In recent months I’ve become intimate with Android. After completing a recent app design for the platform and falling for its many UX intricacies and oddities, I decided to up and leave my iPhone and join the weird world of action bars, up buttons, spinners and dessert names.
Prior to this app project I would never have considered leaving Apple’s finely-polished ecosystem. My view was that Android was tarnished with the ugly-stick and I wasn’t prepared (nor interested) in finding out otherwise. But upon wading through the comprehensive Android Design Guidelines I discovered not only a smart and intuitive operating system, but also a sleek and sophisticated visual design language. This has blossomed over the last couple of years thanks to the leadership of Matias Duarte and has culminated in a mobile look and feel head and shoulders above Microsoft’s cold, utilitarian approach and Apple’s faux-leather, stitched-together mess. In my opinion, of course.
It’s actually quite similar to Microsoft’s Modern UI (formally called Metro) with its content-first approach, but it still feels personal and delightful. It’s this simplicity and refined sense of style that excites me. It’s fair to throw skeuomorphic textures, gestures and slick animations into an iOS app to make it stand out, as the market is so competitive and it’s what many people expect (because it’s a fine approach). But that same visual approach wouldn’t work on a Windows Phone app and it’s not really at home on Android either.
A typical, ‘beautiful’ Android app may at first glance look flat or simplistic compared to an iOS counterpart, but this clean style and structure helps to create a unified and effortless experience between the operating system and its apps. Yet these beautiful apps — although growing — are still few and far between. So I hope that others will take a second look at Android like I did, and start crafting considered, rich experiences for it, in the same manner that we’re all to keen to do for Apple.
To finish, here’s a handful of lovely-looking Android apps:
• Google +