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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What Should Android OS "Borrow" from Other Smartphone OS's?

Found this article over at Android Authority, and that got me thinking:

1. Better Widgets

Agreed, Android widgets never seem to go together with a consistent visual theme. Different UI designers have different aesthetics and slight variations on the same theme. How many ways can you do a "black button"? Just the way it's sized and how round are the corners, as well as the shade of black and "edge" can drive you bonkers if you're looking for consistency and "visual coherence" if you prefer a buzz term.

Yes, Microsoft's Windows Phone "Live Tiles" look boring, but they are CONSISTENT. Why do you think there are so many themes and iconpaks and whatnot on the market? Because people want CONSISTENCY, and Android's widgets are anything but consistent.

Maybe future Android can demand an app maker to create multiple versions of the widget, and must provide one with NO background and no "chrome", and use the system provided widget theme.

2. Notification Count on Apps

Hey, don't we already have this? Nova Launcher already have this by creating a standard where different apps can provide count to the launcher. Already saw Gmail, SMS, and so on. Now if only Android can standardize this into a system API...

3. Even better notification

Agreed. Apple's iOS borrowed the Android notification bar, and improved it by adding consistent feel and made it even MORE useful by ability to group notifications. Android needs to borrow that back, and add on to that as well.  The ICS notifications are kinda meh, to maintain compatibility. The newer apps can do better, much better. Notifications are also on a first-come-first-serve basis and others can jump on top or such, never in particular order. This needs to be a system setting, like app X's notification should always go first, and so on, and ability to group notifications (a lot like Windows group stuff on the task bar)

4.  Better Social Integration

Agreed, iOS got Android beat here with TIGHT Twitter integration, among other things. And Microsoft's "Social Hub" is just as good, if not better. Android's contacts/phone is quite lame in comparison. There are a lot of third-party contact managers, and I've tried dozens, but none of them work the same and all of them are lacking something one way or another.

5.  Hardware Silence Key

This one I'm a bit ambivalent about. I personally think Android phones should have one or two buttons on the side that users can map to special functions, such as camera (where did that camera button go, hmmm?) but I can sort of see the reason why they don't as physical buttons will fail due to fatigue. Still, maybe they can incorporate a "center" button between the two volume buttons for special purposes.

6. Easy TV Out

This one I'm also ambivalent about, probably because my Droid Bionic has a microHDMI port. Personally, I think they should go wireless... Some sort of micro WiFi transceiver that pipes whatever's on the screen to the TV. Think WiDi on the laptop, and matching display adapter on the TV, then think WiDi in a smartphone.

7.  Microsoft Office

I'm not too worried about it as I have a phone, not a tablet. If you have a tablet and a BT keyboard I can see why you'd want office around. And besides, I think Google's already working on it with Google Drive.

8.  Consistent Back Button Behavior

Well, this is more of a design quirk and unspecified behavior in Android "best design practices".

9.  App folders in the App Grid / App Drawer

Uh, some launchers already do that. You can even filter by "categories".

10. Better Text Input

Heck, Swiftkey got them all beat (though the "trace / flow" thing still is not as good as FlexT9, IMHO)

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