Some Android Apps Going Backwards

android.gifI have recently been disappointed with the changes the BBC made to the BBC News app. I used to use this app every day until, very recently, they updated it to use Material Design. Along the way, they removed the easy-access single screen of stacked scrolling, themed news items and instead you now have to pick your way through a navigation drawer (hamburger menu) and view pager screens. The app has lost it’s primary purpose for me to easily browse through news. I am not the only one. The Play store reviews concur…

"Agree with everyone else. Bring back the old version, please. Used the read that one frequently but don’t even want to open the new one because it’s such a chore to find things."

"Too complex. To much jumping from stories to videos. "My news" seems duplicated somehow with my news combined in one tab then duplicated in multiple tabs, one for each news feed chosen. Needs simplifying."

"Bring back old version plz Hard to find news your looking for too much content that’s displayed in confusing manner bring back old version that just had one scrolling screen so fluid an easy to use hate this version so much"

Now on to Google’s Gallery app. Why was it replaced with the Photos app that needs Google+ enabled to use it to set a phone background? I disabled Google+ on Android a long while ago as it consumed excessive power even though I never used it. 

On to Google Calendar. Why was month view removed? Who decided to put a wasteful graphic at the top when, in Calendar apps, the most precious resource is screen real-estate?

What’s caused all this? There seems to be a growing trend to make apps more Material Design compliant. While the Material Design isn’t particularly at fault, it seems in slaving over the new look and feel, other things has been lost. The apps might look better but noone has thought deeper than that.

So, if you are thinking of moving your app to Material design, don’t let it divert your time from thinking about other things that are just as and maybe more important. Also, while hamburger menus have legitimate use in some (more complex) apps, you should realise they can end up making things more difficult to use in simple apps (yes, it’s an iOS article but the principles are the same).

UPDATE: Also read Side drawer navigation could be costing you half your user engagement