Mockup on Updating Android for 2014
Hey guys, so I've been using my Galaxy Note 3 for the last month or so and, well, I love it. I love the screen, I love the OS (CM11...), the pen is cool, but one thing is painfully apparent; Android wasn't meant for this screen size.
See, the majority of Android's navigational UI elements are in the top right corner or the bottom bar and neither of those are easy to get to with one hand. It makes the phone cumbersome to use and really disrupts the flow. So, without further ado, I mocked up a small change that gives the middle finger to symmetry in the name of usability.
See, moving the button bar to the top bar and removing the phone state information (time, signal, battery) would make for a clean and extremely usable OS. Try it for yourself; download the image to your phone and touch the home button. If you try it, I assure you it will feel right. Yes, it looks a bit odd, but it just feels so much better than the (inexplicably placed) bottom bar.
As for the time and other information, I envision the user could do a pull down gesture on the navigation bar and the information would pull down to reveal the status bar. The bar would then slide back up once you remove your finger. While many might complain about not always having this information on hand, I don't think it's terribly necessary to always know your Wifi strength and this is similar to how WP does it.
Another idea I had was entirely removing the back and recents button and only putting a home button. The user could tap the button in the top left corner and it would obviously go home or they could hold it and a lockscreen-esque ring would appear. From there, they slide left to go back, right to go to the recent apps view, and up could slide the current screen up revealing Google Now. Thus we've replaced 3 buttons and a long press feature with only one button.
Finally, I have neglected the notification bar for a good reason. It's ugly. It's terrible. It's useless. It's crowded. SO, my idea was a notification panel "below" the current display that you slide up from the bottom of the screen to reveal. This would slide the current window up and move the notification panel in its place. To notify users, I picture a small app icon with a number correlating to the notification count bouncing up from the bottom of the screen just like the Dock in OSX. One could customize each apps notifications so you only see apps you want to and you can change the bounce frequency based on the urgency of the app.
So yeah, tell me your thoughts! Obviously this isn't fleshed out and I'm not saying it's the best thing ever, but it would definitely improve large screen usability.