11 February 2010 ~ 0 Comments

How to unlock the Android Screen

I gave my Droid to a couple of people and they have not been able to figure out how to unlock it. Turns out Google can make bad UI designs like the rest of us. Now, I’m no expert on user interfaces, but I did just finish reading “The Design of Everyday Things” by Donald Norman, and there is a guy at work who is a designer and both agree that the unlock screen on the Android is bad.

Old Droid Unlock Screen. How do you unlock this?

The mark of a good design is that someone unfamiliar with an object should be able to pick it up and use it without having to consult an instruction manual. How would you unlock the screen below? Norman talks about putting constraints in the design- Logical constraints use reasoning to determine the alternatives. … Cultural constraints are conventions shared by a cultural group.

New Droid Unlock Screen.  Is the sound on or off?

The unlock icon on the left looks like a button and that it should be pressed. Culturally however the symbol makes users think that the device is already unlocked. What I noticed was that people would repeatedly press the green icon over and over, expecting something to happen.  By the way, in which screen is the sound on the device off? Unlike the unlock button, this actually follows cultural constraints, and the new Droid Unlock Screen picture has the sound off.

iPhone unlock screen. Slide to unlock of course!

The iPhone unlock shows good design, using what Norman calls knowledge in the world. It clearly says “slide to unlock” and there is an arrow pointing to which way you should slide- Simple. The crazy thing is that the Droid unlock screen unlocks in exactly the same way!  The problem is that people don’t think of the icon as something that slides. There is a little triangle that serves as an arrow, but it obviously does not do it’s job.

The Droid has an added challenge that, unlike the iPhone there is no hardware sound off button. This means they need to fit both the unlock and sound off functions in the same screen. Does anyone have any suggestions or alternate home screens to fix this?

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