What is the point of massive high resolution displays when you stretch a 256 x 256 pixel contact image? Reader Jonathan Swift sent a link to Stephen Diniz’ letter to Google about these crappy contact pictures. There is even a whole tumblr for them.
Jon Bell observes the major issues with capacitive touch buttons on his blog Designdare. TL;DR you can press them when you don’t want to press them and that sucks.
Android phones feature a set of hardware buttons across the bottom: Back, Menu, Home, and Search (not necessarily in that order). Home functions like the iPhone button of the same name, ripping you back to the “desktop” screen. Search gives you a global search which grabs at contacts, apps, emails, and other data functioning like a (slow) double click of the iPhone Home button. Menu is actually rather clever, it functions as a neat way to hide a set of contextual commands offscreen. The problem I have is with the Back button, not so much its existence but its implementation.
The issue is inconsistent function, that is, when I press the Back button more than once it’s hard to know where it will take me. The reason for this is rooted in the philosophy behind Android’s app management and multitasking. On Android you can open an app and then open another app while the first remains open. This creates the possibility of going back to the first app. But Android doesn’t actually see apps, rather it sees parts of apps called activities. An activity is a small part of an app, for example message composition might be an activity in a twitter client app. The Back button takes you back not to your last app but your last activity. As you move from app to app your chain of activities flows behind you like the light off a Tron motor bike. The Back button can take you back through those screens. Sometimes however I want to go back in an application’s local sequence (from compose message to contacts list for example) and end up instead moving back globally and out of my application altogether.
Our reader Roger does real work and so people send attachments to his email. Sometimes he wants to save those attachments to his phone. When he had Windows Mobile this wasn’t a problem. Enter Android.
Working with attachments requires third party tools. Be careful which you use though, Roger’s file manager allowed you to delete the file extension leaving files unusable and inaccessible.
Occasionally, Roger even wants to send an attachment (for example a word processing document) but that functionality isn’t in the default email and Gmail apps. Luckily, according to Android Community user RoidRage, “there’s an app for that.” I can only hope that all basic usability problems are fixable with $3 investments. I may run out of screens though.
Digging further, attachments get quite the cold shoulder on Android:
Droid Does. That’s the slogan right. It’s supposed to mean Android is more like a computer than the dinky iPhone. It doesn’t limit what you can do.
Well, I noticed something interesting while fidgeting with a mail reply in the GMail app. The message which I was responding to would get stuck into a static label and present me with a input field to respond.
What’s this? I often break a quoted email apart so I can reply point by point. If it’s a long thread I simply delete all but the most relevant bit. These things become impossible when the text is trapped in it’s un-editable prison.
Now I know that a lot of people see Flash support as a feature, and in a world where code was clean and plugins were written like sonnets it would be, but we live in an imperfect world. I’d prefer a more stable browser that isn’t graced with the ability to render shoot the duck advertisements.
Update: The delivered Flash Player is not acceptable and doesn’t deliver the promise of “the full internet”