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Android’s Broken Software Buttons

Speaking of reviews of Android from the perspective of expert users accustomed to other OSes, Alan Zeino has a terrifically-detailed scathing critique of Ice Cream Sandwich:

I’ve spent seven days with my Galaxy Nexus and I still find it hard to believe that Google ships a mobile operating system with such a broken navigation system, centered around that one back button. Let’s begin with the downright obscene. The back button never, ever tells you if you’ve gone ‘back’ as far as you can go. Tap on that button ad infinitum until every screen/app in the device’s history disappears and you’ll find yourself at the home screen. But the back button will not dim, nor will it disable. You can tap on it to your heart’s content, and you won’t move (though your device will vibrate and chime). The same applies for the home button, which surprisingly doesn’t dim when you’re already ‘home’ either.

This to me is the biggest mystery regarding Ice Cream Sandwich and the Galaxy Nexus. Why replace the system hardware buttons with touchscreen software buttons but not make the new software buttons contextually aware or contextually indicative in any way? They’ve replaced dumb hardware buttons with equally dumb software buttons. It’s endlessly frustrating for me as an iPhone user accustomed to on-screen back buttons that tell me exactly where I’ll be going back to.

Monday, 16 January 2012