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What New iOS and Android Versions Teach Us About UI Design

Published by SPK Blog Post
on September 8, 2014

Android L and iOS 8 are bringing big changes to their respective user interfaces, shaking up not only their visual appeal, but striving to change how users operate their devices. Sundar Pichai of Google has commented that L represents one of their “most comprehensive releases”, bringing with it over 5000 new APIs while Apple has stated that iOS 8 will be their “biggest release since the launch of the App Store”.

Since the two mobile operating systems have been around for some time now, news of major changes should cause developers to pay close attention. These changes represent vast amounts of research into what customers want and how they use their mobile devices and will likely set the trends for user interface design for the next few years.

At the bottom line, both Apple and Google are trying to refine their user experience to make them more enjoyable. One way in which they are doing this by removing impediments to frequently performed operations. For instance, both operating systems will allow users to respond to messages from the lock screen without first unlocking the device, iOS 8 will a let users instantly take and send pictures and video with minimal finger movement using their new radial menu, and Android L can bypass the need to unlock the device entirely if the user is wearing a paired smartwatch.

Both releases are updating the appearance of their UI design, with Google going the furthest. Android L will sport a completely new visual motif called “Material”, which is said to be inspired by “paper and ink”. UI components will have built-in effects for subtle animations and smooth transitions between location and shape, with the goal of providing the user with a sense of “delight” and continuity between screens.

In both cases, the two companies are spending an incredible amount of effort refining the small details of appearance and interaction to craft new offerings that are streamlined and elegant. The take away for developers is that it is increasingly important to attend to the most subtle of details if your app is going to stand out from the rest. It’s well known that mobile users are extraordinarily picky and now that Apple and Google are raising the bar further for user interface design, users’ expectations will climb even higher.

Next Steps:

David Hubbell
Software Engineer
SPK and Associates

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