Nougat surprise

I just updated my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge to the latest Android Nougat OS.

So far, I hate it. The name is appropriate because it reminds me of those awful old-fashioned candies only old people eat.

Nougat = Yuck.

Let’s begin with the Contacts/Call app settings. It took away Favorites and stuffed it in with the Contacts list. Favorites went from being nice and orderly — each Favorite easily accessible in a grid pattern, launched with just a touch — and has been reduced to an ordinary listview and is now part of the Contact List, which means now you have to do a lot more scrolling to find a contact, favorite or otherwise. How is that an improvement?

The Photos Gallery has also changed. Albums were laid out in a nice easy to see grid pattern, each grid square represented an album with a thumbnail of the the latest picture. Now it’s changed to a list. More scrolling. Obviously some programmer likes list view versus grid view.

They changed how Folders open. They used to open as a well-defined box superimposed above the rest of the screen. Now when you open a folder, it becomes the main screen, which just causes visual confusion.  Am I on the main screen or what? And now if you have more than  9 apps in a folder, the others are gone. Well, it seems that way until you realize the others reside on a second page inside that folder. Again, confusing. Before, you could see you had more apps inside the folder because they’d peek out at the bottom of the open folder. I’m surprised they didn’t change the Folders  to list view as well.

Another change concerning Folders, you launch an app from the folder, then when you finish and close with the phone’s back arrow, you find yourself back on that same Folder. Before, the Folder would close when the app was launched. This is one feature I’m ambivalent about. Do I like it or not? Only time will tell. I guess if you have a lot of apps in a Folder that you launch then close then immediately open the next app in that same Folder, this feature could prove useful.

The look and feel of the Pull Down Notifications and Menus at the top have changed as well. Again, you have to relearn how to do something you already knew how to do or where to find it. The look and feel of Settings has changed as well.

Facebook has changed, too, but I don’t know if that’s part of the Nougat upgrade or if Facebook updated their app at the same time.

For example: Now there is this extra icon bar at the top between the original menu ribbon and the “What’s on your mind?” status input. It contains a button called, “Direct,” one called “Your Story,” and yesterday it had something else I can’t remember now, but today it has a button with the name of one of my FB friends. When I click on it, it shows me his face all distorted with lights shooting from his eyes. WTF is that for? No explanation. 

I don’t mind change if it has obvious improvements. So far, with Nougat all I see is they polished all the bells and whistles  and moved them around just enough to be annoying. I’m curious what functional changes took place. 

Will I get used to the changes? Sure. We always do, but the real question is why should we have to?  What was wrong with grid view that they had to change it, for instance?

At least give us the option to choose which view we prefer, like:

  • Grid View – View lists in a pleasing,  orderly, and quickly  understood grid with easily recognisable thumbnails, or
  • List View – View lists in a dull, old-fashioned, and hard-to-read list format that you have to scroll through to find anything.

I think you know which one of pick.

Essentially, Nougat  is just showboating by the programmers, nothing more.

I give the Nougat upgrade a C, with the option to change that grade as I learn more about it.


Learn little about a lot very quickly

So I saw a review on a new app, Summly. Basically the gist of the app is it summarizes news stories using some AI logarithm to create short summaries of longer articles. So I guess its for web users who have absolutely no attention span whatsoever

I gave it a go and downloaded it, then went through the process of organizing the topics and customizing which sources I wanted or didn’t want. Sadly, it seems you’re limited to topics and sources the app’s creators thought were important.

You can arrange the topics in order of preference. Once you’ve chosen the sources, you’re set to let the app run.

When you open the app it defaults to a home page with whatever headline is trending. You have no control of that. So if Justin Beiber is trending, the app opens with a headline on him.

When you get to your topics page, you select a topic, say Science, and it opens the first trending headline in Science with a summarized paragraph on the story.

The review I read of Summly claimed the summary paragraphs Summly provides are very accurate and well parsed. I found them wanting.

For instance, there was a summary of Antarctic drilling being halted. The summary told me “what” — that they are drilling to find a fresh water lake buried deep in the ice — but to find out “why” they had to halt, which was the reason for the story in the first place, I had to go to the actual article source. Which to me defeats the entire purpose of the app.

For me, the app Pulse is far superior, giving much better options to personalize. You can create your own topics and then search for news sources to plug in. I found the review about Summly through Pulse.

Summly does let you create a topic. You type in a topic or person and then it pulls all headlines it finds based on that phrase. At first this seemed interesting to me. I created “superheroes,” “science fiction,” “fantasy,” and “Doctor Who.”

And they worked, to a degree. Sci-Fi brought in trending headlines on that topic and “superheroes” did the same. But “fantasy” only brought in football topics, which isn’t the fantasy I was looking for and calling it “fantasy fiction” brought in no results. And “Doctor Who” was a mixed bag with articles on The Doctor, but also articles on ANY doctor.

So I’ve since deleted the Summly app. It just seems to me to be the very problem with society and the Internet: information in tiny, digestible chunks that leave you intellectually starving.

Forget Summly and get Pulse instead. You’ll be much happier as a result.