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Honeycomb: Notifications And Multitasking

Motorola Xoom: The First Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) Tablet
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Notification

iOS notificationsiOS notifications

I really hate the way notifications appear in iOS because each one populates its own separate window. When multiple alerts stack up, it feels like I’m drowning in a sea of popup ads. The whole process is almost counterproductive, since you have to acknowledge each notification in order to continue working. It’s very easy to dismiss an important notification as you flip through and acknowledge them without reading carefully.

Honeycomb has a much better notification system. All of the notices appear queued in a pull-down tray, so you can go through them individually at your own leisure. You don’t lose notifications, but having five notifications pop up simultaneously is no less distracting.

Notification QueueNotification Queue

Multitasking

Google’s approach to multitasking is slightly different from what you see in iOS. When you tap the multitasking button, it brings up an overlay on the left side of the screen with a list of the most recently-used applications. Like Apple, you get a list of names and app icons, but Honeycomb takes this one step further by showing you a visual representation of what the app looked like when it was closed. I like this for several reasons. One, it’s easier to find what I’m looking for using graphical cues instead of just icons. Two, the tap areas are much larger than the small icons along the bottom of the iPad's multitasking menu.

While Google has good way to manage apps visually, the company needs to tweak functionality. I can’t force-quit an app as I can in iOS. As applications build up, I have to scroll through the multitasking switcher in order to find a particular program. This is incredibly frustrating. The problem is that you can’t control the order in which apps appear in the switcher. Whenever I open a new application, it’s kicked to the front of the line, so opening an older application requires more scrolling. Google needs to expose a way to forcibly eject apps for better multitasking management.

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