Thursday, February 03, 2011

Android Honeycomb is no iPad

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the Home button of the iPad, what I call "The Panic button" (the one you press when you are in panic, that brings you home). Someone told me the post was Zen, even too Zen... "How can you write an entire post on a single button?".

The answer is "Just because I can ;-)".

Jokes apart, I still believe it is a little detail that makes all the difference in the world (of UI).

Today, looking at the pictures of the new Android Honeycomb operating system (the one designed for tablets), I found a confirmation. Look below.

What is it?

Simple, this is the home button on the Android tablets, just slightly more complicated. Slightly.

First of all, is there really a Home button? Let's look left to right.

The first button must allow you to scroll the screen to the left. The middle one to scroll the screen up. The third one... well, maybe that thing on the top is an arrow pointing top-right: so it must be a button to scroll the screen up and right (although I am not sure why I would do it).

Right? Wrong.

The first button is actually Back. Mmhh, like the circular rotating arrow I have on my Android today. But the circular shape of it somehow gives the impression of going back. This one, it does not. In particular, not with a touch interface (it could, with a mouse-based interface).

The second button is actually Home. Hey, how did I miss it? That is a house, not an arrow! Yep, one close to an arrow, which is not really an arrow...

The third button allows you to switch between applications you have open (I am not even sure what its name might be ;-) Something that would freak out your beginner user, the actual Panic button, but the one that generates panic because stuff move in front of your eyes and you do not exactly know why.

I do not think my mom will ever click the Switch App button intentionally. She would not know what to do with it. She wants one single application open, the one she is using. She does not understand multitasking, multitabbing, multiwhatever. She is old school, when people would watch TV without an iPad on their lap.

However, I am sure she would click on it by mistake. She would panic, she would lose confidence in the device, she would think it is an enemy, not a friend.

That is why I am going to buy her an iPad tomorrow. Android is no iPad, sorry. And yes, just for a little button, however Zen it is. It is $499 more for Apple, Zen.