In Android UI/UX tips #3, I have looked into some apps with the following UI/UX problems:

  • Hidden Status Bar (UX)
  • Outdated Action Bar and low-res icons (UI/UX)
  • Bad offline handling (UX)
  • Obstructive UI elements (UI/UX)

Hiding Status Bar? Do it Properly!

Some of the app designers/developers didn’t realize that the Status Bar is actually part of the System Bars, therefore if you decided to play around with it to get the maximum screen estate for your app, you have to do it right.

Let’s take RepliGo Reader as the first example. The app is actually pretty good in terms of features and UI, but I didn’t quite like the way it handles the Status Bar. It only allows the user to choose between Always Hide or Always Show option during Reading Mode, which is kind of limited. If they can also include a Show/Hide Together with Other Controls option, then it will be a pretty great user experience, and this should be the default behavior. Look at Google Play Books app, it handles the Status Bar nicely.

Another app that worth mentioning for this issue (which actually bothers me since Jelly Bean) is the stock Gallery app in Jelly Bean. This app has two issues with the Status Bar:

  • In Landscape mode, Status Bar disappeared and there is no way to bring it back.

This is one bad UX example in stock app. Given the importance of the Status Bar in Android device, my suggestion is don’t hide it in any screen mode unless the user is well aware of some method to call it (tap anywhere to show it, for example).

  • In Portrait mode, the black bar of the Status Bar permanently stays on the screen in Viewing Mode (only in Jelly Bean).

I am not too sure if there is anyone noticing this but this is pretty frustrating for me. I have been using Gallery app to view my app mock up in full screen (which I just need to trim off the bottom Navigation Bar), and it doesn’t work anymore because the black bar of the Status Bar is now taking up the Viewing Mode space as well. Thus, if you are going to hide the Status Bar in your app, hide it completely!

Use the new Action Bar and High Resolution Icons

With the release of the awesome ActionBarSherlock library that allows the developer to implement the ICS/JB Action Bar with full compatibility from Android 2.x, personally I am not too sure why there are tons of great apps still decided to stick with the older (and less aesthetic) Action Bar design and/or low resolution icons. Besides making your app feel aged, it doesn’t give any good impression to your user if your app using lower resolution icons – remember, Action Bar is one important UI element in Android Design which is always visible to the user. Some examples below (I am sure you can find more):

So, forget about the old Action Bar and start designing/redesigning/developing Android app using new Android Design!

Properly Handle Offline Situation

It’s true that most of the apps nowadays require internet for their full capability, either to get new information or for syncing purpose, however, we cannot expect our user are always connected to the internet, therefore you have to properly handle the situation when the device goes to offline.

I had this issue with The Verge app which actually crashes when I try to play around with the app offline. Definitely not a user experience that you would like to introduce into your app. Handle it with a simple toast or a warning message regarding the offline status would have solve the issue.

Obstructive UI elements is a no-no

It is so awesome that Android developers have numerous of great libraries for certain UI elements implementation, but once you have used those libraries; you are basically responsible for everything that you decided to show to the user.

One bad example of this is, again, The Verge app, which shows the Pull-to-Refresh indicator and overlapped with certain UI elements in the app (one of the examples shown above). I am not too sure the complexity in technical terms, but I assume it won’t take months to remove it? Publishing your app in such condition will only give bad impression for your app overall quality.

Hope these UI/UX tips help! As usual, don’t hesitate to leave your comment!

5 thoughts on “Android UI/UX Tips #3

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