Sep 19 AT 2:50 PM Dustin Earley 33 Comments

It’s time for a bit of Android house cleaning

android 4.4 concept ui

When Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich first launched, I was ecstatic to see the changes Google had made to Android. For practically the first time ever, Android was absolutely beautiful. Since then, Google has tweaked Android into a mature, well-designed, powerhouse operating system. So what’s next for Android in the UI department? It’s time to take all of the changes made to Google’s apps and services, and apply them to Android itself to make for a clean, open, fresh UI.

Take a look at Hangouts. Or Drive. Or Play Music, the Play store, or Google Now. All of those apps are not bundled with Android anymore. They are updated independently of the core OS itself. And they all have beautiful new UIs. They’re bright, colorful, well organized and feature slick animations with sliding panels and clean menus. Now look at the settings app. Or the gallery. Or the calculator, clock or dialer. They all work well with Holo, and fit in quite nicely, but they’re closed up, stale and dreary compared to other Google apps.

Google has done a great job with Android from 4.0 to 4.3, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. I’ve long been wondering how a reimagined Android would look in a post-Google Now, Kennedy design world. This concept video (via DroidLife) from Craig Tuttle nearly took my breath away:

The dynamic status bar, system wide Google Now integration and multitasking stacks are so incredibly well done, it’s hard to believe this is just a concept video. Take this concept, lighten up the gray bundled apps of today and Android would feel like an entirely new OS. Android apps don’t quite need to catch up with Android anymore; Android needs to catch up with Android apps.

When Android 4.4 is finally unveiled, we aren’t sure what to expect. It’s not a full number release, to 5.0, but that doesn’t mean we should write off the possibility of seeing some big visual changes. If you look at the leaked pictures of the Nexus 5, the status bar has been changed to include white text and icons. It looks like there’s been a few more tweaks as well. We know some things have been changed, but just how much more remains to be seen. Google, if you’re looking for inspiration on where to go with Android next, just check out the video above. It looks like a great place to start.

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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  • Christopher Wueste

    Absolutely gorgeous. I want this to be the new UI so badly. That concept video just put Google on notice.

    • Guest

      Just one persons idea or hopes Inn the video. Most people without a Nexus won’t see any of it anyway. Major Android problem. Android is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get

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  • DroidSamurai

    My wish — decouple more stuffs from the OS. Since we can’t expect the device maker to update the OS more rapidly, decoupling more stuffs from the OS is the best way to fight this “fragmentation” problem. Status bar, the Android settings app, dialer, people, etc should all be independently available from Google Play.

    • redraider133

      Sort of like how they are doing with their core services, which I agree with you, although I am happy they are going the route of side stepping the carriers by having their core apps being updated through the play store for everyone to have access to, regardless of how slow the OEM’s are with updates.

    • Eli Gaffke

      I agree with most of what you say. But the dialer shouldn’t be an app. If I want to dial the phone, I don’t want to have to wait for an app to open. The settings shouldn’t be allowed to be changed by the phone developer. I tried to use an HTC one the other, why are there no options in the pull down notification bar. Couldn’t quickly turn off screen rotate, Wi-Fi or other normal functions. Annoying.

    • Guest

      Could happen. They said Kit Kat is to bring it ‘everywhere’

  • we

    Oh dear… please don’t break it anymore… ICS/JB was amazing with all the gray/dark. I personally hate GoogleNow approach with bright design and annoying cards everywhere. My iP5 just upgraded to another bright ‘improvement’ and it makes me wanna vomit.

    • SGB101

      He has a point to a degree, ics worked well, 4.1 didn’t, they sorted by.2 & 3,but.1 was broke.

  • jamal adam

    Holy smokes, almost had me in tears. This is a beautiful concept and I love the integration of Google Now into the status bar as well as in Hangouts. It brings together all that is great about Google’s design language for its core apps and makes them fluid, functional and fit well within the apps. Also, that multitasking stacks is the icing on the cake.

  • Geremy Roque

    i totally love that concept. i wish 4.4 turns out to be like that, and if not then something similar or better. but please, make the white layout optional. because it hurts my eyes, and isn’t battery friendly. a dark tone is easier to read as well. i know many people would disagree with me. but for that reason i would want that to be an option in settings.
    Android is all about customization.

    • Guest

      I’ve read a lot of ios7 complaints in reviews about the white also hurting their eyes. If Android is supposed to be about choice, they should always give users the choice of 2-3 color scheme options (or even icons s). Skims confused things when Samsung icons look different than Nexus

  • teecruz

    If Google did something resembling anything similar to that, I’d come back from iOS 7 in a quick second.

    But though, it seems Google’s interest is defunct and tactless. Google Chrome Sundae Pichar heading both products? No thanks.
    Jean-Baptiste, gone. Hugo Barra, gone.

    Let’s not begin with the atrociousness that is the Google Glass UI. For something that is meant to be so revolutionary, I don’t think I’m sure if I want it now, with a UX experience so easily and surely outdated.

    Maybe it’s time Google stepped foot (in or out) of a different ball game.
    I really haven’t been impressed. Innovation seems to be stalling.
    And the Open Community seems to be doing the most work.

    Until then…

    • masterpfa

      We will have to wait and see.

  • pjamies

    Yup, love it, but make sure that the screens do not become too busy, or hard to navigate with 1 hand movements.
    I find it interesting that we have heard almost nothing about KK 4.4 … and with approx 1 month before it’s supposed release too …
    I am dying to get the Nexus 5 and hopefully KK 4.4 ..
    Lets hope the new OS over shadows iOS7 .. tho I know it will put it to shame!! it always does ..

  • Nick

    Too bad we’ll have to wait a year for that though. 4.4 will be the next big update to the system, unless they are planning it to do it with Kit Kat(4.4)

  • redraider133

    I can’t wait to see what google adds with 4.4 but I am more excited about the core services being updated since they seem to be focusing more on that and putting them in the play store for pretty much everyone to be able to have while the OS update may take a long time to arrive depending on the manufacturer.

  • Eli Gaffke

    Does this guy make mods? I hope so.

  • William Hester

    I – I really like that.

  • Christian

    I’m sure we’ll see some UI refinements in KitKat, but I think the majority of the changes are gonna come later in Lemon Meringue Pie/Lemon Bar/lollipop.

    • SGB101

      Lion bar!

    • Guest

      I t was very disappointing to hear we’d see 4.4 instead of 5.0..

      I feel Android OS versions are now like IPhone S versions.
      Plus the numbering is confusing. Sometimes a. 1 update get a new name & other times it doesn’t. And 2.3, 4.1,4.4 – - – much more confusing to average consumer than ios 5/6/7, especially when you can count ios updates yearly like clockwork and within short amountof, most ioho users have it installed.

  • Rizkyrani

    I hope they’ll made a theme engine, like MIUI ROM

  • Victor

    Honestly, I love the video. I think that someone at Google needs to show this to the head of Android and get working on this right now. This is gorgeous, this is amazing, and this is the thing that would take users away from Apple.

    The one thing I would also consider doing, is emphasizing customization. Google/Motorola are doing it with the Moto X, so why not allow us to choose the color we want in the status bar? A simple change, but one that I think would make a world of a difference to the ‘average user’.

    • Anonymous

      I think you underestimate the loyalty of iPhone users…. And long-time users I know dont even consider Android or know anything about it. Theyre happy with their devices, smoothness, guaranteed updates & great phone & especially in store support with real live people

  • Nathan D.

    The concept video was amazing, I would root my phone for that new UI any day. It was so pretty, I almost cry since I knew it was just a concept so far.

  • donger

    Not bad. Can’t wait.

  • AnalyticalJeff

    Keeping my fingers crossed. Hoping Apple doesn’t copy it before 5.0 as they’ve been on a roll recently..

  • Taylor Hall

    Where did you get that wallpaper?

  • JJ

    I hope they don’t change the blue color on Holo.. That against the black is gorgeous. Can someone explain exactly what hangouts to and does or post a good link. I use Skype but only on a computer. I use regular SMS unless I’m talking to friends bin foreign countries and then I use Viber for calls & texts although it’s not always reliable. I do hate apps that require the other person to download it to. Most people I know or meet always have iphones.

    • JJ

      And what makes BBM different?

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