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tl;dr - If you want to help us beta test the Android tablet app, fill this out.

If you're an astute follower of Stack Exchange, you probably noticed that our iPad application came out last month ago but our Android application still doesn't support tablets. We've been working on fixing that for a while and are now at a stage where we can officially say: "Hey, things are A-OK, let's test it out!"

Before I get into how to the specifics: at the moment the iPad application is definitely more full-featured than the Android counterpart. We're trying to release an early version of our tablet update out into the world so the changes aren't sitting in a black hole (well, our build server) for months and months while we try to make everything perfect.

Just as we did for the iPad, we will not be releasing a new app but rather an update to our current Android application which makes it perform better on larger form factor devices. This means that the tablet update also has lots of changes for phones, so if you don't have a tablet but would like to help us test the new phone version out too that'd be greatly appreciated.

Here are some fun screenshots (don't ask what makes a screenshot "fun") :

looking at a question in landscape mode markdown toolbar!

If you're already used to using our Android application, you'll note lots of changes in the above pictures, we're super excited to hear what you think about them.

The Good Stuff

I know what you're thinking: "Okay Kasra, shut up, how can I help?!?", well here it is:

If you have helped us beta test the Android app in the past, you're already in this test group. Load up the Play Store and check for updates.

If you haven't helped us beta test the Android app in the past, fill out this survey here, it's not automatic so after you submit wait for a while and you should get an e-mail from us inviting you to the test group. After that, you'll see beta releases right on the Play Store.

The first app version with these changes is 1.0.52, and we'll most likely do a few rounds of beta updates before the real release.

We're really really really excited to finally get some out-of-company eyes on this. If you have any general feedback post it as an answer below, if you have any bug reports or feature requests, please post a new question on this site using the tag.

  • 1
    Sanity check: One of your pics shows a keyboard. I presume you are NOT implementing your own keyboard, but will use whichever one we have installed, right? (I'm skeptical about SE on anything without a real keyboard, but if we must try it you should let us use whatever keyboard produces the best results for us.) – keshlam Dec 19 '14 at 2:05
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    @keshlam the keyboard in that screenshot is just the regular Lollipop keyboard, I have it in there because the row of icons above it, our markdown toolbar, is only visible when the keyboard is visible. – Kasra Rahjerdi Dec 19 '14 at 2:10
  • @KasraRahjerdi: Gotcha. So if I'm running Swype or other odd text-entry system (and there are some REALLY odd ones out there), I'll still have that but the buttons will appear above whatever space it claims? – keshlam Dec 19 '14 at 2:12
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    @keshlam yep, anything other of a hardware keyboard will force that bar to show up on the bottom of the page (right above the keyboard) – Kasra Rahjerdi Dec 19 '14 at 2:15
  • What is about optional Android notifications for reputation changes? – rekire Dec 19 '14 at 8:26
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    Will I get a Hat? – dav_i Dec 19 '14 at 8:57
  • I'm a little confused. I have the Stack Exchange app installed on my LG GPad. It's been installed for a while and, when I have used it, it works fine. Are certain tablet models not supported? – MonaLisaOverdrive Dec 19 '14 at 20:17
  • @MonaLisaOverdrive You've always been able to run our app on any Android device running 4.0+, no matter the screen factor. We're just doubling down on making the tablet experience a whole lot nicer now. – Kasra Rahjerdi Dec 19 '14 at 20:20
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    When will a version for Windows Phone be available – Carlos Muñoz Dec 19 '14 at 21:38
  • @MonaLisaOverdrive It's confusing because it says "our Android application still doesn't support tablets" but it's supported them for ages. – bye Dec 19 '14 at 22:34
  • 5
    @Poldie I really don't want to call "having a phone UI at 200% zoom" support. – Kasra Rahjerdi Dec 19 '14 at 22:38
  • @KasraRahjerdi Heh, you ever used Facebook on a Nexus 10? – bye Dec 19 '14 at 22:55
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    @Poldie that's a sad sad baseline. if my apps or even release notes are ever like Facebook's i'll fire myself. – Kasra Rahjerdi Dec 19 '14 at 23:03
  • So, is Jelly Bean a hard requirement, or will the app install on something running ICS? I ask because the only tablet I own runs CM9, which is ICS-based. – Tieson T. Dec 20 '14 at 8:25
  • @TiesonT. from Play Store, it's stated that it's running from Android v4.0 (ICS). I also remember that it's been like that since the beginning (no Jelly Bean hard requirement) – Meta Andrew T. Dec 20 '14 at 9:06

13 Answers 13

20

The main sidebar is collapsable on tablets, which is cool. This means you can use the app in portrait mode without it looking like a mess. However, I have a big problem with the current implementation: To collapse or expand the sidebar, you have to hit the "home" button on the top left of the device. Normally that button is supposed to function fairly closely to hitting the back button on a device, e.g. if I'm looking at a list of questions on MSE and tap on a question, tapping the top-left button should take me back to MSE but now just toggles the state of the nav bar instead.

Is this correct behavior? Although the home button and the back button not doing the same thing goes against everything I believe in as an Android user and developer, making the nav bar's width only toggle-able if you're at the root view (the feed, so there isn't anything to go "back" too) seems weird. What if I'm looking at question and landscape mode and decide to turn my tablet over to portrait mode, how do I condense that gigantic navigation? What if I want to navigate to another site while looking at something and can't tell which site is which just from the icon?

On iOS we solve this by making the button go back unless you're at the feed, in which case it toggles the drawer between collapsed/expanded, and if you're on any other page you can do this too by swiping on the drawer itself. I'm worried this isn't a very easily findable action though so I'd be hesitant to do it on Android too. Any ideas?

For anyone confused, here's what the condensed mode of this nav bar looks like: Android tablet app in portrait mode

  • 25
    Yes, I did just set this all up so I could get the Selfie hat. – Kasra Rahjerdi Dec 18 '14 at 23:18
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    Shouldn't swiping be the generic action here? I'm pretty sure that's what Google's pushing in Material Design, look at the new Google Play app for example. Putting the three bars in the top righthand corner is a recognizable sign of a pull-out drawer. – hichris123 Dec 18 '14 at 23:24
  • @hichris123 it's not a pull-out drawer on tablets though... maybe if I just play with swiping enabled it'll feel more right but it just seems weird that there's no signifiers or anything that it's swipe-able. – Kasra Rahjerdi Dec 18 '14 at 23:25
  • Hmm, I'm not sure then. I'll play with it when I get the update & let you know. – hichris123 Dec 18 '14 at 23:26
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    "e.g. if I'm looking at a list of questions on MSE and tap on a question, tapping the top-left button should take me back to MSE but now just toggles the state of the nav bar instead." Why not change the icon to similar to the old drawer icon, and let the device Back handle going backwards? – Adam S Dec 19 '14 at 15:35
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    @AdamS as implemented right now the icon definitely shouldn't be the "<" it is now but the drawer icon instead since tapping it doesn't actually go back, that's a good catch. – Kasra Rahjerdi Dec 19 '14 at 16:34
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    I'd venture that simply changing the icon would alleviate this concern. The hardware Back button always exists to go back, and the Up behaviour (as documented - though I haven't read if there were any changes since Lollipop, though) is consistently confusing for users. – Adam S Dec 19 '14 at 16:42
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    Have you considered actually making the sidebar a pull out drawer? Part of the reason this is awkward is that it's so close to an existing design paradigm yet not quite actually that paradigm. – Caleb Dec 22 '14 at 15:44
  • @Caleb we have more real estate available, why not use it? On iPad we're doing the same paradigm alongside a split-pane for viewing question listings and specific questions, which works really well. My hope is to do the same here. – Kasra Rahjerdi Dec 22 '14 at 18:13
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    @KasraRahjerdi "it's not a pull-out drawer on tablets though..." it seems very similar to how the new Gmail app works. You can pull out there and it crossfades between the condensed sidebar and the expanded sidebar. – Tavian Barnes Dec 22 '14 at 21:07
  • @TavianBarnes Oh wow I hadn't seen that before. I'll definitely take a closer look. – Kasra Rahjerdi Dec 22 '14 at 21:08
  • @KasraRahjerdi why is the release of testing of android app not mentioned here as compared to ios testing? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/59445/… – One Face Jan 5 '15 at 16:54
  • @CRags Read the beginning of the question: "This is an unofficial list of new features and various changes.. It is maintained by the community" – Kasra Rahjerdi Jan 5 '15 at 16:57
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What I currently don't like with achievements indicator - you'll never see if you got any achievements until you click the graph. Could the achievements indicator show +5, +15, etc, when you get a new upvote, as it is done in the PC or mobile sites?

I would like to see it when you reload the page or go to another page? (If it is implemented for new questions on the homepage, maybe it can be done for achievements.)

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I'm not sure if this is bug with the Android version, but I attempted to submit an edit on Ask Ubuntu and I got this:

Account is not allowed to suggest edits

I found this a bit ... odd, as I have almost 2k rep on AU and have submitted plenty of edits just fine. I then checked via the full site on my laptop, just making sure I didn't have some form of edit or account ban enacted, and I was able to submit just fine:

yup, just dandy

Perhaps this is a bug with having less rep than the minimum to suggest edits without review (2k)? As a side note, I was able to submit an edit just fine on RPi.SE - where I have the minimum rep for edits without review.

I'm going to also test this out on the iOS app - but that'll be some time tomorrow. Not a huge issue, just something I noticed.

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Can we expect the ability to delete question in the next beta release of the android app?

Cannot delete posts in Android app

There is no update on the request status.

  • 1
    No, currently the API has no way of viewing deleted questions and I'd rather not put an irreversible action into the application before thinking about it in detail. – Kasra Rahjerdi Jan 5 '15 at 6:44
  • I am not talking about viewing deleted questions. I am talking about deleting my own question – One Face Jan 5 '15 at 6:48
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    I fully understand. I'm saying I don't want there to be a "delete" button in app unless we have all the logic of what to happens alongside it mapped out since not being able to view deleted questions at all via the API makes it tricky. FWIW I'm one of the upvotes on the feature request you linked. – Kasra Rahjerdi Jan 5 '15 at 6:50
  • Lol, ok understood – One Face Jan 5 '15 at 6:51
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    @KasraRahjerdi is this logic mapped out yet? In the meantime the app has been 2 years without this which is certainly not ideal. E.g see meta.stackoverflow.com/a/340653/73226 – Martin Smith Jan 1 '17 at 12:21
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I ran the app on an emulator. When I copy-paste some code that contains new lines, the code is pasted as a single line.

2

MathJax support seems to work in Questions and Answers on Math.SE, but not in Comments (Android 4.4.4, Samsung Galaxy Note 4). The same is seen on CompSci.SE, where MathJax is enabled.

  • 1
    Tap on a comment, hit the overflow icon on the top right of the action bar, and hit "Render MathJax" – Kasra Rahjerdi Dec 26 '14 at 17:10
  • @KasraRahjerdi: Ah, that works! – hardmath Dec 26 '14 at 17:29
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Is there a way to get the URL of the current question from the app?

For example, I want to comment on a question with "possible duplicate [link to other hopefully answered question]". I'll definitely need a link to the other question. Maybe I just don't understand what I'm looking at.

  • 4
    tap "Share" then hit "Copy to Clipboard" – Kasra Rahjerdi Dec 21 '14 at 19:23
  • Damn, sorry, looks like I'm blind. – estol Dec 21 '14 at 19:29
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Is there a plan to release this on Kindle as well, since it runs a version of android?

  • 4
    Not at the moment, maintaining a Kindle Fire version is more than just submitting it onto their store (have to re-implement push notifications, account login, all the things we have coupled with Google at the moment) and the last few times I've done this the pay-off has been very very little. – Kasra Rahjerdi Dec 24 '14 at 1:37
  • Cool I would love to test this on my Android phone. – Jacob E Mack Dec 24 '14 at 2:19
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Very initial reaction: I know there's a lot that's unimplemented as yet, but there seem to be items spilling off the right side of the screen and I have no clue what that's intended to mean or how it's intended to be useful (or even usable). 10" tablet, if that helps.

Whatever you're doing with the keyboard doesn't enable the dictionary selection/completion feature. Significantly slows typing.

Good news is that it hasn't crashed yet. Bad news is that it doesn't make me very excited about continuing testing; it feels like a step backward from just using the browser.

  • This should take care of your first point. DO you mind expanding on the keyboard thing? Can you post a screenshot? My screenshots above have empty fields in the autocorrect bar because I had moved my cursor, but auto-completion should work everywhere in the app (it's the exact same code as our phone app). – Kasra Rahjerdi Dec 24 '14 at 16:45
  • @KasraRahjerdi: Yes, the first item does explain the intent of the horizontal layout, when it eventually gets cleaned up. Re keyboard: I'm mostly using the "Hacker's Keyboard". One of the things it does in some (not all, alas) apps is show a bar across the top of the keyboard with suggested completions based on what we've typed so far, letting us tap them to enter the word. That isn't showing up in the Android app. I'm not sure what affects whether this assist does or doesn't appear. Not sure how to grab a screenshot on this beast...? – keshlam Dec 24 '14 at 16:51
  • Hmm, I'll install that keyboard and see if I can figure out what's going on. All of our text-fields have the flag for "showAutocorrect" set on them but maybe that keyboard expects another flag. – Kasra Rahjerdi Dec 24 '14 at 16:53
  • Hm again. Now it's showing the completions. May only be in some text boxes... Lemme see if I can reproduce the problem. – keshlam Dec 24 '14 at 17:09
  • Definitely let me know if it happens on some pages but not others. – Kasra Rahjerdi Dec 24 '14 at 17:16
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I just got an android device today, and found frustrating to be unable to edit the questions I posted or get tags summaries when I fill the tag section.
I recognize this might not be related to the app but to the mobile version of site.

I switched back to presto based opera mobile with a desktop user agent.

Also : please add a good spell/grammar checker!

  • I'm sorry I don't quite understand. Were you using our Android application from the Play Store? You can tap on "Edit" underneath anything in the app to edit, you can't look at tat summaries when filling out the tag section yet though, it's high on my priority list. – Kasra Rahjerdi Dec 25 '14 at 20:08
  • @KasraRahjerdi Yes, I downloaded it from the play store of course. – user2284570 Dec 25 '14 at 20:12
  • Then you should be able to edit anything you wish (if you're logged into the application and have edit privileges on those sites) – Kasra Rahjerdi Dec 25 '14 at 20:13
  • @KasraRahjerdi : also, it seems I can't edit comments after having posting them during the 5 minute period, nor I can delete them. I also can't see featured questions on the left, nor featured blog posts (I have to look at them manually). I also can't flag comments. – user2284570 Dec 25 '14 at 20:27
  • You can delete comments by tapping on them and selecting delete. Hot questions and featured blog posts are not available in the API yet. – Kasra Rahjerdi Dec 25 '14 at 20:29
  • @KasraRahjerdi : sorry for the comments, but icons aren't as meanfull as text. Also when I start a comment, the virtual keyboad appear, but if finnally choose to not post the comment, then clicking outside of the text zone doesn't make it disapear, it still take half of the screen, even after loading an another question (can't cancel to post/edit comments). The application also lack a good spell/grammar checker which is installed in my browser on my PC (which mean English mistakes are left in posts). – user2284570 Dec 25 '14 at 20:58
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I responded to a notice under the Stack Exchange app to go to the (Google) Play Store and post a review. After composing one, I got a message from the Play Store that reviews could not be posted because the app is in beta. Perhaps the review is sent to you developers, rather than being publicly posted? It was a modest amount of feedback, but since it was solicited by the SE App itself, I was concerned it might be a Catch-22 situation.

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I tried to edit an Answer I submitted using the app (at Math.SE), but instead wound up submitting a second Answer.

It's possibly "user error" on my part, but everything seemed fairly intuitive up to touching the Submit link. Galaxy Note 4

0

When I vote to close a Question using the app (mobile phone, Samsung Galaxy Note 4), I get a brief response that says "Flag submitted". I think it would be reassuring to have different responses for flags and close votes.

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