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New Google+ "Quick Return" Action Bar

The recent update to +Google+ on Android includes an emerging pattern called "Quick Return". You can read more about it at +Android UI Patterns here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115177579026138386092/posts/iQvkJmHnXPM

It's very useful in certain situations, like Google Now, but the implementation in Google+ is questionable. These are Action Buttons, which Google has clearly defined in the #AndroidDesign guidelines. However, they seem to go against almost all of the recommendations. Here are some of the issues:

- Not using Split Action Bar pattern. [1]
- The bar is taller than 48dp. [2]
- The icons are too large. [3]
- Can easily be confused with Top Bar Actions (like tabs). [4]
- They don't pop into the action bar when in landscape and on large/xlarge screens. [5]
- The user must perform a scroll in order to access an Action, in certain situations.

 If Action Buttons are supposed to make "important actions prominent and accessible in a predictable way," I'm not sure what to call these.

By +Paul Burke

[1] http://developer.android.com/design/patterns/actionbar.html#considerations-split-action-bars
[2] http://developer.android.com/design/style/metrics-grids.html#48dp-rhythm
[3] http://developer.android.com/design/style/iconography.html#action-bar
[4] http://developer.android.com/design/patterns/actionbar.html#elements
[5] http://developer.android.com/design/patterns/actionbar.html#adapting-rotation
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Rafa Vázquez's profile photoradiofun Choi's profile photoAdam Powell's profile photoYannick Stucki's profile photo
15 comments
 
If the app wasn't google's we would say that the developer doesn't know the platform very well
 
I think there's a good case against using split action bar here. It is pretty wasteful of the screen space and the new post controls are pretty low priority in the app. To me this is a good example of guidelines being just that. Just guidelines. While the implementation in G+ is not perfect and even buggy this pattern does work very well in smaller screens. They should, however, pop into the action bar automatically when there's room.

This pattern is clearly very easily adapted to larger and smaller screens and the potential is there. I must admit that I'm a fan of this pattern due to the flexibility and the feel of the UI. The pattern just needs to find the right form and right relation to the action bar.
 
+Juhani Lehtimäki I agree with the split action bar on small screens, but on large phone and tablets, this pattern seems unnecessary in Google+.
 
+Paul Burke Yeah definitely. I think it will evolve into a very useful pattern as soon as the edges for its usefulness are pinpointed.
 
+Juhani Lehtimäki I like this patter too, I just don't see that it fits into this context. It's fine for a main feature, such as the search bar in Google Now/Search, but these buttons should go into the Action Bar I think. 
Or maybe it's just too ugly.
 
In Google search on JB it works nicely, as the bar appears/disappears at the scroll speed. In G+ it moves faster than the scroll speed. If you scroll up a tiny bit you actually see less of the upper part of the content than before. Very annoying
 
Every time that bar pops in I just want to rip it off the screen to throw it away. Really annoying. It just feels like it's not here when I need it and it pops in finally just where I wanted to read something .

If you think about it, when you scroll up, it's usually when you want to see something on the top of the screen... Adding a toolbar sneaking into view just where you expected to see your content is annoying.
 
It disturbs me too all the way. Less room for reading, and conflicting wirh the action bar theory as we know it. But I understand the g+ app as a testing ground for new stuff, so all hope is not lost yet.
 
Couldn't agree more. And this definitely breaks one of the Android design principle: 'Only show what I need when I need it.'.
 
Three buttons are evidently working as one function ; write a post. Simply Meaningless. Ugly indeed. Seems like google tried to learn from facebook. Bad idea. Don't like the update.
 
Straw poll: when you use G+ on the web, how do you usually start writing a post? Do you click the "+ Share" button next to your profile pic in the upper right hand fixed position bar, or do you click in the, "Share what's new..." new post box that has a presence at the top of your stream in the main content area?
 
+Adam Powell I've never actually used the + Share button. I'm not sure why, though.
 
Is it because the in-stream share box gives an impression of where your new post will go? Is it because it emphasizes your new post as being an upcoming part of the stream content, rather than a function of the application's chrome?

On the web you can click in the top bar to scroll all the way back up to the top where newer posts and the "Share what's new" proto-post live. It kind of gives a way to quickly return to it...
 
+Adam Powell I've been thinking about it, and there are a few things I can immediately recognize. There is definitely this feeling that  adding a new post belongs at the top of the content, which is perhaps, influenced by the chome-vs-content emphasis you speak of.

Over the years, I have been trained to expect the main actions of a web interface to be in the content area, while navigation typically resides in the header. Using the + Share button, for me, would initially require a conscious effort.  

It's also influenced by the time-sensitive nature of most of my posts. I often check that what I am sharing has not recently been shared, before posting.

Lastly, the in-content field inherently feels more likely to maintain it's state (drafts). I, irrationally, expect the popup nature of the + Share button to be fragile.
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