Welcome!

Silverlight Authors: Automic Blog, Michael Kopp, AppDynamics Blog, Kaazing Blog, Steven Mandel

Related Topics: Mobile IoT, Wearables

Mobile IoT: Article

Opinion: Do Google Android Mobile Apps Lack Consistency?

Apple iPhone vs Google Android - One of the main weaknesses of open source code is consistency

Remy Porter's Blog

I love Open Source. It's a great way to develop software. But it has its weaknesses. One of the main weaknesses is consistency. Take a look at these Android apps. When you look at these applications for the Google backed smartphone OS, what you'll see is a complete lack of consistency in the look and feel of applications.

I've done a little work with iPhone app development. I'm an avid user of a wide array of other iPhone apps. Apple provides a pretty standard set of UI widgets. There's some variation; the slider control looks different depending on where it's used, for example. Those variations are largely cosmetic.

If you want to have tabs in your application, there's a built-in tab control. It rests at the bottom of the screen as a set of buttons. Every app that wants to have tabbed screens will use the same widget and the same family of controller classes to do that. Someone could write their own, but it'd be a lot of work when Apple provides a good one already. It would also break the general look and feel- an app that didn't use the standard widgets wouldn't feel like an iPhone app anymore. Inconsistency is not user-friendly and a potential source of confusion.

As a general rule, every app should look more or less the same. We generally rely on the operating system to enforce that. It provides a library of controls and developers just drag and drop. The result is that, unless you go out of your way to be special, every application looks mostly the same as every other application. This gives operating systems a distinctive, recognizable appearance, and it helps minimize the learning curve on new applications.

This is a general rule. There are certain cases in which an application's functionality doesn't fit well in the established paradigm. Adobe products have always used the UI that works for their problem domain, and they've been very successful with that. I'm not trying to argue that every app should look the same, but they shouldn't be different just for the sake of being different either.

The iPhone OS goes a long way to forcing a consistent look and feel on applications, but apparently Android does not. Compare this with this. The "cab4me" app uses a tab control that looks more like a desktop app's control, while Ecorio looks more like the iPhone's approach. Then Locale does the more-like-a-desktop-app thing, but manages to look nothing like Cab4Me's approach.

If you browse through those screenshots, you'll see the same standard problem — a multi-tab interface — solved half a dozen different ways. None of them look alike. The position of the tabs tends towards the top of the screen, but the size of the click area varies. The chrome varies.

The sad reality is that no two of those apps look like they're running on the same platform. Everyone's come up with a new and novel way of solving the same problem. There's not even a consistent color scheme- something that most desktop OSes enforce, and something that carries accessibility concerns.

And that's a weakness of Open Source tools, operating systems and software. It cuts both ways; with no central authority behind the architecture, innovation proliferates at the expense of consistency. As weaknesses go, it's not too bad. It's something that could be addressed.

The big down side is that inconsistency is a Bad Thing when you're trying to promote user adoption. It hurts the Linux desktop, which already looks more consistent than this. I think that it's going to hurt the Linux smartphone.

The iPhone has a lot of weaknesses (being ruled as Apple's private little domain is not a good thing), but it certainly offers consistency. Everything looks like an "iPhone App", and is immediately recognizable as such, promoting usability, user adoption, and branding.

More Stories By Remy Porter

Remy Porter is an enterprise developer vainly trying to instill good design principles in his enterprise applications. When not fighting that battle, he works on a variety of projects across multiple platforms, from web to desktop to mobile.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
This month @nodexl announced that ServerlessSUMMIT & DevOpsSUMMIT own the world's top three most influential Kubernetes domains which are more influential than LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Medium, Infoworld and Microsoft combined. NodeXL is a template for Microsoft® Excel® (2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016) on Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10) that lets you enter a network edge list into a workbook, click a button, see a network graph, and get a detailed summary report, all in the familiar environment of...
IT professionals are also embracing the reality of Serverless architectures, which are critical to developing and operating real-time applications and services. Serverless is particularly important as enterprises of all sizes develop and deploy Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives. Serverless and Kubernetes are great examples of continuous, rapid pace of change in enterprise IT. They also raise a number of critical issues and questions about employee training, development processes, and opera...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
AI and machine learning disruption for Enterprises started happening in the areas such as IT operations management (ITOPs) and Cloud management and SaaS apps. In 2019 CIOs will see disruptive solutions for Cloud & Devops, AI/ML driven IT Ops and Cloud Ops. Customers want AI-driven multi-cloud operations for monitoring, detection, prevention of disruptions. Disruptions cause revenue loss, unhappy users, impacts brand reputation etc.
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Atmosera delivers modern cloud services that maximize the advantages of cloud-based infrastructures. Offering private, hybrid, and public cloud solutions, Atmosera works closely with customers to engineer, deploy, and operate cloud architectures with advanced services that deliver strategic business outcomes. Atmosera's expertise simplifies the process of cloud transformation and our 20+ years of experience managing complex IT environments provides our customers with the confidence and trust tha...
The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) is a non-profit organization that provides business support services to companies expanding to Japan. With the support of JETRO's dedicated staff, clients can incorporate their business; receive visa, immigration, and HR support; find dedicated office space; identify local government subsidies; get tailored market studies; and more.
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
As you know, enterprise IT conversation over the past year have often centered upon the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration system. In fact, Kubernetes has emerged as the key technology -- and even primary platform -- of cloud migrations for a wide variety of organizations. Kubernetes is critical to forward-looking enterprises that continue to push their IT infrastructures toward maximum functionality, scalability, and flexibility. As they do so, IT professionals are also embr...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...