frustrations with technology, or, when upgrades are really downgrades, or, give me back a previous gmail app

I've really been enjoying my Nexus 7 tablet. I dislike that tablets have become the norm, and in a perfect world I'd use a desktop, a netbook, and a tablet. But in the real world, my netbook has been phased out, and I'm back to taking notes with pen and paper.

But in general, I do enjoy my tablet. I especially love the compact size of the Nexus, how smoothly it glides from task to task, and how quickly it charges. I use a Samsung Galaxy at work, and the Nexus has it beat in all categories. And I picked it up - the version with both wifi and data - for less than $300.

Now I've learned that Google has discontinued the Nexus 7. I'm probably going to buy a second one to have on reserve for when my current one dies!

The tablet is constantly asking me to update apps - I choose not to use automatic updates - and I've already learned that the next update of the Gmail app has some features that I find very annoying, and which can't be turned off. This is not me being resistant to change: this is my own specific preference, no matter what email program I'm using.

After I determined that I disliked the latest version of the Gmail app, I was happy to learn that I could easily revert to the previous version. All good.

Yesterday my tablet forced a system update... and I have lost access to the previous version of the Gmail app.

Here's what I dislike. No matter what email program I use, I do not like to preview email before opening it. At all my many workplaces that have used Outlook - and I use Outlook at home - I turn off the reading pane. It doesn't really matter why I like this. The fact is I have a strong preference for this, in all email programs, over a long period of time.

On the smaller screen of the tablet, this is even more important. There is already a sidebar showing all my various Gmail accounts, or once I'm in an account, the folders. I would like the remaining real estate to show either a list of emails in the folder, or the body of the email I have tapped on.

The new Gmail app will not let me do this. The screen is divided into thirds: accounts or folders, list of emails in that folder, and previews.

I've spent a bit of time searching for ways to revert to a previous version, but it appears that the system update has precluded that possibility.

And this is my problem with mandatory "upgrades". I want to choose. Google won't let me.


Amy said...

I understand your frustration. But they have us where they want us, don't they? Google especially. It's one reason I didn't want the Nexus and also one reason I chose Wordpress over Blogger and also why I quit Google Plus. I was tired of being owned by Google. Joining Google Plus meant that I somehow lost control over who I could share photos with through Picasa (which I do use).

I happen to like the preview panel. It enables me to see right away whether an email is really a personal email as opposed to a joke, spam, a chain email, etc. But to each her own!

Harvey is still using an old version of Word, an AOL account, and Internet Explorer. He would be very upset if he lost control over those tools to which he has adapted.

laura k said...

I don't see this as a Google-only problem. I think it happens with a lot of so-called upgrades. But of course, Google products are ubiquitous so they cause us the most problems.

I hate (loathe, detest, etc.) WordPress, and none of the other tablet possibilities suited me. I was pretty happy to use the Nexus. But the lack of options... grrrr.

I've never seen anyone not use a preview pane but me. But I have never opened spam by mistake. :)

Eventually Harvey will lose those things and be forced to make a great leap into the unknown. ;)

laura k said...

All right, I oversold my extreme dislike of WordPress. But still.

impudent strumpet said...

I don't use a preview pane because I don't find it helpful. Plus, historically, I've found its read receipt behaviour unpredictable. I like to know for certain whether or not a particular action is going to generate a read receipt.

Amy said...

Like I said, to each her own. I am content with Wordpress, and it does have features that I like both as a blogger and as a reader. As they say, variety is the spice of life.

PS if you ever want to share why you don't want a preview pane, I am all ears.


laura k said...

Well of course to each her own.

I have no issue with WordPress' features. Their formerly devious TOS was my problem. It took enormous user pressure to force them to be more upfront about their horrible ad policy.

Ads that the blogger can't see and can't control, but has no way to opt out of, and derives no revenue from??? Insane. They have finally disclosed that more openly. But it was too late for me.

I find the preview pane to be unnecessary clutter. I am either going to open and read email, or delete email, based on the subject line. I am never going to decide anything based on a preview.

I almost never see spam anymore, Gmail filters it. I don't know anyone who still sends jokes or chain letters. I get a lot of mail from organizations, but I either open or delete based on subject line. And when I need to find a particular email, I search.

So the preview pane takes up valuable real estate but serves no purpose.

On a tablet, the small screen makes it even more intrusive.

laura k said...

All right, another no-preview-pane user! :)

Amy said...

The ad thing was annoying. I had no idea at first that there were ads. For $18 a year I could eliminate them, but I haven't yet.

I get what you say about the preview pane, but I still get enough email that I consider less important---friends who still send jokes or chain letters despite the fact that I never participate in the latter and rarely respond to the former, blog subscriptions (a preview lets me know if I am interested in the topic often), etc. But I mostly read email on my laptop, so real estate isn't a problem!

But that's all besides the point. Everyone should be able to adjust the settings to whatever works for them.

laura k said...

I mostly read email on a huge desktop monitor! And I get a lot of email that I don't read. Still have zero use for preview pane, still find it cluttering.

The ad issue is unconscionable. You as the blog owner will never see the ads. They don't show up for you.

Amy said...

I know. But I live with a subscriber. :)

I will probably pay the $18. It's just stubbornness on my part. If it was $18 a month, I wouldn't. But $18 a year I can handle.

laura k said...

I pay $24/year for unlimited Flickr and that's about as expensive as anything gets online.