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Google, please fix Android’s slow, bloated share UI

Sharing from one app to every other has been a mainstay of Android for years and years. It used to be one of the most options that first drew me to Android: not more copying and pasting, not more having to open Twitter or WhatsApp to ship an image I simply noticed in my Gallery. Apps may just communicate to one another and the enjoy felt extra cohesive and seamless.

However with time, the Percentage UI in Android has languished, caught with the similar options and identical issues. It switched from a vertical listing to a horizontal one, it added direct percentage in Android 6.zero and app pinning in Android 7.zero, but those felt like striking lipstick on a pig: the Percentage UI stays gradual, bloated, convoluted, and if you happen to pay shut consideration to it, one of the crucial inconsistent studies on Android up to now. Android P, like Oreo sooner than it, seems to convey no enhancements to the Percentage interface, however that is a large oversight in our opinion. It is top time Google gave it the eye it deserved and glued its many problems.

The abnormal Percentage icon

As I researched this newsletter, opening and shutting dozens of apps and trying out their percentage interface, it dawned on me how inconsistent it’s to simply get started sharing. Having grown with Android for the reason that Froyo days, taking a look round for a sharing possibility is not difficult for me, however I’ve to believe the enjoy is nowhere close to intuitive for reasonable customers. Even in Google‘s personal apps, that may be the most important offenders, discovering the percentage icon is an workout in frustration.

In some apps, just like the Play Retailer and Google Maps, it is in the midst of the web page and you have got to scroll to get to it.

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Percentage icon within the Play Retailer (left) and Google Maps (proper).

In different apps, like Google Footage, it may be any place in reality. When you are settling on footage, it pops up within the name bar (identical occurs in Contacts, Messages, and Downloads, so a minimum of that is a bit constant). However if you find yourself viewing a photograph, it is within the backside row of fast icons.

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Percentage icon in Google Footage when settling on a couple of footage (left) or viewing a unmarried photograph (proper).

Worse but, in case you are viewing an album within Footage, the percentage icon would possibly or would possibly not, relying on some circumstance I will’t wager, display up within the name bar or be hidden within the overflow menu.

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Sharing icon in Google Footage’ Albums (left) and absence thereof (proper).

Then there are the days when the percentage icon is not an icon, however a correctly spelled textual content merchandise. Chrome is one instance. Some other is whilst you faucet and grasp on a hyperlink or when you choose textual content. Chrome additionally does one thing humorous the place it will provide you with a snappy shortcut to percentage to 1 app proper there, so that you wouldn’t have to open the Percentage UI to start with.

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Percentage possibility in Chrome with its default app goal (left) and when settling on textual content (proper).

After which there is YouTube. I need not say extra.

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I relaxation my case.

That is with out even starting to point out the tactics third-party apps show sharing. From eBay to Amazon, each developer has determined on the place and methods to provide the sharing possibility, and that does certainly give freedom to devs to conform it to their use case, however from a consumer’s standpoint, it is a blind fumble till you get used to how each and every app does it.

The gradual and ever-refreshing Percentage UI

Congratulations, you discovered the icon! Now you wait, and now and again wait a bit bit longer, for the Percentage UI to populate. Relying to your telephone’s processor, how slowed down it is gotten with fresh utilization, and what number of apps you’ve got put in, it’s possible you’ll finally end up gazing an empty grid for a couple of seconds. Within the GIF underneath, it handiest takes a 2d for the menu to populate, however that may decelerate even additional.

google please fix androids slow bloated share ui - Google, please fix Android's slow, bloated share UI

The problem is that Android is indexing apps to percentage to each and every time the menu is being referred to as upon (thanks, Ron!). There is not any cache telling it what icons to turn wherein instances, it has to search for them each time. Arguably, the easiest way to resolve that is to do it upon a reboot after which when an app is up to date as a result of that is when new sharing capability may well be carried out. Indexing each time is not sensible.

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Empty grid whilst the Percentage UI lots.

With the creation of Direct Percentage, that procedure has been bogged down even additional: first the primary percentage interface displays up, then a 2d or two later, the highest row of direct percentage pieces lots. Beside the truth that it slows you down, it creates a large number of confusion and unsuitable faucets too. In the event you already began scrolling in the course of the apps listing, the Direct Percentage rows will push the apps grid down after they load. Additionally, the device is not correct in spotting your faucets in an instant so you might imagine you selected an app however every other is as an alternative after the menu totally lots or refreshes, so it will get decided on as a substitute. And that is the reason how you find yourself sharing your Spotify “Twerk it!” playlist for your Slack paintings channel as a substitute of your WhatsApp Zoomba crew.

Have you ever additionally spotted that if you happen to stay the percentage menu open for a couple of seconds it refreshes on its own and lots the Direct Percentage pieces in a unique order? I did. Within the GIF underneath you’ll be able to see it occur after about ten seconds (look ahead to it) with out me doing anything else, however in truth, now and again it occurs after an insignificant two to 3 seconds.

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The various, many faces of the Percentage UI

The present default sharing interface on Android appears to be like one thing just like the screenshots underneath when it lots. A grid with 3 rows of 4 app icons each and every on a white background, with one to 2 rows of direct percentage objectives above them. Swiping to extend the menu to fullscreen finds extra apps you’ll be able to percentage to. (No longer in my case, as a result of I took the screenshots on a secondary telephone that does not have many apps put in.)

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Default Percentage UI when it opens (left) and expanded to fullscreen (proper).

This sharing menu displays up on inventory Android in numerous apps: Chrome, Contacts, Messages, Downloads, and extra. Many third-party apps additionally enforce it, thus no longer being worried themselves with any quirky customization.

It is also value noting, that relying to your OEM pores and skin and a few third-party apps, it’s possible you’ll finally end up with a Percentage menu that is vertical, or even then it may be inconsistent (thanks, @mepthoughts!) However I may not get into that now, as it is a complete different can of worms. So let’s keep on with inventory Android and its apps.

Builders have the liberty to customise the Percentage menu, which ends up in distinctive and inconsistent implementations around the board. Google Footage, for instance, means that you can percentage to contacts at once and contains two rows of 4 icons each and every (one among which opens extra contacts). It assists in keeping the primary grid of app icons underneath, however all icons are smaller than the default implementation. Additionally realize how the colours are inverted – gray for the app icons, white for the contacts – opposite to the default sharing menu. YouTube additionally means that you can percentage at once to contacts, nevertheless it has long gone for a unique glance. There is a scrolling carousel of the contacts you could have shared to on one row, the background is white for each sections, and the grid underneath has 3 icons in step with row as a substitute of 4.

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Percentage UI from Google Footage (left), YouTube (heart), and Amazon Buying groceries (proper).

And only for a laugh, I added the Amazon Buying groceries app’s sharing menu up there. That is what occurs when apps could make their very own customized Percentage UI. I do not blame Amazon for this abomination, I blame Google.

The case of Google Maps

On the earth of custom designed sharing menus, Google Maps stands tall as essentially the most baffling of the bunch. Leaving by myself the truth that I do not perceive why it does not use the default percentage interface and calls for a unique menu to start with, Maps is a unique snowflake within the Android apps universe.

Sharing a spot opens a menu that fills about three-quarters of the display screen, irrespective of whether or not you’ve got sufficient apps to populate it or no longer. White background, 3 icons in step with row, no direct percentage. We are already off to a questionable get started. Sharing your present location, alternatively, opens up a way smaller overlay with a couple of choices which are related to Maps itself. This one is understandably custom designed, however wait a 2d.

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In Google Maps, sharing a spot (left) and your present location (proper).

Tapping on Extra in that location sharing menu pops up the whole listing of apps you’ll be able to percentage to. Not like Maps’ position sharing menu above, realize how a) the overlay’s top suits the numbers of icons to be had, b) we moved again to a four-apps-per-row grid, and c) for the laughs, in the second one screenshot, the icon alignment is so off (Reproduction to clipboard and Upload as a remark are the obvious) that I needed to do a double take once I noticed them the primary time.

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Sharing location to “Extra” apps opens this adaptive menu. (Taken on two other telephones.)

It is usable, there is no denying that, however by way of golly, did no fashion designer at the staff forestall to marvel what went unsuitable there?

The case of Google Footage

I already discussed Footage in the primary segment, however we in reality wish to forestall and recognize the idiosyncrasies of its personal sharing menu. Take the case of settling on a couple of photographs to percentage as opposed to sharing only one symbol. You would suppose the interface will be the identical, and you would be wrong. Sharing a couple of footage opens the menu we mentioned previous. Sharing one photograph opens that menu, however pushes it down so it could possibly show a carousel of pictures to assist you to make a selection extra. If each menus are aimed toward a couple of symbol sharing, in the end, why is one providing me the solution to exchange my variety whilst the opposite is not?

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Google Footage: sharing a couple of footage (left) and a “unmarried” photograph (proper).

Once more, only for a laugh, take a look at increasing those two menus to fullscreen. Even there, one among them is going the entire manner up whilst the opposite assists in keeping a name bar with the selection of decided on photographs. Oh Google!

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Google Footage: sharing in fullscreen a couple of footage (left) and a “unmarried” photograph (proper).

We are nitpicking, certain, however that is all a part of the enjoy any energy consumer or new consumer are seeing each and every time they use those apps. A lot of these small variations can throw somebody off. And whilst we love the versatility of the sharing interface, which we could builders enforce their very own, that does open the door for extra inconsistencies like those.

Icon packs and shapes are unnoticed

One very last thing to notice, since we are speaking about appears to be like: the sharing menu does not use your preferred icon pack or icon form. So if an app seems like one thing within the drawer and at the homescreen, it could have a unique glance altogether within the percentage menu as a result of it is not suffering from any adjustments you’re making within the launcher.

Sharing is unpredictable

Beside the exterior glance of the sharing menu, two useful problems worsen me about it, and either one of them boil right down to unpredictability.

Order, what order?

Say you open Chrome and take a look at to percentage a web page. You get a definite order of apps you’ll be able to percentage to. All excellent. A few hours later, you open the similar web page and get every other order. You wait somewhat with out tapping on any percentage intent, opening every other app, or doing anything else that may affect that order. You take a look at once more for a laugh, and get every other order.

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Sharing from Chrome at 11:59am, three:13pm, and three:37pm. Believe if I had greater than 11 apps.

There is not any rhyme or explanation why to the way in which the icons are ordered within the Percentage menu. Apps I have by no means used at all times display above apps I repeatedly use (I do know I will pin, however I will get to that later). Apps I by no means ever shared to take priority over the ones I percentage to every so often. And the order is ever-changing. No example of the Percentage menu is like the opposite, regardless of your apps, pins, conduct, utilization. Say b-bye for your reflexes. You’ll be able to’t reorder by way of utilization or alphabetical naming, you simply must depend on Android guessing which apps you are possibly to percentage to now and populate that listing accordingly. More often than not, the effects do not even manner accuracy.

Sharing objectives exchange, now and again

Relying at the content material you are sharing, you’ll be able to see other goal apps. That is comprehensible as a result of you do not want Instagram if you find yourself sharing a hyperlink, or YouTube if you find yourself sending a PDF. However nonetheless, even with the similar content material, you notice small idiosyncrasies. Take for instance a picture. Sharing it from a standard gallery app (say Digital camera Roll) and from Android’s report browser (the Downloads “app”) ends up in the similar percentage goal apps (in a unique order, clearly). However that very same symbol being shared from Footage offers me five new choices. Two of them are unique to Footage, however the different 3 (DS get, SeriesGuide, and JotterPad) are handiest appearing up as a result of Footage treats photographs as hyperlinks too.

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Sharing the similar symbol from Digital camera Roll (left), Downloads (heart), and Google Footage (proper).

I will concede that this level is as little bit of a stretch and a perfect particular case, however it may be complicated for customers who have no idea why this is going on.

Direct Sharing is little short of a large number

Oh how this one grates me! When it used to be presented, Direct Percentage used to be meant to hurry up the method of sharing one thing at once into a selected goal within the recipient app. In truth, alternatively, this can be a bloated, unpredictable, complicated mess. Beside its gradual loading and intermittent refreshes that we mentioned previous, there are lots of problems with it:

  • On reasonable, you get four direct percentage objectives from 2 apps, however now and again, you get four from one, three from every other, and 1 from a 3rd app.
  • In most cases, direct percentage objectives from the similar app are grouped in combination, however now and again they are no longer. There is not any reason they must be grouped to start with (it’s possible you’ll percentage handiest to 1 goal within an app, however it’s going to nonetheless show 4) and no clarification as to why they now and again don’t seem to be.
  • The order of direct percentage objectives adjustments at all times.
  • The apps that direct percentage objectives come from can also be apps you frequently use, or apps you do not in reality use.
  • The direct percentage objectives can also be ones you could have by no means shared to or did such a lot of, many months/years in the past.
  • The direct percentage objectives may also be ones you could have by no means even used within the authentic app they got here from. Ever observed a percentage to a Twitter touch you by no means DM’ed or discussed? We did.
  • Pinning an app pins its direct percentage objectives. You’ll be able to’t pin a unmarried goal on its own.
  • Even supposing you handiest pin two apps, there is no ensure that their objectives will populate the menu. Once in a while, a 3rd app takes over 4 of the spots, pushing away the objectives out of your pinned app.

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Above is a selection of direct percentage menus I were given when looking to percentage the similar symbol in the similar app on my telephone. Each and every time I loaded the percentage menu, I noticed a unique order, other objectives, and other apps.

Pinning is inconsistent

When pinning used to be added, we hailed it as one solution to remedy the Percentage UI’s mess. If it is advisable to pin your maximum used apps and objectives, you shouldn’t have to seek and peck for them each and every time you sought after to percentage one thing, proper? Unsuitable.

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Pinning is to hand, however extraordinarily performed.

We mentioned the problem with pinning and direct percentage within the earlier segment, so let’s simply focal point on pinning apps right here, beginning with the order.

A special order

There is not any solution to pin pieces within the disposition you wish to have. Within the GIF underneath, you’ll be able to see how pinning Pushbullet then Bluetooth then Gmail ends up in this pinned order: Bluetooth, Gmail, Pushbullet. It doesn’t matter what I take a look at, they do not observe the succession that I pinned them in or the order wherein they confirmed up within the present Percentage menu. That leaves me scratching my head till I notice: pins are alphabetically ordered! What? Why? Of all puts, this is the place you select to observe the alphabetical order, Google?

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Did you additionally realize how the Percentage menu reloads with each pin/unpin? That is anything else however easy. The alphabetical order leaves me baffled, but in addition makes me marvel: if I pinned all my apps, would they display up alphabetically? That’d be the quirkiest of workarounds.

Pin-unfriendly apps

The second one inconsistency for the pins is that they are handiest legitimate within the default percentage menu and do not raise via to the particular custom designed percentage menus, like Maps, Footage, and YouTube. Within the GIF underneath, you’ll be able to see me pin Pushbullet, Reproduction to clipboard, Gmail, and Translate whilst looking to percentage a web page from Chrome (default percentage menu). Then I transfer over to Maps and the customized percentage menu has no matter order it desires, no pinned apps in any respect.

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That isn’t to say that switching between gadgets does not save your pinned apps, so you must manually set them on each and every tool.

What Google must do

Once I first began taking a look into Android’s Percentage menu, I had little to no concept that I would come throughout such a lot of problems, giant and small. In everyday use, it is true that the slowness and inconsistent order are essentially the most grating of issues, or even then, they do not in reality have an effect on my private workflow an excessive amount of. However now that I delved into it, I will’t unsee some issues and I do know that the implementation can also be achieved so a lot better.

We need to grasp Google to a better usual than “excellent sufficient” and “tolerable.” If the corporate can use AI and ML and different fancy issues to inform me canine is a Bolognese, it certain can repair the elemental interface parts of its sharing menu. I notice this identical sentence can also be stated about numerous issues in Android, however we are speaking about sharing now, so let’s go away the opposite debates for every other day.

In no specific order, listed here are the issues that we predict Google must repair within the Percentage UI.

  • Cache the listing of shareable objectives upon reboot and each time an app is up to date. Do not redraw the menu with each and every example.
  • Load the listing of app and direct percentage objectives in a single cross, not more two-step loading. That can lead to fewer wrong stocks to unintentional apps.
  • Forestall refreshing the percentage menu when it is already open.
  • If a default percentage interface cannot be bolstered, installed position the root to permit builders to customise it with out breaking the primary capability (grid measurement, pinning, order) and whilst permitting a unified way to in-app objectives (like Footage and YouTube do with contacts).
  • Permit customers to reorder the sharing app objectives, and conceal apps they by no means use from the percentage menu.
  • Permit customers to pin percentage objectives one at a time, with out pinning the app.
  • Permit customers to cover direct percentage objectives coming from positive apps, and select the common sense at the back of which direct percentage objectives display up within the menu.
  • Persist with a unmarried percentage icon design. I am taking a look at you, YouTube.
  • Be constant in appearing that sharing icon in the similar position in more than a few apps, a minimum of when the UI lets in it.

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There may be already a corresponding factor for solving the Percentage Intent within the Factor Tracker that you’ll be able to superstar (thanks, @Stanzilla!) It would possibly not do a lot, however it is one solution to lift consciousness about it and escalate it with the Android staff.

I finish this with the hope that, at some point, Android may have a quick, robust, and customizable percentage interface, not like the inconsistent mess you notice within the 4 screenshots above. One can dream.

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