Regarding the Repulsive UI and Custom Controls in the iPhone Version of the Google+ App
I don’t know for a fact that this is the case, but having used both the Android and iOS apps, it feels an awful lot like this was developed using a cross-platform UI framework. Apart from the navigation bar at the top, the rest of the app is 95% identical to the Android version in terms of look and feel.
Speaking of the navigation bar, navbar back buttons are typically longer, have an arrow-shaped end on the left, and the name of the previous screen in the navigation stack is written on the button. You actually have to write four to six lines of code to give your application a non-standard back button. That might make sense in certain scenarios, like when you have a login form controller at the bottom of the navigation stack. You wouldn’t want the “Log Out” button to appear as a back button, so you’d change it for a custom button.
For no good reason, the Google+ app consistently uses a custom back button. It is not shaped the same as a typical back button; it is a round rectangle. Instead of indicating what the previous screen in the navigation stack was, on it is a back arrow, which wouldn’t need to be there had they kept a standard back button! The most annoying thing about it is the button’s width. The custom back button’s width is roughly half that of a standard back button. Because every other app uses a standard back button, your finger might be used to tapping on the right-most half of the button, since it’s less of a stretch to press it there. If that’s the case with you, using Google+ will be a nightmare, as your finger is going to be tapping the navigation bar background instead of the back button you’d expect to be there.
Those are my complaints for one button, which isn’t even a standard navigation bar button. I should point out that the Google+ mobile Web app uses a back button that would be in line with the iOS human interface guidelines were it a native app. When the people working on the mobile Web client are better at following the HIG than the people working on the iOS app, you know you have a problem on your hands.
A ton of controls throughout the UI are custom for no good reason; they try to look like UIKit’s standard controls but end up looking like cheap imitations. Hold down a navigation bar button in the app, and if you look closely1, you’ll notice the way it looks when held down is inconsistent with the way any standard navigation bar button looks when held down. Same goes for segmented controls.
I have no issue with developers using custom controls just as long as that use is justified. If custom controls are used to deliver a more visually appealing app like Tapbots’ applications, then by all means, go for it. If implementing a custom control is significantly less trouble than modding an existing one, or it is your only option, go for it. But why are Google’s controls custom when they don’t deliver anything different from system-provided controls, apart from looking like cheap knockoffs?
Only one custom control in the entire app is justified. Navigation bars on versions prior to iOS 5 can only accommodate one button on each end of the navigation bar, and typically the left slot will be used up by a back button. To have consistent navbars on both iOS and Android, Google had to roll their own control to stick two buttons on the right navbar slot.
Someone at Google must have thought “this control doesn’t look completely native”, and instead of fixing the graphics to give the impression it is a native control like they should have, they went on a quest to replace every control in the app by a custom one that doesn’t quite look right.
That sounds completely insane. Or maybe Google really has developed a cross-platform mobile framework, and this is just an iPhone build of an app that was presumably built for Android. While there are some inconsistencies in the UI behaviour between both platforms2, they are so infrequent and minor that I can’t discount that possibility.
Either way, the Google+ app for the iPhone delivers very little improvement on the mobile Web client. Huddle and photo upload are the only big features it offers that aren’t in the mobile Web client. The only other benefit is better scrolling performance. While better scrolling performance certainly is nice, anyone who gives a rat’s ass about scrolling performance is probably going to find the app’s UI as repulsive as I do, and would probably rather endure the mobile Web client’s looser scrolling to use the superior UI.
Does this actually matter? Probably not. People who are obsessed with pixel perfection and who notice inconsistencies when holding down a navigation bar button aren’t the majority of iPhone users.3 I know a bunch of people who didn’t understand why I hated the Google+ app so much, and didn’t notice anything fishy about the UI. Good for them.
But now that I’ve noticed these inconsistencies, I notice them every single time I tap a navbar button or a segmented control, and they bug the hell out of me. The app is forever ruined to me; I can’t use it without being deeply irritated by these controls. So I’ll just stick with the mobile Web client.
Actually, you don’t have to look that closely to notice it on the “Post” button when composing a post. ↩
For example, the notifications bar on the bottom of the app’s home screen is slidable on Android an not on iOS. (Let’s not forget that they can push out updates to the Android app much quicker than they can push out updates through the App Store, so perhaps the build iPhone users have predates the slidable notifications bar.) ↩
Judging from anecdotal evidence, design-minded individuals seem to be very divided on Google+. Some really appreciate the Google+ Web design and how it’s crawling into more Google products, and some are so far up Apple’s butt that they won’t touch anything made by Google and will speak negatively of it without knowing what they’re talking about. ↩
If some loser yells about everything that is wrong about the Android Market redesign and no one is around to hear him, does he make any noise?
Google unveiled the redesigned Android Market this afternoon and I think it’s some kind of sick joke. Apparently, I am alone in thinking this. Most complaints so far seem to be either Google, I can’t fucking believe you would neglect people still running 2.1 or Google, if you love the United States of America so much, why don’t you marry them?
Inevitably, people are seeing tiles in a scrolling list and immediately compare it to Windows Phone 7’s launcher. Conceptually, yes, the new Market is similar to WP7’s launcher, but they are pretty different in their execution.
You see, WP7’s launcher fulfills two basic tasks: get you from one app to another, and for certain apps, display at-a-glance information about a specific application. There are two tile sizes: a 1x1 square, and a 2x1 rectangle occupying both columns, which is generally used when using a 1x1 tile would be too small to accommodate the live tile’s information. Launcher tiles for first-party applications have a solid background, and generally half the tile’s surface area is used for a solid white icon identifying the app.
The tiles displayed on Windows Phone 7 are simple and elegant. You can look at a tile and immediately identify the app it’s going to launch or absorb the information being displayed.
The Android Market takes the two tile sizes that existed in WP7 and adds a third: the half-tile. It is half the height of a square tile. If a half-tile is being used to display a book, here is what is crammed into about 1/12th of your phone’s display: the book’s cover, name, author, star rating, and price. If you look at the screenshots for the new Market, you see ellipses all over the place, especially for movies and books, which makes you wonder why they thought this was a good idea.
To the left of “The Secret Knowledge”, you can see a square tile for “Smokin Seventeen’” by… oh, sorry, I can’t read the author’s name because the text is tiny. It appears that for no good reason, they crammed some promo banner (probably from the Web Market) displaying the book’s cover, title, and author into a half-tile, and used the remaining half-tile to display a reflection of the banner (what!?), the book’s star rating, and its price. What a tremendous waste of screen real estate.
The big tiles are the only ones that actually look decent, which makes sense, since they are pretty much the promotional banners from the square tiles being displayed as they should’ve been all along.
Luckily, the tile UI is confined to the Featured screen for each media type (Apps, Games, Books, Movies) and the launch screen. Sadly, every other list on Android Market is a two-column list view comprised of half-tile listings, making for incredibly dense results page. (This is the same complaint I had about the Amazon Appstore displaying top paid and top free charts side-by-side; it’s just too cluttered.)
I hated the old Market because it looked like a monster that escaped from Nokia’s Symbian phones and worked its way onto Android. While the old Market wasn’t pretty, you could still browse things without being overwhelmed with information. It takes something as ridiculous as this to make me hate Android Market even more.
Cramming everything onscreen isn’t intelligent design; making the right choice of what to display, what to omit, and how to present it is.
I’m guessing that most people who read this haven’t heard of ZONE before. I found out about them in 2006, a whole year after they played their final concert at Nippon Budoukan and disbanded, and fell in love with their music. Unlike many Japanese girl groups, ZONE is an actual band with four members.
Their most famous song, Secret Base ~Kimi ga Kureta Mono~1 was released in 2001. Its chorus ends with "juunen-go hachigatsu, mata deaeru no wo shinjiute" which translates to "in August, ten years from now, I’ll meet you again".
Here we are, almost ten years after the single’s original release, and this August, a ZONE reunion concert will take place at Akasaka Blitz in Tokyo2. And I desperately, desperately want to go.
I wish I hadn’t come across it, really, because:
This is a one-time thing. ZONE is not actually getting back together, which means it might be their last performance ever.
I was planning on visiting Tokyo next year… but I can technically afford the trip right now.
I came across this news completely accidentally; I was browsing @oreimo_anime and then clicked on @ClariS_Staff to see if ClariS had released any new singles, and then wound up reading a retweet of @ZONE_10years3, and then the meltdown began.
Had I seen this news after the event, there would be nothing I could do about it…4 but now I’m just freaking out about what I should do. ;____; (And to make things worse, everyone is telling me to go!)
I still don’t know what I’m going to do, but I’m going to hope it sells out before I make up my mind. And then hate myself later when I will have missed the opportunity. Something something philosophy class.
If you follow anime, you may know that song as the ending theme to Kyou no Go no Ni, and more recently, Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. ↩
ClariS, which you may know from Irony (OreImo OP) and Connect (Madoka OP), will have a cover of True Blue on a ZONE tribute album to be released on August 10th. Love that song and love ClariS, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that turns out. ↩
I’m one week into HanaKana Summer, my experiment to watch every anime series where Hanazawa Kana has a main role I haven’t seen yet. I’m taking a break tonight to party with my pals from college, but I figured I’d post my tweet-sized reviews of each series I’ve seen so far:
Kuragehime was pretty sweet. (Clara!) Bonus points for crossdressing. (Tequila!) 9/10
Yutori-chan’s fake ads for “magical attractive old lady” mahou shoujo toys are hilarious. 6/10
Mushiuta is “giantass bugs + Animorphs + Lady GaGa + Kenny G soundtrack.” 6/10
Megane na Kanojo: a 4-episode introduction to what is so great about girls who wear glasses. 8/10
Infinite Stratos: pretty girls, robots, androgynous character voiced by HanaKana. What could possibly go wrong? 9/10
Asu no Yoichi was pretty boring. Good voice talent though. 5/10
Moshidora: At first you go “Huh, interesting idea. Baseball meets Peter Drucker’s Management?” Then you cry a lot. 8/10
Fractale is not only an interesting reflection as we venture deeper into the world of cloud computing, but a nice love story. 8/10
Kyouran Kazoku Nikki is completely random, nonsensical, adorable fun with awesome voice acting. 8/10
Currently, I’m in the middle of Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto: Natsu no Sora and the TV version of Hen Zemi, which are both awesome.