Thursday, October 21, 2010

UX Quickie: A Few Google Blunders

There are three issues that I have with some Google products that tend to recur and today all 3 happened to happen one after the other, prompting me to post about them.

Android Default Tasks

When Android begins an Activity - call it a task, if you like - it has the ability to broadcast out who can take it on if the programmers suspect that many programs may be able to respond. (Dear Android Geeks: I know this is way oversimplified; hush.) When more than one program is available to run the command, Android gives you a choice and also allows you to set one of those choices as a default. It's pretty cool, and pretty standard for an OS. However, whenever an app updates, the default choice for that particular task is voided. As it happens, for many of these tasks, it seems that I do them about as often as the app is updated, making it almost moot to set the default. This is very frustrating.

Google Reader Next Bookmarklet

Do you use Google Reader? Probably, millions do. One of my favorite features is the "Next" button.

Next, please!
See, I love populating my reader with far more feeds than I could ever actually read, and then creating these bookmarks in my browser bar and just clicking next to read a random article whenever I have a few moments. It takes the cognitive load out of getting through my reader inbox, making it far more pleasurable for me to read my news in the morning. If you'll notice, there are actually two options for making these Next book marks. There's a general  bookmark, which will draw on the entire library, and tag-locked ones that will only pull news from certain folders. Sounds awesome, right? Except that those latter ones pull news from sources that I do not follow. It's really kind of odd, and I have no idea how it happens - and I'd like it to stop.

Chrome Form Autofill

Pretty much every modern browser does form autofill these days. You know, when you start to fill one field out and the browser helpfully offers to fill in the rest for you? For it's first few iterations, Chrome didn't do this - or at least didn't seem to. In these later versions, however, this feature has been added and seemed to work great - until I started filling out grad school applications. It was then that I found out that the feature is a little, shall we say, overzealous. Here's what happens when I tried to fill out the newsletter form from Ikea:

Holy suggestions, Batman
Look at all those different suggestions for filling in the rest of the form! It records everything, apparently. And, in doing so, has confused both itself and me. In fact, this overzealousness has reduced this feature from a useful utility to an annoyance, which I don't think they quite had in mind.

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