Android: Not fun to use, beautiful to look at or enjoyable to design for

Android Skin Sense UI

Overall I’m not impressed with anything about Android. The iconography lacks sophistication, the typography is derivative and there’s an overall lack of cohesion to the experience of the operating system. Android clearly feels like a system built and designed by engineers, not designers.

It comes as somewhat of a relief that some of my favorite apps look/feel/work almost as good on Android as they do on iOS (Instapaper and Dropbox come to mind). The problem is, even when apps are great, the OS they live in feels clunky and poorly designed. It’s like driving a Porsche on horrible road in a rundown town.

Those are the opening paragraphs of Michael Mulvey’s short but descriptive article, DESIGNING FOR ANDROID. I am not a designer like Michael, but as a user, I have pretty much said the same thing for years: Android lacks finesse. It is almost vulgar.

My best Android OS smartphones have been those that largely hide vanilla Android away – and even at that… iOS is by far more refined, and Windows Phone is heaven. None of these stop me form using an Android smartphone for the OS’ great customisability and apps. I have owned and used more Android smartphones than I have phones running any other OS. But it has to be said: Android OS needs polishing. A long overdue polishing.

Michael ends his article with the following lines:

Whether you step back and look at the entire ecosystem of Android or closely examine to the user interface, iconography and typography, it’s just not fun to use, beautiful to look at or enjoyable to design for.

As a user, I agree about usage and looks. I will leave the design aspect to designers.

re

  1. Overall I’m not impressed with anything about Android. The iconography lacks sophistication, the typography is derivative and there’s an overall lack of cohesion to the experience of the operating system. Android clearly feels like a system built and designed by engineers, not designers.

    I think Michael is mostly correct here. Engineers are a class of people that deal on empiricism. Though they also do some imagination and quite a good dose of it, they always try to relate there dreams to reality, they try to find out what the people want rather than imposing it on people most of the time like the renown artist and designer Steve Jobs will always try to do because he mostly believe he knows what the people want.

    Engineers are a very considerate people that are generally guided by a code of conduct that is instilled in them as part of their discipline right from their university studies and it generally becomes a second nature that even when others are doing it entirely differently, their discipline always comes to play as Michael rightly observed.

    Of course the engineers at Google that designed Android have already been vindicated that that consideration for the people going to use whatever they designed is always a good thing. About 80% of s smartphone users all over the earth may be wrong in endorsing Android as the operating system that caters for their needs more than those designed by the autocratic designers at both Apple and Microsoft. Yeah, they had it all perfectly thought out how mobile devices are supposed to look and work, how we are supposed to use our mobile devices, what we shouldn’t even ever think of doing on our phone even if we are used to doing thing in similar fashion without first sampling people’s opinion or even giving us some options to see what we actually prefer.

    Good a thing for the abstract artists at Apple and Microsoft because they still have some 15-20% of the smartphone owners all over the world who still believe they are right, who think that all they need to do is leave all their thinking and power of making choice for them to do and then endorse whatever they come out with.

    I’ve seen the colour play and puerile manipulation of colours and animations on Windows Phone couple with the underlying working principle that’s an exact copy of Apple, the idea of chaperoning our mobile loves and usage patterns but I’m an adult and I can to an extent take decisions as well as responsibility for my actions.

    No, I don’t want abstract artists designing my operating system, I want engineers that are guided by practical considerations, engineers that know they are designing the operating system for fellow adults with different tastes to design my operating system and I will keep supporting their efforts that reflects serious respect for my age.

    Kudos Google and the team of realistic engineers working on Android.

  2. did you even read this piece before publishing it?

    Even i.b.k didn’t have your time this time.

    Worst piece of shitty crap.

  3. I don’t know if it’s indeed a “worst piece of shitty crap” but the author does have a point in the car tire analogy. Due to the fact that there are too many hardware variants on Android devices the developer has to either make a one-size-fits-all UI or develop for a range of hardware configurations, in this it makes the apps look not as polished as it will appear on iOS even if they look so similar.

    On iOS you think of less than 5 unique screen screen sizes and specs, so it’s practically possible to make separate versions for each. While on Android they’re virtually infinite from 3+ inches to 10 inches or more, a bit of nightmare it seems to me.

    The developer’s angst is understandable

  4. Android not cohesive? iOS much more fun to use? The share button is the most cohesive feature on any mobile OS. By virtue of that feature alone, Android is the most cohesive OS on earth. iOS for me takes the cake when it comes to boring systems.

  5. // On iOS you think of less than 5 unique
    screen screen sizes and specs, so it’s
    practically possible to make separate
    versions for each. While on Android
    they’re virtually infinite from 3+ inches to
    10 inches or more, a bit of nightmare it
    seems to me.//

    Nope. The nightmare is only in your mind.

    If you are into programming, you would realize the code you would use to handle all Smartphones screen sizes is the same. If you were dealing with tablets, you may want to optimize the UX by rearranging the UI elements, due to more available space. That’s all

    But there is no law that says a single app version should be for both tablets and Smartphones.

    After all, iOS have spasms dedicated to the two strata, and was praised for it ,

    Conclusive, this point, like all the others highlighted by this Griper, are of feather weight.

    Of zero importance.

  6. Ooh someone hit a raw nerve!

    Fact is, everyone is doing a re-design. No matter how much bad mouthing iOS7 got, it was a welcome change from previous versions. Likewise, the design of Windows Phone has captured the imagination of many.

    And these two are beginning to make Android – regardless of the revulsion of other OSs and customisations loved by the fanboys – look dated. Maybe slapping a different launcher can provide a feel of new but at the end of the day I suspect that, as other OSs change their face, Google Android will inevitably have to do the same. When….now that is the question.

Speak Your Mind. Have Your Say.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *