Android Ice Cream Sandwitch (angry rant)

I got this update several weeks ago on my Motorola Razr, and it still feels bad, very bad. They broke so many things that did not need fixing:

1. Keyboard. Before I could switch languages by swiping on space bar. Now it’s an annoying pop-up that also leaves a notification in the notification bar: “select input method…”. WTH?

2. Keyboard again: Russian input is totally broken. Every word is underlined, and ridiculous spelling “corrections” are offered. If, however, I intentionally spell a word wrong, a correct fix is offered. So, the dictionary is fine, someone just messed up an “if” condition somewhere and never tested.

3. Maps. The “layers” button was previously always visible on top. I could, for example, turn traffic on and off while looking at directions or search. Now it is hidden below useless “results list” bar, so I need to cancel directions or search to make it visible again. Only today I found that “layers” is still visible in the menu.

4. Browser. The “windows” is no longer in the pop-up menu. Getting to it became a little piece of finger acrobatics. I need to scroll the page down to make the URL bar visible, and then quickly click on “Windows” button. If I don’t do that quickly enough, it goes away. Nicely done!

5. The “Windows” switcher itself now shows totally useless thumbnails that kinda get in the way. The phone screen is small as it is, and guess what: at this resolution all white pages look white and all black pages look black! The title or URL of the page as in the previous version was more than enough.

6. Ditto about application list. Application icons were just fine, I don’t want to see the stinking thumbnails!

7. “Favorites” applet on the home screen used to dial the selected number directly, while the one in “people” used to show you the list of numbers of the contact. That seemed kinda logical. They reversed the behavior in ICS. I don’t think there is a way to undo.

8. The icons in the notification bar became small and pretty much unreadable.

9. When an e-mail comes it shows a photo of the sender. Since most senders don’t have associated photos, it is just a giant white rectangle taking space and diverting your attention. AFAIK, there is no way to turn this off.

The good part is that in the browser you can now request desktop version of a page without dirty hacks (but you must load the mobile version first anyway). Also, this update allegedly enables GSM roaming, but I rarely use that.

I am not sure which of these problems come from Google and which from Motorola and, frankly, I don’t care. It looks like every time they come up with something good and you get used to it, it is bound to be erased in the next version by the marketing zealots. Better is the enemy of good, eh?

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