Google’s 15 funniest with Android flip-flops, Chrome OS, and beyond

You see it now; now you don’t.

As any Android fan can let you know, Google’s turn into a bit notorious for changing its brain. Day time one, we hear about how exactly some new app, function, or idea may be the method of the near future and the solution to all or any of our pressing difficulties – and the very next day (roughly it often seems), that notion is fully gone and forgotten.

The very best fickle flipples are when Google doubles up and does another 180 shortly thereafter and eventually ends up going back again to finished . it initially marketed us on and abandoned. It’s sufficient to make even probably the most steady tech enthusiast bemused and befuddled.

With a small number of fresh about-faces getting added in to the mix lately, I thought it’d be considered a fine time and energy to look back at a few of Google’s most remarkable, amusing, and occasionally groan-inducing U-turns within the property of Android along with other associated solutions and apps.

So buckle upward and get a bottle of Dramamine, in case just. Some serious flipping-and-flopping-caused flabbergasting ahead is straight.

1. Android: “Hangouts is gonna end up being Android’s individual default messaging customer!”


We’ll begin with the largest, floppiest flip of most: the mess of Google’s ever-evolving method of messaging services, because they pertain to Android specifically.

Following a often-confounding and lengthy journey, Google lastly got its act collectively in 2013 and developed an individual unified messaging app for Android. Hangouts will be the “single conversation app [for] customers to rely on,” a Search engines exec said at the proper time. It’d handle quick messaging, SMS-based texting, and internet-based audio and movie calls even.

Finally! Android’s rusty older Messaging app has been dishonorably discharged, and Hangouts began to serve because the platform’s default messaging program. Until about 2 yrs later, that’s, when Search engines Messenger  arrived and overran the default place – splintering things back to a muddled messaging mess.

And that, needless to say, had been  just the start . (Allo? Is it possible to hear me? )

2. Just about everywhere: “Search engines Messages and Duo are usually for informal consumer use! Google Fulfill and Chat are for companies!”


Talking about messy messaging about, erm, messaging, after a lot more yrs of complicated confusion no consistent focus on the sensible messaging service technique, Google got its work together again in 2018 and settled on the new method that truly almost made sense (in the event that you allowed yourself to your investment past for an instant).

Ahem: Messages and Duo were the written text and movie messaging apps for customers, while Chat and Meet were the combined team chat and videoconferencing apps for enterprises. Search engines made this distinction obvious abundantly, with an associate of the messaging group going so far as to generate and share a convenient chart that illustrated the breakdown:

Google Messaging Tweet Twitter


But – well then, y’know. By 2020, Search engines changed its mind about this and made Satisfy and Chat broad-use providers, for both groups and people, while Messages and Duo remained minimally different variants on a single basic concepts.

And here is a bonus U-switch within this U-turn: Last fall, Search engines brought screen posting into Search engines Duo… 2 yrs after getting rid of that exact same function from the app.

Cool. Cool, cool, great, cool, cool.

3. Android (and beyond): “RSS will be dead!”


Way within the prehistoric period of 2013 back, Google made a lot of its most loyal customers steaming mad by announcing the shutdown of its popular (at the very least using circles) Google Reader services. Reader was an instrument for subsequent RSS feeds from person websites, which managed to get super-simple to create your personal custom feed of information from the resources you cared concerning the most.

In its 2013 announcement , Google said that “using Google Reader [had] declined,” and “as an organization, [it was] pouring most of [its] power into fewer products” – since it thought “that sort of focus [would] lead to an improved user experience.”

Fast-forwards to 2021, and what do we’ve? Why, it is a new “experiment” that generally recreates the Google Readers concept correct within Chrome on Android!

Per that announcement :


Today, folks have many methods to match their favorite sites, including subscribing to e-mail lists, notifications, and RSS. It’s a whole lot for any one individual to manage, therefore we’re exploring how exactly to simplify the encounter of getting the most recent and finest from your own favorite sites straight in Chrome, constructing on the open up RSS web standard. Our vision would be to help people create a direct connection with a common creators and publishers on the internet.

The feature brings a fresh “Follow” button in to the Chrome Android app that enables you to sign up to a site’s Feed and then see most of its newest stories in the browser’s New Tab page.

Gee willikers, that certain does feel familiar.

4. Android: “Base tab bars are poor, mmkay?”


When Google’s Material Style standard debuted within 2014, it actively discouraged the usage of bottom tab bars – the iOS-reminiscent rows of instructions that appear in the bottom of the display screen within Android apps.

This is no subtle suggestion, either. Google’s official design recommendations were adamant concerning the platform’s stance on the bars:

Google Android Bottom Tab Bars JR


But, something changed. Inside a couple years of this proclamation, base tab bars started showing up in Google’s very own Android apps. And by 2016, Google’s design suggestions were up-to-date to motivate the utilization of bottom-dwelling boxes in Android apps.

And here’s the true kicker: In the last yr, we’ve seen some Search engines apps get updated again to accomplish away with underneath tab bars and shift back again  compared to that authentic bar-free regular – for a time, at least.

Oh, Google.

5. Android: “We’re gonna place all your internet browser tabs in the Review list!”


Talking about design about-faces, with 2014’s Android 5.0 Lollipop discharge, Google produced a bold proceed: It took the opportunity to jump between internet browser tabs out from the actual Chrome app and put it in to the system Overview checklist instead. Each internet browser tab would appear to be its process or app, we were informed, and it’d make sense alongside the rest of the apps and procedures within a system-level location. We’d get accustomed to it!

Just, um, we didn’t. For many people, having a great deal of tabs blended in with apps and numerous other cards made items  more challenging to control – and just put into the cluttered and confusing character of the Overview interface for the reason that era.

After about four years, Google appeared to admit that the shift was misguided. In 2018, the business rolled out an revise that removed the tab-Overview choice and delivered tabs back to the browser for everybody.

6. Android: “Widgets is going in the app drawer!”


The Android 4.0 Ice Lotion Sandwich period of Android was about using the simplification introduced in the tablet-only Honeycomb launch before it – the moves to get rid of hidden commands and create the operating-system more intuitive – and getting those same principles to mobile phones in a manner that made feeling for small screen.

Part of that hard work involved moving the choice to add home display widgets from a good out-of-the-method and hidden long-press menus into the major app drawer, where it’d be plainly around the corner – with widgets existing correct alongside all the normal app shortcuts. The theory was to produce a single streamlined location for finding precisely what could be included into your house screen. It appeared to make a lot of sense.

Android Widgets App Drawer JR


But, alas, it lasted for just a brief 2 yrs: Without explanation, Search engines yanked widgets from the app drawer and place ’em back to their former long-press menus with 2013’s Android 4.4 KitKat discharge. And also with the magically renewed concentrate on widget discovery in this year’s Android 12 up-date , the element continues to be vexingly out of view and accessible just via that long-press activity.

7. Android: “Widgets belong on the lock display screen!”


In other widget-associated flippity-floppity, in 2012 back, Google sold us on the idea that widgets will be an excellent addition to your devices’ lock screens. Lock display widgets had been an integral component of this year’s Android 4.2 Jelly Bean release, actually, and the pitch was impressive: Widgets were therefore darn useful on the house screen – why not also create ’em available one action higher?

By Android 5.0 2 yrs later, user-configured lock display screen widgets were but only memory. And in this full case, I don’t think way too many individuals were choked up on the change.

8. Android: “The app drawer should scroll horizontally!”


This is engaging in pretty geeky waters with the annals of Android versions , I realize, but Android’s app drawer scrolled vertically – along – completely the platform’s 2010 Gingerbread era. Then, in 2011, Ice and honeycomb Lotion Sandwich released a horizontal scrolling drawer, where you’d access extra pages by swiping laterally instead (a design we still see utilized by certain third-celebration device-makers today). It had been a less strenuous, more sensible solution to accessibility your apps! Roughly we were told.

Points stayed up through 2015 sideways, when an update linked to that year’s Android 6.0 Marshmallow release arrived unexpectedly and moved Android’s primary interface back again to its original up-and-down scrolling set up.

Déjà vu a lot, Monsieur Marshmallow?

9. Chrome OS: “The launcher ought to be ginormous!”


In the first days of Google’s Chrome OS system, the launcher – the Chromebook’s version of an app drawer – was a little window that appeared together with your desktop. The user interface wasn’t far taken off what you discover with the Home windows Start menu model.

At some true stage, though, Google rethought that approach and transformed the Chrome OS launcher right into a giant, full-screen type of affair – similar to what you find on MacOS. That’s still the way the software behaves today.

Erm, for now, at the very least. Indications in the open-supply Chrome OS program code suggest Google’s tinkering with a revamped launcher style that’d move back again to the initial, smaller pop-up-window set up. It’d supposedly “enhance app workflows by optimizing usage of apps, app articles, and app actions.”






10. Google Television: “It’s Android Television, gersh dern it!”

Maybe the funniest Search engines flip-flop ever may be the company’s stance in its streaming media system, Android TV.

Android Television, y’see, actually began as Google Television when it very first launched back 2010. Four years afterwards, Google announced it had been transforming the title to Android TV. And, last October, the business released a new Chromecast gadget that featured a fresh software layer called – await it – Search engines TV .

Technically, Search engines TV is really a custom interface that is present atop the Android TV software. But ultimately, Google says Google Television will be built-into Android Television and the complete platform can be Google TV rather than Android TV (except probably using exceptions where device-makers opt to stick to Android TV minus the Google TV elements).

In related information, Google’s marketing section is apparently now headed up by the ghosts of Laurel and Hardy.


11. Use: “Smartwatches are about notifications and proactive details!”

{At its {begin} in 2014 , Google’s wearable technology {system} revolved around the idea of simple interactions and {quick|very easy} access to pertinent information. As an extraordinarily dashing Android-focused {author|article writer} {place} it once :


{It had been} what Wear didn’t {play the role of} that {managed to get} especially interesting. Unlike {some other|additional|various other} wearable-tech efforts, the {system} didn’t {make an effort to} cram lots of {small} buttons and complex {instructions} into an awkward-to-{make use of} wrist-based {display|display screen}. It reframed the smartwatch to {become|end up being} less about {carrying out|executing} grand tasks {and much more} about transmitting pertinent {information|details} {rapidly} and without fuss.

{But}, well, something happened: {The first} Wear devices weren’t selling like hotcakes – and Apple’s well-marketed alternative, {{{on the far side of the|on the other side of the}}|on the far side of the} mobile universe, was striking a chord with tech-hungry shoppers. {So Google {made a decision to} {have a} little time-out and reassess its smartwatch strategy.|So Google {made a decision to} {have a} little reassess and time-out its smartwatch strategy.}

Self-quoting genie, hook me up again:


The Apple Watch {arrived}, {filled with} its overly complicated interface and app-centric nature (something Apple would refine somewhat {as time passes} but {that has been} almost laughably bad {initially}). And Google, {{instead of} sticking to the {elements of} its platform that made sense,|{instead of} sticking to {the proper} {elements of} its platform that made sense,} {made a decision to} revamp Wear entirely and parrot Apple’s flawed approach.

With 2017’s Wear 2.0 update , Android Wear lost the core element that {managed to get} sensible as a wearable {operating-system} – the {concentrate on} easily glanceable info from both notifications and predictive intelligence – and instead put the {concentrate on} {items that} sound impressive in ads but don’t {lead to} {an excellent} real-world experience on {a little} wrist-based screen: complicated standalone apps, cramped on-screen keyboards, and notifications that don’t {come in} a glanceable way and require multiple taps and interactions to process.


{And {everybody knows} how this story ends.|And {everybody knows} how this whole story ends.} Just like clockwork, {a year {. 5} {from then on} ill-advised revamp,|year {. 5} {from then on} ill-advised revamp a,} Google pulled another 180 and went back to its original vision for the platform – with the focus firmly on glanceable info and proactive assistance {once again}. {Up to now}, signs suggest this year’s coming Wear re-re-re-revamp will {pretty much} follow that same pattern, {albeit with {a lot more} focus on {attempting to} make products people {will in actuality} want to buy.|albeit with {a lot more} focus on {attempting to} make products people shall {really need to} buy.}

12. Android: “Android tablets deserve {their very own} specialized interface!”


In 2011, Google held a splashy event at its headquarters to introduce {a fresh} era for Android. It revolved {round the} release of Android 3.0 Honeycomb and a newfound {concentrate on} optimizing the platform for tablet use.

Honeycomb established {a completely} reimagined interface for Android on tablets, with key functions like navigation buttons, notifications, and the app drawer {surviving in} corners of the screen {to be able to} provide easy two-handed access. {It had been} a dramatic departure from {the typical} Android interface and was {made to} let the {operating-system} {make best use of} {the bigger} screen space.

Android Tablet Interface JR


{The tablet-specific UI was unceremoniously dumped {in a short time},|The tablet-specific UI long was unceremoniously dumped before,} however, when Google’s Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update brought {a far more} traditional phone-like setup {back again to} tablet screens – with “consistency and usability” being cited {because the} driving {known reasons for} the reversal.

{At that true point,} Android’s notification panel remained {put into} two separate parts on tablets – a configuration {that could} {hang in there} until 2014’s Android 5.0 Lollipop release, {once the} tablet-based panel finished its transformation and became {an individual} pulldown like its phone-based counterpart.

13. Android: “Face unlock {may be the} new standard in smartphone security!”


Ah, 2011. {{Understand that} year in Googley gadgets?|Year in Googley gadgets {understand that}?} {All of the} cool kids unlocked their phones {making use of their} faces for about {5 minutes} {in the past}, when Google first introduced {the facial skin} Unlock feature {within} that year’s Android 4.0 release . {But {even while} the facial security system grew ever-so-slowly more reliable {over time},|But {even while} the facial security system grew more reliable {over time} ever-so-slowly,} it was {not as} fast or as {simple to use} as {an excellent} old-fashioned pattern swipe or fingerprint tap – {also it} didn’t take {miss} most folks {to stop} on {the idea of} it being {any other thing more} than an impractical-in-the-real-world parlor trick.

With the launch of 2019’s Pixel 4 phone, Google gave facial recognition {a brand new} start. It introduced official system-level support for {more complex} hardware that’d make face-driven phone unlocking more consistent, secure, and effective, {also it} played up the Pixel 4’s facial recognition feature as a meaningful advancement and advantage .

      That           {concentrate on} face unlock lasted {completely} to {the next} year's Pixel 5 flagship, which ditched facial recognition entirely without so much as a puff of explanation.

Naturally, it now {appears like} the feature {may} {become popular again} in this year’s Pixel 6 phone. Hey, Google: You’re makin’ me dizzy.

14. Android: “Android needs {its} native video editor!”


The high-profile launch of {a fresh} native video editing app for Android was {an extremely} big deal in 2011 – especially since there weren’t many great third-party {choices for} that function {at that time} ({and in addition} since, y’know, That Other Mobile Platform™ had gotten its own high-profile native editing client {just one single} year earlier).



But Google’s Movie Studio app was {just about|virtually} abandoned {soon after} its birth. {The app never got much {in the form of} updates or improvements,|The app got much {in the form of} updates or improvements never,} and after shipping sporadically with Android devices through 2012’s Nexus 4 phone, it just kinda silently evaporated – {to never} be replaced or discussed again.

This past February, {a complete} decade later, Google finally introduced {a good} video editing {work as} {section of} its Android Google Photos app. {It isn’t} the standalone video editor Android once had, but hey, it’s somethin’.


15. Android: “This {operating-system} {is focused on} people , mmkay?”

In 2011’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich version, Google curiously renamed the platform’s default Contacts app to People.

{The theory} behind the shift was logical enough: Our phones were about {a lot more} than contacts, the thinking went, {therefore} it made more sense to call the app People – {also to} have it {become} a hub {for several} of our social communications.

To that end, {individuals} app aimed {to create} {all your} contacts’ {social media} connections into single, centralized profiles. {You can} {visit a} person’s tweets or, yes, even Google+ postings {immediately} – a “live window into your social world,{” as Google put it {at that time}.|” as Google put it at {the proper} time.}

Unfortunately, renaming Contacts to People mostly {appeared to} confuse {individuals who} couldn’t {find out} where their contacts {had opted}. By the Lollipop update {a couple of years} later, {the app unceremoniously {returned} to its original name,|the app {returned} to its original name unceremoniously,} {also it} didn’t take {miss} {the complete} “single hub” thing to {fade}, too – {at the very least}, {until} last year’s Android 11 release, when people suddenly became {an integral} {center point} for the {operating-system} once again.

Oof. My head hurts.


{Just what exactly} gives?

{Looking back through {each one of these} U-turns,|Looking through {each one of these} U-turns back,} it’s hard {never to} wonder {what’s happening} – why Google so frequently {dates back} and forth {within an} almost random-seeming manner with relatively significant decisions {about how exactly} its platforms and services work.

The answer, best {I could} figure, {is quite simple actually.} Ready? Google is Google . Within Android and without – and for better and for worse – {the business} has always shown a willingness {to use} things {and} change course {a short while} later if it decides {it generally does not} {just like the} new direction.

Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s senior VP {responsible for} Android (and most {the rest}  now, too, {it appears}), acknowledged the trend {throughout a} chat I had with him {a small number of} years ago.

“{From the} product development perspective, {I believe} it’s a {best part} {in order} to experiment and try new things and see {what realy works} [and] what doesn’t,” he said. He {continued} to note that {an excessive amount of} back and forth {will surely} have its downsides – namely on users who just want {what to} work consistently and without superfluous change.

“We’re {looking for} {the proper} balance of {how exactly to} iterate {but additionally} provide stability {in order that} we’re not causing whiplash,{” I was told by him.}

It’s an admirable goal. And who knows? Maybe {somewhat}, {experimentation {is preferable to} stagnation – {even though} it does {include} {the casual} flipping and flopping.|experimentation is better than stagnation – if it does come with the occasional flipping and flopping even.}

Then again, maybe {it is not}.

Oh, hell. {I cannot} decide.

{ Want {a lot more} Googley knowledge?| Want more Googley knowledge even?} {Join} my weekly newsletter {to obtain} next-level tips and insight delivered {right to} your inbox.

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