Of course to be constructive, you should also leave a comment that explains how much you dislike it when an app presumes to be the most important thing on your phone.
Let's talk about user experience best practices
If my talk on Best Practices at Google I/O and Roman's OSCON session on Android UI design tips weren't enough of a hint, let me spell it out - improving the user experience of Android Apps is a big priority for many of us in Android Developer Relations.
I've already talked about the use of exit buttons, and the next time the fires of hate are stoked to a white heat I'll harness the power of my fury to tell you how I feel about modal loading dialogs and splash screens.
Do not presume to know how I use my phone
One of the deadly sins from my I/O session was hostility. A hostile app is one that tries to force me to change how I use my device. I use the status bar a lot, so hiding it instantly gets my hackles up. I use the status bar to:
- Switch between apps. If I had to choose between the app launcher and the status bar, I'd choose the status bar. It's how I switch to most apps.
- Determine connectivity. I live in London, commute on the underground, and most apps are Internet connected. This is a tricky combination. Knowing if (and how) I'm connected to the Internet affects what apps I use and how I use them.
- Tell the time. Ok, so I also wear a watch - but if I'm already looking at my phone why make we look away to my wrist?
- Be event driven. I treat incoming messages (email, SMS, Twitter) as hardware interrupts. Any app that hides that from me is going to have a short lifespan on my phone.
- Listen to music. Good music apps have an ongoing notification that can be used to control playback.
Some excellent exceptions
Now before you start flaming me in the comments, I'd like to point out that there's a good reason the ability to hide the status bar exists. Hiding the status bar is vital if you want to allow your users to be fully immersed in your app.
But what's immersive enough? Consider going fullscreen to be equivalent to disabling incoming calls.
In the following examples going full screen is not only acceptable - it's preferable (if not necessary):
- Immersive games. Games into which you place yourself (particular 1st person racers or shooters) are a great example.
- eLearning. The brain is a machine with limited short term memory. Studies have shown that successful learning requires focus, so notifications and alerts will actively prevent you from learning effectively.
- Watching Video. A full audio / visual experience.
- Casual games. Casual games are designed to require minimal concentration and are often used while waiting for something else to happen. Interruptions, while not welcome, are inevitable.
- Just about every other app. I've seen List View apps that go full screen, apps that switch to full screen view only for the settings screens, and full screen splash screens. Please. Just. Stop.
If you're changing default behavour, the question should always be "why?".
A good app has as little friction as possible - it quickly becomes a part of your phone that you'd miss if it were gone. The easiest way to reduce that friction is to behave in a manner consistent with other apps, and complimentary to existing user habits.