Android 5.0 Lollipop - Some Thoughts

Android 5.0, Lollipop
Android 5.0. Lollipop. The latest version of Google's mobile operating system unveiled last year at Google I/O packed in a ton of new features, but it was also the search giant's way of showing the world that it doesn't suck at user interface design. To put it bluntly, the new Material Design approach was nothing short of a paradigm shift, a radical cross-platform design language aimed at unifying mobile and web in an attempt to bring about a consistent user experience.

And in the last few months, we've been slowly witnessing Material Design goodness trickle its way to Google's web offerings too, Google AlertsGoogle Year in Search 2014Google Inbox and Google Accounts to name a few. But let's forget about the web for the moment and train our eyes on Android shall we?

So far my own day-to-day experience with Lollipop in the last few months has been mostly fun and a joy to use (except for the odd Google Chrome crashes). But what's eating my head is the terribly inconsistent navigation drawer. It may not be really a big deal in the larger scheme of things, but it does go on to show that Google considers nav-bar design as something secondary. After all an app functioning all right without any crashes is more important than whether the navigation drawer is as per its own design guidelines! Yet, this inconsistency is driving me crazy every time I shift between various Google apps.

The navigation drawer situation two months back:
The navigation bar inconsistencies in Lollipop, clockwise from top: Calendar, Docs, Drive, Earth, Gmail, 
Hangouts, Keep, YouTube, Play Store, Photos, Google Now, Newsstand, News & Weather and Maps
The situation now:
(from Left to Right in two rows) The navigation drawer in Docs/Drive, Earth, Gmail, Hangouts, 
Keep, Maps, News & Weather, Now, Photos, Play Books, Play Games, Play Movies & TV, 
Play Music, Play Newsstand, Play Store & YouTube
While most of the apps have now gotten a full-height navigation drawer - except for Play Newsstand and Google+ which weirdly doesn't even have one! - it still doesn't go all the way to the top of the screen as it should, thus leaving out the Status Bar as you can see above in Docs/Drive, Maps, Photos, all the Play apps except Play Movies & TV and Play Store and YouTube. An extension of this is the inconsistent account picker behaviour in YouTube versus the rest of the apps:

The account picker that gets triggered from the Navigation Drawer
in YouTube (right) vs. the general behaviour (left)
And then you have this inconsistent share menu, with Google Chrome, Photos and YouTube, and the rest each following their own design, and the busy Add new contact interface with too many of those Holo-inspired horizontal lines (the latter is a very minor nit-pick though!):

The share menus in Chrome, YouTube/Google Photos and the rest of the apps,
and the too many lines in Add new contact!
Last but not least, a full Material Design makeover for Hangouts! Seriously is this too much to ask for? As an avid Hangouts user, I am disappointed to say that even its iOS counterpart does much better, in terms of looks and everything, than this joke of an update that was rolled out last December.

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