Google’s Android 5.0 will be design-focused

Before the release of Android 4.4 “KitKat” DeveloperTech predicted version 5.0 of the OS would see a focus on a complete redesign above all else. The functionality and capabilities of Android is ahead of the competition – but few would call stock ‘droid the prettiest OS of the bunch.

Closest rival, Apple, had a design-focus in iOS7 removing all “skeuomorphic” elements and going for a flat-design reminiscent of Windows Phone.

Rumours state the cards will be flipped this year; with Apple focusing on function whilst Google clamps down on design. In a fireside chat between Android design chief Matias Duarte and The Verge’s Editor-in-Chief Joshua Topolsky; we heard that Google’s annual I/O developer conference this year will put a significant amount of attention on design as a topic.

A post entitled ‘A conversation about design’ on Google Developers Blog yesterday backed this up. It starts by talking about Google’s initial minimalist design: “When Google launched, it was a crisp white page with a simple search box. You might not have thought there was much in the way of design, but its appearance underscored two of our most important principles: simplicity and usefulness.”

It moves on to recognise how design has changed: “Those principles haven't changed much in fifteen years, but our understanding of what makes great design has—throughout the industry.”

The post’s purpose is to announce a series of “design minutes” dedicated to demonstrating better practices and how effective a great design can be. Google’s own apps have been showing more care to design since Larry Page’s appointment as CEO in 2011…

At the time, The Verge summed up the phenomenon: “Something strange and remarkable started happening at Google immediately after Larry Page took full control as CEO in 2011: it started designing good-looking apps.”

The intelligent personal assistant, ‘Google Now’, was released a year later in 2012 and brought with it a vision of flat-design from Google we can expect to see a mass uptake of across Android apps in this year’s major OS release.

Android Police created some mock-ups showing what upcoming apps are likely to look like based on recent app leaks and information available to them about ‘Project Hera’ which is “Android’s marriage to the Web” allowing tasks to be performed by web applications.

The flat redesign would be Android's second. As part of 3.0 "Honeycomb" Google included a new UI called 'Holo' which was further refined in 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich". We are now on 4.4 "KitKat" and anticipating Android 5.0 to be announced at Google's I/O proceedings on June 25th carrying this new design.

With Google launching major new products in wearables through Google Glass and Android Wear – it’s about time the company rallies its vast sea of developers to design more applications with the same love as Apple’s iOS platform. The OS just needs some care first.

Do you think the world’s most popular OS needs a redesign? Let us know in the comments.


If you are interested in wearables, please visit IoT Tech Expo Europe in London's Olympia, December 2-3 2015.

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