It’s a nicely-worn tech topic high-quality avoided in polite communication. But a latest Bloomberg article has another time brought it lower back to all and sundry’s attention.
Citing “human beings acquainted with the scenario”, Bloomberg reports Google plans to win some of Apple’s percentage of the excessive-end smartphone marketplace with predominant interface modifications in Android P (aka Android 9).
This may be the next important model for Android. It’s probably to debut in a Pixel 3 or similar, cellphone later in 2018. But what exactly has Google were given up its company sleeve?
Appraising Material Design
Android’s appearance and that of a lot of its web interfaces are based on Material Design. This concept was brought in 2014 alongside Android five.Zero L. It hasn’t changed all that a good deal considering that then. It’s flat. It’s colorful. It’s easy.
“The impact Material Design had was large, and it’s been quite a hit in growing the first step of a cohesive revel in,” says Mikael Widerström, layout lead at Ustwo, a virtual product studio that has formerly consulted on each Android and Android Wear – it’s also the studio behind Monument Valley and Whale Trail.
London-based totally freelance UX clothier Stef Ivanov sees bringing the Android UI’s consistency as much as the level of iOS is a “huge undertaking for Google”, though.
“Material Design has substantial use of animations, overuse of colors, pics, shapes and it could be distracting sometimes. Apple has been steady from the very starting with their UX, and longtime iPhone users like me are pretty well brainwashed in phrases of what to anticipate and how moves should appear,” says Ivanov.
Changing colors and app icon shapes does no longer constitute an intensive remodel. Google even experimented with rectangular icons in a beta version of Android 8.Zero Oreo. However, Widerström additionally sees animation improvements as important.
He would love to see Android P “greater streamlined, with greater emphasis on animations, making them even tighter. [Google should make] it easier for app developers to create better animations, having clearer animation frameworks. That is something that has been traditionally fairly smooth to do on iOS but quite difficult to do on Android”.
Developers should create their very own app animations in Android apps. An end result is a form of consumer experience fragmentation inside Android. Some app builders create splendid transitions. Others do no longer, main to a janky sense that used to permeate Android in its early years.
A new type of consumer enjoy
Google flushing this out won’t convert many iPhone fanatics both, although. Widerström has a far greater exciting, and dynamic, view of what an Android redecorate may also seem like. “Android introduced tender buttons rather than hardware buttons, like, 5 years ago. After that no longer an awful lot has virtually changed inside the fundamental interactions. It’s time to appear a touch more at how you can make the primary functionality of the telephone more enticing, fluid and seamless,” he says.
“The most important thing is ironing out the things you use most customarily, like unlocking your cell phone, finding and finding an app on your private home screen, and so on. Trying to discern out those matters and using system learning to automate them.”
His vision is a lock display screen that operates contextually, bringing to the floor applicable notifications and movements based on what you are doing. “An instance of that could be payments or visiting via bus, or ordering an Uber,” where the data or characteristic is surely there whilst you need it. When the AI Google already makes use of to the first-rate effect in its Home clever speakers is permitted control over Android, what will we emerge as with?
It’s “a blend of Google Now offerings at the home screen,” says Widerström. Google has advanced its Now and Assistant software for nicely over half a decade, however, in Android, they may be still timid influences at the system.
Widerström says there have been discussions on the problem a long time in the past, too. “I have not labored on the Android platform within the ultimate years, however, this became something we mentioned perhaps four years ago. It has been very lengthy coming, that mind and ideas. But it takes a long time to get them in.”
When the artificial intelligence Google already makes use of to exceptional effect in its Home smart audio system is allowed a few manage over Android, what can we emerge as with? We’ll be “going between functions rather than apps,” says Widerström. “So it’s no longer a lot going on Facebook or Instagram, however surfacing the content inside the telephone itself.”
This could efficaciously dissolve the shape of ways we use our phones daily, presently a hop between the lock displays, domestic screens and the apps menu, which Widerström views as quite archaic. “It looks like a very old-school manner of doing matters, like the use of an antique Windows machine or a vintage Mac,” he says.
“Surfaced” content and functions can also remind you of widgets. In Android’s more youthful years those have been touted by some as a USP over iPhone iOS. We can’t think of everybody who uses them now. “It turned into the incorrect framework for the right problem,” says Widerström, “not an incredible-horrific concept, however they have been a bit too restrained.”
Google Assistant momentum
Ivanov says “a great deal better incorporation of Google Assistant into their apps” is what should shake up destiny versions of Android. As a manner to “empower customers to control their gadgets more flawlessly”. Google seems nearly frustratingly close to having the building blocks required for this sort of interaction to paintings. Have you read its privateness coverage? Google knows an awful lot approximately us: where we are, in which we’ve got been, what we like, what we buy.
That fact also powers its Adsense advertising community, which earned Google over $95 billion in 2017. It has a report on you. On everybody. Natural speech engines and information collection-based interest predications are areas in which Google has a large lead over Apple.
“Apple is absolutely failing with regards to a voice interface. They are quite a long way in the back of on that, as compared to Google. Google has been some distance higher at doing that integration,” says Widerström. “Some things are very well incorporated [in Apple’s ecosystem], however as quickly as you’ve got something to do with voice, that breaks the system.”