Google, what the hell? Android Ice Cream Sandwich is an amazing, beautiful, sensible update, and the Galaxy Nexus has the most incredible screen I’ve ever seen on a phone. So why is the lock screen still so utterly idiotic?
I’ve been testing the Samsung Galaxy Nexus this week, and while my review is coming shortly, volume quirks aside it’s pretty damn amazing. So is Ice Cream Sandwich, except for one insane design flaw that’s driving me mad (Hence the rant).
I’m a stickler for security: I always lock my phone with a password of some form lest I lose it and someone roots through my email for all sorts of personal details. If you don’t, you’re doing it wrong.
You can imagine, then, that I was pretty pleased when Android 2.2 “Froyo” introduced a four digit pin lock a year and a half ago.
That’s all good and well, but it’s crippled by an unnecessary OK button in the bottom left hand corner, which you have to press every single time you type in your pin.
What on earth is the point in this OK button? Either you’ve got it right, or you’ve got it wrong. It’s not something I need to evaluate before I confirm – you can’t see the numbers you’ve just punched in anyway.
I’m loathe to bring up the “Apple did it better argument”, but in this case, it’s true. With an iPhone, you just type in the four digit code and it unlocks automatically. It’s one button less, but it’s scores of times a day, thousands of times a year. And it bugs me no end.
OK, I thought. Google’s signed Palm’s user interface guru Matias Duarte, and Ice Cream Sandwich was meant to be a huge user experience overhaul, right down to the font. Soon this stupidity would be done with, I figured.
Nope. Google just made it worse.
On the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, you still have to press OK, except the button’s been moved, so that’s a year’s worth of muscle memory that needs resetting. In its place now is a giant 0 button, as though your pin code is most likely to be composed of zeroes rather than, say, RANDOM.
Sure, it’s trivial, but it still leaves me with the feeling that the Android team isn’t quite in sync. Whoever designed the lock screen for Ice Cream Sandwich just moved the number pad around for the sake of it.
Actually, they didn’t do that, they buggered it up, then spent ages designing a stupid face unlock trick which didn’t work at the press conference, can be fooled by a photo, and isn’t as fast as entering a pin.
Thanks for that Google, time well spent.
Don’t get me wrong. Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 is incredible: it feels mature. It feels finished. It almost all makes sense. It’s UI by attrition: gradually, Google is addressing all the issues that made Android once feel like a Fisher-Price toy, rather than the extraordinarily powerful operating system it really is.
But face unlocking is useless, and I can’t use a pattern lock because it’s slow and can be easily traced. So I’m stuck with a pin. A stupid pin ruined by a pointless OK button.