infringements and naming rights.

  • http://www.ellianth.com Ellianth

    I think this looks ugly. I prefer the old layout. This has nothing to do with unifying anything. One layout doesn't work for all. Maybe we should just stretch phone apps for the tablet too.

  • LarryVandemeer

    I agree. Having owned both a Nexus 7 and ASUS transformer, I so much more love the UI of the Nexus 7. On the ASUS Transformer I always have to think for a second where I want to go. There is no such thinking with the Nexus 7. It just works. Glad to see Google using it also on Nexus 10. I love it.

    • defred34

      What do you mean by you always have to think for a second where you have to go? Are you nuts or just making this up? I've used two 10-inch tablets over the past 12 months and using the UI to navigate etc is just flawless. The new phone-UI will spoil EVERYTHING. Like many have said, enough to throw me onto a Surface if this is the case for all 10-inch tablets.

  • http://twitter.com/jordanlong20 Jordan Long

    only read a few comments and while I agree that moving the buttons to the center can alleviate some hand movements, it doubles the amount of wasted space.

    I understand google wants to be uniform, but a landscape 10" device is drastically different from a portrait 7" device (or smaller).

    on OCT 29th, say yes to the large tablet UI.

  • GazaIan

    I dont know, I really like the combined bar. I don't want to give it up.

  • Tarek El-Ghazaly

    I'm less impressed by the hardware which looks like a generic 10" tablet. Almost everything else on the market beats this. I thought we'd get less bezel with intelligent software-disabled touch.

  • Koui

    I've used Froyo, Honeycomb, ICS, and Jelly Bean on  Android phones and tablets. The inconsistencies between UIs has always bothered me. I have OCD and uniformity is important to me. My Windows desktop and notebook PC UIs are identically  configured and it's easy to switch devices. Everyone complained about the Nexus 7 home screen being stuck in portrait and Google fixed that in JB 4.1.2. The 'Ultimate Rotation Control' app on my Galaxy Nexus allows identical UIs on my N7 and GNex.

    The Nexus 10's JB 4.2 landscape and portrait home screen UIs are basically the same..90 degree mirror images. This is progress!  Are there things I'd like changed? Certainly. Both upper and lower black bars should integrate if desired into their respective window shades to allow full screen apps for one. I'm hoping that JB 4.2 will give me a uniform portrait and landscape UI on my GNex, N7, and soon to be N10, but I doubt it. Surprise me Google!

  • http://twitter.com/iamstephenliu Stephen Liu

    Matias Duarte said this a year ago: "Honeycomb was like: we need to get tablet support out there. We need to build not just the product, but even more than the product, the building blocks so that people stop doing silly things like taking a phone UI and stretching it out to a 10-inch tablet."

    So what happened to that, anyway?

  • Christopher Mason

    Hasn't anybody figured it out yet? It's pretty obvious they can't do anything to the Honeycomb notification bar anymore, so they're changing it to notifications on the left and quick settings on the right. I like it better because it just seems more tablet optimized than the old ui.

  • GraveUypo

    the one thing i don't like about AP is that every update to android google does, even if no one likes it, has an article "explaining" why it's "fantastic". a bit too much on the fanboyish side for me. i personally, like most, think this new layout is not only a waste of space and harder to use, but also uglier. feels like a big step backwards to me.

  • Freak4Dell

    I agree. It's a good move, and it makes things consistent. Regardless of whether your Android phone has software buttons or hardware ones, the buttons are always centered at the bottom. Regardless of what skin your Android phone has, the notifications always pull down from the top. So, for most users, this will make more sense. They can go from device to device without having to think about whether they need to swipe up or down to get the notification pane, or whether the buttons are on the left or the middle (of course, this one is a lot more obvious than the notifications thing).

    The UI was never the reason I think tablets are just giant phones without the phones. I think that because that's exactly what they are. Until the software supports more features for tablets, they will always be the exact same thing as my phone, except with a bigger screen. If you look at it as a media consumption device, there's nothing wrong with that. It's really just when you want to be productive that the giant phone thing becomes a hindrance, but changing where the notifications pop up is not going to make that any better.

  • name

    Sounds like fanboy talk, really. There have to be a better way than to use all that vertical space in landscape. At least the old navigationbar didn't need a separate statusbar.

  • cosmic

    It is fine for a 7" tablet but on a 10" tablet its hideous not to mention worse in the sense of ergonomics. There's so much wasted space to the left and right of the buttons, even the slightly more spaced out looks off putting(the UI version of a comb over, take what little you have to work with and try to spread it to look like more).

    There's no one size fits all, and this is especially true for UI's. A desktop UI is unusable on a touch screen, a touch screen oriented UI is inefficient on a desktop, and a phone UI is inefficient on a (larger)tablet. The decision to forgo optimizations in the name of "unification" is mind boggling. A sense of unity can come from a list of common characteristics vs a copy just blown up in size.

  • anamika

    what are the tablet apps not available on Android? Maybe i can create some :)

    • storm14k

      Same thought I keep having. Big opportunity.

  • roninpenguin

    Sorry, but no. The main thing about a big tablet is handling it. You can get away with a lot of this stuff with a 7 inch because it is pretty comfortable to use with one hand, but I know my 10 inch only feels stable when I'm holding it with both of my hands.

    With this new layout I'm going to have to shift my hands to do the most used functions of my tablet.

    So here is the scenario. I want to surf the web and I get a notification. With the old lay out I would be holding the tablet at the lower corners, using my thumbs to scroll up and down and clicking most links, notification comes up I click it with my right thumb, open my e-mail/messages, read that and scroll with my thumbs, and to get back to my web page all I have to do is click the back button with my left thumb. Very little wasted motion.

    With this new UI you would have to slide your left hand up to the notification bar, possibly moving your right hand in order to keep a good grip (depending on your hand size and strength), Click your notification and move it back down to the lower corner (and again moving the right hand if you moved it before), read your e-mail/message, then move your right hand to the center to hit back (and again possibly moving your left hand for balance) move your right hand back to the lower right hand corner (and possibly returning your left hand too).

    Now I know this is a "First World Problem" thing, but honestly we should be trying to get our device interactions as smooth and fluid as possible, not complicating them more. I know that my hands are pretty anchored at the lower corners of my tablet and with my thumb keyboard and short cuts to the apps I use most on the bottom of my screen, they only leave there for quick taps on fields and what not, I don't think I'm going to like having to Juggle my tablet all over the place in order to do fairly basic functions.

  • http://twitter.com/AlcatrazKing AlcatrazKing

    I don't like it. I have a Asus Transformer and I like the tablet UI. I only use the bottom bar, I almost never go the the app drawer because I have all of my apps on my startscreen. And I have never used google search, I just open up the browser.

    • defred34

      Same! I have almost NEVER used the Google search feature, rarely go into the drawer. I mostly use the nav buttons and the quick seetting/notifications on the bottom left and right respectively

  • Magnesus

    You realise those new areas are the harderst to reach while holding the 10 inch tablets?

    • Bariman43

      Why, did you already get your hands on the Nexus 10?

  • Laborin_HK

    Instead of the tablets getting the "phone inspired" UI. I was hoping the phones would get the tablet ui.

    PA on the Gnex is great with the right settings and having everything on the bottom of the screen seems to be easier.

  • storm14k

    If they would at minimum switch the drawer and nav buttons to one side I think people would be more accepting of it.

  • LTame

    If that's the direction Android is going, i guess i'm not buying an Android 10" tablet anymore (I've been waiting for a premium 10" from Samsung for ages). A "Big Phone" UI is okay for an 7" device, not for a giant tablet.

    I still have hope that the Android misinterpreted the Nexus 10 as an Android Phone because of it's 299 DPI. Yes, unlikely. But there's still hope until it's made official :

  • Bariman43

    I like it. If it's good for the iPad, I'm sure we could handle it for the Nexus 10.

    • defred34

      But the iPad is 4:3 and meant to use primarily in portrait mode. The Nexus 10 is 16:9 meant to use in landscape....very very different scenarios.

      • Bariman43

        Oh right, I forgot about Samsung's fetish with landscape 10"-ers.

  • linuxq

    OMG! That looks like webOS 3.x! :)

  • Andrew

    Hate it. Absolutely hate it.

    I don't have anything else to add, since everyone has done a good job of pointing out the glaring flaws with this look. There isn't much point moaning about it, as Google are going to do it regardless, but I far prefer the 4.1 look. It's just better in every way.

  • Peter Fox

    personally, it seems a bit of a waste on the landscape mode, everything is fine except moving the app launcher button to the middle like it is on a phone, it should really be in the middle of the left or right side as if the phone was in portrait but with the icons up the right way and then put a setting in to so you can choose which side you want, if your holding a bulky tablet in your hand you want one hand firmly holding the device while the other selects things quickly, so anything that's close to your thumb thats holding the device is an advantage. No one is going to hold a tablet at the bottom middle of the screen.

  • benegessrit

    I think that the whole idea of the navigation bar is unnecessary; back lit capacitive buttons are better IMO (not h/w buttons... the one thing I dislike on my GSIII is the home button). Especially on the N10 tablet... you have all that bezel space... use it.
    Now if they would also make a keyboard dock, like the Infinity, this would be my perfect tablet.

    Still, with that resolution, A lot can be forgiven :)

  • monoik

    Yeah, take even more screen real estate. Way to go, Google!

  • YoungMoney

    For everyone complaining, chances are you will shut up and deal with it anyway or get a Kindle or iPad. Either way, it's part of the new UI (most likely). We will see what comes of it Monday.

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

    One problem is I can barely see the clock because it's tucked away in the corner, at least on iOS they put the clock in the centre so I can see it. I think I will adjust to this eventually, but I certainly don't like it now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001669750075 Roni Copul

    Awesome! Really like it!

  • daniel candelaria

    Personally I'm extremely relieved to see that the Nexus 10 is going to be using this UI. The old UI was just ridiculous. Yes, it made more sense on some level and saved a few millimeters at the top of the screen, but at the same time it was a usability nightmare. "Where are my notifications?", "How do I get to my apps?", "How do I go back?", are all questions that were extremely common to ask. Technology shouldn't get in the way of people using it, no matter how efficient it's UI is on screen real estate, or how much it panders to your laziness of not wanting to move your arm 5 inches to the left or right.

    This new 10" UI makes a million times more sense. There's no learning curve. People are now going to be able to go into a best buy, try out an android tablet and say "Oh hey! This is actually pretty cool!" as opposed to saying "How the hell do I use this thing?". Having a UI in which the very first interaction is one of confusion makes a really bad first impression and makes typical android users feel no different than a typical windows user is going to feel when first greeted with windows 8.

    And for the users that are advanced enough to despise the few lost millimeters, and to spend 20 to 30 minutes writing up a 1,000 word essay onto android police about how much you hate it, I suggest that you use your time more productively. Try spending the 20-30 minutes customizing your tablet next time, because guess what? It's android, you're allowed to do that.

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

    I still think its lame as hell. Now you have two bars you cant dimiss when in an application or in a video. I could deal with moving the buttons to the center but I prefer the consolidated notification system for the tablet.

    This is ugly, and is such a waste of space. I was really hoping for the N10 but I might hold off until they backtrack or fix this. I guess I can limp along with my Asus Transformer that has been dropped too many times for a little longer.

  • http://profiles.google.com/leemarkin Mark Lee

    i am sorry, but this one is just ugly, i understand google is trying to make one ui for all sizes, but i would rather have tablet ui on my phone, than phone ui on my tablet, actually i do use tablet ui in my nexus s.

  • http://scarydevil.com/~peter/ Resuna

    You started off with a completely incorrect understanding of the ICS interface. Only two corners are used for global controls, the controls at the top on the home screen are just controls on one particular application - the home screen. Other applications use the space for other things. Application controls are at the top of the screen. OS controls are at the bottom.

    In JB, the upper corners are no longer available to the application. Whatever they had up there in the corner has been commandeered by the OS. AND THIS DOES BLOODY WELL MATTER.

    Google is making the wrong move here, they're stealing space that belongs to the applications, and I have no intention of upgrading to JB until some third party (like CyanogenMod) comes up with a patch that fixes this.

    • vir ingens

      AOSPA?

  • Gustavo

    I don't want to update to Jellybean anymore. I will still with my ICS. This new tablet UI is a sh*t. I want a "big screen" different from a "small screen". I do not buy a tablet o fell it like a phone.

  • ilikepear

    Ewww.. Keep tablet UI for tablet, and phone UI for phone.

    Else you get Windows 8.... and tons of angry fans.

    Now i need to hold my tablet in one hand ... and drag down notification with the other.... and i cannot even press back button without holding it weird.... *facepalm*

    THINK Google THINK!!! And atm, fire your designers.

  • t

    Dont like the top bar at all, wasting of space...... and i like to have clock visible on the bottom right like beforet

  • Владислав Петров

    PhabletUI is a shit ! :( Google have to put original TabletUI back ! Or at least make a switch to good old TabletUI available !
    I don't need phoneUI on my TABLET :(

  • nicolasmart

    I want the old UI or just option to hide the nav bar (and showing it with slide)