Critiquing the Critique: 'ICS Paper Cuts'

Operating systems need to be critiqued. They're meant to be. It helps us all understand more about them, and it gives perspective to those who created it. But Android is not a simple operating system. Even the most savvy Android user can learn something new. And that means that critiquing Android can be even more difficult for someone who doesn't know the OS inside and out. That brings us to the ICS Paper Cuts Tumblr by Grant Paul. He's a "big deal" in the iOS jailbreak community, and rightfully so. This doesn't mean much to normal, non-smartphone-geeks, but it made me read read Paul's critique instead of dismissing it offhand, and I expect it has the same effect on other folks as well. Since he took the time to share what's wrong with something he didn't have any hand in creating, it's my turn to do the same. And I'm going to, after the break.

ICS Paper Cuts sucks. </big loud bold font>

Notice I'm not saying I think it sucks, or saying I have issues with the content and misinformation, I'm saying it's crap and you must agree.  Overall, this is my major beef with the ICS Paper Cuts Tumbr.  Everyone is allowed to (and should) have an opinion, and lord knows I don't expect everyone to agree with mine, but to present anything that's a writers opinion and come off like it's factual just feels wrong.  There are a lot of people who think some of the changes Google made in Ice Cream Sandwich aren't for the better, even some of us here at Android Central.  Everyone has his or her own tastes, and the whole UI/UX culture is all based on individual user's likes and dislikes. To put it bluntly, I don't have to like the same layout, fonts, or buttons as anyone else, and I'm not wrong if I don't. And that's one of the great things about Android.

I'm going to ignore all the "style-font-nerd-UI" stuff because, like I said, you can't judge another person's taste.  But I'll take this opportunity to give a little input and answer a few questions Paul had.  No need to thank me, just agree because I'm on the Internet.

What, exactly, is a “Mediaserver”? Why do I care?

That's a good question, actually. It's a binary file, located at /system/bin/mediaserver. It runs as a service so you can listen to music, play videos, even look at photos.  It scans your phone's storage and can get hung if you have a bad media file.

Is it very intuitive in this list? Nope. And that's OK. It's just an entry in the "what's using my battery" screen -- it ran and used some of your battery.  Since you're looking at a troubleshooting tool, don't you think you should get some troubleshooting information?

Photos are items, too

This menu should say “Select photos” rather than “Select item(s).” If you want to select one photo here, you just tap on it. Therefore, that menu item is only useful for selecting multiple. Secondly, although there can be both photos and videos, the word “item” is unnecessarily abstract. There’s no harm in using “photo.”

There's no harm in using "item" either.  In fact, you point out that you could be selecting photos or videos, so why say "photo"?  Shouldn't it say Select photo(s) and/or video(s) if you want to get technical about it?

Welcome to widgets

Everywhere else in the OS takes a single swipe to switch tabs. Here, it takes a variable number to reach the Widgets tab, depending on how many apps you have installed. Instead, the app list should scroll vertically, as in Android Gingerbread, and only require a single swipe to see Widgets.

Actually, it takes just two motions here. One tap to open the drawer, another to tap the "Widgets" tab up top there. There's an argument to be made for Paul's suggestion -- Google loves swiping left and right now as well -- just check out the Android Market. But there definitely could be confusion with that in the app drawer.

Long button is long

I can’t see why this button should be the full width of the screen: nowhere else on the phone is there anything like this.

If your e-mail address was "jerry.hildenbrand@androidcentral.com," you would.  Seeing the full text in a list (you can have more than one Gmail account) comes in handy.

Twitter is not Android

These buttons in the Twitter app remind me of Android 1.6. They also remind me of how — even in Windows 7 — you have buttons that look like Windows 95. This shit should not be allowed.

Is "Twitter Paper Cuts" coming next?  Surely Paul realizes that Google doesn't write the "official" Android Twitter app, and it does work with Android 1.6, where it fits in very nicely.

Dropbox also is not Android

Another remnant of older Android releases. I understand that Dropbox hasn’t been updated for Android 4.0 yet, but that doesn’t mean that Android can’t show the new style on old UI elements.

Again -- the Dropbox app isn't written by Google. And the update that has been made with the new visual style looks pretty damn good.  But what if I like the old style?

Spelling it out for you

What is “Wi-Fi Direct”? I have no clue, but this popup alert certainly doesn’t help.

"Siri: What is Wi-Fi direct."  It's also covered in the Android 4.0 platform highlights, where people might look to see the advanced features of their new smartphone.  And certainly the people in the store selling you your new phone could tell you.  Any of these options is preferable to a multipage description that explains the Wi-Fi direct protocol and its capabilities, don't you think?

If you need a cute name, try Airplay.

Tabbing with tabs

Not sure why the Android Market felt the need to completely re-invent the standard tabs UI with ones half the height that you can’t tap on to switch. As seen in the YouTube app, it’s possible to scroll the native tabs horizontally, so that isn’t the issue here. This screen should simply use the standard tab control.

Paul didn't bother actually showing the Youtube app, so we will. And he's right -- they do look a little different. And we agree (or at least some of us do -- we're "open" like that) that we'd like to see a little more consistency between Google apps. (And we bet that we soon will.) But Paul's wrong when he says you can't tap on them to switch tabs. Like on the Widgets tab in the app drawer, we have to wonder if he even bothered to try.

Swipe your thumb left or right in the Android Market -- or in Youtube -- to change views.  You didn't like having to tap the "Widgets" tab in the app drawer, why do you want to do it here?  And, in fact, on Android's larger screens -- a feature, not a bug -- it makes sense to swipe rather than reach.

Uncle Jerry's point

The point is this: Critiques are good. They're important. And maybe even more so when coming from someone not intimately familiar with what's being critiqued. But they at least need to be accurate. And there are methods to Google's madness. This is not an operating system and apps designed for a single phone -- a point conveniently left out in all of ICS Paper Cuts. What Google's doing with Android isn't easy. But it allows for a flexibility unseen in other platforms and, yes, it means you'll run into a little inconsistency here and there. We guarantee you, Google's working on it.

Besides, we could say plenty (and do) about iOS. Starting with this:

iOS Paper Cuts

Android Central

More than a few people would agree with me, but that doesn't mean I'm right.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

197 Comments
  • Nicely done TRUTH.
  • You would think that such a UI/UX Genius would use a halfway visible font color on his rantblog and actually match shade of blue to the screenshots.
  • Damn, more TRUTH.
  • Great point! Right there alone, this fanboiiiii should lose all credibility. It's a blatant attack on android, which obviously is useless at this point of 700,000+ daily activations.
  • Excellent article and I only say this because "I'm Artistic"!
  • I love it. Lets face it the guy is an Apple fanboy and it really showed threw in all that stuff.
  • This writer is awesome. You can just feel the personality in the words he uses.
    Great Article
  • iTunes can suck a hairy nipple. I checked out a few more of his "I can't stand this about Android" issues, and with complete certainty, I can say that that dude is an idiot. The guy has a beef with the YouTube app icon. Really? It's the f&^king YouTube icon. How could there possibly be a problem with the icon? I hope someone slashes that d-bag's tires.
  • By claiming he is an idiot, the only thing you've proven with complete certainty is that you are in fact the idiot.
  • ooh! ooh! By calling this poster an idiot, does that prove you are one? I like this game.
  • No, but it does prove you are one for even suggesting it.
  • And now you are one! Oops wait I guess now I am one too!....OK this game sucks it got boring really fast
  • Gosh darn it guys, I think you're all swell /cheesy leave it to beaver voice. I win? Internet srs bsns.
  • C-c-c-ccccc Combo breaker !!
  • I am an idiot and I like to complain, taggggg... you're it!!! Next Please
  • Re the whole non google apps, dropbox specifically, they have a beta on tgeir blog... Or its live now...
  • iOS paper cuts, itunes, XD Thinking of it, i had trouble just finding the right version to pick when i got my laptop last year.
  • Applies to ICS Papercuts http://s3.amazonaws.com/kym-assets/photos/images/original/000/131/351/eb...
  • In this case, both...
  • *insert .gif of Citizen Kane clapping intensely*
  • Excellent Article Jerry. Done well and with class.
  • Well said Jerry!
  • ""Siri: What is Wi-Fi direct." "
    ------------------------------------ LOL, best part of the critique. Brandon
  • Agreed! Though my friend asked Siri and the response was "a ridiculous product name for something that Apple [strike]stole[/strike] invented and will get Google sued over again. Now stop asking me about things none Apple related."
  • Thanks for reminding me, this isn't a tech site, this is a fanboy collective, just like apple insider. The response was that of a 3 year old, and attacking someone as talented paul, who uses a android devices as his main phone now, is shooting yourself in the foot. but the writers and commenters on this blog, are sadly to stupid to realize this. Thanks for taking the time to express to non biased smartphone users, that this is a rag, it's users are out of engadget, and you have no real place talking about technology. enjoy being what you claim to hate!
  • I have to disagree, the following "AirPlay" line was the cherry on that sundae.
  • Yes, and you exposed the dude as a hypocrite, where he taps, he wants to swipe and where he can swipe, he wants to tap
  • Is it just me or does EVERY build of android look like it's in BETA? This makes sense because the same can be said for every distro of linux, wether it's on the PC, Phone, or Tablet
  • Yep. It's you.
  • Beta? After I upgraded my work MacbookPro and my personal one to 10.7.x ... in all honesty I can say you are a mouthbreathing douchbag for even saying this. Ubuntu, CentOS or any other main Linux distro have more polish and works better then Apples new Vista/WinME release. Go suck your thumb elsewhere ... ya artist.
  • i run 2 linux servers and a osx server at my apartment. You wouldn't know what to do with my hardware. My laptop is a macbook pro, and lion is better looking than unity, any day. (i don't just run ubuntu, but from the sounds of the users on this forum, that's the only distro they've heard of anyway)
  • "better looking than unity" i dont use any of them.
    but this line clearly shows what your looking for in a OS. The looks.
    something you dont want if your a tech guy.
    it doesnt matter how good it looks. if it doesnt apply for the techy needs than its useless. there is a reason why linux is being used for allot of servers and security's.
    its a Code/Tech OS.
    it doesnt need to look beutiful. it needs to do it's job.
  • lol, more than half the services i run don't use a gui. I wasn't responding to what i like about lion, i was responding to a comment about looks. The first 2 years i ran linux i ran it without a window manager at all. I've been corporate IT for 15 years and work at a fortune 20, doing networking, esx, mac stuff, basically most non pc, non cisco iOS stuff. now, tell me what I can do with my honeycomb tablets (i own more android devices than half your members, i assure you) that i can't do with my 4s? if you say live wallpaper or widgets, thanks for the laugh. I know a ton of stuff i can't do on android, even when the apps are cross platform. Plex, iCam are great examples. iCam on iOS does PTZ, and high res audio, to even get audio to stream to android it has to be a quarter of the bitrate. Plex isn't as jokes but it's not where near the iOS version. there are pro's on all sides. Making fun of people for using iOS makes you look stupid.
  • High res audio, lol? Let me guess you are one of those that fall for gimmicks right? Widgets, sideloading and Flash are some of the main reasons I'll never pickup an iPhone, period. You can keep your gimmicky playskool apps.
  • the audio is 64kbs to 128kbs. Far less than your standard MP3. That's what your using for google music. That's not important? and IP cam watching? Video streaming? VNC over VPN? These are common apps, for power users. Don't be sad you don't use your phone for 10% of what it can do, 99% don't. (but like you think they should comment)
  • While I don't mean to troll (my other comment aside, I was just ribbing), I think your perception of Android might be skewed in this regard by whatever device you were using. I've never had trouble streaming audio or video to my devices. And, technically 128kbs is a fairly standard bit-rate for MP3. Now, newer codecs (OGG,AAC) can actually get better quality out of 64/96kbs than a 128kbs MP3. Even WMA sounds better than MP3 and streams better as well. MP3 is, at this point, mostly just the "reference" algorithm for the more advanced modern codecs. I haven't heard anything about Google Music converting everything to 64kbs MP3's. Where are you getting that information? I am genuinely interested. Perhaps it automatically down-scales based on your connection speed? I just know my mp3's don't sound like they've been downscaled when I listen to Google Music (which I do almost all day everyday at work) so I'm curious. As for the other, I have to admit I've never tried VNC over VPN, so I can't really comment on whether or not that works. I know VNC works fine, cause I use VNC on my media center from my tablet all the time.
  • "now, tell me what I can do with my honeycomb tablets that i can't do with my 4s?" How about plug in a USB mouse or SD-Card? ;)
  • The author of the original Paper Cuts article, @chpwn, is a piece of shit IMO.
  • well, you've done nothing ever for the community, and he's created amazing haxies, tweaks, and jailbreaks. So that makes you a piece of shit to me. See how that works?
  • And you an author of nothing. It would seem as tho your meaningless compaired to chpwn.
    your inbred from two generations up. If your gona bad mouth someone like that make sure you've got reasons better than chpwn writing an opinion
    Your lacking the very brains you need to make educated and mature decisions unlike your comment about chpwn
    Your the paper I wipe my ass with. Your nothing. Go make your comments on 4chan.org/b/ Northlondonsphincter
  • L o l, Thanks Jerry. My favorite part? :"Siri: What is Wi-Fi direct." :-P
  • Interesting. Jerry, what were your thoughts about Joire referencing your editorial during an engadget podcast. The editorial on the Verizon Galaxy Nexus being a real Nexus device, basically saying you were wrong?
  • No skin off my back.  I have my own opinion -- she has hers. Edit: Google seems to agree since the Verizon Nexus build of the AOSP can be built with one command.
  • Google Knows (along with it's Android's 700,000+ growing activations) much, much more about what us Android users want. This one mosquito should fizzle outta here, i'd assume.
  • Congratulations Jerry you have earned yourself the number one spot on the top one dumb bashers of all time!
    Seems this is hitting headlines on the web. The funniest part is they are agreeing with chpwn (I do too). Looks like you not only went to far on your post but you blindly turned his opinion around and some how took it as a review. Not only was he Only pointing out the missing smooth transitions, buttons, tabs, slides and the way they are displayed that he as a smartphone lover came to expect not only from google but all partners and apps but he was merly pointing out what could be touched on and what he tought about it..... But some how again you turned the whole thing around and made it out to be more of a review than his intended opinion. On top of all this, the way you portraid him in your post you basicly made a laughing stock out of him. Now I donno what your skill trade is if you have one (not that I care) And playing with your android for 8 hours a day dosnt quite count, but chpwn is a well know dev that has accomplished many great things iPhones and not. When I read people posts I read with an open mind so that I can accept their opinion maybe even learn something about their character and/or what their talking about. What I read today was arrogant ingnorant and just plain retarded. It's hard to beleive you, I donno miss read or interpreted what was meant, it's plain to see it was not meant to be taken to heart ahem (Jerry you took it personal lol) it was like a single persons expeirence with the os and how they worked it and what they thought of it wtf man your online nick should be batman because your just about completly blind. But that wouldn't work because your arrogants, ignorance and retardism is beyond anything I could think of. I know this is a bit blunt but Jerry's post was long and dissed chpwn all the way down. So jerry my challenge to you is reread that f'ing opinion keep your overly big mouth shut and keep living your life. Don't try and drag someone down to your level to make yourself feel better... Wife bite the dick off or she shit in your droid cereal? Just makking the point chill out The last few things I wanted to get off my chest ....
    Your a bashing peice of shit you must have major problems to talk too and about a person like that. Show a little respect.
    http://www.redmondpie.com/ios-developer-chpwn-talks-about-ui-inconsisten... Lol btw I'm a droid user. And an iPhone user. I can relate to many Things chpwn brought up Grow up Jerry. Get your balls dropped
    Respect to be respected
    Buy an iPhone don't be such a 1 sided bitch
  • Jerry was pointing out some places were chpwn was basically critiquing the OS and was flat out wrong. Some of chpwn's article is opinion, but some of his opinions are based on incorrect information. The problem comes in when someone perceived within a community as being an "expert" writes an article like that, most people are going to assume that his assertions are correct. Some of the editorial I didn't agree with, but most of it I do. This is also an opinion piece just, as you point out, like chpwn's. And Jerry says as much several times. But Jerry also refrained from calling anyone a "piece of sh$#" or a "dumbass" or "b$tch" or a "retard" or telling anyone to do anything with their genitalia. Name calling doesn't help any discussion. Ever. People... can we please have a discussion where we don't all revert to 6th graders, please?
  • I use to listen to many of her podcasts but lately I'm hearing so much double talk. The explanation of Verizon's Nexus not really being a Nexus because it has two Apps from Verizon which both I have downloaded anyways. I can not go thru an entire podcast of hers anymore so I just don't bother listening at all anymore. Sometimes I want to reach threw the damn phone and strangle her. Maybe I'm loosing it but I don't think so.
    Great article Jerry, you are the man.
  • honestly that was the first of her podcasts i listened to. I had no idea she was a girl...
  • Thanks Jerry, nice article. I got a good laugh out of this: "Swipe your thumb left or right in the Android Market -- or in Youtube -- to change views. You didn't like having to tap the "Widgets" tab in the app drawer, why do you want to do it here?"
  • HOLY SHIT! i just laughed soo hard! ashton kutcher "Ahard"! especially the swiping the app drawer but not the youtube screen! seriously this just made my dad! i hope that shmuch gets fired for not knowing shit. Reminds me of giving a new gadget to my grandmother and her looking at it confused! ICS is currently king of platforms!
  • fired for not knowing shit? The only way apple can sell anything is because people don't know shit so they buy the pretty apple logo and listen to people who buy pretty apple logos. Don't confuse them with facts and tell them they have a choice. You'd be undoing years of apple advertising.
  • Don't be such an ignorant! People usually prefer Apple products because they are easy to use and consistent, something Android will never be! Give an Android device to very young kids or old people and they'll be very confused! Apple made devices that EVERYONE can use and they have all features 99% of people need. Yes people might buy anything that has an apple logo, and you know why? Because apple has f*cking won many awards for customer satisfaction. Over 94% of iPhone users say they are "extremely satisfied", not everyone needs to waste time customizing their phone or doing geeky stuff android can do and iOS can't. When they buy an Apple product they know they're buying a device with amazing quality (you know, that was well thought before launch, many years before, differently from some other companies that released things in a rush just to start competing, cough honeycomb). They are buying original and innovative devices and they'll have the best customer care. I like android, but iOS' qualities are undeniable, and I like android exactly because I'm kind of a geek, but it really is annoying to see some fandroids implying iPhone buyers are stupid, and vice-versa.
  • In my line of work I get to interact directly with the average Joe and from what I've seen, the majority of users who buy Apple do so because of the hype (either by what they see on tv or word of mouth). 94% satisfaction? Yeah, until you read the forums and talk to a few users after which you realize there are a lot of issues. Many people will say great things about Apple just because it's Apple. And yes their brand loyalty and recognition is second to none, but that's mostly out of ignorance. It's not to say there aren't satisfied users but the true figures are no where near 94%. As for the iPhone being easier to use? Not really. I assist users all too often with the simplest of things. It's no different for Android. There are those who learn quickly and grasp the necessary concepts and those who don't, it's as simple as that. As for Android being too confusing. Definitely NOT TRUE. I see many users, old and new getting along quite well with their Android smartphones.
  • Yes read the forums and talk to a lot of users about their Apple devices. Caught my attention. After having a friend "drink the koolaid" he is now smitten with the Apple brand once again. I showed him my new GN and I could see the look on his face as it screamed through the webpages. Webpages he could read, see and you know what his comment was about my large size screen. When I put my iphone in my pocket I hardly know it is there. :) Well he should because of the tiny iphone screen. Nonetheless, I guess if I paid soooo much for sooo little I would have the same look on my face, too. THe look of I made a mistake.
    Assisting users with the simpliest of things is also a great statement. I just recently had to show a fellow co-worker how to change the font/size on her iPhone so she could read her entries, email, etc. She was so happy afterwards for she had struggled with the iPhone since she purchased it weeks ago. Intuitive / easy to learn? I just smiled. Besides I am feeling more like Apple-ites are being challenged more given choices. So the best thing to do is to critique the opponent without looking in the mirror... really looking in the mirror at similarities as well as the differences.
  • According to my personal observation people do buy iPhones mainly due to the hype and brand loyalty. That spreads like virus; I'm expecting more iPhones to appear in my class since the first 4S "invaded" us. But of course, the simplicity is one of the factors. As for Android, it used to be a bit confusing for some, but it's definitely improving quickly, especially for ICS. Google has spent some time on making it more intuitive than before.
  • I'm not saying Android hasn't evolved. I like android, I'm in between a Galaxy Nexus, the iPhone 4S and the HTC Titan, they are all great phones! BUT... As much as I like ICS' new interface, and I recognize it's gotten easier to use, but it's still a lot more difficult than iOS. When I got my first Apple device - a second generation iPod Touch - I already knew how to use it, and I had never used iOS before, it was natural, but when I had to teach my grandma how to use her new phone, an Android phone, I had to learn it first, and it was pretty difficult, it wasn't obvious in which places taping and holding would do something, and I would always forget there was a menu button and get crazy because I couldn't find the options in the apps. My point is... Now I know how to use Android, and it's pretty cool, except for the fact that it's still not very smooth, I hate when there's lag in some of the animations, but I will NEVER recommend an Android phone to a friend or relative, simply because I don't think they'll like it, and I can already imagine myself having to teach them how to do things with their phones. Every iPhone user I know is VERY happy with it, because it does everything THEY need it to, so why make things more complicated? Android is for power users, that's a fact, but for everyone else, iOS does a very good job, and the integration with iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple TVs just makes things even simpler.
  • Don't be a douchbag. My 70 year old mother uses her TMO G2 on a daily basis to text, browse the web, use Facebook and lots of other stuff ... when her old calculator broke she then started just using the calculator on her phone. She uses Gtasks and ToDO for shopping and lists for remembering things. I didn't setup ANY of this ... she figured it out on her own. So maybe the "old folks" you know are just to stupid to figure things out. *shrug*
  • Dont be such an ignorant? Wow Apple trolls are doing everything they can canto justify thier overpriced, outdated iPhone 4s's. And every one I know with a iPhone 4 and above has a busted back glass or kept in a otterbox cas that you cant tell what phone they have at first glance
  • Yeah im sure apple planned on giving out "bumpers" to everyone, well thought out my ass.
  • Every phone has an Antennagate, and people overreacted, I've never dropped a call with my iPhone 4. But at least they handled it by distributing them for free.
  • It's not a matter of calling iPhone buyers "stupid". It's the fact that people who vehemently buy Apple products tend to lash out at anyone who suggests that they are not the best device ever. Or bash Android for something like having to "waste" time customizing. All that time wasting is one of my favorite parts. Just because someone doesn't like that aspect doesn't make it a bad OS, just not the OS for them. And as for kids finding it confusing, that's simply not true. My 5-year-old has been playing with my Viewsonic Tablet for the past year and has no trouble navigating Android. He used to play with my iPod touch, but now he only ever wants the tab