Saturday, 16 April 2011

Visual appeal of Android apps

SPB 3D shell
There has been a lot of discussion about Android apps and visual appeal lately. The blog post that started this latest round of discussion claiming that Android apps generally look worse as their iOS counter parts was pretty loaded but it doesn't mean that we should ignore the point.

I'm regularly scanning the Android Market and other sources for interesting apps. Often I find myself agreeing with the statement. There are good reasons why the statement can be true but fortunately it doesn't hold true in all cases.

I personally think that visual appearance of the app is secondary to its function. But truly high quality app should have both.

Fortunately there's no technical reason why Android app could not be visually beautiful or even stunning. Good visual design just is very very hard and requires talent. In my opinion not all apps need to be visually special. In most cases it is enough if the app look right for the function it is meant. Evernote is probably the best example of this approach. It is visually very simple but very functional and feels perfectly home in any Android phone.

I have gathered here some of the best looking apps I've encountered. This is meant to be a proof that Android apps can look good and in many cases do so. I hope that it can also serve as inspirement for app developers out there to aspire towards even better Android app ecosystem.

DreamCocktail Lite
DreamCocktail is a simple app that can help you to pick or find your drink. It is is visually exceptional. The app's theme is a book of drinks.

Landing page represents the books first page with a table of content. The drink standing on the front changes randomly.

The app allows searching drinks either by name or looks. Very elegant and informative list implementation.

Drink details are on three screens. A picture and two info screens. Navigating between the screens is done by swiping.

Dring images are gorgeous.

Even settings and about screens are very polished.

SPB Shell 3D

This home screen replacement is the single most impressive piece of software I've seen on Android platform. It is visually pleasing form every angle.

Interaction with the home screen is best demonstrated by a video. SPB promo video is worth watching.


Foodspotting lets user to upload and rate dishes served in restaurants. The app is simple but visually elegant and very usable.


Ever note is a perfect example of an app that is very simple but appealing visually. It cannot be said to be beautiful but it is very functional.

To give further credit to evernote I want to point out that it is available for many other mobile platforms like WinMo, iOS and Blackberry. Each of the apps are designed from the ground up to fit the platform.

Android apps can be beautiful but good design requires a lot of effort and skill. However, functionality is more important and applications can be made functional without perfect visual design skills. Once the functionality is perfected visuals can be improved. Android apps can be made look great!