Last Updated: February 7th, 2013

A few months ago I wrote "Stock Android Isn't Perfect," an article where I turned my usual harsh UX critique on stock Android, instead of just picking on TouchWiz and Sense all the time in my reviews. The article went over pretty well, and even got a few responses from Googlers! I didn't cover everything that was wrong with Android, though, and there have been a bunch of updates since the original article, so it's about time I wrote a sequel.

So we're officially making this a series now, and it'll serve two purposes: One, there's a new version of Android out, and more things to complain about; and two, to give credit where it's due, because, since I wrote that article, a lot of things have been fixed. Just like last time, this isn't just the base AOSP stuff; Android plus all the Google Apps are fair game.

I'll say the same thing I said in the first article: I criticize because I care. You can't be a blind fanboy all the time. Being able to have an open and honest discussion of the imperfections of your favorite piece of software goes a long way towards improvement, and it's with that in mind that we lay bare the faults of Android.

Fixes And Updates From Last Time

Before we drive into the new stuff, we should take a look at the old list and see if anything has been fixed. After all, one of the best parts of Android is the ridiculously fast rate of updates. Not only do we usually get 2 updates per year, Google also delivers a significant trickle of app updates through the Play Store. Part of the reason I wanted to list Android's flaws was so I could also keep track of those flaws over time. Doing this reveals Android's real rate of improvement, and it is truly impressive.

So here's the current progress report. I'll point out what's been fixed, and, while I won't run down the entire list of things that aren't fixed, I have a few extra bits of commentary and updates for the unfixed issues.

Not Fixed: The Back Button - Let's Just Rename It "Shuffle"


Really, nothing has changed regarding the unpredictable behavior of the back button. It's still horribly confusing for a normal person. Most people just consider it an "anywhere but here" button, so I suggest we just rename it "shuffle" and tweak the icon a bit.

Often the unpredictability is the fault of the individual apps, but that excuse doesn't really work for me when we're looking at Google apps on a Google OS. Why is the back button programmable, anyway? I've yet to see an example where allowing developers to screw with the back button is a good thing. All it seems to accomplish is a lack of consistency. I vote we just nuke all Back button programmability and make it work like the back button on a browser: it always goes to the previous screen, and no one can ever mess with it. That's easy, useful, and predictable.


And while we're on the subject of the back button, did you notice this? Apparently the art department had some kind of vector snafu which left the back button with a dark blemish where the shaft meets the head. How much this stands out on an actual device depends on the type of display and the quality of your eyesight, but on some devices, it looks like you have 2 dead pixels in the middle of your back button. If you're an OCD type and you've never noticed this before, you're welcome.

(Credit for spotting this one goes to Cyril Mottier. You're awesome.)

Not Fixed: Navigation Is Gingerbread-Themed, But iOS's Version Is The Future


There is also nothing new to report regarding the sorry state of Google Maps Navigation, but when it does finally get its inevitable revamp, we at least have a good idea of what it should look like, thanks to Apple.

Late last year, the Maps team released a stunning iOS app in response to Apple taking over the default iOS Maps application. The Maps team came up with an all-new design that completely outclasses the Android version. It's like Google Now and Google Maps had a beautiful baby - everything uses clean, white cards, fluid animation, and intuitive swipe gestures. We should be jealous. Google, please bring something like this to Android. The Holo UI style has been out for a year now. Navigation, one of your most popular features, should have been the first to make the switch, not the last.

Partially Fixed: Recent Apps Getting Confused

Here's a good step toward improvement. Last time, I came up with a few apps-launching-other-apps shenanigans that completely screwed up the Recent Apps listings. It culminated in this ridiculous video, which shows a Recent Apps listing with a Gmail icon and Gmail message thumbnail launching the Gallery and displaying a picture:

I'm happy to say, this one got fixed. Here's the play by play of what used to happen:

wm_2012-08-29 20.09.06wm_2012-08-29 20.09.23wm_2012-08-29 15.53.52

In the above example, when you open a picture attachment and navigate somewhere else (for instance, home), the Recent Apps list would display a thumbnail for the Gmail message, but tapping on it would bring up the attachment in the Gallery app. The thumbnail never updated, and said it was taking you to the Gmail message, when it would actually take you to the Jelly Bean image. Tapping on the Gmail entry in the right picture would trigger the crazy scene in the video.

Here's what happens now:

wm_2013-01-16 19.34.06wm_2013-01-16 19.34.27wm_2013-01-16 19.34.32

With Gmail 4.2, Gmail has its own, dedicated image viewer, and when you open an image and check out the recent apps list, it now correctly displays the attachment thumbnail, instead of the Gmail message. What used to be a crazy, confusing flaw has now totally been fixed.

Other fun new behavior: Unlike the Gallery, Gmail's new image viewer doesn't stretch the image to full screen. That Jelly Bean logo is only 175x267; stretching it to fill a 1280x768 screen is not a good idea.

wm_2012-08-29 20.08.25wm_2012-08-29 20.08.50wm_2012-08-29 17.19.52

The other super-annoying thing I demoed was this Google-Reader-to-YouTube example, in which the Recent Apps thumbnail (right picture) would display a Google Reader icon and thumbnail, but open the YouTube video. If your video was interrupted and you wanted to navigate back to it, you'd never be able to find it.

This was tweaked a little bit, but still isn't totally fixed:

wm_2013-01-16 19.30.05wm_2013-01-16 19.30.58wm_2013-01-16 19.31.09

Now you'll get a thumbnail from YouTube with a name and icon from Google Reader. This is still wrong, but it's better than before. Now you at least stand a chance of ignoring the icon and using the thumbnail to find your video again.

Of course, the right way to do this would be to spawn YouTube and Google Reader Recent Apps listing when you do this. That's the only thing that really makes sense - I was using one app, opened another app via a link, so both apps should be listed.

Still though, this is progress, progress is good.

Getting Fixed: Inconsistent Icon Sizes

In the first article, I pointed out that Android's icon sizes were seriously out of whack. Sizes ranged from 94 pixels high to 72. That's a 30% difference between the largest (Local) and smallest (Movie Studio) icons. To illustrate this, I lined them up the icons, alternating tallest and shortest. It was a mess:


If you want to fix this, you need to either make the big icons smaller, or the small icons bigger, and it seems Google's plan is to 'deal with' the little guys. Since I made this image, the top 3 smallest - Movie Studio, Latitude, and Messenger - have been fixed, along with Google+, the 6th smallest. Check it out:


Everything is not only bigger; the new icons are all the same size. Well, they're very close to the same size. Movie Studio and Messenger are 87 pixels, and G+ is 88. That's much better than before. If I slap the new icons on top of the old ones in my old picture, you get something that looks like this.


That looks like a much more cohesive family of icons, doesn't it? The new runt of the litter is actually the new Camera icon that came with 4.2, weighing in at only 73 pixels high. It is a camera, though, and cameras are not (and should not be) square, so I'm willing to cut it some slack. The new camera icon is actually shorter than the old one, though. That's going backwards.

The second smallest is the Navigation icon, coming in at only 75 pixels. This gives me yet another complaint to add to the list for Google Maps Navigation. Hey Googlers, when you guys finally rewrite the entire Navigation UI from scratch, update the icons, too.

This is great progress though; more icons are close to the same size. It's great to see. Just keep picking off the little guys. The new short list is Camera, Navigation, Play Movies, and Drive. Fixing the Camera icon is kind of tough, but the other 3 would work just fine if they got hit with an enlarge ray.

Fixed: Play Store Scroll Location

Digging through search results in the Play Store used to be really painful. When you looked at an app in your search results and hit back, it wouldn't remember your scroll location - you'd be bumped to the top of the list. Now it remembers, you can check out an app in the list, hit back, and you'll still be at the same spot in your list.

Fixed: Gtalk Messages Are Pointless Buttons


In Messaging, the stock texting app, you can long press on a message and copy it. In Google Talk, you could press on the messages, and the message will turn blue, but you never get an option to do anything with it. This was silly. I was hoping they'd add the ability to copy Google Talk messages, but instead Google just disabled the highlight effect. That works for me. Fixed.

I Think Google Is Trolling Us: The Calculator's Delete/Clear button


In 4.1 the calculator's clear button was way too large and didn't line up in a nice grid with the other buttons. In 4.2 Google shrunk the button down, but they shrunk it way too far, so it still isn't in a uniform grid.

Fixed: The Uninstall Interface Is Half Popup and Half Full Screen

nexusae0_wm_2012-08-03-12.05.38_thumb1nexusae0_2012-08-04-21.04.19_thumb2013-01-23 23.02.44

Left: The first uninstall screen for both versions | Center: The 4.1 "finished" screen | Right: The 4.2 "finished" Screen

The uninstall interface used to be half popup and half full screen, but in 4.2, the "Uninstall Finished" screen was completely replaced with a little toast popup (right picture). This was one of my favorite features of third party skins and launchers. Uninstalling apps feels a lot faster without the pointless "OK" screen.

More Broken Stuff

It hasn't been all roses and sunshine in Android land, there are still quite a bit of things that suck. First, there's a bunch of stuff that escaped my wrath the first time and deserves to be called out. There's also been a whole new version of Android released since the last article, and not all of the new UI decisions are fully baked.

Settings Shortcuts Suck


Have you ever noticed the Settings shortcuts are horrible navigational hacks? Either when used as an icon or from the Quick Settings panel, they are just broken in all kinds of ways. For instance, they never, ever spawn a Recent Apps entry:

You can just tap away, and the Recent Apps panel never notices you opening an app. This is really confusing if you don't know about it and start hunting in Recent Apps for that setting you were just messing with. This bug was pretty low key, because almost no one used the icons, but now with settings shortcuts being front and center with the Quick Settings Panel, a lot of people are going to experience this.


The other annoying thing about Settings shortcuts is that the screens they don't have "Up" buttons in the action bar. Check out these two screenshots. The one on the left was opened normally, so it has an Up button carat next to "Bluetooth," the one on the right was opened via a shortcut, so it doesn't have a carat next to the icon. So if you open the settings via a shortcut, there's no way to go to the main settings page - tapping on the icon won't do anything. Weird.

Google Music Is A Mess

While Google Maps is my favorite app to beat up on, but Music is a close second. It's so bad it's going to get its own section! Starting with the Menus:

The Menus Are Impossible To Figure Out

Google Music's menu system needs to DIE. It is impossible to wrap your head around. There are THREE different menus that pop up depending on which view you're in, and there is really no logic as to what option is on what view.

wm_2013-01-14 23.21.55wm_2013-01-15 13.23.19wm_2013-01-15 13.45.21

Above we have the menus for an individual song in the Queue, Song list, and Artist list. These are the 3 sets of similar-but-not-identical menus that are just randomly used throughout Google Music. If the only difference between them were view-specific options like "Remove from queue," that would be fine, but core song management options are randomly missing from some screens.

The queue has "Instant Mix," "Delete," and "More By Artist," but it's missing "Keep on device." Songs has "Instant Mix" and "Delete," but it's missing "More By Artist" and "Keep on device." Artists has "Keep on device" and "More By Artist" but it's missing "Instant Mix" and "Delete." There is no rational justification for certain options being omitted from certain screens; it's just a mess. The best part is that the Artists screen shows "More by artist" when you are already looking at everything by that artist. It just shows the same information in a slightly different view.

And strangely, they all have "Play" as an option, despite the fact that a simple tap will start playing them. This might be the way right-click menus work on computers, but that never made the jump to phones. It's not like you can long press on a Gmail message and choose "Open." Adding every song management option to every song screen would make the menus slightly larger, so "Play" is the first thing I would cut.


If you'd like an example of just how confusing this is when you're trying to use Google Music, try this pop quiz: You want to delete this song. Is the "Delete" option under door number 1, 2, 3, or 4? This is the problem every Google Music user has to deal with every time they want to do something. And this is just for the 2 Artists screens; the other screens have a million menus like this, too. (The correct answer is #4, no other arrow has "Delete" as an option.)

The reality of all of this menu mayhem is that the options like "Delete" and "Keep on device" seem impossible to find. You will never keep a model of this in your head, so when you need one of these options, you just randomly wander from view to view hoping to stumble across it. It's frustrating.

The 'Now Playing' Screen Is Useless

wm_2013-01-14 23.21.42

The disorganized menu system is further exacerbated by the completely useless "Now Playing" interface. There are no song management options here at all.

The overflow button's only options are navigational (Equalizer, Instant Mix, Settings, Help) or, strangely, queue-related. The fact that it is offering to "clear queue" and "save queue" from this view is completely insane, because I cannot see the queue at all. Why would you want to clear or save the queue when you can't even see it? (You might be able to see the queue from this screen on a tablet, but that doesn't make it ok on a phone, especially when phones are the majority.)

Now Playing is probably the only screen on Google Music that does not have another set of options somewhere, and that is sorely needed. There is absolutely no way to manage a song from this screen. This fails spectacularly for so many situations: "I hate this song and want to delete it," or "I love this song and want it on my device all the time" or "Yes, let me add this to my 'party' playlist." You can't act on any of that from this screen; that is all hidden somewhere else. You have to go on a menu scavenger hunt.

All of the song stuff needs to be accessible from here. That means "Delete," "Keep on my device," "Add to queue," "Add to playlist," "Make instant mix," "More by artist," and "Shop for artist." I am currently looking at/listening to this song - I need options for it. Imagine if Gmail didn't have Archive/Delete/Reply while looking at an email and you had to go back to the inbox to do any of those actions. That's basically what's going on here.

Portrait and Landscape Function Completely Differently

Learn all of Google Music's quirks in portrait mode, flip it sideways, and you have a completely different app with things in different locations.

wm_2013-01-23 17.22.20wm_2013-01-23 17.22.30

Just count the number of differences here. This is the same screen (Genres) in portrait and landscape.

Landscape scrolls horizontally; portrait scrolls vertically. Landscape is full of album art; portrait has none. Landscape has a scrollbar letter preview; portrait doesn't. Landscape doesn't have a status bar; portrait does.

wm_2013-01-23 17.01.33wm_2013-01-23 17.02.06

Portrait uses horizontal swipes to navigate between views (Recent, Albums, Artists, etc.), and landscape uses an action bar drop down. An action bar drop down exists in portrait mode, but it only switches between "All Music" and "On Device" music.

wm_2013-01-23 17.52.13wm_2013-01-23 17.53.33wm_2013-01-23 17.52.36wm_2013-01-23 17.52.20wm_2013-01-23 17.53.09wm_2013-01-23 17.58.28

Portrait and landscape differences are just the tip of the iceberg. It seems like no two screens in Google Music share a common anything. Every screen has its own style and its own rules. Sometimes you'll get 4 huge album thumbnails per screen, sometimes 8. Sometimes they'll be in a swoopy, 3D 'curve,' and sometimes you won't get any album art at all.

All of this just continues to add to the inconsistent mess that is Google Music. I really don't think there is any human out there that can confidently use this program or predict where things are or how things work on any given screen. Your best bet is to pick one screen and one orientation, learn it, and ignore all the others.

They Forgot The Action Bar Title


This is the example of a good action bar, from the official Android Design web site. We're mostly concerned with label #2; what Google calls "View control." I usually call it the "title."

wm_2013-01-31 15.10.04wm_2013-01-31 15.10.16

There tends to be two versions of action bar title: There's the Gmail version, which uses the action bar as an informative navigational element. It displays where you are (for instance, "Inbox"), and tapping on opens a drop down that allows you to navigate to other places ("All Mail," "Labels," etc.). The Play Store uses the action bar title another way - it's just a text object that shows you where you are ("My Apps," "Settings," etc.).

wm_2013-01-15 16.51.17wm_2013-01-15 16.57.25

Google Music screws this up completely. Sure, in some screens it's a navigational element, in others it's a static, "you are here" element, but in some screens it's missing completely. Check out these two shots, there's just a mass of blank space there. How about "Now Playing" and "Song Queue" as titles? That would look significantly less broken than a big empty space.

It's Still Tron Themed


This is indicative of the core of all of Google Music's problems: neglect. Sure, Google Music gets the occasional bug fix update, but it's been a very long time since someone at Google critically looked at this app.

Google Music was birthed on the Motorola Xoom as the oddly-named "Music Beta by Google." At the time, the Xoom was running Honeycomb, a Tron-inspired, all-blue OS that I like to refer to as "Android's awkward teenager phase." Google Music was designed to fit into this environment, and, while every other app has outgrown the sharp-edged, blue-laser aesthetic, Google Music is still all about "non-conformity" and has stubbornly stayed blue.

2012-11-24 18.24.382012-11-24 18.24.532012-11-24 18.25.102012-11-24 18.25.402012-11-24 18.44.172012-11-24 18.26.172012-11-24 18.26.422012-11-24 18.26.582012-11-24 18.34.012012-11-24 18.39.592012-11-24 18.32.492012-11-24 18.41.322013-01-15-23.192012-11-24 18.42.29

One of these things is not like the others

I don't know if you've noticed, but the Tron look is dead. Everything is white now. Check out this lineup of Google Apps and tell me which one doesn't fit. It's time for Google Music to get with the program and go for a white base, like everything else.

Untitled-32012-11-24 18.32.49

The Tron aesthetic doesn't even match the rest of Google Music. Music.google.com uses a perfectly sane-looking white background with black text. That looks much better than the crazy blue theme. Check out the web app next to the Android app; that doesn't look like a unified, cohesive UI to me.

You know what? Here, I'll do it:


This is a mockup I whipped up in an afternoon. This is what Google Music should look like - a white base with black text just like the rest of Android. It's nice looking, it's readable, it matches the web app, and it doesn't look like a sci-fi space ship. It's mature. That's all I'm asking. After Google is done beating the Gingerbread out of Google Maps Navigation, they should focus on the next-ugliest-duckling in their lineup and bring Google Music's design into the year 2013.

And while they're fixing the design style, I hope they at least try and make the app usable by a normal human being. Pick a display style and apply it to as many screens as possible. Make all the song management options available in every song menu, and add them to the now playing screen. Make the app work the same in landscape as it does in portrait. Just stop being so inconsistent.

The Camera's New Quick Controls Require A Transparent Thumb


Quick controls from the old stock browser were a neat idea: slide your thumb inward from the edge of the screen and a set of radial browser controls would fan out from your fingertip. Sliding your thumb over an option would highlight it, and activating something only required lifting your thumb off of the desired option. It was a unique, decently-designed interface that took up minimal screen real estate and was enjoyable to use.

When Google made the switch from the stock Browser to Chrome, quick controls never made the cut. The idea didn't die though, when it came time to design the new Camera controls in Android 4.2, Team Android decided to resurrect this idea for the UI. There was only one problem; rather than arrange everything in a semi-circle, like the Browser quick controls, they arranged the options in a full circle. This is wrong.


It only takes a few minutes of playing with the new Camera to see why 360° quick controls are a bad idea: you can't see through your thumb. The browser fanned everything out in a half circle, away from your thumb. On the right side of the screen it would fan out to the left, and on the left side it would fan out to the right - it was perfect. The bits of human connecting your fingertip to the rest of your body never obscured the on-screen controls.

The Camera quick controls seem to be designed for use by some kind of disembodied fingertip that doesn't have to worry about human parts getting in the way. Arranging everything in a circle means the options at 6 and 5 o'clock are going to be covered by your thumb. In the picture on the right, there are six total options in the circle. Good luck figuring out what the hidden two are.


This probably worked great using a mouse on an emulator, but this should have been scrapped after one real world test. I have a challenge for whoever designed this: use it to adjust the white balance.

I'm not saying using this is impossible, but the stock browser implementation was so much better! Why did they screw it up so badly?

Luckily, none of this is a huge deal, because tapping on the circle in the lower right will bring the options up in a regular, tappable UI mode. This is what most people probably resort to after fighting with the lower options a few times.

I just wish I could disable the camera quick controls, because, in addition to controls along the top and bottom of the circle, swiping right to left will bring up the Gallery. If you try to do this quickly and move your thumb in a slightly upward or downward motion, you'll trigger one of the quick control options instead of opening the Gallery. There have been so many times when I imperfectly swipe to the left, and instead of seeing the Gallery, I trigger quick controls and launch the front facing camera.

Widgets Use The Worst Possible List Style

At the core of every app is a list - a list of contacts, a list of music, a list of apps, a list of emails, a list of Facebook statuses. Just about every app uses a list, and sometimes these lists get rather lengthy. Luckily, Android is very good at displaying big lists, and has several great ways of dealing with them when you have to scroll large distances.


1: Lists are always flingable. A quick swipe up or down will send the list quickly scrolling in that direction and, if that's not fast enough for you, you can keep swiping and you'll add to the momentum of the list.

2: Long lists will usually have a grabbable scroll bar. If flinging is too much work, tap and hold the scroll bar, and you can fly from the top to the bottom of the list in one second.

3: If the list is alphabetical, there will often be a pop-up letter preview, allowing you to zip right to the letter you want in a second or two.

4: Search.

All of these features greatly help with navigation through a long list, and even if you have a million contacts, finding someone isn't that big of a deal. Android is awesome at displaying long lists. Google has this figured out...

Except when it comes to the Widget drawer. It's a huge list, and it gets bigger every time you install an app. For some reason, Google chose to use absolutely none of these handy list management features when it came up with the design for the widget drawer.

wm_2013-01-26 20.32.52wm_2013-01-26 20.32.55wm_2013-01-26 20.33.01

This thing is a piece of crap. There is no way to accelerate your way through the list. You get a page of 6 thumbnails, and then you can swipe over, where you get a page of 6 more thumbnails. I have a very minimal suite of apps - less than 3 pages in the app drawer - and I still have fifteen pages of widgets. That means if I want to get to a newly installed weather widget, that's fifteen swipes to the right - there's no way to get there any faster. And, again, I'm on the low end of this - I'm sure there are some widget enthusiasts out there that can easily hit 30 pages.

Why does the widget drawer discard every method Android has for easily navigating a large list? It's not flingable, you can't grab the scroll bar, and there's no search function; it's a complete disaster. You should never ask anyone to make 15 swipe gestures to get to something they want. This page idea is fine for the app drawer, which is very dense and will rarely go above 5 pages, but it is completely wrong for the widget drawer. It only displays 6 widgets per page, and many apps have multiple widgets. Pure Calendar, for instance, has 14 widgets, that's more than 2 pages just from just 1 app. The widget list is going to get very large, very fast.

wm_2013-01-26 23.18.37wm_2013-01-23 17.52.13

One of the first things a home replacement app does is throw out the unusable widget drawer and replace it with the list on the left. This is a much saner implementation of the widget list that takes advantage of Android's list prowess with a flingable, vertical list. They also reduce the size of the list by stacking multiple widgets from the same app under one listing - both of these are great ideas. I understand the utility of the thumbnail previews; so Googlers, if you want to keep those, just take a look at the Google Music app, it has several examples of displaying a list of thumbnails in a manageable form.

They had a million options for the design of the widget list, and chose the slowest, least user friendly option. Copying the app drawer for something this large not a good idea. Scrap it.

The "Timer" Voice Action Doesn't Actually Use The Timer

Here's a fun one: Use Voice Actions to set a timer, then actually time it. You told it xx minutes, but does it actually give you xx minutes, exactly? No. It doesn't. The "Set a timer" voice action actually sets an alarm, so it is only accurate to the minute. This is most noticeable on shorter timer duration, like say, one minute. Observe:

Because it's really setting an alarm instead of a timer, it interprets "1 minute" as "the next minute." If you time it right, your "one-minute" timer will actually only last one second.

This is a leftover hack job from when Android had no timer app. In 4.2, Android received a beautiful new clock app, which included a built-in timer, so it's time to make voice actions use the timer app.

The Lock Screen's Buggy Keyboard Arrow

wm_2013-01-31 16.02.55

I don't actually use a lock screen, so if you're looking for someone to rip it to shreds, I'm not really your man. While initially testing it, however, I noticed it doesn't like to hide the keyboard back arrow. If you have the keyboard up while you lock the device, you'll often get this sorry sight.

Adding A Word To The Dictionary Is Clunky

wm_2013-01-31 16.34.07wm_2013-01-31 16.34.13wm_2013-01-31 16.34.20

Ever try adding a word to the dictionary? Type in your made-up word, tap the word in the keyboard suggestion panel, tap the word in the keyboard suggestion panel again, then confirm again that you really want to do this by tapping "OK" in the box that pops up.

Why is this so hard? This is at least 1 tap too many; it just feels so clunky. The crazy part is that the box that pops up in step 3 is editable as if you would want to type the word in, tap on it twice, and then finally decide to change something at the last minute. A double tap in the word suggestion panel would be fine, and not feel like a chore.

Does The Gallery Get A Notification Bar, Or Not?


Left picture: Launching the Gallery from its icon. Right picture: launching the Gallery from the camera. One gets a status bar and one doesn't. Why would you ever hide the status bar in portrait, anyway? The Nexus 4 takes 4:3 pictures and displays them on a 16:10 screen, so it's not like you are going to need that vertical space. Landscape is a different story; there the Gallery always hides the status bar.

YouTube Breaks Auto Rotation

Everyone watches YouTube in landscape, right? Have you ever noticed, if you let a video finish in landscape, it forces the screen to portrait, and it won't go back? So if you ever want to watch a video twice, or just want to get your phone (and status bar) back to landscape, you have to either leave this screen, or flip the phone to portrait and back to landscape.

The worst is when you are trying to show a video to a group, and want to hit the replay button after the video finishes so more people can see it. The replay button is basically useless, because the video will always be sideways the second time.


That's it for this batch of imperfections. Hopefully someone in Google Land is hard at work at fixing this stuff. Like I said earlier, the best part of Android is its phenomenal rate of improvement, which is all thanks to the group of hardworking developers Google has assembled. Android has come a long way in just a few years, and will hopefully only get better. I think Matias Duarte put it best in response to the first version of this article:

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!

So kudos to the devs that work on Android and have to put up with picky users like me. You guys are the best... Now get back to work!

So, did I miss anything here or in the first article? What bugs you about Android? Let's hear it in the comments.

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.
  • abra1177

    Exchange mail issues.

    Since 4.0 - sent messages show with senders name (i.e your own name rather than the person you sent the mail to) and Google still has not gotten around to fixing this very obvious bug.

    Otherwise still lots of Exchange issues - pet peeve is no forwarding from calendar.

    • Scott

      I can't even find any solid documentation that explains what features of activesync it even uses, or what versions of exchange are fully supported, or if they even pay microsoft for activesync licenses. It's a mess when trying to figure out compatibility for my exchange server.

  • Mack

    Why have you not been hired by Google yet??

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


      • Derp


        • http://twitter.com/TKfromCLE Terry Kessler


        • Troll

          Sparta :P

        • Philbus


        • LeDerpino


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

      No, thanks. You would say goodbye to articles like these if he was.

      • raazman

        You would turn down a Google job??? :o

        • Raiiiinnman

          I know right? I'd do anything for google......if they were like Raiiiinnman...We have a job where you'll be mopping floors all day who cares if you have that computer science degree. I'd sign on the dotted line SO FAST.

          • Guest

            I pity you...

        • http://www.modminecraft.com/ Nick Coad

          That's not what he's saying - the first comment was directed at the author, Artem is saying he hopes the author never leaves for Google because then we wouldn't get these great articles!

      • Mack

        Haha we wouldn't need these articles because he would just have everything fixed.

      • xx

        We wouldn't need an article like this if those things were actually getting fixed by him first hand...

    • http://twitter.com/hazard209 Mark

      At least as a beta tester.

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

        I can imagine Ron as a beta tester, XD.

        Ron is right though the inconsistencies are really an annoyance, as consistency is an importance in UX design.

    • http://twitter.com/simp1istic simp1istic


    • Corwin1681

      Because he didn't mention the "power control" widget. And lack of options on it. Have you seen cyanogenmod version?

      • Akhil

        Oh CM 10.1 is a saving grace man.

    • Bariman43

      Because Matias Duarte is already working hard to eliminate these silly shortcomings.

    • Simon Belmont

      Ha! Hopefully someone at Google reads Ron's tireless efforts to expose everything.

      I'm glad he works for AP, though. I'd miss his articles if he left!

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

    Great article, you covered all annoying things, although my calculator CLR button aligns perfectly, i don't have the same problem as you.

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

      I've actually heard from a few people that the calculator lines up for them now. What device do you have?

      • Abhijeet Mishra

        Lined up for me on my GNex.

        • RitishOemraw

          for me too (gsm gnex, stock 4.2)

      • WestIndiesKING

        on nexus 4 and its definitely not lined up.

        • frgr

          Lines up for me perfectly on N4 with CM10.1 Feb 3 nightly (if that makes any difference).

          • Sven Frenzel

            but that's CM10.1 their calculator isn't the stock anyways :)

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

        Looks fine on CM 10.1 (on Galaxy Gio, which i have to endure a few more days, until my N4 comes ;) )
        So probably something Cyanogenmod fixed with their calculator.

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

        Most definitely not lined up on a stock Nexus 4.

        • Nathan Bell


        • BajK

          Depends on locale. Perfectly aligned on German saying "Löschen" (Clear) in all cases.

      • Laurence

        Maybe the real question we should be asking is - why is there a giant blank "button" next to the CLR button anyway? Why does it exist? What purpose does it serve?

      • Niall Till

        Looks like it lines up fine on the gnexus, obviously linked to the screen size or something like that

      • http://profiles.google.com/vdogg89 Victor Stuber

        I'm pretty sure the reason it lines up differently for everyone is because they are using a percentage for the width and it sits outside of the grid of the lower buttons. so every device, that percentage will result in a diff sized clr button

  • WestIndiesKING

    Let me starts this by saying you are awesome, Also There is a bug that i reported and hasnt receive much traction. Seeing you are mostly focusing on UI bugs in your article this may not fit into what you are talking about.


    This is a bug when you are already on the phone call and someone calls to activate the call waiting the screen doesnt wake up. This was something that worked before. I use my headset alot and my phone is typically on my desk or lap so catching the screen light up in the corner of my eye would help realize someone called me. I dont always here the beep and i really liked this feature.

  • marcusmaximus04

    "I've yet to see an example where allowing developers to screw with the back button is a good thing."

    Games. In virtually any game, you want to be able to present a menu with a back button press so the player doesn't accidentally terminate gameplay. That's not possible with the "always show the previous screen" functionality you're talking about.

    This said, I still don't understand Google's implementation of the back button. There are some instances where the problems are completely avoidable at the OS level(e.g. open an app, use the task switcher to switch to another one, press back to exit out of that. It goes to the home screen rather than the previous app because ????)

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

      Oh. Right. Games. Good point.

      • marcusmaximus04

        If you'd like something to replace that: with a bluetooth keyboard connected, there's a bug where sometimes the back arrow permanently becomes the hide keyboard icon.

        • Justin Winker

          So... With the first part... Android is trying to hide the bluetooth connected Keyboard? xD

      • http://www.modminecraft.com/ Nick Coad

        Speaking of the back button, you missed my personal pet hate: in G+ the top left button behaves just as unpredictably and confusingly as the back button. Sometimes it brings up a menu, sometimes it closes the app. Incredibly frustrating!

        And thanks for pointing out the YouTube issues - probably the bit I hate the most is that YouTube flat out ignores your rotation-lock settings.

    • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

      Yeah, there are actually plenty of places where them altering it is pretty darn useful. Merely taking you to the previous screen would screw up all sorts of transaction-based apps, security-related tasks, etc. Unfortunately it IS a necessary evil that apps can program their own actions for this. BUT it is unacceptable, really, for the design standard not to be to take you to wherever you were previously as opposed to closing the app or other oddities. Programming it to not take you to the previous transaction page, but to something that comes before that step, for instance.

      • http://twitter.com/sarav_oxy Saravanan

        What I'd like to see is a back button always taking you to previously what was on screen, and an 'UP' button a la the one in windows which takes you one level up within the app. But this would annoy some peope as in some apps the UP button slides and reveals a small list of options/places to navigate to.

        • marcusmaximus04

          Games is still a problem there. You need a way to ensure that an accidental button press won't knock the player out of the session. Now, one way google could potentially fix this is remove the option to handle the back button from the SDK and, instead, have a way to supply a menu dialog which, if provided, will be brought up on a back press instead of actually going back. If not provided, it goes to the previous screen.

          That way, apps that need such a "Are you sure you want to exit" mechanism can have them, but no apps will mess up the back button merely because it's RIGHT THERE in the SDK.

          • Justin Swanson

            I like this idea. Please submit to Google. ;)

    • vitriolix

      In fact, altering the back history happens constantly and it is the behavior users want and expect. For instance, if gmail didn't alter the history after you send an email hitting back would take you back to the compose window of an email you already sent... this would be surprising to say the least.

      • ssj4Gogeta

        This. Games aren't the only use case. Many applications wouldn't work as expected if the back button wasn't programmable.

    • Freak4Dell

      Maybe they should create a bit of code to internally categorize the app, so that in only games does the back button ignore the previous screen command and show a menu. Of course, it would take forever for lazy devs to implement this, and it offers a point of entry for idiot devs to miscategorize their apps.


    As far as I know, the thing with Recent Apps occurs because of how Android's Intent system works; for example, when you share something with Gmail, and you had just used the Gmail app, you'll see the app you shared from with the compose interface *and* the Gmail app. (I suggest trying it. :) ) If you press the up button, you'll move into the Gmail app from the compose interface, but otherwise, the compose interface acts as a part of the app you shared something from. That's the part of the genius behind Intents - they let apps use pieces of other apps, like the Camera, or Gmail, or the Gallery.

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

      That doesn't excuse the terrible way this is presented. It's not ok to say "Google Reader" but actually open YouTube.

      • Jelanie Sandiford

        Depends on the situation. The best way to look at it is that you're not actually opening up another app, but rather sharing to that app. If for instance you were sharing a picture to Instagram, but you had been viewing someone's gallery on it earlier, you should be able to go back and forth between sharing that picture and viewing that profile between the gallery and the actual instagram app. The confusion would be limited by somehow limiting sharing capabilities so that you can tell when you're in the middle of sharing via the recent apps.

    • http://www.dsaif.com/ Saif

      Intent should open it as new app instead of showing it into the original app.

    • Matthew Fry

      A way to solve this would be to do something like: Original app=>app opened by intent. Like "Google Reader => Youtube" and then show Youtube in the thumbnail. But that of course requires that the back button worked properly and took you back to Google Reader instead of the main youtube view.

      • XBIRDIE98

        @Matthew Fry: That's a rather good way of handling this. As Mr. Amadeo has stated, it is presented rather terribly to someone without the knowledge of Intent handling and Android internals, which would be most users - and I certainly agree that this should be clarified.
        "YouTube [Icon]
        opened by [<--- Localized]
        Google Reader [Icon]"
        might work, especially considering all the empty space below the app name, although it might mess with the clean design.

  • http://www.youtube.com/kimirPORTALS kimir

    Adventure Club +1

  • Billy

    Also, on the note of "Play Store Scroll Location", it is all good except when you delete a non-installed app from the "All" list. It still takes you right back to the top.

    Mind you, you can press-and-hold to multi-select and dump a bunch at once.

    • Chris

      I think you may have just changed my life with that tip...

      • Billy

        lol! Just don't do what I did and bump your back button after selecting 200+ items. (my initial cleanup)

        • taz89

          Lol so annoying when this happens

        • Justin Winker

          .... I thought I was the only one who would manage to do this... After my first selecting a large quantity of apps and hitting back on accident, I decided to go 10 at a time to play it safe.. Lol.

        • Reginald Spence II

          Initial cleanup? 200+ items? I'd hate to see how much is cleaned off after you're done cleaning.

          • Billy

            This cleanup is only for all the not-currently-installed Apps from over the years. Gets rid of a lot of crap from your app list. I also don't install everything I see anymore. :)

          • Reginald Spence II

            Lol, good point. I see what you mean. Sorry I jumped to conclusions. Heh heh.

          • Billy

            Haha, no worries!

    • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

      I didn't realize I could multi-select those. Thank you SO much. That'll be a big time-saver.

    • Matthew Fry

      Yeah this one bothers me too. It triggers a refresh of the view to get rid of the deleted app. I'd much rather it be like gmail where I can swipe it away and the view reacts properly.

      • Justin Winker

        This would be ten times easier than the current interface.

    • Sycobob

      Same with installing. I find it somewhat appalling that you can't multi-select and install. It ends up being easier to bulk install all your apps from a PC if you don't use the built in app backup.

    • Thankyoubilly

      Holy CRAP... you can multi-select???

    • http://twitter.com/havens1515 Randroid

      I was thinking the same thing when I read that part!

    • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/ Ritesh Tripathy

      Feel like an idiot right now.. Why didn't I ever try that one!? Thanks btw..

    • rotz055

      My reaction to this

    • Yossi Cohen

      till the latest google play(the newest kinda beta one) 4.0.25 you couldnt do it...
      i mean you could have multi selected apps from the all apps list but hten you just had a stupid "v" check that does.... well deselection...
      just now they added the trash bin icon to tap after you multi select...
      btw why no multi install? thats annoying when you restore stuff...

  • MeCampbell30

    Don't you dare take away my blue google music. It is my unique flower.

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

      It's so Honeycombish. Ugh.

    • Tony

      Now I can't un-see the beautiful white render to google music, damn him! The current background is some kind of blueish rorschach inkblot mess.

      • Laurence

        I think the whiter render looks staid and uninteresting. I respect Ron's opinions immensely, and I love reading his nitpicky UI criques, but I think he's wrong about this.

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


        I did say render, didn't I? It used to be a render, but I've been busy!

  • Ian Santopietro

    They did appear to have fixed the phone, and while it won't rotate under normal circumstances (which is good), if you have the phone docked, the phone and in-call screen will orient correctly (which is also good).

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


      What phone has a dock?

      • Sven Frenzel

        gnex :)

      • blunden

        The Galaxy Nexus does at least.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marcusleejh Marcus Lee

    I'm not proud to say this but... Was anyone else afraid to click on a link named "where the shaft meets the head"?


    • legend618


    • http://twitter.com/rxpaul Rahul Paul

      Did laugh at it though!!

    • flosserelli

      I wouldn't touch that link with a 10" pole.

      • MrZackarius

        I see what you did there.

    • ChumbleSpuzz

      Checked it when i got home. Its SFW. But, yeah. wasn't going to dare select it while at work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000641679519 Marc Anderson

    Dude, you should try using google currents!
    I still have NO idea how it works like:
    Some times swiping from the left edge will show you your feeds other time it just brings you to the previous story
    Sometime the back button brings you to the main page of a feed o sometimes it kicks you out of the app
    Sometimes i randomly get kicked back to a story I opened from the widget ages ago
    Sometimes i load it up and get a blank screen which takes 30seconds to realise is nothing before i have to press back and hope something good happens.
    Honestly it is SOOOOO bad iI find it IMPOSSIBLE to use, personally havent used google music but im sure currents is as bad - if not worse - than that.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/SuperElvisfreshlyATT Freshly_Snipes

      Currents in its current form is a MESS!!!!!

      • Daniel Smith

        Current currents?

        • http://twitter.com/Dr_MBambi Moaz Bambi

          Currently I have Currents uninstalled from my current Android because it uses 25MB, YES, 25MB OF RAM!!! I only have 648MB of total RAM in my Galaxy Nexus and usually running with 40 free..

          So just made a clean up and uninstalled Currents, Facebook other two not so popular apps which had services running even when not using them,

          • Nna Cương

            The OS will handle the RAM for you, that why the phones called smart, lol

    • IncCo

      THIS! Seriously, the navigation in currents is absolutely ridiculous !

    • TylerChappell

      lol, I use Currents all the time and had these same issues today, it was very frustrating. I also experienced the YouTube orientation problem in this article; and I think it was while I was using currents.

    • loldroid

      I thought I was the only one...after the Currents redesign I read some reviews in the playstore and all were positive ("Perfect!", "Finally a good reader app" and so on). I launched the app on my N7 and my first thought was "How the fuck does that work?" I gave it another try some days later when I thought I figured out how it works but it keeps doing random things I do not understand...never used it again.

      • SK

        Ok, so I wasn't the only one who was surprised by the good reviews for the UI update. The new UI is terrible. While the previous UI wasn't spectacular, it got the job done consistently. So, I just installed the older version (I use App Monster to auto backup apps when they get installed).

    • McLean Riley

      Thank you! I seriously thought it was just me who couldn't figure that stupid (although beautiful) app out.

  • jevan

    Great article as always Ron

  • io53

    Brilliant article. So got damn true, the inconsistency in Android is verry annoying. But I still love it.

  • http://code.google.com/p/lg-v909 Aaron Echols

    Don't forget to add to youtube, when in a mDocked state, Youtube won't go full screen... :(

  • http://profiles.google.com/franklindner.mobile Frank Lindner

    I enjoyed reading the whole article, there is a lot of work behind making such a collection of still rather annoying things in Android. Keep it up.

  • SoWhy

    I like the Shuffle button idea :-D

  • http://www.maverickcreative.ca/ Joshua Richards

    Great post. Other than Shuffle > Back, I agree with everything, shuffle implies going to somewhere random, instead, the back button should always just take you to the previous screen you were on, regardless of app etc.

    if you go from the activities view to an app, back should take you back to the activities vew

    if you go from home to gmail to an image to activities viewer, back should go to activities, image, gmail, home

    that seems to make the most sense imo

    • Billy

      I think the "Shuffle" button was a joke. :)

    • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

      The "shuffle" reference was a joke referring to the fact that, currently, we can't always predict where the back button will take us, so it's the equivalent of a back button.

    • Matthew Fry

      The shuffle idea was sarcasm. He wants the back button to make sense but right now, launching a new app from within an app or even going several views deep into an app (especially maps) it is completely messed up.

  • lotsofmusic

    Google Music: When hitting the back button instead of going to all artists have back go to the last album you selected... for example I have one band with over 500 live concerts albums when I'm listening to one album then I hit back it goes back to the artist and I have to scroll down 500 albums to the album I'm looking for... Cant the back button just bring me back to the same spot instead of all artists...

  • http://www.facebook.com/yu.biswash Biswash Yub

    2nd paragraph 2nd line : "One, Ttere's a new..."

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

      Whoops. Fixed. Thanks.

  • Laurence

    I agree with the UI issues surrounding Google music, but I kinda like the "Tron"-esque style. It's a music app, it's okay for it to be less serious-looking than an email client or a maps app.

  • PhineasJW

    Great write-up again Ron.

    Of all the issues, by far the most inexcusable in my opinion are the botched camera quick settings. Why? Because they're *new* to Jelly Bean, and they clearly didn't user test them at all (or did and ignored the results and decided to ship anyway). And, like you, I also accidentally end up turning on the front facing camera *all* the time.

  • blabla

    first, i lova android and have two nexus devices which i really like but the worst thing for me is the youtube app. in the latest version its always buffering and the previous versions are still so slow that i cant watch hd movies without buffering sometimes. is it so hard to fill the buffer a bit more? the youtube app is the most used app on my tablet but i really have some pronlems with hd videos sometimes and it feels like google ignores all the bad comments in the playstore. i am also a software engineer and do not publish software which is not finished yet.

    • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

      Odd, I've not had this issue, really. I have this happen far more frequently on YouTube on my computer than I do in the app.

  • Jens Knutson

    "Check out this lineup of Google Apps and tell me which one doesn't fit"

    Were the Gallery and Play Movies apps left out of this list by accident? Neither of those has received a UI whitewashing, and they look great.

    • blunden

      Neither do they use any of the styling from Honeycomb though which was the point. That's at least true for the Gallery. I haven't studied Play movies too much since it's not available in most countries. Gallery actually uses the relatively new transparent action bar and black makes more sense as the background for viewing pictures.

      @fcc7a5e5cc0fdf0e6fd7dd6b6eca9053:disqus One app that is even more clearly using a Honeycomb design is the tablet
      version of the old AOSP stock browser. They did remove that on newer
      devices though so I guess that's their defense. I'm guessing ICS tablets
      probably still shipped with it though.


      • Jens Knutson

        Ron's thoughts on the subject from past articles and comments strongly suggest that he just doesn't like dark themes, in any app, period.

    • Laurence

      And what about - most glaringly - the dialler?

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

      The way I've been looking at it is that core Android stuff is dark (the app drawer, notification panel, system buttons, Settings, Recent Apps, Clock, Calculator, Gallery, and Phone) and all the Gapps are white (Search, Gmail, Calendar, YouTube, and everything pictured). Not everything fits this theme (People is white, and Play Movies, like you said, is black), but I think it is Google's general design direction.

      Google Music is a Gapp, so I stuck it with the other Gapps. I feel it should be white because they are.

      Including the dark parts of Android in my screenshot lineup wouldn't have accomplished anything anyway, as they would all be black/dark grey, and Google Music would still be blue, and still not fit.

      I'm not really arguing against dark apps; I'm arguing against blue apps. That is a Tron design from Honeycomb and should be retired.

      • Jens Knutson

        I see the blue-ish feel to Music as simply the use of color to "brand" the Holo theme for the app, the way the Movies app uses red. That said, it definitely feels more like Honeycomb than any other app on a Nexus device (i.e.: AOSP + GApps). For a media-centric app like this, I feel a dark theme is still best, but the dark theme it has could use some significant updates, no doubt.

        The rest of your comments re: Music are right on though. The only criticisms I would have added are:
        1. The touch targets for a bunch of these context menu buttons are too damned small. The design guidelines suggest 48dp as optimal, and (IIRC) 32dp minimum, but several of those context menu triangles are much smaller, and it's painfully apparent when using them. (e.g.: the context menu button in the album details view, just above the new "Shuffle" item in the track list)
        2. Why are they using so many context menus like this in the first place? A contextual action bar is the preferred approach now, but the Music app doesn't use that pattern *anywhere* that I can find.

        Great article overall, too. You're one of the only Android reviewers (on any site, not just AP) that I've found who actually catches this stuff, the good and the bad, and calls it out.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/psycho_maniac_ Jerry Lange

    google music needs to be changed to white!

  • http://twitter.com/michyprima Michele Primavera

    From great powers comes.. yeah you know.

    Letting developers change the back button behaviour is needed when you need to cancel an user action within the same activity, for instance when you have to go a folder back in a file explorer.

    current android implementantion doesn't have any other way than doing this manually overriding the standard behaviour.

  • ithehappy

    Lol, stock Android and perfection? Good Lord!

  • http://twitter.com/Alankrut Alankrut Patel

    My calc is lined up perfectly..Is it a rom thing? Im using AOKP (v. 4.2.1) on the GN

  • http://www.dsaif.com/ Saif
  • ElfirBFG

    My calculator app has a lined up 'delete' button, is that a CM10.1 thing?

    And I absolutely hate the JB/CM10 camera, I switch back to my Moto-4.0.4 ROM partition any time I know I will be taking photos. I prefered the CM10 camera to the stock Atrix cam, but the RAZR's is the best I've used to date.

    • blunden

      Yes. We tend to fix stuff like that in CM. In this case the fix might've been a part of the changes to add the new calculator features.

      May I ask why you hate the CM camera app? Lack of features compared to Motorola's camera app or something specific to CM (ie. something not part of the AOSP camera app our app is based on)?

      • ElfirBFG

        Hate may be a strong word, or stemming from the fact that the XT910 build I have is not polished. I don't like the layout or the menu, but mostly I dislike the brokenness. I have no flash outside of focus, and no matter the settings, it's grainy. I also miss Motorola's landscape-only layout and the volume rocker shutter control. So I don't hate CM, I love it, and maybe someday I'll have an officially supported device.

  • meh

    Also broken in 4.2: Bluetooth. I've held off updating my Nexus 7 because my Nexus 10 can't really use my Bluetooth keyboard and Magic Trackpad like my N7 and GNex can.

  • gumbald

    Very thorough and interesting article again! My main annoyance recently is that Google+ Messenger is an app, but isn't. Can't have LED notifications for it, it gets confused if you then open Google+ main app. It won't try again to send a message if it decides not to the first time. I hope this neglect is down to it being merged into a 'messaging' central location along with GTalk, that I can access from my web browser whichever device I use. For now, Facebook Messenger is winning...

    • blunden

      It's just a shortcut to an activity belonging to the Google+ app, similarly to have Navigate is just a shortcut to an activity of the Maps app. That's the reason you can't set different nofitication led colors for it.

      I wouldn't say Facebook Messenger is winning. In fact I don't know anyone who uses it, not even heavy facebook users. Gtalk on the other hand is pretty popular thanks in part to the great implementation on Android. The usage of different IM services differs widely between different countries.

  • William Landry

    This isn't really a bug, more of an annoyance...I don't need a warning every time I want to put the volume on max!!! Any adult that doesn't know loud music can be bad for their hearing deserves to go deaf.

    At least give me the option to not show it again.

    • D4niel

      Can you explain that more? I've never seen a warning about volume.

      • Nathan Bell

        If you have your phone plugged into an external speaker sometimes it auto-turns the volume down to half and pops that message up because it thinks you have headphones on. I think it's a good feature for headphones, but definitely should have the option to never show again.

    • http://twitter.com/sarav_oxy Saravanan

      This annoys me to no end on my Nexus 10.

      • Tyler

        YESSSS! I have speakers with a volume control on them and keep them always at 1/2 volume and my tablet isnt as loud as my computer so i turn it up more to see that annoying message.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

      Use Plug-In Launcher and set it to max and you won't have the warning. Just turn down when using headphones.

  • http://twitter.com/turbosix turbosix

    i am so fucking sick of the camera delay you get when rotating the phone. i have missed so many quick shots because i pick the phone up in portrait and then turn it sideways only to have it lag for a few seconds while it's rotating to landscape.

    and at least on the gnex, the viewfinder is no longer WYSIWYG. go take a picture of a rectangular object and try to frame the object completely. take a pic. now swipe over to your gallery. you'll see the viewfinder was telling you one thing but the camera actually took a picture that was zoomed out.

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

      Oh wow. I just checked on the N4, the camera isn't WYSIWYG! That's crazy.

    • Kie

      I came here to say this exactly,could not believe it when I updated. The camera is about the most used feature of my phone and between the lack of WYSIWYG and auto-rotation it has become just SO frustrating. Of all the problems in the Android system if this was the only one they fixed with 5.0 I would accept it.

  • KishanRathod

    They should also add Setting button with Back, Home and Recent app buttons. They used to have with those buttons and now they are not. It confuses the normal user. Now sometimes it is on top and sometimes it is on bottom.

  • Kurt Schultz

    I completly agree with the camera quick nav buttons, I swipt the wrong thing all the time and the damn thing pops up with the slightest non horizontal swiping motion when I wanted to see the pic I just took.

    I also hate the inconsistent use of the menu buttons in the bottom or upper right corners.

    One other thing that peeves me about the UI that I haven't seen mentioned here is this: in 'Settings -> Apps' you can swipe to the left and right to change screens betwee "Downloaded" "Running" and "All" (btw I think Running should be first) but in 'Settings -> Data Usage' you can't swipe between "Mobile" and "Wi-Fi"

  • BrianBreniser

    I like how this is constructive criticism and not just criticism (but of course, is also constructive). I'm happy with android but it does need a couple tweaks. Some things have a higher priority than others, but in general here are the things that need to change (and, as far as I have heard, are going to change):

    Maps needs to be consolidated (maps, navigation, places, earth, etc) (in progress i believe)

    communication apps need to be consolidated (phone, voice, messages, talk, people..): (I hope this is in progress, but I have not heard anything.)

    The back button needs to be consistent: I totally agree, it's probably a tougher change than we think (in that developers depend on it, or change it separately, etc.) but I think we can make it happen google!

    App size is less important to me than to other people, but consistency is never a bad thing (for a mobile device anyway).

    I don't mind the Google music theme, I like it dark. Maybe give the option to change from a light to dark theme (maybe do this for all the apps, or something similar...?)
    -But-> do change the settings button options consistency. again, more consistency is better on
    mobile devices.

    overall another great report!

  • Anonymous


    Read that.

    The back stack is not a stack of "screens". It's a stack of Activities. If a developer chooses to just use the existing activity to reload a lost, or launch a new instance of that activity, that's their choice. It's not that they "control" the function of the back button (although they can...that's not the issue here). It's that developers don't necessarily have to use Activities in consistent ways in all apps.

    Just having the UI go back to the previous "screen" sounds simple, until you realize that maybe memory has run low and the previous task was killed. Well, is every app going to know how to redraw itself if the flow was disrupted? Probably not. At least with Activities there is an API already that can be used for this. You're talking about all-new APIs that would need to be implemented by everyone.

    • Name

      That may be the developers choice, but is that even justified when it's the end-user who suffers from this inconsistency rather than the developer?

  • Rupin87

    Google maps when I use contact information to navigate to it causes the app to crash

  • Olivia

    Great article! A lot of excellent points and hopefully they get hit soon in future updates. My biggest complaint these days is battery life though, it's been horrid since my GSM GNex got 4.2. Disabled exchange and Currents and no improvements to be seen.

  • Ekburt

    You should have at least mentioned the performance problems on current devices like the nexus 7!

    • D4niel

      I keep hearing people complain about performance issues on the Nexus 7, but mine works great.

      • Scott

        Same. I've had mine ever since they first started shipping out and have never had any problems with it.

  • Doug Roberts

    No kidding 4.2 isn't perfect! See this blog for an assessment of 42. and 4.2.1 on the Nexus 4 (and 7, and 10), and more importantly about Google's lackluster support operation for the Nexus 4 platform: http://things-linux.blogspot.com/2013/02/epic-fail.html

    • blunden

      The author doesn't really doesn't do anymore than speculate and fails to mention that the bluedroid BT stack is a complete rewrite so trying to make a diff between that and bluez is beyond stupid. It's nothing more than a rant.

      • blunden

        anything more*

  • jeffrey beck

    Please Google! Read this before you finalize 5.0! PS I can't unsee those dead pixels in the back button... Thanks ;)

    • Brayden Reesor

      My OCD is sad :(

    • Nathan Bell

      I can't either. dick! haha

    • cowgar

      cyanogenmod fixed it today, among other things...

  • Samy

    Thank you and here more bug to mention:

    1) It is very difficult to hit Enter in the messages app. You have to hit Caps and if you use another language, you will have to go to English to hit Enter and them go back to the other language !

    2) The Arabic font is tooooo Ugly. Please change it to a more modern one

    3) please revamp the the messages app. Also, could we get an imessages similar feature?

  • greg

    Let's talk about the stock News & Weather app... outdated and ugly.

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

      Oh my god I forgot they still ship that. It's always the first thing I disable so I totally forgot about it.

      • https://plus.google.com/116879163037230501137/posts Cullen Maglothin

        I really want a smaller Currents-linked widget to replace it. Would be very nice to get the stuff I want from Currents delivered in a much smaller package.

        • greg

          Couldn't agree more. Currents is much better.

        • RitishOemraw

          Yeh, currents beats the crap out of Google news....using currents breaking stories for those that haven't set up subscriptions. (the poor lads)
          Also, currents should come with a web-version. So I can browse feeds online, manage the subscriptions and add RSS website feeds with a click of a extension/button/booklet?

      • heat361

        Hey Ron how about a way to hide the nav bar to get a true full screen experience.

    • blunden

      Indeed. They actually use upscaled mdpi drawables for the weather icons.

      Weirdly enough they did update it to add an actionbar to it but that's it.

      • Simon Belmont

        Agreed! I always wondered why they did that but just didn't bother with a complete overhaul.

        They really need to modernize it. Still very Gingerbread-esque!

  • Scott

    @ronamadeo:disqus Do you know anything about Exchange compatibility with Android? Such as what version of activesync it uses and what features are supported. I've been unable to find any information about this. It appears to also differ with different OEM's on what activesync version they use. It just seems to be a big and utter mess.

  • Wayne Randall

    Thanks Ron. Excellent piece. Can't wait for el goog to read this and take notice

  • http://twitter.com/hazard209 Mark

    I'm a battery management freak and although the uniform white background with black text is nice, I prefer black background with white text. It's less of an annoyance when looking at your phone in the dark as well. No need to blind yourself or people you're with. A way to natively invert an app via in app settings or system settings would be a great improvement in my opinion.

  • DeadSOL

    Loved the article! I really hope some Googler is reading this and making notes! That would show their absolute commitment to improving Android! :)

  • cc_star

    Come up with a new messaging solution by merging SMS/GTalk/G+ Messenger & all the others into a single app. This new messaging service should be able to 'feed' Google Now just like Gmail can.

    Merge Navigation, Earth, Places etc into Google Maps

    Sort Google Music out, I love it & use it all the time but the app is a mess.

    News & Weather is just horrible too

    and of course widgets option like mentioned is bordering unusable.

    • Aleebaan

      Also, a remake of the calculator would be appreciated!!

      • Jay P

        Somebody already did that. Cyannogenmod now has it's own calculator and it's available in the Play Store for free. Fits the Stock UI perfectly. You'll need to hide the stock calcator though since the icon and text are exactly the same as well.

    • blunden

      No, merging SMS with the other proprietary apps is a really bad idea. It will mean that app will become proprietary too which in turn means stuff like Quick Reply and other features can't be added to it by the community.

      Merging their different proprietary messaging apps makes sense though.

  • hot_spare

    It's obvious that a lot of effort went into this article. Nice!

  • zoxxo

    Google releases everything with a "Beta" title. Eventually the "Beta" in the
    title is removed (in some apps), but the app stays in "Beta" forever. It would
    be nice if they focused on polishing the app before it's released.

    Another thing that bothers me in Music is how the app treats "Greates Hits."
    Navigate to an artist, choose a greatest hits album, and you get the greatest
    hits album for every artist that has a greatest hits album. The only way to fix
    this is for the user to find every single greatest hits album and rename it with
    the artist name in the title. Come on Google, you're a large corporation with a
    large talented development force, you can't fix issues as minor as this?

    Every release breaks so many apps. As soon as the OS is updated, you have a
    number of apps that break, and you have to hope that the 3rd party developers
    are paying attention and quickly release an update. To be fair, I'm sure that
    much of those issues are with the apps themselves. But I also have to imagine
    that the issues are workarounds and kludges to make up for short commings in the
    OS. Google needs to step up and get on the same page with the app developers to
    make an OS update transparent to users. I also think that Google needs ot be
    more involved with the apps approval system similar to what apple does. If they
    dedicated a team that paid attention to apps as they are submitted and released,
    we might see better apps and less malware.

    I really love the Android environment. It's customization is umatched
    compared to iOS and the Windows OS. I'm sure that that the new Blackberry's will
    be the same as the other OS's. I tell my friends that if they want simplicity,
    go with iOS, but if you want to make the phone truely yours, go with Android. If
    Google would get their apps out of Beta, then I might be able to sway the iOS
    folks over more easily!

  • ranova

    the reason why theres a difference in UI between the iOS and Android versions of Maps is because Google has a dedicated team for each OS. I suspect that the Android team will incorporate the iOS maps UI in the near future.

  • RitishOemraw

    I agree with everything in this article......luckily most of the things here are things that don't bother me much, but which I do like to see fixed.

    The most annoying one from this list is the inconsistent back-button.
    After that, the music app and then the widget drawer.

  • Melvin Fletcher

    Dude. Google music absolutely deserved that section. Its awful.

    One thing that bugs me is how jellybean broke car mode and Google never fixed it. I use my dock a lot in the car and its terrible now. The home button brings you back to the home screen instead of returning you to your car mode app. Its terrible when you're driving. It worked perfectly in ICS.

    • redragn5

      "Car Mode" could get it's own section. The "Car Home" app hasn't been updated since 2.3 (and has to be sideloaded on 4.0+ devides), car mode on the dock no longer grings you to your chosen app when you press home (actually this did work for me on 4.1 but 4.2 broke it), and the GNex car dock wont output phone sounds via Aux Cable (So I can listen to music in my truck but when I get a phone call it switches to the phone's speaker).

      I think along with the update to Navagation they should redo Car Mode as well seeing as the two kinda go hand in hand

  • http://tinyroar.com Cats-R-Friend

    Here is one of the worst bugs, (that has not been mentioned)
    Go into the youtube app, swipe right to show your subscribed channels, click one, then hit back. you would think it would take you to the home youtube page, yet it exits the app.
    Why does the youtube app have to mess with the back button and orientation?

  • AveDeRapina

    Surprised there was no mention of how the camera app now handles rotation. For some reason, it rotates the entire thing rather than just the buttons.

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

      Oh. Yeah that is pretty pointless. Good spot.

    • Billy

      Holy crap, that annoys me to no end! What the hell were they thinking? The navigation bar as well should never rotate with the screen. It would look a lot cooler to just see just the buttons rotate, unless Apple has a patent on that, of course.

      • blunden

        Pre-4.2 it only rotated the buttons. Unfortunately now that PhotoSphere is also a proprietary feature of GalleryGoogle.apk we can't really fix it ourselves in custom roms without dropping the proprietary features too.

        It might be worth investigating and then submitting the fix to AOSP and then have Google pull it into the proprietary version. I've managed that before.

  • Walmyr Carvalho

    Nice post, again. Another suffer for you put in the list: Try to choose a normal mp3 and put it like ringtone for alarm/calls through the phone, without plug it on a PC: It's a nightmare.

  • ProbablyDrew

    Good job. Articles like this are the surest way to get things changed, they draw attention to the issues in a public and easy to understand way. It also provide a link people inside and outside the company can pass around and refer to.

  • Daniel Heramb

    Nice article. You pointed out things that I never even noticed. Now they're going to annoy me every time I see them. I'd love to see your UI review of Google's new Ingress app.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=57902506 Jason Brian Chapa

    Here's an issue that bug me. Find a JPG on the web in Chrome or whatever browser. Download it. From the notification pull down, click on the downloaded image. Now hit the menu overflow button. You only have two options, EDIT and SET PICTURE AS. There is no share option. You have to close out, launch the gallery icon, find the picture again, then open it, then you have options to share it.

    • Laurence


  • heat361

    Wow Ron, this was really good!Keep up the great work!
    BTW +10000000 for that really bad Google music app!

  • Amo Aras

    What really makes me scratch my head is how Google can release so many things so half assed. Dont they use their own apps? I guess there's no Zuckerberg at Google that forces their employees to use their Android phones to really see the disaster we consumers see.

  • caddish

    Awesome article, you summed up every little details that annoy the hell out of us geek daily :P. I hope google read this and sends it to all the android team :P

  • Jason Rittenhouse

    Let's not forget messaging fragmentation! GVoice, Messenger, GTalk, G+ Messenger, etc, etc.

    • eduardo garcia

      i believe Gtalk,gvoice,messenger =google +
      like maps

  • http://twitter.com/TheChrisGlass Chris Glass

    Gmail and the back button just makes me sad. ANYTIME I end up reading an email directly from the notification bar, I hit back and I'm taken to my Inbox, a window I never pulled up or wanted. Back should send me exactly where I was.

  • http://www.facebook.com/raphael.uduhiri Raphael Uduhiri

    This is an amazing article and I appreciate all the work and detail that went into it . Like others have mentioned, Google Music is a MESS and should be completely revamped tomorrow....or with android 5.0. I used to use Audiogalaxy to handle my music needs and their UI was great but they were bought by Dropbox and it has been shut down so I'm FORCED to use google music.I agree with the sentiment that it is a terrible that some of these issues exist like the camera settings???? Did anyone even use it at all like a NORMAL person or do all Googlers use iPhones so they don't care? Can we also talk boout the mess that it the new lockscreen?? Who came up with that and though it was a good idea? At least give use the option to disable/turn it off

  • Theratchetnclank

    Adventure Club Rock!

  • Bobby Miller

    The camera "take a picture" button is ridiculously always on the right when you want to take a landscape photo with your left hand.

  • http://www.theandroidsite.com benmarvin

    Stock 4.2 on my Gnex and the clear button in Calculator lines up perfectly.

  • AndrewNeo

    Could I please get a copy of "This is a Mockup (AP Dubstep Remix)"? It sounds awesome.

  • coggy9

    The Google Music app is why I wish there was an official API for the Play Music service. I want to use Poweramp on my N4, but the storage limits me to the GMusic app, since I can't keep everything on the device.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

      Yeah PowerAmp with google music integration would make my life complete.

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

    Even though I am an artist myself, if Google has to pick its priorities, I rather they fix Bluetooth in the stock OS. As of now, even though my GNex's hardware is capable of using Bluetooth 4 Low Energy profile, the OS does not support it. Many fitness trackers (especially those comes out in the recent months) requires the LE profile, and the Nexus owners (I don't even think the Nexus 4 supports it) can only watch those devices with our mouths fully opened.

  • Mario Beric

    I never understood why Chrome doesn't just close when the last tab is closed. Instead, it shows a black screen, where the only option is to open a new tab, which seems redundant to me. The stock browser does this the right way.

    Also, Chrome seems to treat links differently. If I click a link to e.g. IMDb or Play Store, it will always open that itself, while stock browser will show an app choice dialog, so I can choose what to open it with.

  • Venky

    Calculator looks fine on my galaxy nexus

    • Brayden Reesor

      It's off on my 4.2.1 Stock Nexus 4.

    • http://twitter.com/ArtVandelay440 Nathaniel Webb

      calculator is xhdpi, and n4 is xxhdpi. For whatever reason, it isn't reading xxhdpi resources which dictate that this layout density should be 89 dp. If you add an overlay to the linear layout, you can override the parent and return it to a correct grid.

  • Brayden Reesor

    After seeing that Google music app in white, I think I'm gonna tear the APK apart when I get home and tweak the XML to at least fix the colors to be like that. That looks so much nicer.. Haha.

  • neoKushan

    Youtube has another odd "bug" but I think it might be intentional - it ignores screen rotation. What I mean is, if you lock screen rotation, Youtube will still switch to landscape mode if you rotate the phone. I actually don't mind this as I always have rotation locked but do occasioanlly watch youtube (where I'll always watch landscape) so it works for me, but it does seem inconsistent.

  • garychencool

    And here I am still on Ice Cream Sandwich

  • BenoitEssiambre

    I'm curious as to what people think the solution to the back button problem is. The way I see it, the problem comes from the ambiguity in the 'back' and 'up' axis of travel. Most of the time when you press 'back', you are also going up (and sometimes even home). The exception is when you opened a screen not from it's app of origin. In this case the back button brings you to the placed you launched that screen from.

    My preferred solution would be to forgo the 'up' button. There was already some confusion between the 'back' and 'home' buttons, adding a third direction of navigation seems to be a mistake. When a user jumps from an app to a screen inside another app, it should be to do some quick task related to the first app that results in going back to the first app immediately. Removing the 'up' button would also help with the confusion in the 'Recents Apps' that shows different things depending on where the app was launched from.

    Can you answer this?: After you jump from an app into a screen in another one and then go up, where should the 'back' button point to? Should it bring you up another step? Down into the screen you just pressed 'up' from? or back to the first app? Removing 'up' would prevent you to have to answer this.

    In my mind, when a user jumps from app to app and suddenly decides he or she doesn't want to follow the current line of history, it is not unreasonable, and much less confusing, to make her go through the device's home screen to get access to the start screen of the app and its full navigation tree with a clean back history.

    The only thing that makes me ambivalent is that, in the article, when it came to the 'Settings shortcut', the 'up' button was if fact removed and it annoyed the reviewer. Although, it might be because he is now used to the confusing multi-axis navigation and he would have been okay with it if the 'up' button was never a common thing.

    • blunden

      I never really understood the criticism regarding the functionality of the back button. To me it does what I want 99% of the time. The exception is when an app modifies its behaviour in a non-intuitive way.

      An example:

      I'm in Gtalk and someone sends me a link. Clicking it opens the browser. When I'm done checking the website I tap Back and I'm returned to my IM window. If instead I decided to got to the home screen to launch another app the back button takes me through my history within that app.

      I admit I may simply have gotten used to how it works due to using Android since 1.5.

  • faceless128

    and this is why you are the best android site on earth.

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

      And why I am a fanboy of Artem for setting it up. :-D

  • Vandré Brunazo
  • http://twitter.com/ArtVandelay440 Nathaniel Webb

    The calculator will display correct on the Galaxy Nexus because the problem lies in the fact that the GNexus is xhdpi and the Nexus 4 is xxhdpi. For whatever reason, it isn't reading xxhdpi resources which dictate that this layout density should be 89 dp. If you add an overlay to the linear layout, you can override the parent and return it to a correct grid.

  • http://twitter.com/ArtVandelay440 Nathaniel Webb

    The calculator will display correct on the Galaxy Nexus because the problem lies in the fact that the GNexus is xhdpi and the Nexus 4 is xxhdpi. For whatever reason, it isn't reading xxhdpi resources which dictate that this layout density should be 89 dp. If you add an overlay to the linear layout, you can override the parent and return it to a correct grid.

  • Jed

    Face Unlock has come along way in terms of recognizing people and is now actually quite useful. However, I can input my pattern about a full second faster than Face Unlock. Instead of displaying that useless gray box and white circle while face unlocking, why not show the pattern input and allow us to manually when input our PIN/Pattern for those times when we are in a hurry?

  • Tyler

    Love these articles! You can really see that a great deal of time is put into them. How long do you work on them for?

  • Martim Cortez de Lobão

    I hate you so much, now I can't unsee that little black for on my Nexus 4 :O

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=6706714 Ofir Fatal

    YES, I love Ron's articles. You are the best, you meticulously anal bastard! Hats off to you :)

  • etche

    Sorry if this has already been commented but I just HATE the way you view/edit contacts. There are so many taps required that its like going through a maze.
    Whenever a non-android friend asks my phone to copy a contacts phone number, they end up accidentally placing a couple of calls to that contact and they'll never be able to edit that phone if they ever wanted to.

    To solve app drawer and widgets issue, I always install a 3rd party launcher and enable vertical scrolling for apps and widgets. I don't feel there's a need for tabbed navigation here.

    By the way, the first of this posts got me following android police. We need more constructive criticism and opinion posts. Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/Prosti95 Nick Prost

    Try to take a Photo in landscape and swipe from right to left to see it. Everytime Googlenow will open...

  • http://twitter.com/klinquist Kris Linquist

    My #1 Android complaint is still the email client. The GMAIL client is brilliant, but the email client, required for many corporate exchange (activesync) environments, is horrible. It will not search on the server, for instance.

  • http://twitter.com/FranzLiebkind0 Ilya K

    One thing you forgot about the Google Music app, or perhaps you haven't realized it. I have Russian music in addition to American so the bug is very apparent to me.

    When you pick a song from your whole list of songs, shuffle will only play the songs ahead of the song that you picked as your first song. For instance, if I pick Feel Good Inc. out of my whole list of songs, Google Music will only shuffle all my songs Feel Good Inc. to "Z." Songs before F such as Anesthetize or Drown wouldn't ever be played. I realized this when I picked a song that started with Z and all that shuffled afterwards was my Russian songs since Android puts the Russian alphabet past Z.

    Also, would you please bash on the Google Voice app? It's a service I rely on and it has an excellent web interface but a buggy and not updated Android app.

  • Thorne Melcher

    I disagree -- developers should be able to hook into the back button. In some cases, unpredictable behavior isn't even caused that way, such as if the developer swaps out views without creating new Fragments/Activities (not good practice but it's semi-common and hard to "enforce" away).

    On the flipside, sometimes in a Canvas-based app, you might have "soft" screens that are rendered on top of your game area. Creating a new Fragment+Canvas just to show that screen (so it can be "backed" out of) is way more trouble than it's worth, especially if you want to make it resource friendly.

  • schneeland

    One remark: the play button in Google music is (or rather was) was not redundant - to the contrary: it cleared the queue, so that hitting the play button after a song/album has finished takes you back to the beginning of that song/album (and not some other song you played hours or days before).
    Also, they have removed that option in the latest version, implementing the behavior (play on tap) you suggest. I still dislike it because now I cannot play individual songs from a playlist without creating a new one (as I used to do before).
    Furthermore, the latest update freezes in a way that makes me wonder whether something is really broken with the way Android handles background tasks - creating background tasks should never (at least not in normal conditions) make the foreground UI sluggish or even freeze it.

  • cameron charles

    i think this will sum up this article quite well, the whole time i was reading it i was just nodding my head and saying "omg thats so true, its not just me"

    actually except the back button i appear to be the only one in the world whose back button seems to make sense 99% of the time :S

    my biggest agreements for what its worth to someone deciding what to fix, the camera controls followed closely by music, and music is only second because in aus we dont have the web version so the tron theme has no better looking web brother for me

  • Eric

    Why there's no +1 button on mobile version? D:
    This one needs it!

  • thedoginthewok


    My "delete button" is aligned perfectly in 4.2.2

    I'm using a custom rom in German.

  • Stuart Brown

    I loved this article, found it oddly self affirming and that other android fans also experience niggly inconsistencies that set their OCD twitching.

    Lack of 'history' in chrome. I've had to create a shortcut to the chrome flag page for history (chrome://history/) just to get at it.

    Also, why is that long pressing links in chrome to reveal more options sometimes just stop working. Find that frustrating too.

    • Elias

      Other thing that annoys me as hell is the fact that there's no option to hide the damned address bar when I scroll through the page. Google, ffs, why am I forced to look at the page address ALL THE FREAKING TIME? Already had this working good on gingerbread, address bar would only come up when i hit the config button. Take the config button out of the address bar andar put it down beside the multitasking button, where it should be.

  • alexanderpas

    Regarding the Adding A Word To The Dictionary Is Clunky issue, it is done this way to prevent accidental addition of words to the dictionary by an accidental double tap due.

    Single tap: use this word

    Double tap: Add to dictionary, confirm button on different place on screen.

    • Al

      I'm sure it was done with good intentions, but it completely breaks the user flow and interrupts them with an unexpected pop up - not cool. Even after adding words a few times already, it still manages to annoy me.

      • Justin Swanson

        I have not added words because the screen annoys me that much. Id prefer to add a word by accident and have to go back and remove it then have a clunky 'add a word' experience.

    • Andromedo

      The only reason I like this is that I can un-capitalize a word if it is not a proper noun, but I happen to be typing it in where it is automatically capitalized.

  • ChrisLH

    Great article, thanks! You touched on Instant Mixes, but I'd add that Google is now polluting the entire Recent tab with Instant Mixes. I've never listened to an Instant Mix, I don't want Instant Mixes from Google, and I shouldn't be forced to wade through Instant Mixes to find the music I want. I can't believe they would spam your music with Instant Mixes without the option to turn these off. I've jumped back to Amazon MP3 until this issue is corrected.

  • http://twitter.com/imalexho Alex Ho

    hey it could be worse, everything could be skeuomorphic

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    Google should transfer their iOS development theme to Android...

  • Brandon Roffe

    wow absolutely amazing job on this!! never commented on a tech article before but wow u really did an outstanding job.. i laughed at the google music app. so true

  • B. Andre Aaron

    I agree with the Google music app.. needs a new updated UI.

  • Jarrod Davis

    The most annoying thing about Google (Play) Music's app? The abysmal re-ordering experience in the queue. You grab a song you want to move up or down, and shove it all the way to the top of the screen, and...
    the. list. scrolls. so. slowly.
    And as the song you picked up scrolls slowly past the other items, everything freaks out and stuff starts flickering and flying everywhere. It's really bizarre.

    • Jarrod Davis

      That last part may have been a bit over-dramatic, but the whole thing is still herky-jerky.

  • taz89

    FINALLY am article on how stock is far from perfect...there are a lot of small things that add up to making it become really annoying...the worst is the back button when you think its going to take you to the previous page of an app but instead takes you back to the home screen..the other most annoying thing is when you get a notification ie a message and you go to it them press back it will sometimes take you back to the previous app you were on or back to the home screen..there's literally no consistency.

  • Jwhap

    Maybe it is just me...... I have many android devices. One annoyance to me is certain apps I have installed on my phone, I don't want installed on my tablet and vice-versa. I generally do most of my gaming on my tablet forexample. When you go into all apps in the play store you get an endless list. I would love at the very least to be able to select which device to view. This way if I want to install an app that lives on my phone I can find it, but don't have to scroll through endless pages to find it, out worse have to see a bunch of apps I will never install on my tablet but love on my phone.

    They are different devices, treat them that way. The other post of this is my wife also has a couple of devices. We have some shared apps like Google music, play movies....(no sense in buying things twice) but when you have multiple accounts, you get the pleasure of seeing all of those apps too) trust me I am sure that a bunch of apps like pintrist, I have zero interest in and my wife probably does not want to see all of mine. I think having a device list to choose from and only showing what lives on your current device works.

  • CAS

    >I've yet to see an example where allowing developers to screw with the back button is agood thing.

    Back in the browsers acts as 'back' in terms of webpages and not under the terms of the Android OS. The back button on Windows phone is not programmable, and as a result, the moment you leave your browser and then come back to it, you've lost your entire history. (At least as of WP7) Either that, or it is so confusing that spending 30 minutes looking for the back button on the browser was a fruitless endeavor.

  • Lien Wee Hoo

    Samsung has scroll bar in both app & widget drawer.

  • http://twitter.com/lolreject Jon Woo

    Something that has been bothering me for a while has been album art in Google Music. When I manually correct my album art in Google Music on my PC, the Android app just ignores my changes and continues to use incorrect artwork.

  • arhk

    In youtube you forgot about how youtube doesn't respect rotation lock. Try watching a video in landscape when you're in bed on the side with the tablet in the same orientation as your head.

  • http://twitter.com/Quietlyawesome Tyler Cooke

    You forgot the worst part! 4.2 has completely killed performance on the Nexus 7. Everyone says it's laggy and buggy compared to 4.1.2. Even audio and bluetooth has issues. :/

  • Chris Caldwell

    Eh. honestly, if its such a small issue that nobody else had ever noticed it, why bother writing an article about it? Personally, all of these issues, with the exception of G music (which I dont use so cant comment on) are such non-issues Id prefer if Google just ignored them and moved on. Dev time is finite, so why spend a second on something you have to make a carrier out of to even notice? Also, "and I still have fifteen pages of widgets.", OK, so a fast scroll wouldnt hurt, and prob would fix this, but perhaps the real issue is that you have FIFTEEN PAGES of widgets. Do you USE fifteen pages of widgets? I dont really expect a mobile OS to anticipate and cater to packrat-ism. It brings up other issues, and frankly no matter how well they manage your clutter, you can always add more till it breaks. I have TONS of apps (which I do actually use, and trim occasionally) and have only 4 pages of widgets. Even with that, how often do you NEED to go setup a new widget? Focus slick UI design time on the UIs you use the most, not the once-a-monthers

    • Bleakvision

      So we are using it wrong?

    • Christopher Havard

      I disagree, it's the small things that count. Each of these things on their own may not be the biggest deal, but they degrade the overall user experience. Consistency is key.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Carloslalot Carlos Lalo Torres

    thanks this is great!

  • Btaylor545

    Another glitch in the Google Music app is while the app is playing music and you switch to another program the music sort of makes a distorted noise every time on my Google Nexus 7. Happens with stock and with CM 10.1 so im assuming this is an app issue. It happens right off of a restart so it cant be too many apps running at once either

  • Fatty Bunter

    Really a great article. This is what separates your site from the rest.

  • FrillArtist

    Too many non issues. Wow. A miniscule black spot in the back button that pretty much no one notices in day to day use.

  • Camera Shortcut

    Speaking of the camera, I hate how you have the one handed camera menu, but taking a photo still is a fixed location.

    Even WORSE is the photo search. It has the same fixed location, but it tells you when the search has recognized the image. You STILL have to press search though. It's ridiculous.

    • Bleakvision

      Also, swiping to the Gallery in landscape brings up Google Now most of the time.This is incredibly annoying.

  • satamusic

    you've ruined android for me

  • sandy

    Very good article, really google should pay attention on this.
    Few things in this article also bugged me, but I dint know how to express it.

  • Kin

    So true!

  • mgamerz

    "View controls" implies that the object is a view that you can customize, and that it is used to control the 'view' of the UI, in the gmail sense, the view of which inbox you have. You can change the view object to what you want, say a listview or a scrollview. That's not wrong.

  • Joe Menard


  • Ryan Stuckmaier

    Another YouTube annoyance: The app ignores rotation lock. If you try to lock your phone in landscape and watch a video on your side (with the phone technically portrait relative to the ground) it will rotate itself to portrait. No other app does this.

  • dude

    It might not be perfect but I still prefer a Nexus running stock than any other clunky bloated skinned version of Android by third party manufacturers.

  • http://twitter.com/mechler Kyle Mechler

    This write-up is cathartic to read. I was flinging my hands in the air and screaming "YES! SOMEONE UNDERSTANDS" and "I AM NOT ALONE! I THOUGHT I WAS ALONE!"

  • Freak4Dell

    I agree with the back button issue, just like last time. Letting developers program that is just stupid. Developers can program that up button thing, just like web developers can program the navigation on their individual sites. The back button is a core part of the OS. Make the developers leave that alone.

    I would rather they didn't "fix" the icons. We don't own iPhones. The icons don't need to all look the same. Also, members of a family don't have to look like each other. In fact, if every member of a family looked like every other member, I'd think I was watching some creepy movie from the 50s.

    The scenario of picking which arrow to click to delete a song makes complete sense. If you want to delete a song, you pick the menu for that particular song. In your case, that was door number 4. You say it's confusing, but what exactly do you propose to fix it? Putting the delete option for a particular song elsewhere would be confusing as hell. The only thing they could do is perhaps change the menus to read Delete Artist, Delete Album, and Delete Track.

    I HATE the UI change when going from portrait to landscape in Music. It's a fucking pain in the ass to navigate hundreds of artists and albums and thousands of songs with that album art. I want the list that can easily be read and scrolled through. Also, give me the damn status bar. I do not want to be going back home or rotating my device just to see notifications or the time. Actually, the best thing would be if they would have the status bar appear when you pull up recent apps. They insist on that button being there all the time, so at least make it more useful. Don't just show me recent apps...show me what's going on right that very moment, so I don't have to leave my app. Or, better yet, have a universal override in the OS. If at any time I swipe down from the top edge, the status bar shows up. I use Adobe Reader to view PDFs because it's the most smooth app for that purpose, and it's a full-screen app. No issue with that, but it drives me nuts that I have to go back home to see my status bar. I've resorted to just going to the settings menu, because Adobe didn't make that part of the app full screen.

  • Leo

    I don't understand why I can set a custom ring tone for my contacts phone calls but not text messages. My pitiful old BlackBerry Pearl could do that.

  • first last

    * Maps: Why is it so difficult to recalculate directions?
    * Maps: Why can't I see my recent searches?
    * Scrollbars: Have you noticed that while scrolling the bar will radically change its size? This is utter insanity and makes the size of the bar irrelevant. This one drives me nuts. How did the developer look at that and say, "Yes. This is the correct behavior. I'm proud of this."
    * There is a rotation bug on the lockscreen that can cause the landscape layout to be displayed in portrait mode.

  • Sebastian S.

    Would you like the current widget list (page-like) to be replaced with the list that is used to add the widgets to the lock screen?

  • zaptac

    Hi OCDs, just switch to cyanogenmod, they fixed that already: http://review.cyanogenmod.org/#/c/31444/ ;)

  • Raviteja Andy

    That was amazing. I came across many of these but never realized until I read this that there were so many of them.

  • http://www.teqno-logical.com/ Teqno-Logical

    This was one of the most interesting and complete reviews (if I can use this word here) I've read up to now. Great job, it was really, really useful and interesting!

  • To shuffle or not to shuffle?

    You also forgot that in Google play music there is absolutely no way to determine if the device is on shuffle or not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/taylor.labrier Taylor LaBrier

    On Google Music, I can't stand how close the play head is to the media controls on the Now Playing screen, especially on a device with a small screen. If the play head happens to be over the track navigation buttons, you could accidentally end up skipping to the next track. You'll even notice that the highlighted area around the track navigation buttons overlaps the playhead when engaged. This is an annoyance when listening to music, and an absolute fluster cluck when it comes to listening to segmented audio books or podcasts. If I skip to another track, I've then got to get back to the track I was on and try to drag that damned play head to the point where it already gave me the finger once, which brings me to another annoyance; The track progression indicator is too short. For songs and other short audio clips, I guess this is fine. But try navigating to a specific point in an audio clip that's half an hour or more in length! it's next to impossible to be very precise. The indicator used to be longer, and was much more useful, but now it's a pain, especially in landscape mode. It used to span the entire length of the screen, running underneath the album art on the upper left of the screen. Now the album art takes up the entire left side of the screen, and the progression indicator is pretty much cut in half. That's a step in the wrong direction.

  • chlo1ber

    Regarding the back button, there is a smiliar annoyance going on in the play store.


    If you pressed the install button, the app was being downloaded and installed. The screen didn't change (you got back to the playstore screen of the app) and could look up more details, read some comments or simply go back to the list with the back button.

    After accepting the permissions of the app, you get to a utter useless screen. Now, we can argue if this screen is pointless or not (it is in my opinion, as they display useless "similar" apps which aren't similar at all). The thing that annoys me is the following:

    What happens, if you press the back button? You get back to the playstore screen of the app.
    What happens if you press the button where it says "Continue shopping" or something similar? Do you really continue shopping? No, you get back to the same freaking playstore screen of the app.
    Now, what happens if you press on the "title button" on the upper left? Surely this one behaves differently?! No, of course not! You also get back to the same screen of the app.

    So we have 3 options to do the exact same thing but no option to either return to the list of apps directly. As I said, it's just a useless screen with useless controls.

  • Lev Aronsky

    One thing that bothers me (and it only appeared in Jelly Bean 4.2) is the rotation of the camera. The camera used to rotate perfectly in all previous versions (meaning you would rotate your phone, and the buttons would quietly rotate to the appropriate orientation). But now, the whole screen performs a rotation animation! This is really annoying, I hope they fix it soon.

  • http://twitter.com/ptmax Tympakianakis Apost

    As always, these articles should help Android to evolve in the right direction. I wish there were more of them out there...

  • aaaaaaaaaa

    holy spergzilla

  • http://www.facebook.com/yohanes.niko Yohanes Niko Yang

    In youtube, the HD switch button only shows on landscape. I hate I have to rotate my nexus 7 just to turn off the HD (yes, I like to watch youtube on potrait on nexus 7). And, in nexus 4 you got the options to turn off the HD by default but I can't find that on nexus 7.

    The lock circle is also weird in a sense that you can swipe in ANY direction to unlock the phone but why goole put the opened padlock icon on the right?

    The quick setting shade is a mess, the auto-rotate is a switch / toggle button but almost any others are a mere shortcut to the respective setting page. The options available on phone and tablet are also different e.g. you can't find the auto-rotate toggle on nexus 4 because it's replace by signal bar (which I think is useless). Also, profile picture on quick setting page?!?! What the..?!?

    Btw, good article! Keep complaining! :D

  • afsdg

    "with a dark blemish where the shaft meets the head."

  • fewesttwo

    Yay and joy of joys the recent Google Music update screwed things up even more. They have killed the 'play now' button from all the menus. If you ever want to play an album, you first have to go to 'now playing' clear the current play que, go back to the album you want to play and add it to the que. Dafuq?!

  • Tim Clark

    Really good analysis Ron. I especially agree the Google music app should be light themed. I really don't like apps having gradients and background patterns. In the same vein, I would remove the gradient from the default settings screens on Android. I think it clashes against the minimalistic design direction they are heading.

  • Cazacu Vasile

    with all these issues , Android is still the best

  • Camillo

    Ron, your articles are always the best :)

  • http://twitter.com/JASONlowcs Jason Low

    Sometimes I faced the same problems, for example that camera transparent thumb problem. It was awkward, but never realized that was the problem... until you said so. haha

  • http://twitter.com/Dave_BG Dave Bg

    I am Android fan but i agree with this.

  • http://twitter.com/RanR0d Randy Rodriguez

    What an epic article.

  • http://twitter.com/havens1515 Randroid

    "So if you ever want to watch a video twice..." - Watching videos multiple times is not just an issue with YouTube... try this in the gallery. Record a short video, and try watching it twice.

    I am a coach, and use video CONSTANTLY in my practices. I often only use part of the video, and sometimes the part I'm interested in is the end.

    Problem is: when the video starts, the gallery opens a new screen to view the video, and when the video ends it automatically closes this new screen to go back to the gallery. If I'm trying the re-watch the last 3-5 seconds of a video over and over, it's a REAL pain. It would be nice if it stayed in that secondary screen until I told it to go back to the gallery.

  • http://profiles.google.com/nealhatchett Neal Hatchett

    I'm obviously in the minority here but I like the way the back button works. It's more like an Up button, as in, going up a directory. Let's say I'm in the middle of a game and then I go to the home screen then back to the game. At this point for whatever reason I want to go to the game's menu screen, I just press the back button. I know it's not technically going back to the previous screen I was on (the home screen) but it's going up a "directory". It it did take me back to the home screen then that would mean to get to the game's menu I would have to navigate within the game to do that which would be much more time consuming than just hitting the back button. It makes sense to me.

    Love this site and love the article.

  • Jimbob

    Using the "Google" voice command in Google Now doesn't work if the language is set to U.K English. I'd change it in order to use this feature, but then it won't recognise my voice properly.

    The "What's this song?" feature isn't available in Australia...why?