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SXSW: How Emotions Determine Android's Design

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the mirror-mirror-on-the-wall dept.

Android 68

Nerval's Lobster writes "At a SXSW panel titled, 'Android's Principles for Designing the Future,' Helena Roeber (who headed up Android's UX research from 2007 through 2012) and Rachel Garb (who leads interaction design for Android apps at Google) discussed the complex philosophy behind Android's design. Roeber went back to the very beginning, recounting Google's Android Baseline Study, in which the team made in-home visits to study how people use technology. 'We saw the profound effect that technological design has on people's lives,' she said. 'Technology had become so pervasive that people had started to schedule and enforce deliberate offline moments to spend time with their family and friends.' From that study, the team learned that users were often overwhelmed by their options and 'limitless flexibility,' leading them to consider how to design a mobile operating system that wouldn't beat those users over the head (at least in the proverbial sense) on a minute-by-minute basis. Instead, they focused on an interface capable of serving features to users only when needed. That meant creating an interface that only interrupts users when needed; that does the 'heavy lifting' of the user's tasks and scheduling; that emphasizes 'real objects' over buttons and menus; and that offers lots of chances for customization. All those elements— and many more — eventually ended up in Android's trio of design principles: 'Enchant Me, Simplify My Life, and Make Me Amazing.'"

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68 comments

I hope they pull it off... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43126759)

I want this, but I swear I've heard this before and it is rare I've seen anyone pull it off. It is almost always "here is a huge collection of options you are free to do what you want!" or the Apple-like way of "Please select from these sane, but limited options." Both have their advantages, but I just want the best of both worlds.

Re:I hope they pull it off... (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#43127975)

I want this, but I swear I've heard this before and it is rare I've seen anyone pull it off. It is almost always "here is a huge collection of options you are free to do what you want!" or the Apple-like way of "Please select from these sane, but limited options." Both have their advantages, but I just want the best of both worlds.

best of both worlds? both options limit the plane of limitless muddy choice to two small sets of possibilities. you want to step back into the plane of muddy choices? I don't think you're getting it.

I also prefer my principles to mean nothing... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43126767)

What is the point of calling something a 'principle' if it is so vacuous as to both affirm and reject practically any design decision you might choose to make?

Re:I also prefer my principles to mean nothing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43127233)

The whole article was vacuous, IMO.

Re:I also prefer my principles to mean nothing... (3, Insightful)

SourceFrog (627014) | about a year ago | (#43127263)

The point of this talk looks like marketing to me, and this reads like a Slashvertisement. "Enchant Me, Simplify My Life, and Make Me Amazing" - are you kidding me? Make me gag. It's just a regular bland interface of a regular bland smartphone (and yes, I use Android). "We saw the profound effect that technological design has on people's lives" Seriously? This is 2013, I thought people got tired of hearing this sort of of cliché'd "oh we're such technological visionaries" marketing wiffle-waffle in the 90's.

Re:I also prefer my principles to mean nothing... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43127305)

The only redeeming feature is that people who would be capable of thinking up the phrase "Enchant Me, Simplify My Life, and Make Me Amazing", much less think that it was a good idea, probably aren't the people that they actually allow near the codebase...

Given the sheer quantity of Silicon Valley huckster circlejerk that SXSW has managed to attract, though, the talk was probably well tuned to the event.

Re:I also prefer my principles to mean nothing... (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#43127969)

This bit doesn't seem vacuous:
"that emphasizes 'real objects' over buttons and menus"

But it doesn't seem to describe Android. Given that it has 4 hardware buttons, one of them that brings up a menu.

Re:I also prefer my principles to mean nothing... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43128107)

Worse, it does seem to describe MS Bob, truly a humanistic UI paradigm ahead of its time!

Re:I also prefer my principles to mean nothing... (1)

IHateEverybody (75727) | about a year ago | (#43153419)

this bit doesn't seem vacuous:
"that emphasizes 'real objects' over buttons and
menus"

But it doesn't seem to describe Android. Given that it has 4 hardware buttons, one of them that brings up a menu.

My Nexus 4 doesn't have any hardware buttons. Well, it does have volume buttons and a power button. But the four software "buttons" at the bottom of my screen right now are a down arrow which collapses the keyboard and turns into into a back button when the keyboard is not in use. Moving on there is also a house button (does that count presented "real object") which brings up the launcher. And there's Window button which brings up my list programs which now appear pear as thumbnails instead of icons as they appeared in previous versions of android.

Finally, there is indeed a menu icon but it no longer looks like the old Android menu button. I always thought that Android menus were pretty weird or rather that the old Android menu button was pretty incongruous. The old Android menu button resembles a traditional menu; a cascading set of lines of text hanging off the menubar. But Android menus are actually little blocks at the bottom of the screen. Worse, sometimes the Android menu button won't open a menu, will open a settings page. So there was a disconnect between the onscreen representation and the results presented to the user. The new Android menu is an ellipses (a set of three dots...). I find that change interesting because it subtly changes the expectations of the user. Instead of a specific type of menu which never really existed in Android, the new button merely suggests that there is more to see or do with your app.

I think a better way to describe what Android's developers are doing is by saying that they're constantly rethinking and refining the UI to make it more logical and accessible to the user. This is in stark contrast to iOS which has largely remained unchanged since the original iPhone. In some ways that is because iOS got a lot more right on its first try than Android did but there also seems to be a genuinely geeky love of experimentation to Android which rightly or wrongly seems missing from iOS.

Re:I also prefer my principles to mean nothing... (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#43154067)

In some ways that is because iOS got a lot more right on its first try than Android did

Yes.

but there also seems to be a genuinely geeky love of experimentation to Android which rightly or wrongly seems missing from iOS.

Well I guess in part that's because iOS developers know they'll have to get it past an app store reviewer. I'm not saying that the reviewers actually filter out so many apps based on a non-standard or problematical UI, but the thought that they might keeps developers more focused on keeping with established conventions.

Re:I also prefer my principles to mean nothing... (1)

IHateEverybody (75727) | about a year ago | (#43178589)

It's not just at the developer level. I was referring to the OS itself. Android has changed more over the years than iOS has and this is the case on every level: hardware, software, UI. Look at a T-Mobile G1 (the first Android device ever) and compare it to Nexus 4 or any other Android phone today. The former looks much more primitive compared to its descendant than the original iPhone looks next to an iPhone 5. Similarly, screenshots from Android 1.0 look far more primitive than those from 4.0. The transition from iOS 1 to 5 by comparison is far more gradual. And this is without bringing up the tremendous variation (both good and bad) that comes from the different Android handset makers customizing their individual versions of Android.

While the consistency that iOS has maintained over the years does have its charms it can also be stifling. Don't like how your Android phone looks? There are a million and one different options for reskinning it (and that's without rooting it and installing alternative ROMs) and you can bet that your next Android phone will look wildly different. Don't like how your iPhone looks? There aren't a whole lot of customization options unless you Jailbreak it and your next iPhone will probably look a lot like the current one.

Re:I also prefer my principles to mean nothing... (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#43181623)

I never saw the point of skinning. It's a complete waste of time. Then again, I'm not much influenced by fashion either, so it might be that I'm in a minority.

Everything old is new again (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#43126787)

We have seen such things detailed in the The Humane Interface [amazon.com] .

One of the big criticisms of MS is that it did not start with how humans were going to interact with it's equipment. I know in the past several years it has, but that may be one issue with MS mobile technology. A mobile device is very intimate, much more than the personal computer, and therefore the interaction between user and device is much more critical. Than Android did start with the user is not surprising.

Re:Everything old is new again (2)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#43127213)

Neither did Android. Before Apple showed off the iPhone, "Android" looked and worked very similar to wince.

Re:Everything old is new again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43127519)

Neither did Android. Before Apple showed off the iPhone, "Android" looked and worked very similar to wince.

Until about 2008 all the Android prototypes looked like Blackberries, then the iPhone became the thing to trump and Android changed. But none of the resulting Android UI owed anything to the iPhone, it was all down to user centric design in the Google skunkworks.

Re:Everything old is new again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43128711)

That's a nice bit of FUD, but there were two Android initial designs - one Blackberry style, the other more like a traditional PDA. You can see both of them in the current SDK emulator.

Trolls always mention the BB stye, and pretend the other one never existed, don't be fooled.

Re:Everything old is new again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43130071)

IANAL, but FWIW, FUD means fear of unknown destruction. IMO, IIRC, the word you wanted was spin. But admittedly, it doesn't have all those big letters. ZFMWC.

Re:Everything old is new again (1)

waveclaw (43274) | about a year ago | (#43127237)

One of the big criticisms of MS is that it did not start with how humans were going to interact with it's equipment.

One must be careful when using this definition of human. This wide net catches up the technophiles and the feature freaks with the technophobes and the Alzheimer's patients. The wider market is all that Google is courting here with their Not Dorky Glasses(tm). That group is made up of very different people from the early adopters. It should be obvious that majority of users of computing devices today are not going to use these devices the same way someone who would come to slashdot or install GNOME 3 would.

It's not like a google search [google.com] wouldn't uncover the massive industry dedicated to showing how foolish such generalizations are. Yet we continue to make bad UI choices and target the wrong crowds, often poorly like armchair quarterbacks at the human interface Superbowl [gnome.org] . Your average human has more than the average number of legs, that still doesn't mean you make one legged pants. Why do developers continue to churn out the proverbial pocket, pant and half-a-fly?

I claim it's only partially this 'every human' culture but mainly lack of training. Outside of the craft industries the engineers, developers and other creators of our stuff start off learning how to solder circuits to breadboards and sling code at a compiler without even the idea they need to consider how people will use this stuff. Run tar --help verses git --help verses gpg -h and see for ask yourself which one was designed to be used by people and which one was slapped together to be run by a machine.

What Google is doing here is something salespeople, marketers, Apple and the military have known since the first rock got sold to the first caveman. You can sell to everyone on envy what you cannot sell to everyone on features. And Google is out to "sell" to everyone (i.e. put ads in front of as many eyeballs as possible.)

I wish them the best of luck with their Not Dorky Glasses(tm). The very existence of contacts and their popularity among the visually impaired strongly argues against their success in Western markets.

Re:Everything old is new again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43127391)

I see what you are saying. There is a choice. Do you try to get something that provides a maximum set of features, or do you have something everyone can user tolerably well. The mouse is a prime example. A single button mouse is useful for everyone with way to push the mouse around and push the mouse down. A multibutton mouse is marginally more efficient for people with a fair bit of dexterity, but useless for those who are older or have limited dexterity. If one is making an office machine where one can assume that hires are fully standard, then a multibutton mouse is better. For a consumer machine the multibutton mouse is optional, and the engineering time is spent trying to make the single button mouse or trackpad as close in functionality to the multibutton mouse.

Casual vs serious users (2)

KiloByte (825081) | about a year ago | (#43126835)

Tablets have their uses -- for example, my 2 years old nephew can use them just fine. For myself, though, I fail to see any single purpose I'd ever want to use one. I don't watch TV or its likes, any activity that's not read-only requires some reasonable input dev. For most tasks, a keyboard is mandatory, and for the rest, a touchscreen is hardly ever adequate. Either you need something more accurate (like a stylus), or an interface that's dumbed down into uselessness.

So say what you want about "getting overwhelmed by limitless flexibility" -- oversimplifying things means you end up with a shiny toy that's not fit for anything serious. Unless you call getting the user to purchase the toy after a brief play "serious" -- as it's indeed to the advantage of the toy's maker. There's no way around the learning curve: either it's easy and weak, or hard and powerful.

Re:Casual vs serious users (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about a year ago | (#43126855)

That's why I love my Asus Transformer Prime. It's a tablet and a netbook. Best of both worlds. I can even do 'real' work on it when I have to with very little trouble.

All maximized all the time (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43127547)

I can even do 'real' work on it when I have to with very little trouble.

Even when "real" work involves displaying things side-by-side? Android's window management policy is all maximized all the time. Switching between two maximized windows isn't very efficient [notalwaysworking.com] , yet it's the assumption that Android has always made [slashdot.org] .

Re:All maximized all the time (1)

donaldm (919619) | about a year ago | (#43128931)

Android's window management policy is all maximized all the time

When displaying on any device you always need to consider the size of the screen. For small screen such as those on phones it becomes almost impossible to have two or more windows displayed however with Android you can have multiple session screens (most modern Android devices have 7 by default although that is configurable) which are accessible by a simple pinch and touch or just a slide.

On larger screens is is possible to have multiple windows on the same screen and this is the case for many OS's with GUI's however you still need to consider if you really require those side by side or overlapping windows. In some instances you do and in others you don't however that should be the choice of the user.

Personally I have always likes the Unix/Linux idea of multiple session screens (late 1980's on) on which you can display one or more windows with each of those sessions being assigned a specific task or at least tasks that have some commonality. For some the very idea of having a single session display with a single task window is very appealing and easy to get use to, however for others who are much more adventurous multi session and multiple windows (depends on screen size) are much more useful and efficient.

I think the best way to sum up here is to state that some people like what we would call "A little golden book" while others prefer access to an "Encyclopedia" however just because many people prefer something simple it is stupid (IMHO criminal) for any vendor to limit a computer to simple tasks. The "Encyclopedia" concept of Unix/Linux has always catered for people who want something simple and at the same time you have a massive amount of tools and data that is available for people willing to learn.

Re:All maximized all the time (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43139971)

with Android you can have multiple session screens (most modern Android devices have 7 by default although that is configurable) which are accessible by a simple pinch and touch or just a slide.

What do you mean by "session screens"? Google android session screens didn't bring up anything relevant. If you're referring to "fragments", introduced in Android 3.0, I was under the impression that only one application could have its fragments on the screen at once.

On larger screens is is possible to have multiple windows on the same screen

I have a Nexus 7 tablet, and I want to run two phone-sized applications side-by-side. But as the other comment [slashdot.org] points out, Android applications are allowed to assume that the size of the usable portion of the display doesn't change after the application has been installed.

just because many people prefer something simple it is stupid (IMHO criminal) for any vendor to limit a computer to simple tasks.

Yet device manufacturers had been using cryptography to do exactly this for over two decades before Apple introduced the iPhone. Almost every video game console since 1984 (Atari 7800) and 1985 (NES) has incorporated a lockout mechanism.

The "Encyclopedia" concept of Unix/Linux has always catered for people who want something simple and at the same time you have a massive amount of tools and data that is available for people willing to learn.

I'm inclined to agree with you. A well-written encyclopedia article should have a lead section that summarizes a topic [wikipedia.org] , followed by more sections that explore the topic in more detail.

Re:Casual vs serious users (2)

matty619 (630957) | about a year ago | (#43126959)

I bought a Transformer Prime, really just on a whim, I just wanted to play with a tablet. I was honestly worried that it would end up just collecting dust, but it turns out I use it all the time. It's almost always on the coffee table, and when we have guests over, it invariably gets passed around the group as people look up random facts, or showing people Youtube videos. One thing that has become really popular at my house, is using Youtube in Chrome to remote control the youtube app on the PS3 on the big screen TV. Passing around a laptop is awkward, and no one really wants to hand someone else their phone. But passing around a tablet just *feels right*. And of course, when alone, relaxing on the couch with a tablet is quite addicting.

Re:Casual vs serious users (1)

matty619 (630957) | about a year ago | (#43127059)

And yes....it's "been in the bathroom". :P

Re:Casual vs serious users (2)

chienandalou (2637845) | about a year ago | (#43127105)

For the most part I agree -- one reason I'm reading and typing this on a Thinkpad.

But let's talk about read-only tasks.

First, a lot of those are now easier on a tablet than on a PC. Faster booting up, simpler interface. Touch what you want, it opens, you read/watch it. At the moment, anyway, tablets have better screen quality.

Second, ease of use and screen quality mean that activities are migrating from print and TV/DVD to tablets. I read a lot of pdfs as part of my work. Like you I watch zero TV, but I'll sometimes unwind with 10 minutes of Daily Show and I've started to watch an occasional episode of "The Thick of It" on Hulu, which is available nowhere else. My wife reads books and watches video on laptops or tablets routinely.

Maps, reading for work or pleasure, looking things up, video ... there's a lot of read-only in most of our lives. I haven't quite made the move, but I'm planning on buying the next version of a Nexus 10 that comes out. At work, I've seen a lot of colleagues who used to turn up at meetings with laptops bringing tablets.

I am in the process of writing an academic book (2)

aussersterne (212916) | about a year ago | (#43128979)

on an iPad, using Sente and Daedalus. Works for me.

Linux (1)

burisch_research (1095299) | about a year ago | (#43126849)

... is the opposite of this design philosophy.

I really don't want to be a Linux basher, but the truth is that Linux embodies all of the principles of how you do NOT want to be friendly to the user. That's why it's never succeeded.

Re:Linux (1)

KiloByte (825081) | about a year ago | (#43126911)

the truth is that Linux embodies all of the principles of how you do NOT want to be friendly to the user. That's why it's never succeeded.

And what, pray tell, does Android run on?

Re:Linux (2)

Solandri (704621) | about a year ago | (#43127245)

Android is Linux after Google removed all the "give the user every conceivable and obscure-to-use option under the sun" put there by enthusiasts. That's why it's succeeded wildly while regular Linux projects have yet to crack 2% market share among regular users (i.e. desktop/mobile). Same thing with Apple's OS X vs. BSD Unix.

This is the biggest problem I've seen with the open source philosophy. People like to think it's altruistic, but it's really not. All it's done is shift the selfishness from profit to contribution. Developers in open source projects typically contribute what they want, not what end users want. In fact I've frequently seen OSS developers openly hostile to user requests and suggestions, as if the opinion of someone who doesn't know how to code is worthless. It's like a blacksmith who likes making horseshoes thinking he's being generous by giving free horseshoes to poor people, when the poor people don't own horses and what they really want are farming tools. Feedback from end-users is vital to shaping the software into something more productive for end-users, but that feedback loop is frequently crippled in OSS.

With paid software, the reward for your selfishness is directly linked to the opinions of end users (they buy your software). So your selfishness (desire for profit) actually achieves results similar to altruism by getting you to implement stuff which you would never want to do on your own, but which your users want. (That's not to say OSS is without merit. The zero cost of duplication means RMS is correct that society is less effective if the basic snippets of code all have to be bought. It's just that OSS works best when most of the users are also developers. Not so well when the set of developers and users have very little intersection - in these types of OSS projects the relationship often looks more like lord/serf than it does developer/user.)

Re:Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43127285)

the truth is that Linux embodies all of the principles of how you do NOT want to be friendly to the user. That's why it's never succeeded.

And what, pray tell, does Android run on?

Huh? He was talking about the UI, what does the underlying OS have to do with it? The Android UI is a proprietary designed UI not a product of the FOSS movement. The Android UI is written in Java, theoretically it could run on top of Windows or iOS and so is in no way Linux specific. It just goes to his point, FOSS nerds are good at designing OSes but they usually suck at creating commercial quality UIs that people want to use. It took Google, a commercial enterprise, to accomplish that.

No true Scotsman and "FOSS movement" (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43127571)

The Android UI is a proprietary designed UI not a product of the FOSS movement.

The Android UI is part of AOSP. It is distributed under the Apache Software License 2.0, a free software license. What exactly did you mean by "FOSS movement"?

Re:No true Scotsman and "FOSS movement" (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#43127909)

He very clearly means what whilst desktop Linux GUIs are thrown together by anyone who wants to contribute, the Android UI is controlled by Google.

You can take what Google put out there, but you can't change Google's Android UI.

It might make you feel all warm and cuddly to classify both these as open source. And indeed they are. But Androids success is in part due to the fact that you FOSS enthusiasts can't fuck it up, as you did with the desktop Linux GUIs.

Re:No true Scotsman and "FOSS movement" (1)

donaldm (919619) | about a year ago | (#43129081)

He very clearly means what whilst desktop Linux GUIs are thrown together by anyone who wants to contribute, the Android UI is controlled by Google.

Please name a session managed window system (not just a window manager) that was actually designed by a single person. Nearly all major Unix and Linux GUI's have been designed by a single organisation and many accept contributions from individuals although actual changes are always at the precognitive of the maintainers.

You can take what Google put out there, but you can't change Google's Android UI

Basically all GUI's have a particular flavour that fundamentally cannot be changed however in the majority of cases you can customise them to varying degrees and Android is no exception. As far as fundamentals go not a huge amount has changed since Xerox first postulated a windowing interface back in the 1970's.

Re:No true Scotsman and "FOSS movement" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43161689)

You're an idiot. Android takes contributions all the time, you can track it on their gerrit.

Re:Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43127337)

Another Linux fuck who is either dumb as fuck or goes out of his way to make a non-point. Man, you assholes are getting old with your nonsense.

Re:Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43127425)

Another Linux fuck who is either dumb as fuck or goes out of his way to make a non-point. Man, you assholes are getting old with your nonsense.

Don't bash the religious, they can't help themselves.

Re:Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43126957)

Linux runs on everything you own. You meant Desktop Environments.

Linux doesn't even interact with the user (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a year ago | (#43127029)

Linux doesn't even interact with the user in the way that you describe.

There are several layers between Linux and the user of a system that
runs a Linux kernel.

I think you DO want to be a linux basher.

Re:Linux doesn't even interact with the user (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#43127923)

Funny thing is, Linux users use the term Linux to refer to the kernel AND informally to refer to distributions based on that kernel.

It's only when Linux is attacked that they get all pedantic and prissy and object to the informal usage they themselves use all the time.

Re:Linux (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year ago | (#43127073)

Thank you so much for your uninformed opinion. Back in the real world, Linux is highly successful in servers, embedded devices, and mobile phones and tablets.

Re:Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43127343)

Thank you so much for your uninformed opinion. Back in the real world, Linux is highly successful in servers, embedded devices, and mobile phones and tablets.

But he wasn't talking about Linux success in servers and embedded devices now was he. He was talking about Linux successes in the realm of consumer electronics where a quality, bug free and user friendly UI is key. The only example of that is Android which was created by Google, a soulless mega-corp. If Gnome and KDE equipped Linux distros were really such awesomely user friendly alternatives Linux's year on the desktop would long since have come and Windows 7 would be in trouble. Last time I checked various flavors of Windows still had a 91.38% share of the consumer desktop OS market and Linux was still holding a faint flickering candle to OS X which had 7.1%.

Re:Linux (1)

mattpalmer1086 (707360) | about a year ago | (#43129939)

As a user of pretty much every single Microsoft operating system, from before Windows, and a reasonably long-term Linux user on the desktop (since 2002), I can quite confidently state that the user friendliness of any of these systems is not the reason for their market dominance, or lack thereof.

Once you get past basic learning curves, these days both Linux and Windows are pretty much equivalent in user friendliness. I find Linux marginally more usable and a calmer experience overall, but that's just me. There's not a lot to choose between them in all honesty. I will qualify that slightly, in that I find Windows 8 quite hideous as a user experience - it's been my main work desktop for about 3 months now. Normally it doesn't take me that long to find out what's good in a new system.

Market dominance is achieved through network effects and lock-in. Displacing WIndows on the desktop is a forlorn hope without some kind of game-changer. Linux has been successful where those effects have not been in force, and a solution can compete on its own merits. To be sure, those things have happened with the backing of a large company - but rarely (if ever?) has an open source offering led a new market without commercial backing.

Re:Linux (1)

SiChemist (575005) | about a year ago | (#43141283)

I was going to say exactly this, but not as well and less politely. Kudos to you kind sir!

Re:Linux (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#43127929)

i.e. Where KDE, Gnome and other Linux desktop GUIs don't get in the way.

Re:Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43127075)

I presuming you're referring to Linux Desktops, and Linux is enormously successful in pretty much every other kind of device. Even laptops these days apparently

That's good design? (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#43126919)

The image shown as an example has most of the screen real estate tied up with a useless background of car images. Then there's a tiny map. The screen contains no useful information about bypassing the delay. The actual info is less useful than what 511.org or calling 511 provides.

As for dialog boxes, Apple had a spec for those in the original Macintosh user interface guidelines. Trouble dialogs should be two sentences. The first sentence describes the problem. The second suggests corrective action. And you should never have to tell the machine something it already knows.

What they actually say about their design sounds like the design spec for Metro, except without the emphasis on square flat-shaded icons. Scrollable grids of icons presented in more or less random order do not scale well.

Re:That's good design? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43127121)

Silly you. Only the panel on the right is the actual Google Now interface; the background is just for the presentation.

It helps to read captions.

Re:That's good design? (4, Insightful)

petsounds (593538) | about a year ago | (#43128379)

A lot of the current UX people are pretty young (and I'm talking about both Android and Apple), and don't seem to have a solid grasp of historical UX precedents. (same thing is true of art directors and programmers) Google seems to think they invented all this stuff, but as you say the Macintosh had a GUI design bible that is still very relevant today and covers most of what Google is trying to spin as their profound discoveries. Unfortunately even the UX designers at Apple seem to cast aside this bible. Everyone wants to make their mark and do something different than what was done before, even if it's not the right decision, even if it hurts the user's experience. Often hubris clouds their judgment. Jony Ive is a great designer because he serves the product, not his ego.

Re:That's good design? (1)

miroku000 (2791465) | about a year ago | (#43129557)

The image shown as an example has most of the screen real estate tied up with a useless background of car images. Then there's a tiny map. The screen contains no useful information about bypassing the delay. The actual info is less useful than what 511.org or calling 511 provides.

The image you are referring to is a picture of a slide, not a screen shot from a mobile device. So, yeah, their slide isn't that pretty because they included part of a screenshot on a big lame slide background. On an actual device, this is actually way more useful than what 511.org provides. For one thing, you don't have to call anyone. You just unlock your phone and the info is right there. You just look at the notifications on your phone and it tells you that your destination will take you X minutes to get there including Y minutes due to traffic. Your phone has already looked up the best route due to traffic, so in fact it is telling you how to avoid the traffic. If you click on the map, it brings up Google maps and if for some reason you want a different route, you can easily bring up several different routes and choose the one you want. Not only that, but you usually don't even have to actually tell the phone what your destination was in the first place. Because if you googled the location on your computer (tablet, or phone) then it is smart enough to guess you might want to go there and provide the information on how to get there and how long it would take. And if you are somewhere away from home, it will tell you how long it will take to get home (based on current traffic conditions) and the best way to go. Unlike IOS, Metro, and other parts of Android, Google now is not just a scrolable grid of icons. It only shows you the relevant information Metro's user interface is just a bunch of widgets, and the ones that ship with the OS are poorly designed to look like flash advertisements on web pages. Instead of showing you all the new messages in your inbox, Metro might show you a picture of one person who emailed you, and then 5 seconds later, show you a picture of another person who e-mailed you. After like 60 seconds of staring at the widget, you might have almost as much information as you get in 2 seconds of looking at the Gmail widget in Android. Metro doesn't scale well because it always shows every widget whether or not the information is relevant, and the widgets themselves are designed to look pretty but convey information really slowly.)

How they avoid admitting they were inspired by... (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | about a year ago | (#43127227)

They went to homes and saw how "emotionally" attached people were to their iPhones that they made the engineers duplicate iOS.

Either that or they went to homes and brought back nothing the engineers could use, and forced them to find their ideas elsewhere, like by looking at iOS.

Obviously they are not identical, but why open source is always "inspired by" their closed source predecessors and is somehow able to deny it or justify denying it is intriguing.

This is how it appears to the public:
Linux = Windows rip-off.
Open Office = Office rip-off.
Android = iOS rip-off.

Their main differences is in the freedom of the developers which also happens to be inversely proportional to how much they get paid.

"I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this."
- Steve Jobs

Of course, he also is famously quoted as saying:

"Picasso had a saying - 'good artists copy, great artists steal' - and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas."
- Steve Jobs

Clearly Jobs knows a stolen idea when he sees one. Takes one to know one?

"Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."
- Albert Einstein

How they avoid admitting they were inspired by iOS boggles my mind. BECAUSE IT IS SO DAMN OBVIOUS.

Re:How they avoid admitting they were inspired by. (2)

KiloByte (825081) | about a year ago | (#43127287)

Would you care to mention a single idea Apple has not "stolen" from someone else?

And your claim that Linux is a rip-off of Windows (and not Unices of old) is beyond words.

Re:How they avoid admitting they were inspired by. (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#43127953)

You didn't seem to understand his post. Did you not get as far as:

"Picasso had a saying - 'good artists copy, great artists steal' - and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas."
- Steve Jobs

His point is that EVERYTHING is part based on other things that came before. And he's pointing out that the degree of Android being based on iOS was high, but that in this presentation that pretends to lay out the principles and techniques that Android UI was designed by, they left out bit where they studied iOS. No names, no pack drill.

Re:How they avoid admitting they were inspired by. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43127323)

Oh come on, Linux = Unix rip-off, not bloody Windows!

Re:How they avoid admitting they were inspired by. (1)

MickLinux (579158) | about a year ago | (#43130123)

Not to mention, the Windows had significant Linux ripoff, as did the Apple OS X.

Oh, and MS Word 98 was a wordperfect ripoff, right down to. The file corruption bugs -- loopback errors, no end of file errors, complete system shutdown errors -- that they couldn't find for five years, and thererfore simply denied that they existed, and said, no, don't send us a copy to pick apart.

Except iPhone is already that (1)

skaag (206358) | about a year ago | (#43127269)

It's amusing how with all their detailed explanations, you realize that the iPhone is exactly that. Not overwhelming with complex "multi tasking" stuff. Focusing on full screen apps. Simple UX, with simple visuals. Badges. And yet, a powerful graphics engine that enables "enchanting" animations. The iPhone is enchanting, useful, and helpful.

All this shows is that even if you try to go through the whole journey of researching this, you eventually get to the same conclusions about how to build it. Because the users are the same (human beings), have similar requirements overall, and face pretty much the same challenges.

Re:Except iPhone is already that (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year ago | (#43127947)

I am no Apple fanboi but I will say that Android's big problem is all the crapware shoveled with even the most premium Android phones.

My mom just got a Galaxy Note 2 (the most expensive Android phone out there) and even that came with stuff I've never heard of... Samsung wiz stuff and Verizon Navigator and bunch of other Verizon crap.

I suppose it's not an indictment on Android OS itself, which I think is quite nice, but rather the inability of Google and Samsung to control the carriers and tell them flat out, don't put your crapware on our phone. Only Apple seems to be able to do that for some reason.

Re:Except iPhone is already that (1)

miroku000 (2791465) | about a year ago | (#43129567)

I am no Apple fanboi but I will say that Android's big problem is all the crapware shoveled with even the most premium Android phones.

My mom just got a Galaxy Note 2 (the most expensive Android phone out there) and even that came with stuff I've never heard of... Samsung wiz stuff and Verizon Navigator and bunch of other Verizon crap.

I suppose it's not an indictment on Android OS itself, which I think is quite nice, but rather the inability of Google and Samsung to control the carriers and tell them flat out, don't put your crapware on our phone. Only Apple seems to be able to do that for some reason.

Apple has this problem too. They put a lame Maps application on their phone and Safari and all this itunes integration crap. The difference is that Apple goes out of there way to stop people from shipping better replacements to their apps. So, you don't realize how much crapware their stuff is.

Pseudo-Offline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43127339)

Sometimes I go pseudo-offline - still work on PCsetc but stay away from e-mail and social networking - or at least try too, but one annoying thing I've found with Android is even if I turn the volume right down the dumb thing still chimes when I have an e-mail. The device is so 'connected' the best solution is to turn the tablet off entirely.

Hint: follow Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43127415)

They neglected to mention that they also read through Apple's iOS Human Interface Guidelines [apple.com] in detail.

Is unambitiousness a feeling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43127509)

They are confusing themselves with the people who designed N9.

Away from the UI, the SD card (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43127633)

Did they cover why they've moved away from properly supporting SD cards, so that now you have to jump through hoops to get Google Play Music to store offline mp3s, and have multiple multi-GB games installed?

As things stand, my music collection alone is bigger than the space on my Galaxy Note 2 - I knew this on buying it, which is why I made sure it had an SD card slot.

Except, of course, the SD card isn't used in the same way it used to be with earlier versions of Android, and apps seem to ignore the free space my card provides - effectively making it completely fucking useless.

Careful there (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#43127821)

emphasizes 'real objects' over buttons and menus

Microsoft Bob, oy
   

Only emotion... (1)

xombo (628858) | about a year ago | (#43128557)

The only emotion Android evokes within me is frustration.

I have some of this. (1)

aussersterne (212916) | about a year ago | (#43129017)

I switched phones from iOS to Android about a month and a half ago, because I wanted a phablet, widgets, and expandable memory and an escape from the jailbreak vs. upgrade-to-lates decisions and waits.

But I'll be damned if Android doesn't piss me off often. Most frustrating thing: inconsistent UI. What does the back button do in this app? And what does the onscreen "back function" near the top do do? Is it even there? That's one example, but the general theme is that Android apps are far less consistent than iOS apps, many requiring that you learn their own peculiarities.

Just as frustrating are the instability—so many apps crash regularly—and the UI speed and smoothness, which even with the jelly bean update really doesn't compare to iOS.

I wish one of these two systems would get it right.

Re:I have some of this. (1)

xombo (628858) | about a year ago | (#43145701)

Technically the Android UI guidelines don't advise a back button at the top left, however iOS makes it mandatory by virtue of its lack of a physical back button.

What you see as inconsistency is ultimately the result of two effects:

1) Direct porting of iOS apps/UI to Android by people who don't work with Android
2) Lax UI standards enforcement on the part of the Google Play review team

While that's probably the most forgivable of your comments, I agree that app instability and kludgy UI details are legion throughout the entire Android ecosystem. On the same note, iOS has become increasingly less friendly in terms of usability while, functionally, the apps are typically well-reviewed by the iOS approval team for performance.

These things would be easy for Google to remedy by spending more money on review, but they don't charge enough for the developer license to cover the cost of reviewing so many free and ported apps.

Even if they fix all the underlying technical problems, I still think their latest interface updates to Jelly Bean are atrocious and most of the built-in apps (even those made by Google) continue to behave inconsistently, for which continuity suffers.

Users... (2)

speedplane (552872) | about a year ago | (#43129589)

Anytime I hear of a study being performed on "actual users," I know the product is behind the times. If there is no leader who is willing to put their cojones on the line and say what the interface should be, then there is no actual leadership, just engineering through committee. The android product is a perfect example of this: fine for most, imperfect for all.
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