Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

Google and the end of SMS: by design flaw or design strategy?

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

I’ve been using Android 4.4 KitKat for a few weeks now and the only part of it I don’t particularly like is how Hangouts tries to combine SMS with what was previously Google Talk. There’s also several functional parts of the UI that really frustrate me.

The “swipe” gesture to archive a Hangout is fine… but more than once I’ve accidentally archived Hangouts trying to swipe to the list of recent hangouts. This is a hit area problem: if you don’t swipe accurately enough, you start deleting, er, “archiving” Hangouts. And if you don’t hit undo immediately, they then seem gone forever.

Hangouts on Android

But the real problem with Hangouts is the seemingly inconsistent searching of contacts between the phone app and Hangouts. Yesterday I watched my wife almost go crazy trying to send an SMS to her sister in law. When she searched for her name in the phone app, it was there no problem: but nothing came up when she searched in Hangout except for Google+ people. And tapping on any contact in the phone app simply calls them. There is no long hold interaction which seems very strange. After both of us fiddling around with the Nexus 5 we finally worked out if you tap on the contact photo and NOT the contact name, you then get more detail and the option of sending an SMS to that number.

Again, why there isn’t a long hold here really baffles me: surely that’s a very natural interaction for getting more details within an contact context?

Of course when I tried to replicate this contact issue with the same person on my Nexus, our sister in law came up no problem on my Hangouts (with phone number). But I found the identical problem with another contact:

Hangouts in Android 4.4

The same contact appears in both the phone and Hangouts app, but Hangouts doesn’t give me an option to send an SMS — only a Hangout chat.

The inconsistency here really interests me. Is this genuinely a design flaw, or are Google doing their utmost to try and push Hangout chats over traditional SMS? It would make sense for Google to be pushing Hangouts over SMS, and as an end user with a data plan I then wouldn’t have to worry about SMS costs (especially when it comes to messaging people abroad). And with the news today of Facebook buying WhatsApp, Google trying to catch up with Hangouts would obviously be strategic.

So the question still remains: is this confusing and inconsistent contact searching on Android 4.4 on purpose or is it just bad UI design? Knowing Google, I suspect it’s probably the latter.

Apple, iOS and how screenshots help build experiences

Monday, November 28th, 2011

I’m an Android user. My HTC Hero is looking a bit worse for wear these days and I’ll probably upgrade it soon. The iPhone is a great phone and all, but rarely do I feel Apple envy: except for when I was try to take screenshots on my Android for a previous blog post. In fact, I resurrected my old iPod touch from the depths of my ‘gadget box’ — and it performed the task splendidly.

Apart from this being inconvenient, it struck me that being able to take screenshots — and more importantly sharing them — really adds a lot to the experience of a device.

Damn You Autocorrect! is a perfect example of this: people collecting examples of the iPhone’s quirky autocorrect and sharing them.

On Facebook many of my friends share screenshots. I often do as well when I see something worth sharing. For instance, last week I saw this bizarre image on the Malaysian Airways website and put it up on Facebook:

Oh, men! Yes we’re so trying, but you women still love us!

Had I not been on my desktop, I would not have been able to share this given the capabilities of my Android phone.

What Taylor Swift and Kanye West can tell us about mobile user experience

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

How often have you opened a link on your mobile and been prompted to download a mobile app?

ABC News

It first happened to me on the IMDb. I remember my reaction — “yeah, IMDb app, great idea — I’ll use that all the time!”. I downloaded it and then I never used it again.

But this post isn’t about how pointless website apps can be if you have a perfectly good mobile website (Responsive design, anyone?)

Actually, it’s about a Kanye West-style attitude towards user experience on mobile websites.