AndroidAppsGood and EVO

The new Google Play store is a perfect example of why per-app DPI settings are awesome

google play xl - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

This morning I opened up Google Play, and found that my device had gotten the update that started rolling out several weeks ago. My first reaction was something along the lines of “….green…” And my second reaction was to put down my device, and take the bus to the next county so that I would be an appropriate distance away from the screen for the UI size Google chose for this update.

I don’t know what it is with mobile OSes, but UI elements just seem to get bigger and bigger. It’s gotten so ridiculous that when I compared my 4.3-inch Galaxy S II to a 5.5-inch Galaxy Note II in the store, my S II actually fit more on the screen, because I’ve customized it to what I consider a sane UI size for that large a screen.

The way I’ve done this is with Xposed per-app DPI settings, a root-only tweak that I love more and more each day. Since my original article I’ve both tweaked my existing settings and added more apps into the mix, and I have to say that it’s a completely different experience to have a phone that fits your level of comfort with regards to UI size. Why this isn’t a feature in Android I don’t know, but then again, it’s Google.

Point being, it was simple for me to pop into the settings for the tweak, enable it for Google Play, and set the DPI for that app to 180- down from the default 240. I could have- and may still- set it even lower, as this new Google Play update is just outright ridiculous in my opinion. The result speaks for itself:

xposed google play 2 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

xposed google play 1 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

Like I said, I may change it further, as I still find the UI to be quite large. It’s not as bad as YouTube, which I had to set to 120 DPI before I was happy with it, but it’s still quite idiotic in my opinion.

I’m increasingly getting the feeling that I’m using a toy for babies when I use Android, as everything is so large and full of images that it almost seems as though it’s a pointing book. I might be alone in this, but I really miss the days when a large screen meant more information on the screen, not just larger everything.

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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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14 thoughts on “The new Google Play store is a perfect example of why per-app DPI settings are awesome

  • Avatar of Mustachio

    So, no solution for non-root users eh?

    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

      Not that I know of. If you ever want to fix stupidity i Android, root is needed most of the time :/

  • “…but I really miss the days when a large screen meant more information on the screen, not just larger everything.” Thanks for putting into words what I’ve been feeling for a while.

  • Avatar of Simon Belmont

    I just got this update on my devices too and ,jeez, the icons are huge. Lousy use of screen real estate especially on higher DPI devices.

    I might just give the root app your mentioned a shot. Google Play is starting to look like it belongs on a LeapPad

  • Andreas,

    Though I like the looks of the new Play update, I feel your pain and wish I could change the settings to match yours (non-rooted). It’s a pain in the rear having to scroll through so much fluff, I feel I’m working with my Grandmother’s phone with the huge icons and buttons.

    I smell another article talking about the need for smarter screen utilization.

  • Although I agree that choice is important, I am not sure it is important to everyone…. I would imagine that DPI scaling could introduce instability liek visual artifacts and unclear text. Readability is more important than minor finger fatigue, in my opinion. However, keep in mind, Google does ALLOW almost encourage rooting vs. Apple whom fights it at every turn. So, for those whom want to make efficient use of every single pixel, I suggest rooting. Choose a popular Custom Rom (for the best compatibility and stability):

    More or less, lets stop pissing in the drinking fountain, guys. Complaints aside, lets find solutions like our author here! :)

    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

      Actually, changing the DPI doesn’t affect any apps I’ve seen negatively, with the exception of keyboards.

      The reason is simple: the apps are built for this. The device resolution and DPI is known to the OS and the apps, which means that screen size is unnecessary (can be calculated from those two). By changing the DPI, you trick the app into changing this formula, which results in it thinking the physical screen size is different than it really is.

      For instance, my S II has a 480 x 800 4.3-inch screen. That’s a DPI of 216, but since 240 is more of a standard, Samsung set it to that. That means everything on the device is actually, from stock, larger than it should be. By lowering the DPI to 180, you trick it into believing that it’s a 480 x 800 resolution 5.2-inch device. This tells the app that it needs to use less pixels to display the UI, since the pixels are physically larger, and as such, it makes everything smaller.

      Since Android runs on devices with all sorts of screen size/resolution combinations, apps are designed to scale based on this. So, when the app is being given a different DPI, it simply adapts as if it was running on such a device. Since apps don’t glitch on those devices, they also won’t glitch here :)

  • Avatar of William Devereux

    Yeah, I can certainly see why you’d want to change the DPI. It looks much better now. (Side note: I’m happy to see that is currently the number one free app on Google Play. :))

    • I saw that also, but instead- I am horrified.

      The apps are hideous and an embrrasment. =/

      Microsoft really needs to get on top of the design.

  • the first side by side comparison clearly showed a benefit. the second pair, not so much. the first one showed *more information*. that’s what counts.

  • I think the new update sucks, plain and simple. The UI on pages that include lists is HUGE, and the UI on individual apps is small. The button to Update an app is too small and is right on top of the button to Uninstall. What is up with that? You used to be able to hit Update, then Accept in the same general area of the screen. Not Update is up near the top, then accept is down near the bottom on the next page. Who was in charge of the UI? It’s a step back in useability.

    And yes, the Green is ugly, plain and simple. The previous market looks much better with the black.

  • Avatar of Samy Farrow

    When you go out to eat, what’s the thing that everyone says when they look at the menu? “I wish there were more pictures!” People these days are visual, and Google is just going that way. I personally didn’t notice how big things were on my LTEvo, but looking at it now is because my phone fits the top 6 apps on there, so it’s a good size.

  • Avatar of Martin Cufre

    The version 4 update is HIDEOUS. Horrible, disastrous, all of that. I have the apk for the last version of the 3 series so I can give my eyes some rest from that green huge hell (in my Galaxy Note 1 the v4 Store is UGLY, everything is way too big, and they have this idiotic recommendation system and I cannot see anymore the boxes with the new apps and games that the v3 had) but after I exit the v3 Store it quickly auto-updates to v4. Do you know if there is any way to stop it from auto-updating? Thanks!! Martin

  • Avatar of Elena Schott

    Tossing in an Amen here. I loaded the google apps store in chrome, and blinked. Am I three years old to need the big green buttons to do anything? What happened to information density? Maximum data per screen? Being able to do what I wanted without paging three jillion times? Gods the new screen is ugly.


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