Just got an Android phone, HTC Evo V. It is a pile of frustrations. Did anybody actually design this thing? Anybody who actually maybe watched some people try to use it? I doubt it. I think it’s partly the shitty phone. But this Icecream Sandwich or whatever it’s called OS is really awful. Unintuitive, violating nearly every UX standard I’ve never really thought about before because these problems just don’t come up in iOS. And I’ve been asking myself, is that just because I live and breathe iOS and Mac OS X? Perhaps a few things. But not everything. Not the worst things.

  1. Why do you shut off 5 seconds after I put you down. (Stupid default.) I’m thinking more like 60 seconds. 30 if you’re low on power (you aren’t).
  2. I just bought this phone from Virgin, and I know I have to activate it, but it’s letting me call out? Oh, wait, no, I have no service. All I have to do is call customer service, says the automatic man. Here’s the number! Wait, no, no number, just a Spanish translation. I have a phone that doesn’t let me call out, and will not tell me the phone number to call customer service (which apparently I do, to activate it). So how do I activate it? There is one Virgin icon on the main screen. “Virgin Mobile Live.” Seems maybe relevant? Nope, it’s like some homepage.
  3. I want to turn on an alarm. Hmm, no alarm clock. There are three blank scrollable windows of nothingness, though. If there was an alarm clock, it’d be there. Find the app store, wait, no app store? Just a Play store? Luckily I follow enough app development to know that the “Play store” is an app store.
  4. Search for alarm. There are 100+ entries, just about all of them are called “Alarm Clock” or “Alarm Clock X” where X is some adjective. They all have 4.5 stars. No download counts, no other indication of why it was sorted the way it was. Are the top ones better? I want the most downloaded at the top. How to sort? No idea.
  5. Also, weird white space below the search bar, before the results. Click it to refine search, because it’s the closest thing to the results. Nope, it’s just dead space, the querybar is above.
  6. I put in my gmail account info to get into the Play store. I figure this means it connects to my mail, because it buzzes a shock sound, and starts beeping furiously at me. Not graciously, not remindingly, furiously. I figure okay, I’ll tend to it. Open it up, click Mail. Nope, wants me to login. How do I quell this notification? It’s still beeping the green LED at me, despite me actively using the phone. Luckily I know where this phone gets its UI tricks. I slide my finger down from the top, like iPhone notifications. Okay, there it is. Good thing I learned how to use an iPhone before trying to use an Android.
  7. Also, what is this “slide ring” to activate? First, the ring starts so low down that I have to start on top of the buttons to “grip” it. I don’t like to start on top of buttons. Buttons are for pressing, not sliding on top of.
  8. Oh wait, there is an alarm clock after all. In “All apps.” Under “Clock.”
  9. There is a tab bar of 5 icons below the clock. These could easily fit side by side. However, the furthest right one is sort of off screen, suggesting there are more icons to the right, because why wouldn’t you squeeze a bar that holds 5.2 things to hold 5 things? But no, there are only five.
  10. I want to listen to what this alarm sounds like. Oh, okay, first I have to pick the type of sound I want to select for my alarm. Hmm, how about “Alarm sound”? And then a menu of eight alarms.
  11. Okay, set an alarm, realized that it would easier to turn on the timer. But now my alarm is set and I want to turn it off. So I just click that checkbox beside it, that is now checked, and has a little box, suggesting it is a control, not just an icon. Nope. I click it, and the “Description” and days of the week fade out. And I let go, and it’s still checked. Maybe holding down. Nope. Maybe clicking on the alarm, in the alarm edit screen. Nope, no option to turn off the alarm on the window dedicated to that alarm. Maybe double clicking it. Nope. Wait, did I see it turn off for a split second there? Double click again. Nope. Double click one more time, really fast, and really precise. And oh, I turned it off! Yes, I turned off the alarm! I am so dang smart, I just turned off the alarm!
  12. On the little spin wheels, the numbers descend going down. So I have to slide the wheel upwards, to decrease. What the hell. Where do you ever see numbers in descending order, going down. That’s just unnatural.
  13. My phone just made a noise. A little quack-quack. Not the shock-crackle from before, which intuitively meant, oh, incoming message or notice you get to attend to. No LED flashing, either. But why make a sound to notify me of something, and not show it on the screen? In what situation would it be inappropriate for my phone to light up with a short notification, but okay for it to make a sound? Do you live among humans, Android makers?
  14. Turns out the battery is low. 14% (wow, so low). Seems like something worth an on-screen notification.
  15. I want to get back to the all apps screen. I know it’s just a “back-button” press away, but there’s no back button. Okay, go home. And then go to all apps. Two clicks, to get back to the most basic screen.
  16. Oh, maybe that third key is a back button. Why is the back button on the right half of the device?
  17. There is a “Display” option in the “Settings” app. I can tell it to “sleep” (no idea what that means for this device) after 2 minutes. Seems like that’s working.
  18. I found the “Activate this device” option! All I had to do was leave the main screen by clicking “All apps,” scroll to the bottom, click “Settings,” and then scroll to the bottom! Why didn’t I think of that in the first several seconds of using this phone! Silly me.
  19. I get a very tiny scroll bounce when scrolling. 2 or 3 pixels, and I have to be scrolling fast. Why have a scroll bounce at all, if it’s going to be so stiff and barely noticeable? If it’s slight enough to escape Apple’s notice (and their lawsuits), it’s going to be way too slight to do your customers any good.
  20. Turns out “Activate this device” doesn’t do anything.
  21. You have to have internet access to activate the device. And patience. And a phone line because apparently their website doesn’t do everything automatically, as it implies it will. I have to call customer service just to activate a phone? That’s like the first thing you should automate.
  22. So I’m browsing and I want to put something new in the search bar. I click it, it becomes editable. And it puts my cursor at the beginning, and doesn’t select the rest of the existing test. What, the, hell. First, I have no delete key, so out of all the places you could put the cursor, at the end would be the best. Second, why would I ever want to prepend something to the url. I have never, ever thought “Oh, looks like I’m using the http:// protocol, when actually I want to be on the schmttp:// protocol.” I don’t even think there are any other protocols that end with “.http://” besides “http://”. Whoever wrote the code to focus the url bar, did the absolute simplest, easiest thing a developer could do: bring the textbox into focus mode, and put the cursor at index 0. Nothing more. And it makes absolutely no UX sense.
  23. There have been a lot of confirmation boxes: “Do you agree to allow this X to access your location, your SD card, your contacts, etc.” And then on one I noticed a subtext (I don’t mean a subliminal text, but the fine print): “Check here to make this your default preference.” And the check box is checked by default. So by default, my allowance to this one option is carried over to who knows what other options.
  24. Why can textboxes have focus without the keyboard being on the screen? This is mostly awkward because this is never the case in iOS apps. But why? It makes so much sense for something with inactive input not to have focus. So it’s like the text input box is focused, but I have to re-focus it, in order for the focus to have any bearing on my interaction with the phone.
  25. There’s no “refresh” button in Mail. And my mail is most certainly not refreshed, because you just told me I had new mail. In fact, you showed it to me. But it’s not there. And you’re outdated. There’s simply no “Recheck mail” or “Reload.” If you’re gonna do things “automatically” you have to be 100% fail-proof. But Mail is not.
  26. So there are two mail apps. One on the main screen, which is usually outdated and doesn’t check my mail often enough. And there is a gmail app, which I didn’t install, and which I can only access the first time I get a notification of new mail. Otherwise, it’s unclear how to bring up the gmail app, and what the difference is.