Why do Google apps always lack support for basic Android features?

currents fail - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

There are times when I think that Google should change its logo to the double facepalm meme. That meme quite nicely sums up the feelings I get when I discover yet another Google app that lacks Android features so very basic that it doesn’t even strike you as something that wouldn’t be included. I’ve mentioned such shortcomings of Gmail in the past, specifically the lack of a widget on versions lower than Honeycomb and the lack of ability to send email info to other apps using the Share feature – both features so extremely basic to Android that it’s just ridiculous that an app by the company that made the OS doesn’t have them.

This time, the app that literally made me facepalm in real life is Google Currents. With Pocketables’ new Google Currents edition, I finally have a reason to use it, although I don’t really like it for services that haven’t been optimized (i.e. the Google Reader RSS feeds with which it decided to automatically populate the app). As such, I don’t really want the rest of the app, only the Pocketables feed. When I then went to add an activity shortcut to my homescreen that would bring me directly to that feed instead of opening the main app, I didn’t even consider that Currents doesn’t support activities. Silly me.

You can understand my mistake here. Reading apps have had the ability to add shortcuts directly to certain material for ages, ranging from ebook apps allowing you to add shortcuts to books, to Google’s own Reader app allowing you to add a shortcut directly to feeds. Since Google Currents is essentially Reader in more of an ebook/magazine reader format, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that it be given the same, very basic, functionality. Granted, the app is rather new, but this isn’t exactly the most complicated feature on Android.

Disappointed with the lack of activity support, I went to add the widget instead. Wait, what widget? Apparently that’s not something that Google deems a necessary feature on its beloved Currents app, either. A quick Google search confirmed that it isn’t just my Android version that was left out as far as a widget goes, and the lack of a widget seems to confuse more people than just me. I mean seriously, Google, you created a news reader app without a widget? What’s next, a music player app without MP3 support?

qrc pocketables on google currents - for some reason we don't have an alt tag hereSo there you have it – the app that is Google’s demo on how good Android apps can look doesn’t even contain two of the most basic features that separate Android from iOS. It’s times like these that make me wonder if Google is abandoning Android, because the Currents app seems like it was made to be as identical as possible on both iOS and Android, and the iOS version has the higher version number and latest update to support the iPad 3’s higher resolution. (This makes me wonder how the app looks on the ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity’s 1920 x 1200 screen). iOS looks way better than Android – no doubt about it – but Android has features like widgets and activities (and lots more) that make it worth using regardless. How Google expects to sell a OS based on features it can’t be bothered to support itself, however, is beyond me.

Download: Google Play

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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