I'm puzzled by the UX additions in the latest default Camera app in Android 4.2.
The whole menu with all camera options (other than zoom) is made as a circle. You activate this circle menu by pressing the small circle button within Camera. A big circle pops up in the middle of the screen, where at the pre-determined and constant outer parts of this new big circle you can choose options such as back-/front-camera, exposure, "advanced settings menu" (includes "Scene mode" submenu, Store location bool and picture size submenu), and white-balance options.
When you select any of these options within the big circle, with the exception of the "advanced settings menu" (which provides a regular dialogue box menu for some reason) and "front/back camera" button (which just does the switch), you get the choices for the option expanded on the side of the circle where the selection option was, and all other options that you could have selected at the prior step either vanish or get replaced by the new sub-options. E.g. you if you select "Exposure", then at the "Exposure" icon, a "0" appears, and on each side of the "0", the other exposure numbers appear.
At this point, and at this circle sub-menu, I see the following problems:
The option that is currently active is not shown at all. E.g. you have no clue whether the Exposure option is already set at 0, or you wanted to set it to 0 from some other option. Or you start forgetting whether flash was already on, and you were supposed to turn it off, or the other way around. Etc.
Pressing the "back" button doesn't let you go to the prior step: when you see "+3 +2 +1 0 -1 -2 -3" options around the circle for the Exposure, pressing the standard "back" button simply cancels the whole circle menu altogether.
Alternatively, since the tiny little circle button (which is not part of the big circle) is still shown, I thought perhaps it can be used to go back to the starting menu in the big circle. However, pressing the little circle icon when the big circle submenu is being shown, simply gets rid of the big circle in full, without going back into the original choices on the big circle as if going back to the start of the flow. Likewise, pressing anywhere on the screen also makes the whole big circle disappear, and doesn't let you go back just one step.
I've also discovered that this big circle can also be brought by a gesture alone, without having to press on the little circle button. In this case, you simply press and hold anywhere on the screen, and, as long as you continue holding, can navigate the circle menu without releasing the hold, only doing the release once the final option you want is completely selected.
My questions would be:
Why would anyone get rid of regular buttons on the screen, and use such an obscure and inconsistent circle-based menus? Is this a total and complete violation of every UX 101 rule, or is this innovative circle menu better and more usable than I have found it to be?
I'm very certain Google must have done some extended research about this issue prior to shipping it in a production ready version of Android, have they not?