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Changes to email preview have killed tablet usability

Hey there,
in earlier versions it worked like this: If you click on the checker plus icon and there are new emails, on each preview of an email there were buttons for archive, spam, delete and read as marked. those buttons were always visible.
in the current version: the buttons only appear when you hover over them with the mouse.
--> problem: windows tablets don't have a mouse cursor to hover with. there is no way to make the buttons visible on a tablet.

I loved about checker plus for gmail that i could just quickly delete several emails without opening gmail in a tab. this is no longer possible on a tablet.
Maybe you can put in an option for permanent visibility or even change it back.

Nevertheless, great work


  • I thought Chrome extensions could not run on tablets?
    Can you identify your tablet model?
    Can you identify your Chrome version?
    Can you send me a screenshot of the extension popup window?
  • Well, of course Chrome extensions run on Windows 8.1 tablets (MS Surface Pro, Lenovo Miix, Dell Venue etc.).  However, the same problem should arise for everyone who uses a touch interface on a Win 8 machine (Full Win 8! I'm not talking about Win RT!). This includes all newer generation laptops with touchscreens (Sure, for them the touchpad is always right there. But still, people who prefer the touchscreen will have this problem).

    I am using an Asus T100.

    Chrome version is: Version 34.0.1847.137
    However, verions and types of machines shouldn't matter here.. My wife has the exact same problem on her touch enabled machines (One is an Ultrabook with touchscreen, the other is an Acer Aspire Switch 10 tablet. Both running win 8.1).

    Since you made those buttons mouse-over only, the buttons can't be used anymore. Simple as that.

    Do you really need a screenshot? I don't exactly have time for that right now. ;(

  • ok great info, that's good enough proof for me to revert my change and i'll make it an "option" to show only on hover, thanks again for the feedback
  • uh... wait... just to make sure... was that sarcasm?
    If not then thanks a lot. lol
  • edited May 2014
    ha, no it was the truth, i just did more research and these tablet/laptops hybrids are neato, and i guess i'll be getting a lot more users now,
    because i know for sure chrome extensions do not work on "official" tablets, ie. iPads etc.

    although now my contemplation was wether i should auto-detect that a user is using a "hydrid" and always show buttons in that scenario and or if regular laptop then only on hover to show.
    but then i wonder with these hybrids do you still use a mouse with them or no mouse at all?
  • edited May 2014
    another question for you, because you are now my lead expert on hybrids :)
    ... does this mean i should redesign all my chrome extensions to have larger buttons etc.?  for easier touching/ finger pushing of the buttons ie. delete, mark as read etc.
    cause they're currently pretty small now for fingers but they perform ok for mouse clicking

    how do other extensions or websites or apps etc. deal with these new hybrids, is the hover technique abolished? or does the sites auto-detect your device
  • I feel so honored. ;)

    -Auto-detect probably won't make much sense. You simply never know how someone prefers to use his device. Therefore, I think the best way to go would be permanent visibility by default and an option to hide it. 

    -The way it was before the change worked very well for me. No problem to hit the button with the finger. But if I am not mistaken, the new mouse-over buttons are smaller than before. Any smaller than the old version is probably not a good idea for touch-usage. Besides: the buttons were never in the way of anything. So why not make them as big as possible, without screwing with the overall design?

    -I'm using a 10" device and it works ok. However, there is a big push for 8" Windows tablets. On these devices it is quite hard to hit ANYTHING! So, the bigger the better.

    -I don't know whether other websites rethink their design to help with a touch-interface. In general, any type of mouse-over effect is horrible for touch users. Sometimes I have seen a solution where there is some sort of mouse-over pull-down menu but when you click the mouse-over area, the website doesn't open another page but instead unfolds the pull-down menu. This might also work for your extensions. However, best bet for the future should be to make the buttons as big as possible without compromising overall usability or design. Touchscreens will become ubiquitous on laptops of any size very very soon. 
  • perhaps you can help me with my dilema as i'm banging my head on whether to make it default or not to show the buttons always...
    ... the reasoning behind why i made those buttons show on hover only was because they cluttered up the design ... as noted by my users and those button clicks are not as common as actually clicking the email itself to read the contents "before" actioning the email, delete, archive etc.
    also I just did some statistics and only 17% of my total users are using windows 8.1 and of those i'm guessing... maybe 50% of those ?? use the touch vs mouse so this means only 8% of total users are encountering this issue, is this worth reverting my change and making the show buttons default to all? :( oye quite the contemplation
  • oh ok. If that is what your data says then your decision makes sense. For now...
    You should definitely monitor the statistics and change the app accordingly (with spread of touchscreens in mind). 
    Considering your current data, an option to show the buttons permanently would suffice. 
    The downside is, of course, that the few touch users who are there now, will probably not find the options that would benefit them right away. 
    In time, it may make sense to create two entirely different UI's. One for touch, one for mouse. IMHO, a touch-optimized checker plus pop-up can cover most of the screen. Touch-users on small devices usually don't split up the screen between several apps anyways. To put it another way:

    PC user with large screen: They may enjoy the option of doing email-business in a small windows while watching youtube or whatever there is in the browser window. 

    Tablet or touch user on small screen: To use anything intelligently on a small screen, you have to maximize it anyway. Having small pop-ups doesn't really work for many things. So, a checker plus pop-up specifically designed for touch can be as big as it has to be. Then, of course, the question is if there is any sense in using checker plus at all. But of course there is. Opening a full tab with gmail in it takes quite some time. Checker plus is a lot faster. 

    You could put the option to choose between touch and mouse interface at a prominent place in the settings, so that new users see it immediately. 

    There is, however, a problem with specialized interfaces. When someone uses the same chrome login on different devices (say, a desktop PC and a tablet), Chrome will sync the extensions and their settings automatically (as far as I know). That would mean that you would have to switch to the appropriate interface every time you change devices (which would be a pain). Please tell me, if I am wrong about this and there is a method to change this automatic synchronization behavior. 
  • edited May 2014
    love your thorough analysis and i think we've come up with a similar approach to fixing this.
    in time i may revert the default choice, given new statistics
    for now the new option to always show the buttons - will automatically and slightly increase the buttons size also, to accommodate the finger :)

    as for the syncing chrome extension options, i've just updated the FAQ to answer that let me know if it's good - http://jasonsavard.com/wiki/Syncing_your_settings
  • That sounds reasonable. The FAQ also seems to be a nice solution. Thanks a lot!
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