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Android's Matias Duarte takes to G+ for Q&A: "SD cards are confusing for users"

Posted: , by Daniel P.

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Android's Matias Duarte takes to G+ for Q&A:
Android's UI chief Matias Duarte who recently said that the user interface is only a third where he wants it to be, went to Google+ taking questions, and even answering some.

The topics are, of course, the new Android 4.2 release, and the new Nexus devices that came along with it, the Nexus 4, 7 and 10. As you can easily guess, some of the most often-asked things are about the system buttons and status bar now consistent in Jelly Bean, as well as the lack of memory card slots in the new Nexus gear.

Here are his two lengthy answers so far, head over to G+ to ask what's on your mind, as he might still be answering some of the questions:

Why did you make the system buttons and status bar consistent across all devices in Jelly Bean?

Consistency and usability are really important to us, and that’s something we strive to improve in every new version of Android. With Honeycomb we first introduced the idea of a completely onscreen navigation UI which gave us unprecedented flexibility in how that UI adapts and transforms - both when you turn the device in your hands and when the software changes and has different control needs. Now in Jelly Bean we’ve made the universal software navigation buttons and system bar consistent across all screen sizes.

This new configuration is based on usability research we did on all of the different form factors and screen sizes that Android runs on. What mattered most of all was muscle memory - keeping the buttons where you expect them, no matter how you hold the device.

Phones are almost always used in portrait mode, flip sideways occasionally, and never go upside down. As screen sizes get larger though, any which way goes. Imagine the frustration you’d feel if every time you picked up a tablet off the table ‘the wrong way up’ you found yourself reaching for a home button that wasn’t where you expect it to be? That irritation adds up and over time like a tiny grain of sand in your shoe and undermines the rest of your experience.

The Jelly Bean system bar always keeps the same 3 buttons where you expect them. This happens dynamically for every screen size, up until you get to small handheld screens where stacking the bars in landscape mode would leave too little vertical space.

The second thing we discovered was that there are almost as many different ways of holding our devices as there are people. In fact people love to use their Nexus so much that they use them for such long periods of time that having a single ‘correct grip’ is actually counter productive and increases hand strain. The Jelly Bean navigation buttons work equally well for left handers and right handers, one handed use, or two handed use, and for devices you’re carrying, resting on your knee, or putting on the table.

Last but not least, by unifying the design we are now able to put Notifications and Quick Settings right where you’d expect them, and only one swipe away.


Why don’t Nexus devices have SD cards?

Everybody likes the idea of having an SD card, but in reality it's just confusing for users.

If you’re saving photos, videos or music, where does it go? Is it on your phone? Or on your card? Should there be a setting? Prompt everytime? What happens to the experience when you swap out the card? It’s just too complicated.

We take a different approach. Your Nexus has a fixed amount of space and your apps just seamlessly use it for you without you ever having to worry about files or volumes or any of that techy nonsense left over from the paleolithic era of computing.

With a Nexus you know exactly how much storage you get upfront and you can decide what’s the right size for you. That’s simple and good for users.

Good questions! Keep 'em coming!


source: MatiasDuarte (G+)

79 Comments
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posted on 30 Oct 2012, 09:56 17

1. ilia1986 (unregistered)


He's right about the SD cards - but the N4 should definitely have more storage. 8Gigs is so 2009. I've got a SGS3 with 16gigs - and it's almost full without too much stuff on it.

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 10:04 10

7. Zero0 (Posts: 592; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)


Exactly. They should have at least released a 32GB model. I don't care that the entry model is 8GB -- you get what you pay for, as they say. But limiting the device to 16GB of storage is going to be the biggest let-down of this phone for some people.

No LTE can be excused -- it costs a lot to put it in a device, it kills the battery, and isn't THAT big of a help over HSPA+. But not offering models with more space at a time when storage is cheap and cellular data is expensive, that's a problem.

Personally, I shouldn't need more than 16GB of space on a phone, but I'm in a minority.

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 10:10 11

17. Aeires (unregistered)


They do have the 16 gig version, but even that's too little. Being a flagship, full Google experience phone, they should have offered a 32 gig version. Better yet, all three and let me decide which one fits my budget and daily needs.

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 11:43 8

40. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


Indeed ..heck they should go to 64gb at least, and put the pricing accordingly.

16GB is just an excuse for the cloud..and the cloud is nowhere near being the real alternative, btw.

Put ten serious games on this and it's already full.

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 19:55 1

68. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


Yea Nova Hd3 takes up 2gb wow.

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 11:38 8

37. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


I disagree.. why not just do what Samsung does?
All your photos and recorded videos go to SD by default(easiest way to swap in your next phone ), and apps go to internal storage without the possibility to move them to SD (ensuring a clean performance ).

Cards can cause problems and lag if they're low quality and slow class.

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 16:31 2

63. parthpatels007 (Posts: 54; Member since: 27 May 2011)


exactly!!! this was just an excuse maybe to promote their google drive

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 09:56 17

2. sheik (Posts: 249; Member since: 12 Sep 2012)


SD cards are not confusing for every one, atleast not for me... he just try to justify the 8 GB storage in Nexus 4

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 10:02 14

4. SleepingOz (unregistered)


No it's not! MicroSD card has always been a plus.

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 10:06 10

11. Zero0 (Posts: 592; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)


Regardless of whether it's confusing for some people, it can't hurt to include it, can it? If someone finds it confusing, just don't use an SD card. But if you want the extra storage, you still have the option.

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 12:00 5

42. xtremesv (Posts: 298; Member since: 21 Oct 2011)


I think the same. How SD cards are confusing? I would be content without expandable storage if the new Nexus have at least 64 GB. As PhoneArena proved in their recent poll, power users need more than 32 gigs. Duarte is trying to make banal excuses a la Apple to justify the poor storage options. Besides, that way they're getting rid of paying potential SD licences.

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 19:37 1

66. VZWuser76 (Posts: 4452; Member since: 04 Mar 2010)


Exactly. Are SD cards less confusing on a laptop, or any other similar device for that matter? Why not have digital cameras with fixed storage as well? They used to, on the lowest end cameras that had VGA resolution.

I agree with the idea of it's better to have something and not use it, than to need it and not have it available. He makes it sound like the majority of people are buying a Nexus device, but most are buying skinned devices, with expandable storage and removable batteries. The latter is getting to be less of an issue with the current crop of CPUs getting good battery life on LTE. But the need for more space is always going to be an issue. Higher definition video & audio, and graphics intensive games require more today than they did one year ago, and it's only going to get worse going forward. With the advent of limited data plans using the cloud becomes more tricky, and even then it's as "confusing" as sd cards (is it on the phone or on the cloud?). And what if, like I do, you use multiple cloud vendors, ie Box, Dropbox, etc.? Other than cost savings there really should be no reason not to have expandable storage, especially on a high end device. Just my opinion.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 00:42 1

74. xtremesv (Posts: 298; Member since: 21 Oct 2011)


Right, you added a pretty valid question to the mix, how different is storing on a SD card from uploading to the cloud, actually sometimes the cloud can be more complicated. I also doubt ISP's will grant people unlimited high-speed plans in the near future. Nowadays people still need local storage period.

posted on 31 Oct 2012, 02:16 1

76. someones4 (Posts: 625; Member since: 16 Sep 2012)


True. This is something Apple would say. he should just say sorry and give us our micro sd slots.

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 09:57 6

3. Mozarrt (Posts: 301; Member since: 08 Oct 2011)


Wasn't this the guy who blasted Windows Phone for being ugly then to copy some of its design cues?

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 10:03 3

5. GuiltyBystander (Posts: 199; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)


No, they're not.

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 10:03 2

6. wendygarett (unregistered)


I'm afraid that's true, not to flamebait here, don't get me wrong, micro sd is good for storing the photo and music to keep as history, but how many people done that??? Elderly will but a lot of spoilt brats like me hate to do so...

Storing the apps?? That will make your device even laggy trust me that... When no storage to store apps, most of us will delete the obsolete gaming apps and replaced the new one, to avoid confusion of course lol, same goes to music especially...

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 10:15

18. sheik (Posts: 249; Member since: 12 Sep 2012)


"Storing the apps?? That will make your device even laggy trust me that."
Could you elaborate your claim? What phone do you have?

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 10:25

22. wendygarett (unregistered)


Isn't that the reason that Google refuse to let you to move apps to sd card?? And you end up download the apps that enable to?? One of my friends are using sgs2 and his angry bird keep on frozen... But the problem solved when he removed the apps to internal storage... Wanna show more proof? :)

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 10:59 3

30. sheik (Posts: 249; Member since: 12 Sep 2012)


My cousin had a S II... and It never froze for me even if the game was partitioned into memory card. And angry birds is not a resource heavy intense game to freeze.. Sounds a lame proof to me.

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 14:07

57. bayusuputra (Posts: 963; Member since: 12 Feb 2012)


it will only lags in last year's devices.. I have Desire S, rooted, and all my games are in the SD partition.. I don' have lags.. The only lags I have is when I have many apps open (aka low RAM) but not because it's in SD..

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 19:57

69. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


Use a class 10 SDcard.

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 14:28

59. OptimusOne (Posts: 694; Member since: 22 May 2012)


I have a nexus one(even older than the desire s)

I too store everything(system, data, cache etc) on sd-ext. I have no lags

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 10:04 6

8. neutralguy (Posts: 1152; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


do what lumia 920 is doing. start with 32 GB storage and that's it.

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 10:21 2

21. cretinick (Posts: 148; Member since: 25 Jan 2011)


I don't think they have to start with 32 GB, but they could (and I believe they will) make a 32GB, or even a 64GB, option...

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 10:04 22

9. GoBears (Posts: 451; Member since: 27 Apr 2012)


If you're confused by an SDcard then you have absolutely no business using any type of smartphone.

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 10:48 9

29. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)


I think that's just an excuse... The reason oems don't put sd card slots is so they can charge an extra 50 or 100 dollars to double the storage where as of you have a sd slot you would buy the cheapest option and then buy a 32gb card for 20 dollars... Am I agree if you have problems using a simple thing as a sd card then you should not even bother with a smartphone... His trying to make it like you need to learn how to use a sd card lol its as simple as just using a usb stick.. As for where photos are saved there's always an option to choose where you want photos and videos to be saved. Would have been more than happy to sell my s3 for the nexus 4 if it had a sd slot.. For me no sd no purchase.. It's not like you will be forced to use it.

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 10:59 1

31. er-ah-what (Posts: 1; Member since: 30 Oct 2012)


This kind of thinking isn't all that helpful if you are trying to sell to lots of people. AFAIK Google is looking to make android ubiquitous not a niche product no matter how productive an sd-card slot can be.

People can use them to one extent or the other but do they want to ? Why make dealing with a smartphone harder rather than easier ?

It would have been cool to have one but I'd rather the openness of Android be extended to as many people as possible rather than being dogmatic about sd cards. They should just make a form fitting USB key that attaches ( with passthrough if needed ) to micro-usb port.

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 12:17 2

45. blahb (Posts: 48; Member since: 16 May 2012)


And it seems like a weak argument when the target audience for a Nexus device is more technically inclined than most smartphone users. They're just using that excuse as a cover to get everything stored in the cloud. Put an empty SD slot there, if someone is smart enough to buy an SDCard and use it so be it. I don't like people/companies telling me how to use my device, that's what I have a brain and am currently using an open source operating system.

I for one will not comply, I have my own NAS at home and have no desire to use a public cloud to pull my pics, vids, music over a data connection away from home where I may or may not have a good connection.

My next device will have excellent developer support and an SDCard. And oh yeah, until they fix LTE battery life a removable battery ;)

posted on 30 Oct 2012, 10:06 9

10. amozhi (Posts: 130; Member since: 23 Oct 2012)


Non availability of Micro SD card slot is a deal breaker for many. That is the main reason Samsung Galaxy model outsells their counter part.

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