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Never underestimate Google's ability to foul up a decent UI
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jducoeur
So I've just been kicked into the "preview" of Google's new Contacts UI. Let's count the ways in which it is awful:

-- After I've spent years carefully curating My Contacts, they've gone and dumped that. I can't tell if they actually lost all that information, or simply de-connected all of the users that I had merged by hand, but the counts are *way* wrong. They offer to automatically re-merge everything, but to say the *least* I do not trust them to get it right.

-- The UI is very pretty, yes. It is also inefficient, with gratuitous use of modal dialogs. It forces you into Google+, with all of its ticks and quirks and excessive information that I don't give a good goddamn about.

-- Because it is now all Google+, it pops up *every goddamned IM* in that window, and I can't figure out how to turn that off! I don't *want* my IMs to show up in this window -- that's what I use Pidgin for. Google+'s Hangouts are intrusive, loud, use screen real estate incredibly inefficiently, and just plain less pleasant to use. But of course it looks like Facebook's Messaging, so it *has* to work like this, and god forbid they should provide an obvious way to opt out of this UI. (This is, I should note, one of the primary reasons I do *not* leave Google+ open: those damned Hangout notifications are crazy-loud, and I don't want them.)

-- It forces open a new window, rather than being a tab inside Gmail the way it used to be. This is *way* less convenient, IMO.

-- It doesn't let me copy a freaking email address! Seriously: if I right-click on an email address, it doesn't even recognize it as a link. The only thing is lets me do is open an email in Gmail, failing to understand that the entire world does *not* revolve around Gmail. So I'm left with no choice but trying to highlight and copy the text of the email itself -- which isn't easy in this new over-splufty UI. This is a huge fail: being able to copy email addresses where I need them is the single most important feature of a contact list, IMO, and they've actually made it worse than it was.

-- And it seems to be inescapable. I clicked on "Leave the Contacts preview", which opened the old-style UI. Great -- until I went to Contacts again, and it forced me right back into the preview again.

I'm appalled. These changes appear to have been designed for looks and corporate mandates more than usability, and doesn't seem to have a functioning escape hatch. Big fail in my book...
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well google maps forgetsi want the classic view even afteri tell ti every time i want it to remember. so.... ugh. yeah it dumped me there today too and all i wanted to do was find a contact and add a new email address to them holy crap but that was convoluted... ugh.

Oh, lovely.

It does seem that Google is making the fundamental error that "contact" === "identity" === "person", that is, that your contact info IS you which IS the self you want to be everywhere; that is, that there ought to be a central DB which stores all of this as if it were truth.

But it ain't; these are statements about truths, and those statements have context, and without context become less useful. I don't want to connect my Contacts to G+; they're fundamentally different. (Just like I didn't want to connect my YouTube viewing to my email. It's wildly inappropriate.) I might want to call someone Snagglepuss in email, and only in email; I might want to 'know' someone only on YouTube, or only on Flickr, or whatever, without other parts of their life necessarily getting dragged in. Shades of Nymwars again.

It makes it harder for Google's nascent AI, because entity resolution is more complex, and I have zero sympathy; they're robbing themselves of rich data by flattening contexts.

(FWIW, complaining about stuff on G+ seems to be, perhaps unsurprisingly, the way to get developer attention. At this point I think I have two key G+ devs checking in on my complaints; not to mention the helpful alley-oop from Googlers in our social circles...)

Wow, the abbreviated/can't copy 'em email address thing is maddening. I understand some UX guy somewhere had the epiphany of "oh, hey, email addresses are like telephone numbers and URLs...no one wants to remember them and it's error-prone to type them...let's just elide them in favor of something easier to remember". But...we're not there yet.

Yep. Makes me glad I spent a lot of effort architecting Querki to separate the notions of "user" (my login, who I really am), an "identity" (one face I present to the internet), and "person" (what I look like in this Space). Means that Querki can be much more sensitive to this stuff. But of course, I'm not trying to build the panopticon...

Have you tried double-clicking on the email address? That turns it into text for me, but I don't think I'm on the new "Contacts" yet.

No, the first attempt to click on an email address opens Gmail, whether you like it or not. Basically, they are refusing to believe that you might want to use Contacts for anything other than their walled garden...

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