Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 28th Jun 2016 21:53 UTC
Android

Speaking of software sucks, take a look at this screenshot of Chrome for Android. Do you notice something out of the ordinary? While you look, let me give you a little history.

Way back when Android Lollipop was released, Google introduced a feature called "merge tabs and apps" and enabled it by default for all Lollipop users. Basically, what it did was turn individual Chrome tabs into application windows in Android's application switcher. If you have an understanding of how Android works, this makes perfect sense; this turns tabs into full citizens of the Android application and intents workflow.

Starting with - I think? - Android Marshmallow, Google turned the feature off, but kept it as an option in Google Chrome, so that those of us that liked it could turn it back on. Obviously, this was the first thing I always turned on when setting up any new Android device; it just makes sense from an Android perspective. It smooths out the workflow, and makes sure that tab management becomes a thing of the past; they are discarded just like other Android applications.

Sadly, starting with Chrome 51, released a few weeks ago, the Android or Chrome or whatever team decided to remove the option altogether. The release notes stated:

When Android Lollipop was released last year, we moved Chrome tabs to live alongside apps in Android’s Overview app switcher. Our goal was to make it easier for you to switch between your open apps and websites. However, we heard from many of you that you could not find the tabs you created. This was especially difficult on phones that do not have a dedicated Overview button. While considering how to make Chrome work better for everyone, we brought the tab switcher back into Chrome so you can find your Chrome tabs in a single place. Look for a new way to manage your open tabs in coming releases.

This single change has thoroughly ruined the way I use my phone. I now have upwards of 60 - and growing - "open" tabs, because the Chrome team wants me to manually keep track of and close every individual tab that gets opened while using Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, and other applications. I now have to keep track of not only running applications in the switcher, but also open tabs in the tab switcher, the latter of which can only be opened with a button in Chrome all the way at the top of my ginormous Nexus 6P display. The tab switcher itself, meanwhile, is a finicky clusterfuck of imprecise swipes and physics nonsense, making it all incredibly frustrating to use.

Update: this paragraph was added later as clarification. In addition, if you tapped on a link in, say, Fenix (Twitter) and read the website in the tab and then pressed back, said tab was automatically closed. This automatic closing of tabs with the back button does not happen with the inferior new method, hence the asinine clutter build-up.

Trying to switch to a specific tab I may have opened earlier in the day is an exercise in frustration now, since instead of just opening the application switcher and finding it a few swipes up (I don't use many applications), I now have to first find Chrome or launch it from my homescreen, find the tab switcher button all the way at the top, count to ten as I try to use the asinine tab switcher, and then hope I can find it somewhere among the more than 60 - and growing - "open" tabs and UI input lag caused by having to render all these tabs in that weird 3D space.

As someone who keeps track of world news, things like UEFA Euro 2016, technology news, and so on, all throughout the day, I end up with countless interesting tabs that get opened on Twitter, other social media, instant messenger, and so on. The Chrome team has actively decided to break my workflow, and there's no way for me to get it back - probably just because instead of looking at the how or why, they just looked at their precious, precious user data, and called it a day.

Looking to the future, with (freeform) windowing coming to Android, the change makes even less sense. Having tabs as part of the regular application switcher surely makes sense from a multitasking and multiwindow perspective, automatically giving Android users the ability to have multiple tabs side-by-side, in a way that is consistent with using other applications side-by-side. How are they going to implement this now? Will Android users have to deal with multiple Chrome windows, each with their own tab switcher? Where do tabs of closed windows go? What madness is this?

I find solace in that I'm not alone. Countless friends have expressed their hatred for the removal of merge tabs and apps (I've seen some of my programmer friends with well north of 100 "open" tabs), and the Chrome for Android reviews in the Play Store are riddled with angry one-star reviews. Google's forums, too, are filled with angry users. I'm hoping the angry comments and one-star reviews will make the Chrome team reconsider and bring back the option to merge tabs and apps, the Only True Android Way™ to manage tabs.

I'm sure tons of people here will consider this whining, but imagine if you're a programmer, and someone randomly took away your ability to insert tabs, forcing you to use spaces instead (or vice versa). That twitch you feel? That's us right now, every time we use Android.

For the first time in my life, I actually rated an application on an application store. Guess how many "stars" (why is it always stars?) I gave to Chrome for Android.

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RE[3]: Seriously?
by Thom_Holwerda on Wed 29th Jun 2016 11:27 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Seriously?"
Thom_Holwerda
Member since:
2005-06-29

or why you think it's sane to have such a massive quantity of "tabs and/or applications" running.


How many times do I have to repeat that I do NOT, I repeat, do NOT, find this sane at all? The huge number of open tabs is the UNDESIRED result of the PROBLEM Google created by removing the option to merge tabs and apps. How is this so hard to understand when it's in the article several times, and in the comments here?

Are you simply too lazy to close things that you have no intention of using soon?


THIS IS THE EXACT PROBLEM. With merge tabs and apps, tab management is effectively taken out of your hands and handled for you because it's performed by the same mechanics that handle applications. Do you actively close the applications you use after you're done using them? Do you go into the application switcher to manually close Facebook, Google Docs, or whatever other application on your phone every single time you're done using them?

Of course you don't. One of the great things iOS and Android have brought us is that we no longer have to actively manage running applications like we do on desktops, thanks to save-state, quick launch, intents, and so on. All merge tabs and apps does is apply those exact same mechanics to tabs, so you no longer have to actively manage tabs like you have to actively manage apps on desktops.

If a spoilt child refuses to clean up their bedroom for weeks and then complains because they can't find anything under the mounds of trash they've created, do you blame the architect that designed the house?


Your refrigerator automatically keeps things cool. Would you be angry if a software update forced you to actively shovel ice cubes into your fridge 30 times a day?

Edited 2016-06-29 11:28 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[4]: Seriously?
by Gargyle on Wed 29th Jun 2016 11:34 in reply to "RE[3]: Seriously?"
Gargyle Member since:
2015-03-27

Do you actively close the applications you use after you're done using them? Do you go into the application switcher to manually close Facebook, Google Docs, or whatever other application on your phone every single time you're done using them?

Of course you don't.

Um yes, yes I do! Why? Because if I don't, it sometimes causes battery usage leaks (in my case K9Mail), and I tend to think to notice (is this construction valid?) that my phone gets slower the more apps are opened.

Edited 2016-06-29 11:45 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[5]: Seriously?
by Thom_Holwerda on Wed 29th Jun 2016 11:50 in reply to "RE[4]: Seriously?"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Um yes, yes I do! Why? Because if I don't, it sometimes causes battery usage leaks (in my case K9Mail), and I tend to think to notice (is this construction valid?) that my phone gets slower the more apps are opened.


But the minute gains from closing it all the time is negated by the additional time spent manually closing it and especially by having to cold-launch the app every single time.

I'm sorry, but this makes no sense.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[5]: Seriously?
by darknexus on Wed 29th Jun 2016 12:05 in reply to "RE[4]: Seriously?"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

You might consider looking into better e-mail clients. I had nothing but trouble with K-9. I found Aquamail Pro to be the best for my needs personally. There are a lot of e-mail clients out there, ones that do not leak battery life.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: Seriously?
by ahferroin7 on Wed 29th Jun 2016 12:28 in reply to "RE[4]: Seriously?"
ahferroin7 Member since:
2015-10-30

The gains in battery life are almost certainly smaller than you think. Almost all decent apps that run things in the background have dedicated services for it that keep running even if you close the app, so the only advantages you get are making the task switcher itself slightly faster, and using less memory. There is no Android system I know of that powers down unused RAM, so saving memory space isn't helping (Android itself will sanely manage things anyway), and if you weren't opening the task switcher to close things all the time, that wouldn't have almost any impact anyway.

That said, I close apps when I'm done with them manually myself, but for other reasons. I don't like leaving open sessions on anything, and in most apps, it's quicker to close the app than to tell it to log out and then leave it running.

Either way, this absolutely _is not_ a typical workflow for an average user on an Android system, most of them just leave everything open and let Android manage things (although quite a few probably don't even know that Android is managing things for them).

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[4]: Seriously?
by Brendan on Wed 29th Jun 2016 12:28 in reply to "RE[3]: Seriously?"
Brendan Member since:
2005-11-16

Hi,

How many times do I have to repeat that I do NOT, I repeat, do NOT, find this sane at all? The huge number of open tabs is the UNDESIRED result of the PROBLEM Google created by removing the option to merge tabs and apps. How is this so hard to understand when it's in the article several times, and in the comments here?


You need to repeat it until you realise that couldn't give a rat's butt if you have "60 open tabs" or "60 open applications" or "30 tabs and 30 applications" or anything else. It's the fact that you've got 60 websites (in tabs or in applications) that I find repulsively retarded, not whether they're tabs or applications.

THIS IS THE EXACT PROBLEM. With merge tabs and apps, tab management is effectively taken out of your hands and handled for you because it's performed by the same mechanics that handle applications. Do you actively close the applications you use after you're done using them?


Yes. How else can the OS know if you have or haven't finished using the application?

Do you go into the application switcher to manually close Facebook, Google Docs, or whatever other application on your phone every single time you're done using them?


Yes. Why would I want crap I'm not using cluttering up my screen (or list of apps, or browser tabs)?

Of course you don't. One of the great things iOS and Android have brought us is that we no longer have to actively manage running applications like we do on desktops, thanks to save-state, quick launch, intents, and so on. All merge tabs and apps does is apply those exact same mechanics to tabs, so you no longer have to actively manage tabs like you have to actively manage apps on desktops.


Um, what?

Because smartphones are too weak (and their batteries too small) to handle true multi-tasking, they had to implement silly work-arounds (e.g. "save state" and shut the app down, and restart it using the previously saved state if/when you switch back to it later); and you think having to manage "open but not actually running apps" (instead of having to manage "actually running apps") is some sort of miraculous bonus?

Your refrigerator automatically keeps things cool. Would you be angry if a software update forced you to actively shovel ice cubes into your fridge 30 times a day?


I have no idea how this gibberish is supposed to relate to the paragraph it's replying to, or the topic being discussed in general.

If you don't clean up after yourself (whether that is closing "actually running apps", or closing "open but not actually running apps", or closing tabs, or doing dishes, or tidying up your bedroom) then you've chosen to live with clutter and have no right to blame others for the clutter you're directly responsible for causing.

- Brendan

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[5]: Seriously?
by ahferroin7 on Wed 29th Jun 2016 12:47 in reply to "RE[4]: Seriously?"
ahferroin7 Member since:
2015-10-30

You need to repeat it until you realise that couldn't give a rat's butt if you have "60 open tabs" or "60 open applications" or "30 tabs and 30 applications" or anything else. It's the fact that you've got 60 websites (in tabs or in applications) that I find repulsively retarded, not whether they're tabs or applications.

If you would actually read, you'd see that you both agree about this. It's not intentional, it's a result of a regression in how Chrome on Android handles tabs. Prior to this change, the phone itself handled cleanup of old tabs, and therefore he didn't have to worry about it, now he has to do so manually, and he has not yet gotten used to the new workflow that's necessary to do this.

Yes. How else can the OS know if you have or haven't finished using the application?

You rather obviously have a very limited knowledge of how the OS works. Android tracks what you've used recently if you haven't used something recently and need more memory, it copies the application state out to persistent storage and unloads most of it from RAM, and then reloads it when you try to access that app. It doesn't need to care if your done with the app or not, because that app then won't have almost any impact on the system.

Yes. Why would I want crap I'm not using cluttering up my screen (or list of apps, or browser tabs)?

And this is not a typical behavior for an average Android or iPhone user. Many people I know don't even go to the app switcher to switch, they go to the home screen and tap the app icon itself (I also know a lot of people who used to use iPhones though).

Um, what?

Because smartphones are too weak (and their batteries too small) to handle true multi-tasking, they had to implement silly work-arounds (e.g. "save state" and shut the app down, and restart it using the previously saved state if/when you switch back to it later); and you think having to manage "open but not actually running apps" (instead of having to manage "actually running apps") is some sort of miraculous bonus?

Persistent state setups like this have been around for years. It's not some new 'smartphone thing', the only difference here is that Android does it transparently so you don't have to worry about it. This isn't just some hack to deal with low processing power (quite a few flagship phones can actually outperform equivalently priced desktops and laptops on almost every level except graphics), it's also a feature that a significant majority of users actually want.

I have no idea how this gibberish is supposed to relate to the paragraph it's replying to, or the topic being discussed in general.

There's this thing called an analogy. This one is admittedly somewhat hyperbolic in nature, but it's otherwise a good one. The point is that you expect any numbeer of things in the world to manage themselves automatically, why shouldn't your phone do so as well?

If you don't clean up after yourself (whether that is closing "actually running apps", or closing "open but not actually running apps", or closing tabs, or doing dishes, or tidying up your bedroom) then you've chosen to live with clutter and have no right to blame others for the clutter you're directly responsible for causing.

You obviously don't get this. The logic here in wanting a feature like this is exactly the same as the logic behind the Roomba, robotic lawnmowers, self-cleaning ovens, and any number of other similar things. It's the same logic behind people hiring others to clean their house for them. It's also the same as the logic behind having automatic memory management in programming languages. Humans, whether they realize it or not, have a natural tendency to prefer things that simplify their lives and improve upon the amount of free time they have.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[5]: Seriously?
by dionicio on Wed 29th Jun 2016 15:19 in reply to "RE[4]: Seriously?"
dionicio Member since:
2006-07-12

"...It's the fact that you've got 60 websites (in tabs or in applications)..."

Sounds [very] bad, specially if containing active code. Deactivating prefetch could help at security side, but still bad. Tab management has to come back.

Also on the security field, pause should be mandatory on all scripting and dynamics, except for the page the User is actually interacting with.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: Seriously?
by Drumhellar on Thu 30th Jun 2016 00:30 in reply to "RE[3]: Seriously?"
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

Your refrigerator automatically keeps things cool. Would you be angry if a software update forced you to actively shovel ice cubes into your fridge 30 times a day?


Maybe at first, but, I could use the extra exercise.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: Seriously?
by Verenkeitin on Thu 30th Jun 2016 18:11 in reply to "RE[3]: Seriously?"
Verenkeitin Member since:
2007-07-01

Do you actively close the applications you use after you're done using them? Do you go into the application switcher to manually close Facebook, Google Docs, or whatever other application on your phone every single time you're done using them?

Of course you don't. One of the great things iOS and Android have brought us is that we no longer have to actively manage running applications like we do on desktops, thanks to save-state, quick launch, intents, and so on. All merge tabs and apps does is apply those exact same mechanics to tabs, so you no longer have to actively manage tabs like you have to actively manage apps on desktops. ...


What iOS and Android have brought to us is the double junk drawer metaphor of task switching. Every single time you want to switch from an app to another, you can choose from two crappy options.

1. You can hunt for the right app icon from the launcher's sea of flat featureless icons, or
2. You can hunt for the right app screenshot from randomly ordered stack where it may or may not be found.

Jolla's Sailfish OS version 1 did this right. On Sailfish, you had the unavoidable single junk drawer app launcher and a few (1-9) running apps you can switch between quickly. When you were done with an app for now, you swiped it away and it was gone from gluttering up the work space. When you knew you'd be back to an app soon, you let it sit on the home sceen.

The only good thing about the way app swiching is done in iOS and Android is that it distracts you from noticing how slow it is.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: Seriously?
by darknexus on Thu 30th Jun 2016 18:36 in reply to "RE[4]: Seriously?"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Random order? On iOS at least, the order of applications is extremely predictable: they are ordered, from right to left, the most recently opened app to the least. What's so hard about that?
The thing I hate about iOS' app switcher though is that a ridiculously few screen shots display at a time, even on larger iPads. This causes me to have to scroll more than I should have to, even to go into an app that's only a few apps back.

Reply Parent Score: 2