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: 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: 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.