Android Intelligence Analysis

The mundane yet meaningful fix Android O is missing (as of now)

Another Android release, another missed opportunity? Lamenting the ongoing presence of a seemingly small issue with significant real-world impact.

Android O Missing Fix
Credit: JR Raphael

Google's upcoming Android O release has plenty of flashy features -- notification snoozing! Picture-in-picture mode! Smart text selection! -- but as we enter the home stretch leading up to O's arrival, one simple yet significant issue with the operating system sits annoyingly unaddressed.

I'm talking about Android's Direct Share feature, which was introduced with Android 6.0 Marshmallow nearly two years ago. When you share something from an app -- like a line from an email or an image from Chrome, for instance -- the feature allows other apps to provide suggestions for specific share-worthy contacts, conversations, or destinations. So on top of the usual list of apps to which you could generally share, you might see options to share directly with individual people you email regularly (via Gmail or Inbox), text daily (via your messaging app of choice), and so on.

It's a fantastically useful concept in theory -- but the problem is that in actuality, there's often a second or two delay between when the main app-sharing menu appears and when the Direct Share section shows up above it. And that means you're frequently faced with the frustration of either awkwardly pausing and waiting for the full menu to appear or starting to tap one of the main app-sharing links and then seeing the system misregister your touch as the additional options slide into place.

Android - Direct Share jr

As anyone who shares often from an Android phone can attest, the process -- a common productivity task many of us perform multiple times daily -- ends up being time-consuming and rage-inducing. And that, quite obviously, is precisely the opposite of what a shortcut should achieve.

After last year's Android 7.0 Nougat release failed to fully fix this, I had high hopes that 2017's O might be the one to turn the ship around. But with two out of three Android O betas already behind us and only one more to go -- and the full, final O release (yes, I just said "full, final O release") expected sometime between now and the end of September -- well, the window for new undertakings sure seems to be narrowing.

I'm holding onto hope that perhaps Android O's last remaining beta will surprise us and address this persistent little pest, but realistically, I'm starting to suspect it may just be an issue we're gonna be stuck with for a while longer. And that's a shame -- because while introducing a fix for this glitch certainly wouldn't be a flashy or marquee-worthy feature, it would meaningfully improve a commonly encountered and uncommonly frustrating part of the core Android user experience.

For many of us -- on a practical, day-to-day level -- that sort of fix would be far more impactful than any headline-making new element.

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