I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised by the reactions on twitter when I make a statement about any particular platform. Twice in the last few days I’ve been taken to task. First when I said that the iPhone was starting to bore me. Then today when I said:
[quote]I want to love Android, but it really is the Linux of smartphones. Technically great, but oh so broken for regular users. (via Twitter)[/quote]
Took me a while to climb out from beneath the pile of horrified corrections and accusations from many angles, not least El Presidente of the New Zealand Open Source Society.
Look, here’s my point: Android, as Google designed it, makes some assumptions about the way the OS behaves. But because the OS is so open, manufacturers (aka OEMs), are free to run roughshod over those assumptions. I suspect this is a large part of the reason why Google developed the “gold standard” Nexus One – as a way to demonstrate how Android should be implemented. NB: I’m yet to have a hands-on with a Nexus One, so you could say my experience of Android is about on-par with most “regular” users.
So instead, you have a phone like the Samsung Galaxy S, which takes the normal Android assumption of a central homescreen (out of a possible seven), and instead decides to use the left-most homescreen as the default.
I have to ignore my own personal experience on this phone, because it’s an un-reviewable “pre-production” model (despite being out in other markets for a couple of months – as is the usual crap we deal with in New Zealand), and show you some other reviews:
[quote]”The main homescreen is split into 7 pages but the main difference with the Galaxy S is that the main page is page one right on the left hand side where as on other devices the middle page is the main one and you can swipe left or right to get too the extra pages. Nothing major but something to get used too if you are already used to Android.”[/quote]
[quote]The Galaxy S has seven homescreen panes with the default “home” pane on the far left; the Android OS is more used to the “home” pane being central, and so if you choose Google Maps as your Live Wallpaper – which normally uses GPS to center the map on your current location – the maps are offset since the center point is on homescreen four. Nit-picking, yes, but it’s the sort of poor polish that undermine a successful UI.[/quote]
[quote]The HTC Desire’s main Homescreen starts from the middle with 3 more Homescreens on the left and on the righ. The main Homescreens for Samsung Galaxy S starts from the far left with subsequent Homescreens scrolling in from the right.[/quote]
[quote]The phone’s software can support up to seven homescreens, and there is a reminder at the top of every homescreen showing which one you are on. Selecting a specific homescreen directs you to it. Unfortunately, the main homescreen is always the left-most screen, even if you try to add screens to the left. I would prefer if the main homescreen was always in the middle.[/quote]
I’m not going to say much more here. It’s my opinion that the way Android allows different OEMs to fuck around with the core experience of the phone is detrimental to the platform as whole, and users in general.