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Suboptimal User Experience Decisions for Android / Apps

By deans ~ September 21st, 2010. Filed under: Observations.

Question:  How do I set/unset a specific browser app as my “Default” browser in Android?

First attempted answer:

Hey idiot, just go to the browser app’s settings and toggle “Set as default browser

Uhh, that used to work.  Unfortunately, the option is now grayed out in Skyfire.  So I head over and check their support pages:

“Set as Default Browser. For Android 1.5 to 2.1 Skyfire supports setting the default browser option within Skyfire. Unfortunately, Android 2.2 does not provide that option.”

OK, but just graying out the option (while leaving it selected) seems like the wrong response to a change in the platform.

Let’s see what Dolphin Browser HD does.  Yep, it has the “Set as default browser” toggle in its Settings menu.  Hey, it’s not grayed out.  When I select it, the Android “Complete action using” menu pops up.  There’s a message drawn on top of the menu directing me to:

“Click the checkbox and choose Dolphin Browser HD as your default browser.”

Umm, OK, that seems kind of backwards, I have to toggle the “Use by default for this action” check box before I pick the browser (If I pick a different browser, or select the browser first, the Dolphin settings menu entry is checked to show that it’s the default browser, but it’s not really).

Anyway, when I finally follow the instructions correctly, I can accomplish the desired results — Dolphin becomes my default browser — although the path is kind of convoluted.

Now comes the really fun Question:

How do I unset my choice for default browser?

Again, the Dolphin folks have been kind enough to put a bit of text over the menu telling me that the only way to accomplish this is to go clear out through Android’s settings, and, get this:

Settings >> Manage applications >> <browser app> >> “Launch by default / Clear defaults

Wow, that doesn’t strike me as a particularly intuitive way to accomplish the task.  This seems to be a clear case where my fellow engineers figured out a way to accomplish something with absolutely no regard for the impact on users.

Sadly, those that choose to zing Android, and associated apps, for user experience issues certainly have a target rich environment.

Note: A version of this post also appears in “Deans Rants” over on Tumblr.  If you’re at all interested in the subject, I also wrote about a show stopper issue with the new “Priority Inbox” support in the Android Gmail app over on my rants page.


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