3 simple improvements Google can add to help users
Android is quickly approaching its 5th year anniversary in November, its come a long way, but its still got some unique annoyances which would really help, with closing off.
As a part of my day job, I am working on trying to understand in-depth how customers use our products and tools to improve them. One massive source of this is direct customer feedback. To help the Google team, I thought I would share my feedback on some improvements to Android that I would love to see.
1. A device should be able to easily turn on/ off GPS but only when user needs it.
At the moment – when you navigate somewhere without your GPS on, it takes you into the GPS Page, scares you with warning and then leaves you there. You have to press the back button, and then the navigation will continue to load. That’s 5 very confusing steps.
What I want- When I go to navigate, Google Maps knows that GPS is not on, and sends a permission request page to the user saying simply: I need to use GPS for the duration of the journey. On pressing ok, GPS is turned on and the app continues. When the app closes, the GPS is switched off and the permission for that app to use GPS expires.
Create a “temporary permission intent” via a system api which generates a simple system warning page( like the Google Market one, but simpler) , and on user agreement, activates the turn on gps permission for the duration of the journey, or until Navigation app is closed.
2. A device should synchronize my custom dictionary words and short phrases across all my other devices via Google Cloud
What I want- When I enter a new word or short phrase , ( eg hackathon, or my full name ) it should automatically be sync’d across my nexus 7 and my phone, and any future google device I own.
Technical Solution- The apis are already in there, your Google Account on your phone can synchronize your email, just add your dictionaries to it too.
3. A user should be able to click on a menu button in the bottom of the screen and immediately bring up a list of the most common actions for that page/ app and a help and feedback button.
What I want- Since Android got rid of the menu button, we have menu buttons everywhere, sometimes at the top of the action bar sometimes alone at the bottom, and sometimes not at all. Make it simple and easy and put it in one place. In the black bar at the bottom, where there is nothing but three small icons.
Technical Solution- Adding a single shortcut icon on the bottom bar should be done by the system. It can automatically contain all the overflow items from the action bar, and is also populated using the MenuClass which is generated in the root of every Android Project. There is an override in each activity that lets you add options to the menu on an activity level.
eg: In my Instagram app, I have a shortcut called ‘upload photo to instagram’. If you add the “Task”Parameter to the entry, the System will know that this performs a key user action” eg Android, please can you upload a photo to Instagram.. These key user actions can be called in the app, or from outside the app eg using voice control. By specifying the Task in the menu option, you can also use that to populate the Google Voice navigation to automatically do an action.
As a by product, this can also really help developers who can use it to speed up development and can also be used by Accessibility features to allow task based navigation.
All the below ideas are just ideas I have based on my personal mantra for how I want to improve the mobile projects I work on.
1. Make it Faster
2. Make it Attractive
3. Make it Simpler
4. Make it Smarter.
All the above have been logged in the official Android’s Bug and Feature List – head on over there if you want to suggest something yourself and improve android for others.