Let's talk about the new Google+ bottom tab-bar
. There seems to have been a lot of negative reactions right off the bat. I'm pretty sure I love it, but even then this is early days and things are still rolling out. Let's discuss the details.Why a bottom tab-bar is good
Phones are getting bigger. My sweet-spot is 4.5-4.7'' for a screen, but no new phones are that size. Today a "small" phone is 5.2'', and there's no sign that trend is going to buck.
Even on 4.5'' phones, tabs on the top aren't one-handable. But bottom tabs are right there, within easy reach.
Common to both top and bottom tabs are the benefit that they aren't "mystery meat" navigation like the drawer is. They're right within plain sight, uncovering primary and secondary sections of the app, encouraging exploration.
This new tabbar pattern even features verbose text. Yes, it's not as pretty as if the navigation was icon-only, but it certainly is easier to see where each tab goes.
The long and short of it is this: I'm pretty sure this tabbar will move the needle in a big way for Google+
. Casual users, I think, will be way more likely to explore the new pillars that are supposed to carry Google+ forward, Collections and Communities. Because they are more visible and within easier reach than ever.Why you might not like the new tab-bar
It's new. Every human being, including myself, has change aversion. The simple fact that an app you're used to changed, and in this case so visually, will cause a stomach to churn solely due to the change. If you try and keep an open mind, this feeling should subside in a week or two of actual use, after which you can make a more cogent decision whether you like it or not.
You might find that you still don't like it after a week or two, and that's fair. While the top-bar disappears as you scroll, the bottom tabbar stays put. So sure, you see less content than you're used to. I'm not convinced this is a problem — see the past note on phone screens getting bigger — but hey, it's a valid point.It's iOS'y
Many Android users choose Android in part because
it's not iOS, and iOS has had bottom tabbars since its inception. It's true, Google+ introducing a bottom tabbar is a slight concession that "Apple got that bit right".
But stop for a second, if Google avoided this pattern for years and years solely because iOS "did it first" that just seems petty. The thing about good interface design, in general and across the board, is that leveraging common patterns
is good for the user. It reduces friction, it reduces the need to re-learn, and it overall enhances usability.
I'm also not worried about Google losing any identity in this. The icons are clearly Material Design icons, and the text is clearly set in Roboto. This is the case even in the iOS version of Google+.It's not Material Design
That's not wholly true now, and it very likely won't remain true for long. The guidelines have had bottom toolbars since the start (https://www.google.com/design/spec/layout/structure.html
) though admittedly they've been reserved for actions
But let's not forget who writes the Material Design guidelines. Google does. I expect that this bottom tabbar pattern is an experiment that's being closely watched within Google. If the numbers come out right, this bottom tabbar will be canonized as a new Material Design guideline, and we'll start to see it in other apps. I would personally love to see it in Google Calendar, the Play Store, Photos and Music.
The only problem I have with the bottom tabbar, really, is that my friend said the bottom of Android, with the tabbar right above the systembar, looks like an Olympic flag. That's hard to unsee.