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Sometimes it’s not you – It’s the app

I’ve been getting the free Android app from Amazon ever since the Appstore opened, and that’s how I got the app I’m reviewing today. PewPew is the first app I’ve ever had that made use of a multi-touch screen (like the one on my gTablet). Unfortunately, it’s really not all that well designed.

I’m  writing about this particular app because the design flaws caught my eye. In case you were wondering, I’m not planning to do a lot more game stuff here. This one post will be the exception.

This is a simple top-down space based shoot-em-up. You do everything with a pair of joysticks that you manipulate on screen. Check out the joystick placement:

When I installed the app, that was where the joysticks appeared by default. And yes, the screen is upside down. That was also the default. You can change the screen orientation and the joystick placement, but I didn’t think to do so at first.

If you try to keep your left thumb on the yellow joystick, you inevitably grab the edge of the tablet with your hand. This means that your palm will be resting on top of the 3 standard Android menu buttons, which causes all sorts of bugs.

This design flaw slipped by me at first because I thought the app was simply buggy. It is buggy, but most of the problems came from where the controls were placed.

The reason I posted about this app was that I wanted to get you thinking about the apps you use. This was a very basic game and yet the developer still managed to muck up the interface. I’m hoping that this will inspire you to think about the apps you have trouble using. Perhaps it’s not you; it could be a clunky interface design.

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john wilker April 18, 2011 um 9:52 pm

weird, on my xoom it looked and worked fine. wonder if it’s a screen size issue?

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