Saturday, April 26, 2014

Usability, iOS versus Android

Nothing in this world is perfect. Heck, almost nothing even approaches it. This includes Apple and iOS, the operating system on iPhones and iPad. But let me tell you, you get some perspective when you try Android, and you learn to be thankful for what in comparison seems like a divinely inspired experience, iOS.
When I chose my first personal computer in 1995, I chose Apple because I heard that usability was better. It seems nothing has changed.

Latest example: I heard about the new "Kindle for Samsung" app.
I was thinking: why do we need a new app just for Samsung? Why not just use the normal Android Kindle app, and if that is lacking, why not just improve that one, Samsung hardware is not that different.

The answer, I guess, is pretty obvious: it's not for our advantage (gasp!!), but for Samsung's advantage it was made. Just more promotional tools, getting you to use a special Samsung app when reading Kindle books. (I wonder what they paid Amazon, it should be a lot.)

Interestingly, but perhaps typically, the promotion does not mention a single advantage to using the Kindle For Samsung App! It just says it includes a free book every month. (Which I couldn't care less about, what are the odds it is one I'd want?) But I was curious, because apparently the interface is different, and a screenshot showed a Search interface which did indeed seem to be an improvement upon the normal Kindle app's, which is not very clear.

So I set out to get this app. Sigh, I get tired just thinking about it, so lets just say that after 40 minutes of navigating, downloading, creating new accounts, signing in on web sites and apps again and again, complying with unusual demands (like there must be Special Characters in passwords), and so on, I still don't have the flipping' app.

The step I'm stuck on is that for some reason, despite having signed in on their web app store, I also had to sign in on Samsung's special app store app (sigh) before I could download the app. And I signed in, and to the message: "processing failed". When I changed the password, I got "Wrong Password", so clearly I have the right password, but there's simply a bug in the app or server so I can't sign in!

Because I've heard from bright people who like Android better than iOS, I just can't believe it can be this bad, so I keep trying, but every time I try it, it is like this. Just poor usability and buggy as hell.

Maybe there's a personality type who just likes things to be like this? There was an old Foxtrot cartoon; the geek kid disliked the (then new) iMac because it was easy. But then he heard how insanely hard it was to upgrade the RAM, and then he loved it, got very interested.
(By the way, this has not changed either, it is made virtually impossible for a layman to get into an iMac.)

This does not explain Android's big market share, though. I guess the rest, the majority, are all the people who just don't have the perceptions to distinguish between Good and Bad quality. Like they can't tell good ice cream from bad ice cream. So they buy only on price.