Skip to main content

Assorted Android Usability Issues

I like my Android phone. It's a quite functional device, and is actually pretty decent for making phone calls (for those of you unfamiliar with a "phone call", imagine a tweet, but longer than 140 characters, and transmitted via human speech). But it has a fair number of usability issues that constantly annoy me. Some have been fixed as the OS has evolved (for example, searching from the Google widget used to only allow vertical mode, but luckily they added landscape mode a while back), but others continue to linger. Here's an incomplete list of some of the usability annoyances I've found, along with simple fixes that would make the experience better.

Problem: "Next" and "Done" buttons in text fields. Their behavior is inconsistent at best, confusing at worst. Sure, I know that "Next" moves you to the next text field. But does your grandma know what a text field is? No. So this fails the grandma test.

Try handing an Android phone to an iPhone user and ask them to add a new contact. They'll put in the first name, at which point they're presented with a large "Done" button underneath the first name field, and at the bottom right of the keyboard it says "Next". And if some autocomplete items came up, then the Last Name field is completely obscured. The iPhone user will invariably click "Done", which is not what they want to do at all. They actually need to hit the back button (???) to hide the keyboard and go to another field, or hit the Next button (which is super far from the active point of visual focus at this stage) to advance to the next text field. Again, not intuitive, not easy.

Unrelated to contacts, a lot of apps have the "Done" button, but don't actually handle clicking on it. This results in people tapping "Done", only to remain on the text field. The Google Translate app used to have this problem, but fixed it awhile ago.

Solution: Kill the "next" button. Change "Done" to "Ok". Don't obscure the entire screen other than "First name" while adding a new contact.

------------

Problem: After adding a new contact and clicking "Done", you are returned to the Contact list at whatever point you happened to be at before adding the new contact. I can imagine the thinking that went into this, but it's flawed. The first thing people want to see after adding a new contact is confirmation that the new contact is in their address book.

Solution: Scroll the contact list to the newly added contact after the user hits "Done".

------------


Problem (Korea-specific): The stock Google Korean keyboard only exists in "full keyboard" mode, whether you're in portrait or landscape mode. In portrait mode, it's incredibly difficult to type accurately, and multi-tap input would actually be much faster and less error-prone. How do I know, you might ask? All the Korean carriers replaced the full keyboard with multi-tap keyboards for vertical mode. Come on, Google - typing is at the core of the user experience for a smart phone. Why make it more painful than it has to be? Besides, the auto-correct is far worse in Korean than English.

Solution: Multi-tap keyboard for vertical mode, or at least the option to choose one. Yes, I know the carriers have different multi-tap keyboards. Choose one.

As I was writing these down, I thought of many others, so I'll save them for a future post.

Android, we love you, but please fix simple usability problems - you'll end up with much happier users!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why Korean Is Hard For Native English Speakers

A couple of days ago, as an experiment, I wrote my first blog post ever in a non-English language . It was an attempt to explain some of the reasons that Korean is hard to learn for native English speakers, so I figured I might as well try to write it in Korean. Those of you who actually read Korean can see how awkward the attempt was =). In any case, the post came from an email conversation I had with The Korean from  Ask a Korean , a fantastically well-written blog about all things Korea from the perspective of a Korean who moved to the United States during high school. Since I tend to geek out on language things, I figured I might as well post part of that conversation. An edited version follows. --------- Out of the languages that I've attempted to learn so far, Korean has been the hardest. I've done a lot of meta thinking about learning Korean, and I think there are a number of reasons it's difficult for non-Koreans (and especially Westerners) to learn: 1) Obvi

Stuttering in Korea

I had given up on English. It's my native language, but I figured after 30 some-odd years of disfluent speech, it was time to try something else. So I signed up for language classes in Korean, rationalizing that if I was going to try to teach myself how to speak, I might as well learn a new language along the way. This might seem completely insane, but when the prevailing theme of your conscious thoughts for multiple decades is some variant of "Why can't I say what I want to say?", you come up with lots of crazy ideas. For background, I've been a person who stutters for my entire life. I wrote about it on this blog a few years ago, so I think it's time for a followup. I've learned a lot since then, about myself and about stuttering, but in this post I simply want to give some insight into what it's actually like to stutter, and how my speech has changed over time. After the last stuttering post, the predominant reaction I got from friends was ei

Is It Worth It To Learn Korean?

Learning Korean as a non-Asian foreigner is an exercise in masochism. Note that I specify "non-Asian". Why does that make a difference? Simply because Koreans possess a deeply-ingrained belief that non-Asians are incapable of speaking Korean. The self-fulfilling prophecy of it is that since Koreans expect you to be incapable of speaking Korean, due to this mental block, they are likely to not understand you regardless of your proficiency level. Additionally, they won't respond to you with normal Korean like they would respond to an Asian person, because they assume you couldn't possibly understand. You will rarely ever have an opportunity to hear natural Korean, because Koreans simply won't speak it with you unless 1) they are open-minded and awesome (meaning they have probably lived abroad - thank you to all of you), or 2) they have known you long enough that they've gotten past the odd sight of a foreigner speaking Korean. In short, nearly every time you o