At the beginning of this year, Google launched the Android Design Principles Web Site. This site outlines how and why the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich User Interface (UI) is built the way it is. For those of us who work as User Experience Designers, it’s a treasure trove of information and insights into the minds of Matias Duarte and his team.
What I would like to do is break down a few elements of the Android 4.0 UI and talk about how they follow tried-and-tested user-centered design principles. Yeah, this might be a bit geeky even for us geeks, but trust me… it’s these kinds of solid building blocks that can make or break a platform. Read on after the break for my take on how Android is implementing and evolving their User Experience (UX).
When you think of the frisbee, you think of some good times: tossing the plastic disc at the park with your dog, your friends at the beach or in a heated battle of frisbee golf. While the game is no doubt fun in real life, how does it fare on Android? Two words: it’s awesome. Thanks to Frisbee Forever’s simple concept, addictive gameplay and solid graphics, Frisbee Forever is no doubt one of the most underrated and addictive games out there in gaming world. Read more
NVIDIA’s Tegra platform is no doubt a great one for showcasing Android gaming. We know there are plenty of Tegra-exclusive games out there, but there’s one game that’s standing out head and shoulders above the rest of the Tegra-based games. You may have heard about a certain Action-RPG called Soulcraft THD, which is pretty much a dark fantasy game on steroids. The beta has currently been in beta for a few months now and while the developer Mobilebits claims there are still some bugs to be worked out, the game runs incredibly fluid while the graphics are smooth like butter. Read more
Let’s face it, we live in a world of internet-based communication. In fact, most of us tend to keep in contact with our friends and loved ones with messaging clients, especially if your friends and loved ones are spread out around the country or world. The most famed and successful international messaging client is no doubt the Blackberry Messenger by RIM, especially because it featured the popular group chat function. My friends and family aren’t particularly fond of the Android platform, so most of them are on either iPhones or Blackberries. That means unless we use some sort of cross platform IM client like AIM or Facebook messenger, we can’t communicate with each other in real time. Enter: GroupMe— one of the most important apps I use daily. This is not only the best group messaging client, it’s one of the best IM clients, period. Read more
Ah yes, the variation of the Android platform. Some people love it while others hate it. Let’s face the cold, hard truth about Android: it’s an open-source platform in which any individual can take the basic source, tweak it a little and truly make it their own. Similarly manufacturers can take the basic open source and throw it onto all sorts of devices with all sorts of hardware configurations. What do both amateur developers and established manufacturers of Android devices have in common? Each want to develop and create an end result or product that is “unique” and more or less different from its competition, while also providing a need for its customers and consumers. Amateur developers have a different perspective from both the engineers/developers at Google and OEMS– that’s to take the Android platform which notoriously omits items such as built-in functions like the ability to take screenshots and make it available for all. OEMs and manufacturers conversely see the bare Android platform as too basic and will slap on enhanced features such as social communication widgets. Independent/amateur developers and OEMs/manufacturers have different visions, but again— they’re looking at the bigger goal of answering what they perceive to be Android customer’s need ands try to address them.
What Android users truly want or need can be subjective and there’s no real right or wrong answer. However, we all believe Android’s benefit to users involve the freedom of choice. There are a myriad of options prospective and interested consumers can look into when it comes to manufacturers. For those who want a simple phone which allows for web browsing, messaging (texting and Twitter) and basic phone calls, there are a ton of budget options such as the Pantech Burst smartphone. For others who are interested in watching videos, listening to music or gaming on the go, there are other devices which feature dual-core processors with built-in GPUs such as the HTC Rezound. Whatever it is a prospective user is interested in, they’ll find what they want. Now suppose I ask this question to you: considering Android is truly an open platform, is it fair that manufacturers generally market devices with various hardware profiles, but only one UI option? More importantly, what is the benefit of having an Android device with a custom UI and would manufacturers and ultimately consumers be better off having the option to choose between a device with a custom skin or no skin at all? I personally believe that not only is it unfair for OEMs to market most devices with custom skins, but also marketing devices with no skins may be a financial benefit as well as positive perception from the various levels of the Android community.
In this day and age, technology is designed to make our lives simpler. We no longer need to pull over to a rest area to use a payphone. Paper maps are quickly becoming a thing of the past. We can now carry thousands of books with us without requiring years of weight training. The devices we carry with us every day are rapidly becoming indispensable.
So this is why we freak out when we suddenly don’t have access to our smartphones, either through damage or loss. This single point of failure is why we have a growing market of protective phone cases, insurance, and remote wipe software. How can we guarantee we’ll never lose or break our phones? Only one way I see…remove the device from the equation.
If there was no physical device we had to keep track of, there would obviously be no fear of losing it. But the device is what gives us the power to do all those wonderful things. So what if we natively had the same abilities our smartphones have without having to carry anything around? Enter the Android Brain Implant™ (ABI).