First time I’ve actually gotten angry at a design change… If you’ve ever met me, you know I’m pretty easygoing and usually in a good mood. It takes a pretty significant event to get me rattled or get me to feel any negative emotion. But G-mail managed to do it… before I talk about the questionable edit they made to their interface, here are a few notes on a good redesign for the HTC One. Then I’ll go into why G-mail upset me
I got the 4.3 update last week, so this post is a bit late. However, not all HTC One phones have it yet. I think T-Mobile and Verizon are still waiting for it. Those users should be eager for the update though since immediately noticeable was the battery life improvement, a recurrent issue with Android phones, especially when compared to iPhones’ battery lives and very short charge times. Before, my phone would go from full charge to ~10% from 6 am-8 pm. Now it’s closer to ~30-40% during the same time frame. I was out of town this past weekend and only had to charge it twice during the six day trip with moderate use. Before I would have had to charge it every day.
The lock screen widgets are also extremely useful. I really like the direction Google is moving towards with the inclusion of cards. With the widgets, these cards can be made even more visible from the moment you look at your phone. I decided to try adding the calendar and have really liked the reminders there. Each day’s events are listed there for you to scroll through (left/right) with the next event listed first.
I’m a big proponent of Google Tasks and Calendar. I mentioned this briefly on another post, but for individual project management you just need those two tools (or some variant) and your imagination and memory (for picturing the upcoming day’s tasks). Hopefully the next update will allow me to include Tasks as a lock screen widget as well since unfortunately you can’t do that right now. On that note, for group management the only other additions I suggest are Drive and Trello (dropbox for bigger files or if group members will never or rarely edit the same files simultaneously).
Overall, a welcome update after Google somehow decided it would be better to list all of its options under one button in Gmail instead of having the bar . I’ve heard the argument that this was done to conserve limited screen real estate on mobile devices… but that’s the whole point of responsive design. Make the features available for users who are doing work on their bigger laptops or desktops and make them less prominent on mobile devices for users who are more prone to check email or do less intensives tasks.
Honestly I think it’s just Google’s way of plugging its own apps. Why is there a Gmail button when I’m already in Gmail? More importantly, I think they just want Google News and especially Google Plus (which is conveniently listed first in the top left hand corner) to get more use… not happening for this guy, at least.
Usually, breaking down choices into menus based on type reduces cognitive effort. This single button, however, actually adds effort since it’s making the options that were once visible hidden, making users click an extra button for no real reason. Clearly this was a decision made in favor of branding and improving business rather than user experience. A better decision would have been to have at least two other buttons. One potential use would be “Productivity” and “Other Products” or something of the sort. Maybe “Social” to group YouTube/Hangouts/G+?
Read more details about the HTC 4.3 update at http://www.gottabemobile.com/2013/10/12/htc-one-android-4-3-jelly-bean-first-impressions-new-features/