Android/G1 Usability

Did they have any usability people working on the G1 software?

Here’s a lovely one. There’s a big red button on the phone with a power symbol. When the phone is “asleep” (the screen is off) this, or any of the other buttons, wakes it up (and you press Menu to complete the unlocking). But of course, you get used to pressing that one, because it’s the Power button, right?

The button behaves that way at any time when the phone screen is dark. Any time, that is, apart from when you are on a call, when if the screen is dark and you press it, it wakes the phone up as you expect… – and ends the call without warning. Brilliant. I’ve cut several important calls off this way already.

Without much effort, I could come up with a list of 30 other G1 interaction design horrors. 15 of which would involve the Calendar.

8 thoughts on “Android/G1 Usability

  1. Every single cell phone I’ve ever had has used the “red button” for the exact same behavior as the G1. I’m guessing the “usability people” were confident that this would not be an issue for most people.

    On all of these phones the “red button” has been for ending calls, canceling things, and powering the phone on or off.

  2. “in a situation where I expected it to power the phone on, it instead ended the call.”

    I know I have taken that out of context slightly, but if you’re in an active call the phone is probably already powered on!

    I’m hoping that most of the usability issues will get ironed out over time, or manufacturers will do there own thing on the UI/usability front.

  3. When I consider my Treo, the usability problem isn’t the button, it’s the fact the screen is off when the phone is actually on and taking the call. My Treo turns the backlight off when on calls. It’s obvious the phone is “on” – the full UI is still visible, just dim. Press a button, eg the 5-way, and the backlight turns on.

  4. Dan: Sure, but the point is it doesn’t _look_ powered on. And if the user’s mental model is “red button wakes it up” then pressing the red button when the screen is black and lifeless is entirely reasonable.

    Andrew: I used to have a Treo. And that’s exactly how the G1 _should_ work.

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