We can all agree that the current structure for slide-out sidebar menus is pretty much a mess. Third party apps and even some of Google’s own apps don’t follow a single structure guideline. I’m not going to cover all of the things wrong with it, but I will quickly discuss one of the biggest issues.
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The “Up” button, which is basically an expand and collapse button as it pertains to the slide-out menu, is the biggest point of confusion. Here’s what Google has to say about it:
If a screen is the topmost one in an app (that is, the app’s home), it should not present an Up button.
The system Back button is used to navigate, in reverse chronological order, through the history of screens the user has recently worked with. It is generally based on the temporal relationships between screens, rather than the app’s hierarchy.
The fact of the matter is that the “Up” button is actually implemented differently across various apps including some of Google’s own native apps.
For example, in the YouTube app once you open the button several layers, pressing on the “Up” button will return you to the previous menu until you get to the main page. Once you’re on the main page, pressing the “Up” button will open the side-menu and then the up button disappears completely, until you close the side-menu of course.
New “Up” Button Visual Cues
With the new menu, which has been implemented in the Google Earth and Google Shopper apps so far, the final layer of the “Up” icon has been replaced with a new image. Instead of showing the same carat-like image when it’s used to expand or open the side-menu now there is a simple three line icon.
To further elaborate, the button essentially works the same exact way as it did before but now there’s a distinct visual cue for what it does. When the “Up” button is used to return to the previous page there’s a back facing carat icon. When the “Up” button is used to expand the side-menu there’s now a three line icon instead. The beauty of the idea is in its simplicity. Now, you know exactly what the buttons going to to do when you press it. It’s not that we don’t have the capacity to eventually learn, it’s just that the visual cues are a nice touch. They’re definitely more elegant and clean.
New Gesture Support
Switching gears a little here, there also seems to be a significant issue with the gesture support in several apps. When you scroll all the way to the final page, or the main page a swipe gesture will generally open the side-menu, whereas, it will just alternate pages if you’re on another page besides the main page. In some instances, like with the Google+ app for example, once you’re on the main page you can’t even swipe to open the side-menu. Needless to say, it gets a little frustrating trying to figure out what apps support what functionality, as they’re all different.
Shopper and Earth have now been updated to support multiple gestures both vertically and horizontally. When the screen scrolls horizontally, swiping from the middle of the screen will advance the content while swiping from the edge of the screen will switch windows. You can also call upon the side navigation panel with just a single gesture from within any window, even when the “Up” button shows a carat icon that’s used to go back.
Now For the Headlining Question
Will Google roll out the support they’ve added to Shopper and Earth to their other apps? It doesn’t make sense why they would only update two of their apps in their portfolio and leave the rest to rot, but stranger things have happened. We’ve heard rumors of a new side-bar menu being added to Gmail, but nothing has been officially confirmed yet.
Dan Morrill did take to Google+ to share his thoughts on the matter, and he mentioned that several Android team members have been hard at work optimizing the design of the side-menu or “drawer” as he called it.
Hopefully, we’ll know by next week when Google I/O kicks off in full swing. In fact, Morrill explicitly said more information will soon be available:
Via: Android Police