Monday, 12 December 2011

Elsewhere in the Web - Google App Consistency

Just a few days ago Google released their next big app for Android. Currents. The app isn't available in Europe for some incomprehensible reason but it can be installed by downloading the APK.

Although the app has interesting interaction models and some neat UI tricks it doesn't follow any of Google's already established UI patterns. Simply everything in the app is different.

Google breaking their own UI conventions isn't a new problem. Min Ming Lo has collected a large number of Google's Android app in his blog and compared their UIs. Some of his points don't really make sense. I don't think having same UI to the pixel in differently branded apps is that important. Different separators and slightly different tabs really isn't a problem. But when the whole UI model is reinvented too often it will cause problems to the platform consistency.

[Update 2011-12-13]
Nick Butcher commented about the Min Ming Lo's post at G+.

I would like to weigh in on dividers between items in the Action Bar (mentioned in +Min Ming Lo's original post). By default the system will place dividers between:
- Overflow button and others
- Text action item and another item where it would disambiguate which item the text belongs to.
- No divider between App title section and Actions

The system has no visibility of what's in an custom ActionView so doesn't attempt to do anything there. Leave it up to the system on Honeycomb+ and follow these rules if creating your own backward compatible AB and lets all have nice consistent UIs :)

Also the 'bottom action bar' is referred to as the 'Split Action bar' - consider it a single control.