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Consistency. It works.

HT +Adam Powell 
When you find something you want to view later, put it in Pocket.
Shilpa J's profile photoNick Coad's profile photoLinden Darling's profile photoBilly Zhu's profile photo
I personally think that overall in Android, the action bars should integrate more with the content of the app, instead of being separated by horizontal lines with some tiny drop shadow. My 2c, of course.
The process of unifying things in Android ecosystem is great and it was much needed, but also we need some freshness, changes, new things in Android 4.4. Google Now lacks many features outside US. 
+Matias Duarte Is the long term goal with Google apps true consistency? For example back buttons and side swiping for menus is different for YouTube and G+.
Consistency, or lack of it, is one reason why I don't like the design of the new Facebook app.

I think the new layout hasn't rolled out to all users yet, but on my devices the app has an action bar at the bottom and the content that used to be on the left navigation drawer is now on the bottom right.

I know companies want to develop their own unique UIs and also have a consistent experience across platforms, but I think that's the wrong approach.

Having your own UI is fine, but I think you should start off with the standard design language of the platform you are developing for. If you want to break that language then you should at least understand it first, and know why you want to break away from the standard layout. If your reason is strong then go for it, otherwise stick to the default design guidelines.

Also I don't think consistency across platforms is anywhere near as important as consistency within a platform. Very few users would install your app on Android, iOS and Windows Phone at the same time. When you try to have the same UI across multiple platforms, how many users will actually benefit?

Many people have only one mobile device; some have two or more, and even then they are often devices running the same OS.

However, most users will have dozens of different apps on a single device. If all of those apps function in an inconsistent way then things immediately become difficult for the user. They don't know what will happen if you swipe a message or click a particular icon. It adds an element of unfamiliarity and uncertainty.

Inconsistency between apps affects the user and should be avoided. Android apps should act like Android apps and be based on Holo design guidelines, and iOS apps should act like iOS apps. By getting intraplatform design consistency right, users can worry less about how to use your app and get on with just using it.
"expecting the Up Button to be there": is it all about any icon being far left on an ActionBar or is it really about a tick (similar to a CAB's done/tick) being far left? Do you think the numbers would be as bad if it had been the star icon on the far left? Would users have worked out back was the only option if the ActionItems were all right aligned so empty space would be where up/done would usually be?
+Linden Darling when they talk about the "up button" they're referring to the functionality of the button, rather than the appearance of it.  The theory is that people expect the button on the top left to be a way to go back through the app or open up an action menu, regardless of what is displayed on it.
+Nick Coad that theory doesn't sit well with me as it suggests users expect an app icon (more specifically an app logo) that does not have an up affordance sitting with it to provide the up functionality anyway. In which case users' perception of that fundamental android UX are broken and/or up affordance isn't really doing its job effectively. Does that mean there are users in many apps frustrated because they can't always go up by pressing the app icon (even though no up functionality is intended to be available)?
And if the theory is correct, surely right aligning the ActionItems would've solved it? Users would not be in that "oh look there's something, anything on the left therefore I can go up" situation.
+Linden Darling 
that theory doesn't sit well with me as it suggests users expect an app icon (more specifically an app logo) that does not have an up affordance sitting with it to provide the up functionality anyway.

I can't parse what you're saying here.  The theory I mentioned doesn't suggest any such thing.  What they're suggesting is that when users expect to be able to go up or bring out a menu they look to the top left.  That's all it's saying, no more, no less.

People were entering an article for the first time in Pocket and then wanting to head back "up the tree" and were naturally expecting to be able to do that by hitting the top left button as you can in so many apps now.
+Nick Coad I think the theory oversimplifies the nuances of the UX involved and that Pocket didn't quite grasp the root cause of the problem. Close, but it's a little deeper than that.
+Linden Darling it sounds like you're just going off your gut opinion, but Pocket actually used test cases so I'm going to go with their interpretation...
+Nick Coad we can take Pocket's word that users said "up" of their own volition, without any prompting in User gut doubts the average user would, rather grumbles that they were prompted to provide that answer (which is definitely in the right direction), an answer that blocks exploration of the slightly deeper connection between a typical CAB's done/tick. I've been part of User Testing and seen it's easy to bias results, steering towards preconceived expected results.
If expectation is whatever-is-on-the-left-yields-up (as you've said, no?), then why even bother showing an up affordance ever?
so true, wish more apps did this.
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