I think you are spot on with “more text-less icon” trend and the extra cluttering in N-notifications. I have been taking issues with huge Gmail notifications, which should only contain sender and Subject in my opinion, now with N’s design philosophy, it seems they are actually encouraged. Moreover, split screen sounds pretty cool when you are googling and chatting, I cannot reproduce any other scenarios where this won’t seem like a claustrophobic interface. I mean seriously, at 640dp x 480dp, this is a ridiculous 320dp! Content Designers are needlessly pushed too far at this point.
You’ve made some major points, Thank you for that.