Design tips direct from Mountain View

Google tries to control fragmentation with Android style guide

LouisGoddard
Android.2

Google has published a set of non-compulsory design guidelines for Android app developers

Google has launched a set of design guidelines
for Android developers in a symbolic attempt to bring some
standardisation back to the platform, controlling the fragmentation
that has drawn criticism in recent months. The move follows a

decision
to make the default ‘Holo’ theme compulsory as an
option on all devices running Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest
version of the operating system.

Accessible via the company’s central Android Developers site, the
style guide bills itself as “your place for learning how to design
exceptional Android apps”, featuring sections on the OS’s ‘creative
vision’ and ‘design principles’, with the three core goals of
Android apps described as being to ‘enchant me’, to ‘simplify my
life’ and to ‘make me amazing’.


Speaking
to The Verge ahead of the launch of the guidelines,
Android UX director Matias Durte emphasised that they are just that
— guidelines. Google will not make the principles compulsory and
developers who choose not to follow them will not be penalised.
Compared with Apple’s App Store, Google’s Android Market places
relatively few restrictions on publishers, who are also able to
distribute apps in the ‘.apk’ format outside official
channels.

But this policy has proved as much a curse as a blessing for the
ecosystem, with a slew of badly designed apps supported by dubious
advertising doing little for Android’s reputation as a high-quality
platform. Disappointed by misleading push notifications and a high
incidence of malware, many Android users have called on Google to
implement tougher controls to combat unwanted content.

Whether these latest style guidelines will have any effect remains
to be seen — if they do, it is likely to be a minor one. Still,
they act as a clear symbol of Google’s direction of travel in
relation to Android, moving away from laissez-faire
plurality and back towards a sort of loose standardisation, with
Mountain View remaining the one and only authoritative voice.

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