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Google’s struggles with UX design, 2019 edition

I witnessed three basic flaws in latest Android this week – all of them redolent of bad UX design on Google’s part – and surprising in an almost 10 years old OS (none of them are new features).

e.g. I tried to take a screenshot of an app that I needed for a receipt for expenses – and the app’s authors had blocked all screenshots on all parts of their app. They used a Google-sanctioned feature of the OS because, it seems, they are afraid of competitors “copying” their graphical design. I ended up having to use a second phone to photo my screen [Facepalm]. (Google’s attitude with Android seems to be crystallising around: You do not own your phone; we own your phone).

e.g. This week I arrived an hour early for a meeting because the Android version of Google Calendar got confused over timezones (again). (I now write the TIME for every meeting in the title of the meeting if it’s been put in Google Calendar, but when other people create the meeting I don’t always have edit access.

(Which is a strange flaw in gCal: it’s in my calendar, my personal/private calendar, but I’m not allowed to edit, fix, change, or annotate it. I tried recently with one, and it sent an email to the organizer saying I’d cancelled their meeting (after it had already sent one saying I’d accepted the meeting) – and Google didn’t inform me, didn’t give a warning, didn’t give a popup, didn’t email me. I got a panicked reply from the organizer asking why I’d cancelled at the last minute (I hadn’t cancelled it – Google inferred that!). None of this seems to happen with corporate G-Suite, but it seems the personal/mobile edition of Google Calendar is still buggy.)

e.g. today someone asked “how to get rid of the annoying alarm clock icon that WILL NOT GO AWAY!” on Android.

It turns out Google allows apps to put icons in the notifications bar, but doesn’t require there to be notification … giving the user no way to know which app put it there, or why. There are dozens of forum threads about people begging for help getting rid of the icon. e.g. even as recent as the Pixel: https://support.google.com/pixelphone/thread/1448787?hl=en. The solution is “simple”: open every single app on your device, go through every possible screen, and hope that you find one that has an alarm set (Although it might not call it that!).