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I just upgraded to Android Lollipop and have come out angry on the other side. This is another example of a problem I keep on seeing: people cannot leave well enough alone with UI elements.

  • There are a bunch of new ‘transitions’ between elements. I don’t know what the battery cost actually is for this, but as a user I just don’t care about cute transitions between elements. I want fast interaction with my mobile device.

  • The notifications bar is this weird semi-UI element. It’s unclear, just by looking at it, how to get rid of it (in Jelly Bean and previous there was a clear ‘drag from here’ UI element).

  • The keyboard…oh god the keyboard. This is what the keyboard looks like right now: Lollipop keyboard There isn’t anything inherently wrong with this keyboard, but I see absolutely zero value-added relative to the previous keyboard. And relative to the previous keyboard it’s jarring to use. I have to rediscover my punctuation. I don’t know what design person decided one of the most used things on a device should be completely redone, but please go away.

  • GMail, yet another series of “why did you change this???”. For starters, why is the Compose button a floating button taking up space in my Inbox list?? There still exists a toolbar at the top for search and navigation. Why can’t the Compose button be there?? See here: GMail Secondly, there is now a per account navigation that you get to one way, and a between account navigation you get to another way. Why??? What problem does this solve?? It’s jarring with no clear value-added. The decoration is also this very frustrating Red color. It does not feel relaxing to read my mail, it feels like it’s trying to kick me out as soon as possible.

And it’s not just Android that is doing this nonsense. I have looked at the new release of OS X. As far as I can tell the biggest changes are cosmetic and very little new, interesting, functionality was changed. Github has also been, IMO, a big offender of this. About 2 years ago the Github UI was perfect. It was simple and obvious. And since then they have moved things around and made the user experience less obvious (why is the URL to clone a repo so hidden??).

As far a I can tell (and I have not taken a large survey), these big UI changes almost always come because there are no other useful features to contribute to the system and, for whatever reason, people cannot leave well enough alone.

Please, if the only thing you can put in your release notes is a UI rewrite, think twice about if it’s actually worth releasing.

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    Google is ludicrously terrible about this. Other than search (and to some extent, search too—the automatic searching when I type something into the search box is useless and breaks my workflow), they’ve overhauled all their interfaces multiple times in the past few years, and every change has either made no difference (and thus made things worse by breaking familiarity) or been objectively bad for usability.

    My partner puts off major iOS updates because they rearrange the interface she’s already learned for some reason. The outcry against MS’s ribbon and Windows 8 is similarly motivated. Devs: learning an interface is an investment for your users. When you dick with it, you’re forcing them to repeat that investment. Don’t do that!

    The cynical part of me suspects this is a combination of managers justifying their hire of a trendy “UX” designer and said designer justifying themselves, but it’s more likely just mundane trendiness-chasing. Either way, I wish it would stop.

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      I don’t know what it’s like on android, but Google maps on iOS has about the worst interface I’ve ever used. You’re just supposed to randomly tap here and there until something happens? The “controls” are sprinkled about and entirely opaque. Even at the depths of the “Apple maps is completely wrong” fiasco, I stuck with it because Google maps was impossible to use. The Apple interface is pretty boring, but I can use it.

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        It’s very similarly bad on android. (I get the vomitous opportunity to compare my Android phone to partner’s iPhone, mostly when she can’t figure out why it’s not working.) There’s no rhyme or reason to where they put the controls, they’re not always distinguishable as controls, and the icons are unlabeled and frequently make no sense whatsoever.

        Add to this the fact that it has, since the last few updates, started lagging very badly, and alternatives are starting to look pretty good. I really want one of the free/libre OpenStreetMap offline mappers to start doing route finding so I’m not dependent on a network connection, but I haven’t been able to find one that does yet…

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      This is how Apple “sells” OS updates as well. Change icons, break ntpd, pitch to the public. I ended up going back to Mountain Lion after so many issues with Mavericks, and as a non-iPhone user, there really isn’t anything in Yosemite for me except gloss.

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        I have looked at the new release of OS X.

        I barely notice the UI changes, and there is a ton of new functionality. Apple has a webpage with details.

        Regarding Android, there is also a feature list, though you have to scroll to the bottom and expand it. Quick settings in the notification tray is the most noticeable new feature. That has been a long time coming in stock Android. ;P

        I’ll be so so happy if these connectivity features work:

        • Improved network handoffs resulting in limited interruption in connectivity. For example, continue your video chat or VoIP calls without interruption as you leave the house and switch from your home Wi-Fi back to cellular
        • Improved network selection logic so that your device connects only if there is a verified internet connection on Wi-Fi
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            This is really troubling to read. I don’t want to ponder whether my 2012 MacBook is now potentially on the chopping block in one or two years.

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              You should be fine. Just turn off the rainbow magic transparency settings in System Preferences. Worked fine for my friend. Her Early 2011 Macbook Pro is still going strong. She upgraded to 16gb RAM and that helped a ton as well.

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              The UI changes have made my early 2011 Sandy Bridge MBP nearly unusable.

              This is surprising - I have a 2007 iMac that is running Yosemite and it actually provided a noticeable performance improvement over Mavericks.

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                The transparency effects and whatnot are meant for newer machines. Whether or not that’s a good policy, I can’t say. I turned them off regardless. It’s not difficult to do so, and I’m glad they provide the option. In about 3 minutes of looking through System Preferences I killed all the rainbow transparency effects and haven’t looked back. No problem.

                It would be nice if those were off by default on older machines.

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                My VM is still on Mavericks, but from what I see, Apple didn’t move the cheese, it just comes in a different (and nicer looking IMHO) label

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                Hm, I at least partially disagree. As someone who’s using these applications constantly, I like the occasional UI refresh, and I don’t mind at all having an update solely for a new look and feel. It sounds to me like you have 2 specific complaints with 2 specific UI changes (and I’d agree that both of those are pretty lame changes), but that doesn’t necessarily make the case that “altering the UI for its own sake is always bad”

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                  I agree with you. A UI update isn’t the worst thing in the world. I can understand the frustration when UIs change for no reason other than to be different, but most of the time it’s better. People complained to no end going from Windows 2000 to Windows XP (Fisher Price!). Same thing with XP to Vista (Why is everything see through?!). And 7 to 8 (tablet UI!?).

                  But honestly when I look at Windows 2000 I see old and ugly. When I look at XP, same thing. I can’t imagine going back to anything other than 7 (mainly because 8’s desktop is so similar to 7 that it’s hardly a change other than the start screen). Can anyone imagine going back to OSX 10.1’s theme? Or Android Honeycomb? Have you seen screenshots of iOS 1 recently?

                  When it changes, it takes some time to get used to. After you’ve made the investment, it’s impossible to switch back because it just feels old. My work laptop uses a WM that looks like Gnome 2 and I hate it. I’ve already made the investment to learn the new stuff, but I’m being forced to go back in time by people who won’t change. If you don’t like change, this isn’t the industry for you.

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                  The beautiful part about Android is that you have options. The only email app I use on my Nexus 5 is K-9. It may not be as sleek as the current gmail app but it certainly is much more customizable.

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                    I want fast interaction with my mobile device.

                    Amen! I updated my N7 (2012) to L.. it is almost unusable now. Talking 15 to 20 seconds to pull up the list of apps that have been used.. or to rotate the screen!

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                      Also Google Maps changing every two weeks…

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                        GET OFF MY LAWN