Google Speaks Out On Nexus Sd-Cards & The New Jelly Bean Tablet UI

Google Speaks Out On Nexus Sd-Cards & The New Jelly Bean Tablet UI

While Google’s new family of Nexus devices is nothing short of impressive, there have been quite a few questions asked in regards to the lack of expandable memory in Nexus devices (microSD) and the new tablet UI used in Jelly Bean 4.2. Luckily for us, Google’s own Matias Duarte took to Google+ yesterday to answer some questions, and had some rather interesting statements on those two subjects. I’m very curious to see how you guys respond to his comments.

When the Nexus 10 was first unveiled, the fact that the 10 inch tablet was running a phone UI stuck out like a sore thumb. It pretty much looked like a stretched out Nexus 7 UI running on a 10 inch tablet. Well, love it or hate it, it looks like it’s not going anywhere. Here’s what Matias (Android’s User Interface Director) had to say (word for word quote courtesy of Droid Life) about the new Jelly Bean 4.2 tablet UI:

Why did you make the system buttons and status bar consistent across all devices in Jelly Bean?

Consistency and usability are really important to us, and that’s something we strive to improve in every new version of Android. With Honeycomb we first introduced the idea of a completely onscreen navigation UI which gave us unprecedented flexibility in how that UI adapts and transforms – both when you turn the device in your hands and when the software changes and has different control needs. Now in Jelly Bean we’ve made the universal software navigation buttons and system bar consistent across all screen sizes.

This new configuration is based on usability research we did on all of the different form factors and screen sizes that Android runs on. What mattered most of all was muscle memory – keeping the buttons where you expect them, no matter how you hold the device.

Phones are almost always used in portrait mode, flip sideways occasionally, and never go upside down. As screen sizes get larger though, any which way goes. Imagine the frustration you’d feel if every time you picked up a tablet off the table ‘the wrong way up’ you found yourself reaching for a home button that wasn’t where you expect it to be? That irritation adds up and over time like a tiny grain of sand in your shoe and undermines the rest of your experience.

The Jelly Bean system bar always keeps the same 3 buttons where you expect them. This happens dynamically for every screen size, up until you get to small handheld screens where stacking the bars in landscape mode would leave too little vertical space.

The second thing we discovered was that there are almost as many different ways of holding our devices as there are people. In fact people love to use their Nexus so much that they use them for such long periods of time that having a single ‘correct grip’ is actually counter productive and increases hand strain. The Jelly Bean navigation buttons work equally well for left handers and right handers, one handed use, or two handed use, and for devices you’re carrying, resting on your knee, or putting on the table.

Last but not least, by unifying the design we are now able to put Notifications and Quick Settings right where you’d expect them, and only one swipe away.

Hmm...I understand what he’s saying about consistency, and it does make sense to keep it similar across the board from a consumer perspective. I guess for me personally, it’s just a matter of taste, as I personally love the tablet UI that started with Honeycomb and continued through Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. This new UI just looks a bit too stretched for my taste, but I'm guessing that anyone could get used to it. 

Next up is a question that is going through the minds of MANY Android fans as well: Where the hell is my removable storage slot in the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10?

Here’s Matias’s answer, which literally blows my mind in a very "WTF?" kinda way:

Why don’t Nexus devices have SD cards?

Everybody likes the idea of having an SD card, but in reality it’s just confusing for users.

If you’re saving photos, videos or music, where does it go? Is it on your phone? Or on your card? Should there be a setting? Prompt everytime? What happens to the experience when you swap out the card? It’s just too complicated.

We take a different approach. Your Nexus has a fixed amount of space and your apps just seamlessly use it for you without you ever having to worry about files or volumes or any of that techy nonsense left over from the paleolithic era of computing.

With a Nexus you know exactly how much storage you get upfront and you can decide what’s the right size for you. That’s simple and good for users.


I get what he means guys...Sd cards are damn confusing for users....brainwashed iPhone users that is. Let me go out on a limb and speak for the majority of Android users when I say that Sd cards are NOT "TOO CONFUSING" Matias. For an SD card to literally confuse someone, you’ve either got to be A. really really stupid or B. really really really stupid.

SD cards are “techy nonsense”? Project Glass is techy nonsense Matias (awesome techy nonsense). SD cards are an Android unique selling point, so please don’t insult our intelligence by saying that SD cards are not realistic. I mean hell, even Microsoft products support SD cards (Surface Tablet). My iPhone packing friends constantly tell me how much they would love to have expandable memory, so please stop telling us there’s no demand for it.

Why not just speak the truth, which might sound a bit like this: “We want you buying 16 and 32GB versions of devices, and giving you SD cards makes that harder for us to do. Our 8GB models of anything are more or less a gimmick that will act as budget high end devices to appeal to those just needing a phone for calling and email purposes. Believe you me that we want to get 32GB (and maybe 64 later) Nexus devices in your hands so that you can buy more and more apps from Google Play. You NEED more memory, as apps are getting bigger and bigger. We just need to be able to change you for it".

But hey..maybe that’s just me. (I still love you Google :-D).

What do you guys think of Matias’s responses here? Do his UI comments make sense to you? What about his statements on expandable memory?

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

P.S- You're still awesome Matias. Let's just agree to disagree  :-)

Picture credits:

Source: Droid Life

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  • The real gimmick as to why there's no expandable memory for the Nexus is that so that everyone will get the 32gb version. Human tendency throughout time has been to achieve more of what's in the present. More processing power, more storage, bigger screen, the more the better. The whole reasoning that was given here kinda makes me think of Apple. Stop thinking like Apple Google! We always want more storage and more of everything. Stop skimping out and making the decision for everyone. This lack of expandable memory made me reconsider my choice in leaving my Galaxy S 5 for the Nexus 6. I'll wait til next summer to get a new phone.

  • My1 Mar 10, 2014 Link to comment

    well the tablet "experience is annoying. have a hard set rotation and an app that overrides that with another one. then be too fast on the back button and you will suddenly press another thing you didnt want (I had that often enough -> Galaxy Tab 2 7.0)

    the microSD crap is seriously a waste of time to talk about, but since it's fun I'll still do it.

    at some other point google said straight out that it wants ppl into the cloud. but they should think before they are doing that, maybe open a carrier that offers unlimited data at reasonable costs, for mobile and home internet, since there are regions where you dont even have nice home internet, I had a 1MBit/s Down/0,1MBit/s Up (125/12,5KByte/s) home internet until november. I'd really love to see that but still one problem persists, you cant have your apps stored in the cloud and with the largest Nexus 4 size (consdering the article's age) being 16GB, it would be useless for hardcore users like me, even with a capable connection and complete cloud usage. since storage has sadly not real Gigabyte (GiB) which are based on 1024 as converting scale but the "other" Gigabyte, scaled with 1000, that results in having a 16GB drive having a bit less then 15GB since you have about 1/8 of loss in GB scale (see for reference) and then we have system, bloatware and everything on top. so as you see expandable storage is nessesary on devices with less than 32GB and even then nessesary for hardcore ppl like me, who have a 20GB+ music collection and depending on the situation more than 30GB of movies... (Note 3 user)

  • "With a Nexus you know exactly how much storage you get upfront and you can decide what’s the right size for you. That’s simple and good for users" -matias duarte

    ...i'm no techie, (wish i were) but my experience has been that one does NOT know how much storage he or she will need over the life of the device. hence the concept of expandable memory. to not allow users this capability, will create situations for waste or frustration. you either don't use the space you paid for initially or have to buy more which may not be an option. giving us the choice to customize the device for ourselves is wht a co does when it wants to make the very best experience for the public :)

  • I ghink what we have here is the latest idea from Google to get ppl to use its cloud services like goigle drive. when u wont have space on the phone you'll need an account with a data limit for free and if you wanna store more then upgrade and buy space on the cloud.

    whatthey don't seem to understand is that the more you try to push ppl in a corner, the more you increase the chances of dumping you or your product.

    I am using a samsunv galaxy note two and kn day one i realized that the internal spacd is good for nothing @16 gb. why? because you get only four out of the 16 gb for your use ghe rest is taken up by the os. I started installing apps and games I wanted but was pretty pissed to see thaf after a few apps and the dark knight rises game there was only some mb of space available!

    I migrated to android from symbian belle on my nokia n8 with 16 gigs of internal memory and expandable sd slot. one thing I dont understand is why it takes my new phone with quad proccy and 2gb ram hours to do things like copying a 1 or more gb file which my n8 with a 680 mgz proccy could do faster. the ram is almost always 70% in use when my n8 had 256 mb and never felt like it was short on ram with smooth gaming and video.

    I thought being a new in development os android would be faster, more efficient and would give more freedom and things to do on the device. but it is dissappointing to see that this cutting edge os is clumsy when compared to my n8. Apps and games are getting bigger by the day but it's a pity that google is trying to push us back to a time when phones had internal storage which was less than an mb on some.

    1 more thing I don't understand is why the devices with more internal memory are priced 40% higher than the one which has 50% memory capacity for ex 16 gb vs 8 gb etc. why are the prices so unrealistic when they just put in a memory card for internal memory and the difference in prices of different cards with different capacity is not as much as the price difference between a 8 gb and 16 gb phone??

  • Well, here we have it. The new GoogApple Nexass Tablet. Seemingly for those people Mr GoogApple thinks are too stupid to insert a simple micro SD card. But Hey, we don't want to discuss it with any real logic, like revealing marketing plans or anything, so let's just throw out some gobbeltygook doublespeak - cause you know, customers are stupid and will believe what we tell them to.

    No thanks, I'll stick with my Samsung Galaxy S3 with 16Gb ex_sd card and my Acer A500 Tablet with 32Gb ex_sd card for now.

  • I think there's something more fundamental here. Google so far has had to rely on hardware partners which it both profits from and is also in competition with. Maybe this SD card nonsense is a way to keep some differentiation in the market...or maybe that's too 'conspiracy theory'.

    I can easily live without the SD slot on my phone but the tablet is a stretch, almost a deal breaker until they brought in the 32GB version.

  • It seems to me that some of the thinking behind no SD cards might be a little US centric. One can have a data plan that spans the width and breadth of the US.

    One of my main uses for a tablet is for watching things while travelling - which I do a lot in Europe. I don't have a European roaming data plan (no such thing exists, and if it did, I'd have to cut off my own leg, cook it and steal a solid gold pot to serve it in to be able to afford it).

    Further, I love watching things on flights, and this by far when my tablet gets the most workout - especially long hall.

    In flight wifi (where it exists and isn't too expensive) is far too slow for slurping down media at the requisite rate. Further, I don't want to load my tablet prior to each trip - a library of microSD cards on the other hand, stashed in my bag is ideal.

    My hope is that someone produces a dock/battery/sd card reader (and maybe keyboard) rolled into one - I think there's a reasonable prospect that this could happen - that that may just be wishful thinking on my part.

    I'd be pre-ordering one today if it weren't for the lack of micro sd :( Unless the right accessory comes along, I'll be waiting to see what other tablets come along soon with similarly nice displays.

  • I have heard from androidpit that there is a download that will allow you to make your sd memory as part of your cell phones built in storage. Which is really cool.

  • If you are not smart enough to use a SD card then you SHOULD buy a iphone

  • I also hope the new Samsung phone release will have 64 gigs of internal storage built in so that with an SD slot Ivan finally have 128 gigs of storage space. That is the ideal phone to me. I am tired of not having enough storage space and having someone change out my phone battery for me.

  • A cell phone without an sd slot and a means to change the lithium battery out is just another IPHONE to me and is a deal stopper. I will never purchase this Nexus phone. Still looking for that upgrade Samsung S3 Phone release in the Philippines with 2 gigs of ram and the same Quad Core processor as the Note 2. I also hope it will have Jelly Bean release 4.2 on it as its operating system.

  • if I have a device that does not have enough space to fit my stuff on it, it either has to be damn cheap or have a way of expanding it (whether thats sd card or usb slot for external drives), so I simply will not buy a device that costs upwards of 300 pounds without having expandable storage. The nexus 7 lineup looks like good value, but the nexus 10 is a complete rip off without expandable storage. Its not confusing, its simple, if you have upwards of 50 gbs of stuff, you either need huge amounts of internal storage or a way of slotting in extra storage.

  • ljhaye Oct 31, 2012 Link to comment

    I agree with you about the Micro SD card and I'm disappointed he called it, "techy nonsense left over from the paleolithic era of computing", WOW!!

    Apple sells hardware so it makes sense for them to push their various storge alternatives at higher price points, but android is built on a different premise. Its the premise of being open and I think that exapandable memory like flash before it perpetuates that ethos. Google's playbook is looking more and more like Apple's and I'm not to comfortable about that. If Android hardware apes Apple's too much then what is the point, as the philosphy start to look the same.

  • @Tim - When Google figures out a way to let you install your apps to the cloud. THEN and only then will I stop caring so much about expandable memory :-D

  • Amen! I can't believe people actually believe what this guy spews. They want to push people to their cloud services. It's really that simple.

  • @Anna - LMAO! Perfectly stated Anna! That really is damn confusing!

    Best...comment...EVER :-D

  • Well, what he says about the UI SORT OF makes sense, I guess. But what he says about microSD cards.. no, that's just bullshit. SD cards aren't confusing. You know what's confusing? Paying big for a quad core beast with lots of RAM and a big vivid screen that's perfect for playing video games and then finding out you can't play the video games because your device doesn't have enough storage to store them!!

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