Here’s the thing: if I didn’t care, I wouldn’t criticize. I couldn’t be bothered to invest the time it takes to examine an interface and develop a hypothesis of why it is just so horribly, horribly broken. (Feel pity for my poor students at SF State, USC, and AFTRS, who got this treatment from me, year after year.) Because, I mean, why bother, really? If it sucks why bother to pay it any attention at all?
And that’s the point: Android does not suck. HTC Desire does not suck. Which makes their screw-ups all the more annoying. And unfair. You want your new friend to be practically perfect in every way, and when he reveals a bad temper or obsession with the Wiggles, etc., well, it’s just – disappointing.
I analyze a UI simply by interacting with it. When I make a mistake, I note it. When I make the same mistake repeatedly, I realize that the fault is not my own – it lies with the UI. This brings me to the Notification Bar. This is the place where Android apps can post all sorts of status updates – an email has arrived, or a file has finished downloading. It lives at the top of the screen in Sense UI. I don’t know if that’s an Android standard or something specific to Sense UI. And it sucks.
Why? Well, I didn’t even know you could pull down the Notification Bar until several days after I received the HTC Desire. Perhaps I should have known, but I just watched it fill up with weird icons and thought nothing of it. Like the Microsoft Windows taskbar. But it turns out that if you tap on it just right, you can pull it down. And therein lies the trouble. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, when I go for the Notification Bar, this is what I get:
Here, I’ve selected the Time/Date widget on my Home Screen, not the Notification Taskbar. Note the position of my thumb – directly on top of the Notification Taskbar. So clearly, I’m landing on the proper point on the screen. But, for some reason, the UI is interpreting that gesture as something else. This has made using the Notification Taskbar (which is actually a nice feature of Android) a complete pain in the ass.
Picky? I don’t think so. This is the sort of thing that should work out-of-the-box. Or it should go back to QA.
Update: Several commenters have pointed out that a ’swiping’ motion, from the HTC logo downward onto the screen, opens the Notification Bar reliably. That’s a lovely insight. I wish it had been printed somewhere…