It’s well known that Android is fragmented or, as Google CEO Eric Schmidt contends, “Differentiated.” In a bid to codify design principles for the operating system’s look and feel, Google unveiled Android Design at CES 2012.
This website seeks to help app developers create apps with a more uniform look and feel for Android 4.0, also known as “Ice Cream Sandwich.”
“[Google] definitely wants to have a uniform look. They never have provided a style guide before,” Melissa Skrbic-Huss, creative lead at Amadeus Consulting, told LinuxInsider.
“This is Google’s attempt to try and rein in the craziness of how Android apps look,” said Al Hilwa, a research program director at IDC.
The major issue with Android’s fragmentation “is the loss of brand identity,” he told LinuxInsider. “If you call a device an Android device, what does that mean?”
The Android Design website goes into great detail. Among other things, it spells out Google’s creative vision, design principles, style, themes, typography, patterns, gestures, building blocks, and switches and dialogs.
Google has three overarching design goals for its core apps and the Android OS at large.
One is that apps should be sleek and aesthetically pleasing on multiple levels, with crisp, meaningful layout and typography, and clear, fast transitions. The experience should be “magical,” Google said.
The second is that the apps should be intuitive and easy to use, without overwhelming users with too many choices.
Third, the apps should empower people to try new things and use the apps in inventive new ways while feeling personal.
The Android Guide is Google’s attempt to inject a level of standardization in Android’s look and feel. Google is probably trying to resolve some of developers’ complaints about Android.
Developers have to worry about differences in the UI of different versions of Android, differences in hardware specs, and differences in the versions of Android that run on various hardware platforms, Simon Khalaf, president and CEO of Flurry, told LinuxInsider.
“Software and applications are the fuel of an ecosystem, and software developers make that fuel,” he pointed out.
Fragmentation enabled the rapid pace of R&D development — “a key factor in Android’s success,” according to Hilwa — but the problems with the OS “will become more prominent to the extent that the market matures and the growth rates flatten.”
Schmidt’s discussion of fragmentation “is evidence that it’s an issue for the brand and the platform,” he argued.