Android Design Methodology Not

My last post on Android design review documents gave me deep insight into possible Android design practices. Its a combination of simplicity and innovation. Details below.

Android-Design-Methodology-planB

Android-Design-Methodology-planB

 

Note: Am sure there are brilliant designers and engineers at Google and Samsung on the Android teams, no decent engineer or designer would stoop to blatant copying. I blame the senior management at these firms. Microsoft could innovate with Windows Mobile, they did the honorable thing even when pushed to the corner!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Samsung Android and Daylight Bamboozlement

Apple sues Samsung on Android

 

Apple and Samsung have gone to the courts. Apple contends that Samsung Android ripped off iPhone’s design.

As a part of this process it was revealed how Apple took inspiration from Sony’s industrial design approach. Many online took this as an opportunity to paint Apple in a negative light, saying they too copied. I have always believed being inspired is one thing, outright theft quite another.

Today am happy to link to one example of what outright theft looks like. Please see below an internal Samsung document presented in court that goes through screen by screen where Samsung Android fails in terms of usability. See every screenshot in the document and determine for yourself if the UI of almost every app was copied or not. They obviously could not get every detail right so were doing some reviews.

Android-Samsung-Design-Review

I have written about Android before. But this level of blatant copying is ridiculous. No wonder Steve Jobs was pissed off.

Every creator goes through a soul-wrenching process to create anything. Companies like Samsung/Google with their Android are a blot upon the finest instincts of humanity and spirit of capitalism.

[Update: Removed Scribd embed, linking to Samsung Design Review file now.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Product Management Lessons from an Android User

Android vs. Alien

My views on why Samsung/Android sucks drew some fun reactions. Here I summarize my understanding of how to build products, based on the horrible experience I have had with my Samsung Galaxy S2. I will try to keep emotions out of the way here btw.

Spec is not the product

The map is not the territory and the spec is not the product. It is possible to manufacture an alluring product which sucks when used..whether in usability, reliability, utility and more. For example, the Galaxy S2 has a beautiful display, dual-core chip, extensible memory and Google’s Android..yet when its all put together we get a strange concoction instead of a smooth martini we were expecting. Engineers need supervision by artists. And please don’t get lawyers anywhere close.

Design for use not just for selling

A big factor in how customers buy products is by checking a bunch of features, it is human to maximize what we get for our cash. It is the same process an enterprise goes through when it tries to procure a product. But if your design is driven by specs that will get attention of customer then you are not doing something right. Attention is just the first step, engagement is next. Design for use. Design for day to day experience.

Take Samsung/Android’s claim of being a multi-tasking mobile OS, what did it lead to? Piss-poor battery life. Side effects? Well, the display has to be switched off to conserve battery. When reading a long text the UI goes off. Samsung fixed this in Galaxy S3(check Smart Stay), guess how? Well, they put an algorithm to figure out you are staring at the device by using the camera. So the problem(display going off to conserve battery) caused by a feature(multi-tasking), required a feature(camera based recognition if you are using device) that will aggravate problem(poor battery life/power management) further.

See how Microsoft pitches its Windows Phone by asking people to do common tasks, that shows attention to detail and not trying to sugarcoat junk. And btw, if I had not spent money on Galaxy S2, would have gladly bought the Nokia Lumia 800 or 900..I tried it out and its sheer joy to use. Windows Phone has original UI design and fantastic developer support.

Step back, dig in constantly

See the big picture of how a customer would perceive your product. Then get into details of how it is implemented and the implications. Do this constantly, for every thing you do. Good products are good through out because people who built it actually cared about details. It is not enough if the hardware is awesome, the apps are the ‘Smart’ in a ‘SmartPhone’. Your default apps are crucial. They need to be awesome. If awesome is not your style, then be fair and allow the customer to do what she wants with the device she paid for..allow to uninstall those apps without having to jailbreak.

Every customer touchpoint is the product

To a customer anything that carries your logo is you. Whether its an utility you provide(Samsung Kies 2.0), or associated help(online help from Samsung/Android), or any upgrade process(say the OS!), everything reflects on you. The attention to detail shown for how the device looks does not extend to software and every other aspect of Samsung/Android. It is as if Jekyll designed hardware and Hyde took over for software and all related services.

Don’t sell anything customers will buy

Not all customers are smart. As a product vendor you might only care about who can afford your product. But money is not everything over the long run. Vendors can choose to do the right thing and do what is best for the customer, even if the product or service is opinionated. Its easy to fool customers, especially the non-technical ones in the short-run. Do the right thing, it always pays off in the long run.

Photo Credit: JD Hancock via Compfight

Why Samsung/Android Will Never Get Another Dime From Me

Android - No dime from me

Android - No dime from me

(Rant Alert. Keep away if you wish!)

I hate Samsung Mobiles and Android. I hate them with an unparalleled intensity. Btw, I pre-ordered and bought a Samsung Galaxy S2, SGS2, believing it would ‘truly’ be the phone that proves Apple iOS had legitimate competition.

Before you ask, I am an Apple fan but never owned an iPhone myself. I have owned Nokia, BlackBerry and Motorola so far. Apple phones have always been rather expensive in India, so have admired them from afar. You would think with Nokia, Blackberry and Motorola as yardsticks for quality Samsung and Google would have no issue in making a customer happy. Tough luck, these fellows have no bloody clue on what makes a consumer device tick.

Just so we are objective in our hatred, here are some points:

Multi-tasking: The very first joke that hit me. After a full first charge done overnight, I used the phone from 8am and the damn thing lasted until 1 or 2pm, just by using the built-in apps. I used them slightly more than normal because it was a new device and I was eager to play. Pathetic power management was my impression on the first day of use. Nah, make piss-poor power management. Am sure at least few engineers behind Android knew multi-tasking would suck the battery’s soul and spit it into dark places. But guess multi-tasking was a marketing differentiator against Apple and the morons used it.

First App: Which led me to Google for options. I found that using a product like Advanced Task Killer helps power management. I hope you get the irony of this. My first f**cking app is “Advanced Task Killer” on Samsung, can you f**cking believe that? Anyway gentlemen, I did that and power management got vastly better..if I constantly killed apps that run in the background. Reminded me of using TaskManager on Windows to speed up my PC.

App Launch Experience: I got the standard list of apps Samsung ships with its version of Android. Eagerly I opened the pre-installed apps one by one. Every time I did that I had to accept Terms and Conditions..for every bloody app. I did not bother to understand whether it was for every app or every publisher or some other criteria. For all apps on the home page I had to accept conditions. What the f**k were they thinking?!!

Built-in Apps: The Google native apps were tolerable but none, absolutely none, of the built in apps put a smile on my face or helped accomplish my task without wincing. Let me highlight another gem, on the home screen the following apps were pre-installed – Voice Command, Voice Recorder, Voice Talk and Voice Search. Am sure if you thought about it deeply you might figure out what each of them did..but are you so jobless? Was there no person at Samsung to spot this?

Heating Problems: This phone heats up without apparent reasons, like a teenager who needs no specific reasons to feel horny. And I have given up trying to figure out the causes, just as I would think of a raving, slobbering, drunk on the street. It just is, best to ignore.

App Store: This deserves its own post. The Android App Store, or Google Play, is the very antithesis of “play”. It is a murky cesspool, notwithstanding the shiny veneer that confronts you when you launch it. Peer a tad closer and you will see clones of popular apps, apps that don’t elicit confidence that your private data will be treated with care, app equivalent of the Nigerian inheritance scam mails and more.

And so far I have not mustered enough recklessness to give Google my credit card details, so never bought a paid app. Before you think am a technical noob, I regularly buy my books/ebooks online via Amazon or Flipkart. On my iPad, of the 176 apps almost 35-40% are paid apps. Least expensive must be the 99cents ones, and most expensive one must be the WSJ subscription and AppCooker. That is just on my mobile devices, on the Mac I have bought Scrivener, OmniGraffle and more. Bottom line, as a software guy I love to pay developers for their work and don’t mind putting up the cash. The Android ecosystem(Google Play, Android, Samsung) just does not inspire that confidence in me, nor delight me enough to overcome perceptions of the ecosystem.

PC Sync: Samsung supplies a software called Kies to play the role of iTunes for iOS devices. It would be no exaggeration to state Kies is easily the most effed up piece of software thrust upon a hapless mankind. I truly have no words to describe how awful it is. The syncing mechanism is not reliable, when it actually manages to work. Inspite of constant updates, it has stayed as half-assed as when it was born. The firmware upgrade process is a joke, the OS upgrade is yet to arrive, the syncing works sometimes..in short, useless.

To Android fans: Sorry, you might have your reasons to love your variant of the mess that is Android. Hackability is a important but not in a consumer device. The ecosystem just does not attract the kind of mindsets and cultures that go into making beautiful and affordable experiences. Apps like Instagram for Android are exceptions to what prevails normally.

Conclusion: I bought a brick with my hard-earned money and deeply regret buying Samsung Galaxy S2. The issue is not with this device alone but the entire ecosystem and the kind of software providers and mindset it attracts. Am putting up this post so it can help people who are considering Galaxy Note, Galaxy S3 and other locust-like swarm of Android variants that are waiting to feed on our money and our patience. Not a dime more from me Google/Android/Samsung, I did pay a big price and trusted you to build something worthy. And you let me down big time.

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Don via Compfight
Enhanced by Zemanta