We are not perfect. We cannot design a perfect Android app. We sometimes fail our own agendas and sky high expectations of ourselves and our work. But (thank goodness) we haven’t surrendered to total blindness and ignorance delivering Android app that fails to follow even those UI guidelines which are explicitly listed in the Android UI guide book. That is not the case however with Paypal, Samsung (yes, you see it right) and few other almost epic Android failures which we are going to elaborate. Keep reading
PayPal’s old fashioned 5
Although this case study was introduced last year by Paul Burke, it remains completely relevant up to date. The remarks below refer to version 5 of Paypal for Android and we invite you to contribute with latest opinion and reviews of the current 5.4 version in case things have gone for better.
One of the worst things a company can do is to lose sight of the core competency of it’s product. Version 5 of PayPal for Android is a great example of this. It perfectly articulates why design should always accommodate the most-common use case, not the one the company most desires.
- Welcoming splash screen
Many users were not only disappointed but irritated when once logged in they had to stare at the welcoming splash screen which shows nothing else than the PayPay logo, while the application is fetching user’s location in the background. Users united in their protest against this feature and find it unnecessary for a online payment app to ask for their current location.
- Disregarding the established Android design patterns for the Navigation Drawer
PayPal also completely disregards the established patterns for the Navigation Drawer. Not only is the Action Bar moved with the sliding content (4), but the Drawer is opened by a back button press. These types of things may seem minor, but they throw off flow and confuse user’s expectations.
- No landscape orientation
We are not sure whether to take this as a purposeful omen or pure laziness. PayPal’ s version 5 for Android had its UI locked to portrait. No need to comment more on this age old miscarriage. Let us know in comment in the latest update has addressed this issue.
This all leaves us with the conclusion that the company is arrogant enough to focus on what it wants rather than what user wants. What future will this bring for PayPal? Only users can tell.
Yahoo’s Weather App
When it initially appeared, this case study made headlines for a good amount of time under the common line – A beautiful design failure.
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There cannot be a better summary of what the problem with the new Android app appeared to be – best and worst Android design and implementation out there. Visually stunning Home screen which automatically pulled image from Flickr, and parallax effect which made surfing on the Weather app enjoyable, until you had to go under the hood where a different sort of surprises awaited you. Here we go
- Not really an Android app
iOS icon and icon style in the navigation menu. Many did not understand why. The settings screens don’t either feel like an Android app being so heavily customized. This is a classical case of over-branding and unnecessary ignoring the basic default setting screen which is common and accepted across most Android apps
- Wrong Navigation drawer
The app’s navigation drawer is simply wrong. It mixes up too many different things. I can see the push for other Yahoo! apps an important business goal but putting especially putting the “More Apps” link into the navigation drawer just doesn’t work. It uses an iOS style “hamburger” icon for the drawer and the drawer interaction is off which makes it appear like the app is not really native. This is yet another instance for conscious (or unconscious) ignorance of Android design guidelines, in this case design of the navigation drawer.
- Hiding the status bar
The app hides the Android status bar. That as many developers learned (the harder way) turned out to be a bad practice. There’s never a reason to do it. It’s simply arrogance to think that users only use your app and don’t care about what else is going on in their phone.
- Sharing intent
The heavy customization does not stop above. For some reason the app implements its own intent picker dialog when sharing the app. They’ve even added a very crude and frankly unprofessional animation to the dialog when populating the sharing options.
We would recommend using the standard Android components already available for free, without reinventing the wheel when the one which is already invented works great and makes difference. Customizing your settings screen rather a waste of time and money!
Samsung’s Olympic stack of failure
There has been several months since the Olympic Games in Sochi but the buzz about Samsung official Olympic app. The moment of surprise for users begin almost immediately after downloading the app from Google Play – a 30Mb file that once installed asks for permission to disable the lock screen. Not a bad start right?
- Asking the user for language
We find it difficult to explain the logic of this especially because by default the app uses the phone’s default language as well. The app should never prompts the user to select a language. Not a good one.
- Asking the user for country
We find this another unnecessary prompting (at least until the user decides to further customize it). The app used to ask the user to select his country while in fact could have selected it by default thanks to the location permission it requested, and then let the user chose his favorite country and sport.
Add the iOS looking search screen (the previous and Next displayed on screen) and you can still conclude that Samsung hasn’t gotten over Apple’s designs yet.
- Update your “SPP client?”
For initiated (and who are not native English speakers) SPP refers to Samsung Push Services. This is a compulsory prompt from the app and you cannot use the app without this extra download from Samsung.
Christophe Versieux makes a great job compiling a list of usability issues found in the app. We shall use his inputs as a summary.
- iOS 7 design (icons, colors)
- Ads at the bottom that lead to Samsung US website
- Use right-pointing carets on line items
- ActionBar looks bigger, separators are ugly and even displayed when only one item
- Non scrollable tabs
- Settings screen (sounds obvious)
- On the Map they even used the iOS pin!
- Toast when trying to exit the app
- Navigation drawer is the sliding menu
It seems that companies pay less attention to the design and flow of their Android apps because of user engagement is lower than iPhone, thus leading to less money. On the other hand user engagement is lower on those apps since they look horrendous, don’t function as well as they can, and do not follow Android standard practices.
Yet, this is no excuse for companies like Facebook, Walgreens, PayPal and others What frustrates a lot of other Android users is the willingness to release iPhone apps before coming to Android. When these apps come to Android they are not nearly as good or function as nicely.
Interesting paradox in any case since Android already holds almost 79% of the market share. We are convinced that this shall stimulate developers and brands adopt Android first approach. Our focus on Android is clear and that has been acknowledged by our recent recognition among the Top 10 Best Android agencies for March 2014 by the Best Development Agencies portal.
Feel free to share your opinion on these 3 scenarios below in comments.