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[4]: Seriously?
by Gargyle on Wed 29th Jun 2016 11:34 UTC 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[6]: Seriously?
by Gargyle on Wed 29th Jun 2016 12:06 in reply to "RE[5]: Seriously?"
Gargyle Member since:
2015-03-27

My browser (AOSP Browser) is smart enough to remember its own state prior to having it closed, so even when it's closed it just starts where I left off. It'll have to reload every tab though, but that's not an issue for me because it will only reload the tab that I select and delays reloading of other tabs to the point where I open that other tab.

K9Mail will forget where I was, but that's not important since I only use it by clicking its notifications.

Other apps: I don't really know, because I tend to not use other apps that require their state to be saved.

I must agree, though, that my way of using a smartphone isn't very broad nor common.

Edited 2016-06-29 12:23 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[6]: Seriously?
by rft183 on Wed 29th Jun 2016 15:27 in reply to "RE[5]: Seriously?"
rft183 Member since:
2005-08-11

Actually, they aren't really minute gains. They can be pretty significant, especially if the app uses GPS. If I don't manually close those programs, I notice my phone using GPS quite a lot.

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[6]: Seriously?
by Gargyle on Wed 29th Jun 2016 12:13 in reply to "RE[5]: Seriously?"
Gargyle Member since:
2015-03-27

I know that there are better clients, but I'd rather take the red pill and go with a FOSS project rather than a closed source one with naught but their word that they're to be trusted.

I know it's tinfoilhatty, but it's for my own peace of mind.

Why would I ever use a GAPPS enabled Android phone, you say? Well, I do block almost every app and service that I don't trust with a IP-tables powered firewall, and put Google Play Services (GPS) to sleep with Greenify and Tasker, and deny GPS any real info by scrapping their permissions using the AppOps Xposed module.

The problem is that Android isn't such a rich experience with everything google locked down. But it's that or selling my soul to Google.

Reply Parent Score: 1

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[6]: Seriously?
by Gargyle on Wed 29th Jun 2016 12:30 in reply to "RE[5]: Seriously?"
Gargyle Member since:
2015-03-27

The gains in battery life are almost certainly smaller than you think.

I meant that if I don't kill K9Mail, it will keep my phone awake (you can monitor this in the battery stats) resulting in much more idle drain than usual.

Reply Parent Score: 1