David Pogue’s Right and Wrong About Android 5.0

David Pogue gets a lot of love from lawyers. I’m not sure why, perhaps because he “graced” us with his presence during ABA Techshow 2013. But lawyers love David Pogue. Well, at least a small number of Apple loving lawyers. For the rest of the world, David Pogue’s just another author for another technology site that you might read occasionally when you want to feel “in-the-know.” Or not.

In case you really don’t know David Pogue, he’s the tech guy over at Yahoo!.

David Pogue

Of course, if David ever loved a Google product, I’d be very surprised. He’s very much an Apple fanboy. (See his iPhone cradled in his hand?) Thus, I was surprised when I saw this post from David lauding the features in Android 5.0.

Ultimately, according to David, Android 5.0 isn’t all too bad, but merely enhances the notion “that little by little, year by year, smartphones are growing more and more alike.” I disagree with that statement, since it’s not the smartphones that are similar, rather the operating systems. Android phones have features still unavailable for iPhone users, and Android 5.0 enhances many of the “new” features we saw arrive in iOS.

But David is more “baffled” by some of Android 5.0’s features, which shows he’s never (if rarely) used Android OS for more than basic testing and a Yahoo! Tech review.

Menus

First, David finds fault with the “flat” color of Material Design. According to Pogue, this new design leaves the user wondering what’s tappable and not. David points to the Interruptions screen as an example:

On this Settings screen, for example, some lines of text are buttons (tappable). Some are just labels; nothing happens when you tap. One makes a pop-up menu appear. One opens another screen full of options. Can you tell by looking which is which?

interruption

David’s assessment shows his naivete. In Android 5.0, darker elements are tappable, and shading is irrelevant since you can activate the entire element by tapping anywhere.

interruptions

I actually like the color subtleties, but I can see how a new Apple convert could get confused.

Notifications

Pogue points out the fact that the notifications and settings panel is too big for a rotated screen.

Android’s home screen still doesn’t rotate when you turn the phone. It seems a little odd, too, that when you’re holding your phone sideways, the quick settings panel is too big for the screen, requiring scrolling. Oops.

This is definitely a design flaw. Although I usually access my quick settings in portrait mode, I should see design unity across the platform, regardless of screen orientation.

David also points out the “hassle” of having to double swipe the notifications panel to access the quick settings. Certainly, while one swipe would be faster, the fact is that I access my notifications far more than I do my quick settings (probably 8:1). I like having to make a conscious effort to bring up my quick settings. Plus, if I really want my quick settings, they’re available directly from my lock screen with one swipe.

I should also note that if you use Commandr for Google Now, you have to access your settings even less.

OK Google

David shows he a recent Android “convert” with his statement about universal access to the OK Google command.

You can now trigger Android’s voice command feature without even touching the phone, just by saying “OK, Google.” Doesn’t work on all phones, alas; only those with “digital signal processing support,” Google says.

This definitely isn’t a new feature for Android 5.0 — “OK Google” is associated with Google Search app — as I’ve pointed out here.

The right stuff

David isn’t all wrong. He points out that the new multiuser feature is awesome — it is — but best saved for tablets. He also points out that face unlock still sucks — it does — while the new “trusted devices” feature is handy — yes it is. Android 5.0 also features a “new” do not disturb function that allows you to silence your device. This is a great way to keep your phone quite for important meetings. I use my smartwatch to receive all notifications, so the only time I worry about sound on my phone is when I open a game or some other media. Otherwise, you won’t have any annoying chirps, cheeps, or whistles from my Android phone.

A fanboy convert?

David isn’t converting to Android anytime soon, and his column points out why it’s impossible for fans of one system to independently review another system. David’s hands-on time wasn’t sufficient — you need at least a week, I think — to glean any useful understanding of the system. The column is filled with misunderstandings of how Android works, and clearly some incorrect statements.

Pogue wasn’t enamored with Android’s multitasking functions, which I think is one of the major benefits of being productive. Having the ability to switch back and forth between apps and retain information is useful beyond compare. I’ve tried Apple iOS’s version and it’s not comparable.

Perhaps Pogue should have done more of a compare and contrast post as opposed to highlighting the “new” features of Android 5.0.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.