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It’s time for Google to fix the Android shared list

Share Sheet is the best and worst thing that can happen to Android. In theory, it’s a powerful built-in feature that lets you share content from one app to another, and this should make it easy to send photos, files, videos, and links to your contacts in just two or three clicks. However, the reality is far from this ideal. The top row contacts suggested for instant sharing are rarely people you talk to on a regular basis, and many apps (Google apps included!) have started implementing their own custom share sheets that prevent muscle memory building.

Sharing on Android has really improved in recent years, but it’s still far from ideal. Before Android 10, loading the system share sheet was a frustrating exercise. They are not cached at all which means when checking the system should check which apps you have installed are more likely to share based on an unspecified indicator. This results in random app change and a very slow loading experience. It is possible that this unsatisfactory situation has also given rise to so-called custom sharing sheets – alternative in-app sharing capabilities implemented by application developers that often mirror the system-wide sharing dialog.

At this point we are already Begging Google to fix the worst problems“The company is basically listening. Android 10 introduced the fast and responsive system sharing sheet as we know it today, with a top row of suggested contacts from different apps, a second description of suggested apps based on what you share, and an alphabetical set of other targets (all other apps eligible for content). the meaning).

While the sharing sheet is getting faster and better these days, sharing stuff on Android remains a frustrating experience.

Possible problems and solutions

custom postage sheets

There are two issues with implementing the existing share list: custom share sheets and instant share targets. Let’s dive into the first topic. Many apps use their own share sheets, with Google apps being one of the main culprits. These mods offer some features not available in the Android system share sheet, but they often have much lower sharing goals than their system thread. There is no consistency at all. Each app does things a little differently, which makes it hard to remember how to navigate through each menu.

Custom share sheets in different apps, including Google apps.

In Google Photos, you can select more photos to share after pressing the share button, and it is possible to send photos to contacts within the app. Google Maps also allows you to share with contacts within the app. With Google Chrome, you can also access some great features in the share menu, such as the option to send a tab to your other devices or generate a QR code. Twitter also has a special share sheet with options to bookmark a tweet, send it directly to another user, Or add to the fleet. Drive and the rest of your Google productivity suite don’t make it into your Android share menu at all. The list could go on and on, with TikTok, Facebook, and many others, but you get to the point: there’s no visual consistency and actions can vary wildly depending on the app.

Solution 1: Sub-options in the system share sheet

If you look at some apps in the system share sheet on Android 11 (or 12), you’ll notice there are little dropdown arrows next to their names, indicating that when you click on them, you open a menu. In this menu you will find some of the same specific sharing options that you can sometimes select in the application’s own sharing sheet.

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Leave: Chrome custom share sheet. middle and right: Chrome options in the system share menu.

This is the case for Chrome: the custom share sheet has five options: share a screenshot, copy the current link to your clipboard, send a link to your devices, generate a QR code and print. In the system share sheet, the app still offers two of these options, print and send to your devices. It’s probably trivial to add the QR code functionality here, and the system share sheet already supports copying a link to your clipboard, so there’s no need to repeat this option. You lose the screenshot feature, but again, you can just take a screenshot all over your system — Chrome doesn’t need to have a built-in feature for this feature at all. This leaves us to the conclusion: Google Chrome could easily do without a custom share sheet (and I actually did without it ha Until August 2020).

Leave: Dedicated submenu for cards. Turn right: Mockup of card sharing options in the system tray.

It gets more complicated when it comes to apps like Maps or Photos that offer in-app contact sharing. But here developers can simply add an item to the dropdown on the system share sheet that offers something like “Send to your contacts”. Sharing from Photos or Maps may add an extra step, but at least the sharing list is consistent across all apps. In any case, Twitter proves that this is possible. In addition to its own custom share sheet, it has a system share dropdown menu that lets you choose to tweet, send a direct message, or add to the fleet.

Solution 2: Standard Postal Paper

There might be a better option that would give us the best of both worlds, if I may suggest it. What if app developers could have an extra row in the system share sheet for a custom in-app action?

Leave: Chrome’s custom share menu. center: Android delmenu. Turn right: Mockup with Chrome options in Android share menu.

I made a mockup of what I had in mind using Chrome as an example above. I’ve added the 4 related sharing options from the custom menu to the system share sheet and I think this might be the most elegant solution. App developers can keep their sharing options, but users don’t have to take additional steps to only share with an app that the developer hasn’t listed in their custom sharing sheet. For Google Photos and Maps, developers can add in-app contacts as sharing targets for this class, perhaps using an additional button to fetch more contacts. I know these contacts may conflict with the contact suggestions on the top row, but maybe the in-app contacts can replace the usual instant share suggestions instead?

Solution 3: In-app redirect

Forward as an option to avoid having an in-app sharing menu in Telegram (left) and WhatsApp (middle and right).

Then there are also apps that take a completely different path. Messengers like Telegram and WhatsApp have found an elegant solution to in-app sharing by introducing the concept of forwarding via an extra button. By pressing this forward button, you can select a contact from WhatsApp or Telegram exclusively to forward the media or message to, but pressing the Android share icon will bring out the normal share sheet and you can go ahead and share it with another app. This might also be an option for Maps and Images, although I realize that with people who are used to hitting the normal share button, this might not be a good idea from a UX perspective.

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Direct contact sharing suggestions

The Android share sheet itself still needs work. I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard of anecdotal stories loads From people who never get relevant contacts in the top row of direct messages, which are instead filled with recommendations to chat with that person you sent to Twitter in 2014 (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating here, but you get the point). Either Google needs to review the mechanism it uses to pull these engagement targets, or remove them entirely. If you ask me, we could remove that direct sharing row entirely and use the space to offer custom sharing options in the app, as described above — at least if Google isn’t willing to change the algorithm you’re connecting with.

Another idea for the Instant Sharing section is the option to choose and pin specific contacts from your favorite apps, just as you can pin apps to the row below the Instant Sharing goals. If I could let my fiancé talk to her all the time, I’d be really happy.

If this sounds familiar, you probably have a Samsung phone. Samsung has successfully addressed these issues in One UI, the dedicated interface on top of Android. The manufacturer allows large-scale changes to the user interface of the system thanks to a set Good Lock apps, he met Homepage Be responsible for changing the stock sheet (among other things). With it you can decide which contacts you want to pin for instant sharing and which apps should appear in the list at all. You can also disable live sharing completely.

It’s great to see this solution from Samsung, I’m glad it’s here, but I’d rather Google could handle it on its own and make it available on all Android phones. After all, Google often picks up features from manufacturers and adds them to the platform for anyone to use. The company has only recently scroll shots, a unit game, and the bigger heads – All functions are pre-built by manufacturers.

What can you do in the meantime?

In the meantime, if you want to improve your stock sheet, there is only one thing you can do. You can keep clicking the individual app icons in the sheet and pinning them to the second row full of suggested apps, below the instant sharing goals. If you often find yourself chatting and sharing using WhatsApp, Telegram, and Google Messenger and installing these apps can make things easier for you.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to prevent custom share sheets from appearing – it’s entirely up to Google and the developers to find out.