1. RootlessAgrarian's Avatar
    Yesterday my all-time favourite app (Shortyz Crosswords) popped up with a new look which I, personally found disastrous. Shortys used to feature an all-black screen background with fairly high-contrast white text. It was restful, easy on the eye, minimalist, elegant. The latest version, to my dismay, has a pale gray background with rather light black fonts -- low contrast, high glare. The black background remaining around the actual puzzle grid makes things even worse -- big hard high-contrast lines detracting from the text. The app which used to look sleek and unified now looks chopped-up and ugly, and painfully bright if used in dim ambient lighting (as when doing a relaxing crossword in bed w/o keeping your mate awake!).

    I saw a stray comment on PlayStore to the effect of "live with it folks, apps have to be upgraded to the new style guidelines," which made me wonder whether Google has decreed from on high that hicon white-on-black is now verboten and all developers must go to this (imho) ghastly gray/white/locon look. I have spent years of my life staring at screens and for me, bright text on black background is simply the easiest on the eye for lengthy sessions. Users' personal preferences in the matter of contrast and brightness are so passionate that it seems crazy to force one look or the other -- why shouldn't all apps offer a Settings option to select "paper" or "terminal" looknfeel? Good heavens, xterm has allowed the user to customise its look for, what, at least 25 years now?

    This is not a minor issue; too bright a screen and/or too low a contrast can quickly lead to headaches (literal ones) for the user. The pale-gray/black look recently adopted by Shortyz is the worst of both worlds. If this is indeed some kind of official looknfeel style imposed by Google from above, they should consider this carefully. I am very fond of my android tablet, but if all the apps start going "paper gray" I will end up using it only for apps that don't involve a lot of text fields, such as MX Player for movies, or various full screen games.

    Shortyz has become pretty much unusable for me, which is a blow as my crossword habit amounts to an addiction! I am now living in dread that the rest of Android -- favourite apps like BubbleUPnP, the Settings pages, etc, will all morph into gray-paper-land and the whole tablet will become literally a headache to use. Can anyone tell me what's going on?
    11-26-2014 01:52 PM
  2. srkmagnus's Avatar
    Google does have a new design guideline called "Material". It's up to the developer to update their app to follow those guidelines. Though, I don't think it's a requirement, Google may encourage it.

    Have you reached out to the developer to see if it's something that may be fixed in the near future? Either by offering a way to switch the theme to something more preferable to the user?
    11-26-2014 05:47 PM
  3. RootlessAgrarian's Avatar
    Google has just a wee tendency to arrogance, as has often been observed by others in the past :-) They think they know what's best for us, which is always worrying.

    Anyway, philosophical concerns aside, I did write a pathetic plaint to the author -- and I think there have been others -- I've seen some new sharply negative reviews on PlayStore complaining about the new (not improved) looknfeel.

    I found a workaround for now -- though it's rather ironic -- someone is selling an xwd app called "Newspaper Crosswords" for about a buck. I grabbed it to evaluate in my search for a replacement xwd app, and found that -- yikes -- it's Shortyz. Yup, someone is reselling the same (free!) app under a different name. It's an older version with some bugs, but it has the old looknfeel and that, for me, outweighs the bugginess.

    I'm appalled at the brass nerve of the person trying to sell a *free* app that they didn't write -- that takes plagiarism to a whole new level -- but OTOH it was well worth a dollar to me to get the old comfortable looknfeel back! There's no forum for Shortyz (not that I'm aware of anyway); if I find one I'll let other users know. It's a moral conundrum -- the author has every right to get angry and demand that the plagiarist stop marketing his work under a different name, but I'm grateful that there's an unbroken version still out there...
    11-27-2014 01:58 PM
  4. barth2's Avatar
    I feel your pain. It's a perennial struggle for me to have to deal with white background on GUI. The good thing about android is at least until it has embraced a dark theme along with the white. But with lollipop that seems to be at an end. It does not look as if they have thought about how material dark should look and function. It's like a step child they prefer to forget about.

    For me, it is not an aesthetic preference but a necessity. I need white on black with high contrast. The screen is not a piece of paper -- it emits light, not reflects it. (Except for e ink screen, which is why it's comfortable for long reading, despite the low contrast) White background on a screen hurts my eyes.

    Maybe with the rise of oled screen, black will make a come back since it uses less power.
    12-05-2014 12:04 AM

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