Google I/O 2014 is on Wednesday, which means that maybe we will get a sneak peek at the next version of Android. there has been some leaks about Google’s “quantum paper”, According to rumors on the web, Google aims to unify Android’s design along with other Google apps and services… Well I’m using Android since version 2.2.3 (Froyo), so I would like to focus briefly on Android’s design history and how far this OS has come.
Android open source project (AOSP) has originally developed by Android Inc., which Google bought back in 2005. When Google introduced android in 2007, back then it looked like another “BlackBerry clone” because of its QWERTY keyboard.
But after Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone in his Historical speech at the keynote of Macworld 2007, Google had to start over. A few months after the launch of the 1st iPhone, Google announced Android. But the problem was, that Android didn’t make a good first impression because of its uninspired interface and laggy experience.
Early versions of Android
However, Google tried to make it better for the users, and after few Android devices from various manufacturers, in 2010 Google launched their own phone, the “Nexus edition”. With the Nexus series, Google had its own platform to push software updates over the air, quickly and effectively. With every software update, apps got better, the UI evolved and Android experience got smoother. In November 2011 Google launched the 3rd version of the Nexus device: the “Galaxy Nexus” (manufactured by Samsung), that came with Android 4.0 “Ice cream sandwich”, and for the first time, Android looked cooler, cleaner, modern and more importantly – the experience felt good. (ICS was based on Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” that came earlier for tablets only) and with ICS, for the first time ever, Android finally got public attention.
From Honeycomb to Ice cream sandwich
“Ice cream sandwich” was the first significant UI change for Android, there has been a few changes in android UI since “ICS” to “Jellybean” and “Kit-kat” (the latest version of Android), but most importantly, Google proved that once you made it good, you still have to keep working on it to make it better! The guy who is responsible for Android’s UI/UX is Matias Duarte (Director, Android User Experience), and since he arrived to Google in 2010, Android just got better in terms of look and feel, the UI looks great now, the experience is smooth and Google’s core applications are fun to use. So what I like about Google I/O the most is that Google actually mentor and helps developers to understand that User experience is very important, in order to develop great Apps you should make it user friendly, easy to use and effective for your users. It is not just about making it look good, it is about the whole experience! And another useful thing for Android developers is that, Google’s developer guidelines for Android are always up to date.
What’s next? Well, it is definitely gonna be interesting, I guess that Quantum paper will unify Google’s Apps and services across different devices, after all, Android wear is gonna be another platform from Google, and unified experience is a key to make it right, it is very important to make it easy for the users to do their tasks across their devices with consistent experience between different screens (wearable device is just another screen) so in case you left your Phone at home and went out to run, you still will be able to get notifications, emails and reply them easily from anywhere.
And if it’s not enough, there are more surprises from Google, looks like they are about to announce Auto-Link car system at Google I/O.