It’s a pretty well-known fact that some Android apps out there lack a bit in the “pretty and easy-to-use” department. More often than not, these apps have well-designed counterparts on other platforms like iOS and Windows Phone. As a result, Android has always been thought of as the ugly duckling of the mobile OS family.
However, that might start to change soon. Google just announced Android Design, a website with the sole goal of helping developers make their apps look great. The site has a great deal of information on how to integrate apps with Ice Cream Sandwich, how to use all the new UI elements included in the latest version of Android, and overall tips and guidelines to keep in mind when you’re building apps. If you’re an Android developer, you should definitely check it out.
This launch is just one of the latest moves made by Google in an ongoing war against some of the biggest issues hurting the Android platform right now: fragmentation and unattractiveness to the average consumer. The company started to fight these problems with Honeycomb — and more so with Ice Cream Sandwich — but the G-Team is nowhere near done. In fact, just a few days ago we found out that the Holo Theme available on Android 4.0 is included on every device that has access to the Android Market. That plus today’s announcement make it pretty obvious that Google is quite serious about getting rid of the “ugly duckling” tag.
As it is usual with Android, these UI guidelines are not enforced in any shape or form. Developers can still go their own separate way if they choose to — for better or for worse. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if Google decides to highlight those apps that stick to the official UI guidelines, while penalizing those apps that don’t.