Android

Android N: Ditching the App Drawer?

Come Android N, the app drawer might cease to be. It is uncommon for any new update to take away a feature, especially one that is one of the hallmarks of the system but it looks like Android N is poised to do exactly that.

How do we know this is happening? Android Authority broke the news, claiming this information came from two trustworthy sources. Also of importance is the lack of an app drawer on the recently launched LG G5 and the HTC X9. The Galaxy S7 might have one but it also comes with a setting, albeit a hidden one, to show all the apps on the home screen. Sony’s Marshmallow concept lets you toggle between either a “classic” or a “modern” layout and the latter, like you must’ve guessed by now, disables the app drawer.

While doing away with the app drawer would mean a return to horizontal screens instead of the vertical layout that Marshmallow introduced, it would also mean that you no longer had to hit a separate button to access your apps. This could be a step towards simplifying the UI. The real question though is this move really needed? Do we really need to lose that organisational layer for simplicity? Does being new necessitate change even when none is needed? A more performance and stability focused update wouldn’t hurt, especially when battery hardware has started to stagnate. Marshmallow’s Doze was a huge step towards addressing that Achilles heel of smartphones and it would be nice to see more attention paid to that than taking something away that consumers are so accustomed to. Doing so will only result in confusion and frustration.

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The immediate reaction to this news is to obviously draw parallels between what Apple has done with iOS. Android home screens too will then be cluttered with icons and this will be a severe blow for those who like minimalist home screens. Android without an app drawer isn’t unheard of. Xiaomi’s MIUI lacks one and has sure managed to sell a lot of devices and there are other skinned versions of Android that lack an app drawer. That said, these are all seen as attempts to emulate iOS and that’s what it looks Google’s own vision for Android is as the two operating systems grow increasingly similar. Google might be removing the app drawer to add a new paradigm shifting option for managing and organising your apps but until we can see Android N for ourselves, we just can’t say why we might be bidding farewell to the app drawer.

Of course, the situation can be ameliorated by using custom launchers but you know you’ve blundered when an update needs fixing by third party apps. Remember the backlash when Microsoft ditched the start menu in Windows 8? While there were tons of programs that could bring it back, the general public simply preferred staying on earlier versions and with how bad fragmentation is when it comes to Android versions, the last thing Google needs is to give people a reason to not update.

Where do you stand? Do you want your app drawer or not or does it not matter as you would just switch to a custom launcher anyway? Let us know in the comments below. 

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