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October 18, 2010


Eric H

Home page widgets: my mileage _does_ vary: starting an app the normal way is just tedious enough, that I really do save time by having (e.g.) the weather and my shopping list always visible on the home screen.


Droid belongs to Verizon, not Motorola. There are other Droid devices, for example, from HTC.

So you can blame Verizon instead.

Jan Miksovsky

Jodyfanning: Thanks for the correction. I've updated the post.


I think widgets are great for the primary screen. I have my podcast player's music controls always accessible, and a short list of my latest emails on there.
Other, sometimes overlooked, Android homepage features are dynamic folders and 'deep link' shortcuts. I have a link that automatically gets directions home via public transit from wherever I am. That's just a special way to launch google maps. I also have a 'folder' of pandora stations that opens instantly instead of waiting for the app to launch.


Widgets are definitely a win: rather than having to swipe or touch anything to view my calendar, it's on my default home page. Similarly for weather.

Also, dedicated home, menu and back buttons are huge wins. The back button is probably the Android feature I miss most switching back to an iOS platform.

John Doe

ad 1) Hardware buttons are that single place to look for functionality. On iPhone, I have usually problem "which corner has the back button now"/"is there back button at all". On Android, the back button solves this problem neatly, universally.


I disagree with other posters on here regarding the back button. I find it confusing. I can never reliably predict what the back button will do. Sometimes it undoes something, sometimes it closes a popup, sometimes it goes back to the previous screen, sometimes it returns to the app's main screen, sometimes it goes back in history and if I'm not careful, sometimes it leaves my app and goes all the way back to the Android home screen. The ONLY reason I can even remotely predict what the back button will do is because I've done Android development and know what sorts of actions feed into the back stack.

On iOS devices, the back button always navigates to the previous screen and the home button always leaves the app.

As for Android's menu button, I always forget about it. I feel that many apps hide too much extremely useful PRIMARY and secondary actions in the menu. The iPhone has no dedicated menu button, so primary actions usually take up UI space (aka: on-screen buttons). Google Maps is a great example. Fortunately, Google moved some actions out of the menu and into the UI.


First off I'd like to congratulate you on a post comparing Android and iOS (from a designer's (and therefore iOS fanboy's (swooping generalisation time!)) point of view) and not saying that Android is vastly inferior to iOS.

Here are my comments on your points (as someone who used Android for 18 months and now uses iOS):

1) I half agree. Sometimes you don't really think about the menu button, but it's definitely something I appreciate in Android and miss in iOS. Same goes for the back button. In iOS these two features neatly hidden behind the hardware buttons take up valuable screen space. There are two very frustrating specific examples:

- The menu key is great for hiding "settings". I find that different apps can't really decide where the contextual settings button should go. Google Maps is a prime example - it's great that on Android you press menu to switch between map/satellite/hybrid/etc., and annoying that on iOS it's that page flip thing. And in some apps, a "settings" button in the top right or bottom right or in the "settings" app of the OS. It's just all over the place and not intuitive at all.

- The back button on Android is great when an app calls another app. A lot of iOS apps really try their best (the Twitter app is one that jumps to mind - everything possible opens in the app) and yet there are still times when it fails. Take a YouTube video. it needs the YouTube app. when you're done there there's not easy "back" (that I've found) back to where you were other than the multitasking double-home. Android's back is genius in comparison. But I do agree with commenter jinushaun that it can sometimes be confusing exactly what you're saying "back" to. The best apps will make it obvious but there are plenty where it exits the app for some strange reason.

2) I agree that long pressing (like the menu key) is great. I also agree that it's really for so-called power users - just like right-clicking. There's nothing wrong with that as long as valuable UI components aren't hidden under a right click or a long press there's no harm done. It's a shortcut for people who want to get things done quicker. Another example from the Twitter app on iOS is that you can swipe a tweet for a quick menu. Pretty cool, a bit like a long press but a little more engaging, but it's far from universal and I'd say quite a bit less obvious than a long press, but that's my programmer's brain talking there. I also agree that people could take it to extremes but I don't see any harm in that really so I'm all for it.

3) Not so bothered by this. It's a little weird maybe, but it's pretty obvious to me at least that the options are already fanned out for you. I really don't think any Cozy users (but what do I know, I'm no UX expert) will have trouble. I mean they'd have to be very experienced with Android while at the same time being extremely lay (to put it very mildly) not to know the difference. Still I see how some people may be a little confused if you use a very similar icon for different things.

4) I found the same thing when I got a Mac. That stupid sound when they boot up is infuriating and at least you can turn the Droid sound off! Apparently the only way to turn off the Apple one is to mute your volume before you shut down (or get a small app that does it for you). How amazingly stupdi is that? So in comparison (and I know Mac OS is not iOS) your Droid sound is a breath of fresh air to me! But yes, stupid and annoying on both counts, but at least you can turn Droid off (form what you said).

5) Not a biggie?

6) [a.k.a. 1] I found widgets great. The calendar widget told me the next thing (or two) I had to do, the power switcher bar thing was great too. iOS kinda misses a trick here (and I have a feeling it's on the way in some form at least). I specifically hate notification in iOS (and I know I'm not the only one). The floaty-red-number-badge-thing on icons is great, but doesn't provide any real info. Android's 'window shade' is great for obvious notifications and as I said, the calendar is good (although it could be better) for upcoming things in my life.

7) [a.k.a. 2] Full agreement, although I actually found as a regular user I didn't need it much. But it's nice to have it.

This wasn't meant to be a point-by-point thing but it kinda worked out like that. Hopefully I don't look too Android fanboyish (I do understand though that I've made quite a few complaints for Android over iOS after congratulating you on not being an Apple fanboy). I'm really happy with my iPhone, but there are just quite a few things that I miss about Android. And there are plenty of things iOS does better than Android, don't get me wrong.

Jan Miksovsky

Alex: Thanks for the thoughtful comments!

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