For the past week, I've been committing a huge sin, and I feel really terrible about myself. Every time I look at my phone, I wonder what has happened to me.
See, I've been using an LG G6 as my daily driver — tl;dr it's an amazing phone and you should probably buy one — and it's been a pretty good experience overall. But the phone is tall, and it's narrow, which is exactly what LG talks about when it claims its flagship to be one hand-friendly.
So I've enabled LG's on-screen navigation shortcut to quickly drop down the notification shade. While I hate how it looks, I think there's a practical reason most people should consider this, especially as tall, narrow phones with odd aspect ratios become more commonplace in the market.
A history of messing with notifications
Ever since the introduction of on-screen navigation buttons in 2011, Android manufacturers have found ways to pervert Google's original intentions. From changes to the designs (which were, during the Holo era, admittedly terrible across the board) to the addition of superfluous options, companies like LG and Huawei made it very easy to make that on-screen navigation era look terrible.
LG has offered the ability to augment the nav bar with notification shortcuts and quick access to its near-useless QSlide memo utility for a number of years, and it's always been possible to place them in any orientation one desires. If you want the notification shortcut on the left side, so be it on. On the right? You're an animal (or left-handed), but sure.
With the G6, LG made a phone that is usable in one hand but still too tall for the average thumb.
I've never really cared for changing the on-screen navigation buttons. Google has a reason the home button is in the middle, and the back button on the far left. Samsung has gone out of its way (and appears to be poised to continue doing so, at least by default) to do exactly the opposite of what Google intended, but at least it's been consistent in that particular area since the days of the first Galaxy devices in 2010.
But with the G6, something happened. LG released a phone that was usable in one hand, thanks to its narrow frame, but too tall to actually access the notification shade without some hand gymnastics. So in lieu of a "Mini Me" mode (which I don't miss), I decided to try my hand, or thumb, at using that much-maligned nav shortcut — on the left side, no less.
And by gosh, the damn thing worked. Not only does it reorient the regular navigation buttons slightly to the right, allowing me to more easily tap the back or home buttons without shifting my thumb, but the notification shortcut has proven considerably more useful than I initially gave it credit for. You don't realize how much time you spend merely swiping down to check notifications during the day until you take stock of your behavior. The upside is that I can easily open and close the notification shade without shifting my hand and interrupting what I am doing.
What about gestures?
I was scolded by my coworkers, and rightfully so, for polluting the sanctity of the navigation area, mainly because they believe I can accomplish the same thing using gestures. Specifically, many launchers, such as Action and Nova, allow for the setting of a home screen shortcut to quickly access notifications. And other apps purport to allow the same using overlays, so the notification shade can be accessed from any app, not just the home screen.
I tried all of these alternatives, and none have proven as usable, and as functional, as the Quad Blight.
The ugly truth
I'm getting older. I don't take the same care of myself as I used to. I prefer function to aesthetic. I don't care if I walk the dog in dog-eaten sneakers. I catch myself staring at clouds.
I'm also looking for ways to make the thing I use more than anything else a bit more functional, even at the expense of tradition, and symmetry. I can't promise that I'll continue using the LG G6 in this manner — my snob brain curdles at the thought — but for now, it's fine.
This is fine.
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