Hey Devs! You've got work to do.

Google is finally showing developers what an Android app should look like. Android Design is Google's freshly launched style guide for Ice Cream Sandwich. It outlines everything developers should do to make a high quality app that "fits in" with the rest of ICS.


Most of the big stuff is covered: Icons, color swatches, grid layouts, writing style, touch feedback - it's beautiful. Apps are normally all over the place, it will be really nice to see some consistency.

These are just guidelines, they won't be made mandatory in any way. So developers, I know this guide is insanely late, but please follow this. Consistency is important.

Google is finally getting serious about design. The rest of us need to get serious about it too.

Source: Android Design via Android Developers

Video via TheVerge

Ron Amadeo
Ron loves everything related to technology, design, and Google. He always wants to talk about "the big picture" and what's next for Android, and he's not afraid to get knee-deep in an APK for some details. Expect a good eye for detail, lots of research, and some lamenting about how something isn't designed well enough.
  • http://www.youtube.com/kimirPORTALS kimir

    How about not being able to change the onscreen homebuttons etc? PLEASE

    • J-Dog

      Wasn't that one of the advantages of having virtual buttons over physical?

      Especially for the back button. I'd actually want it to show when I'm going back a screen in the app vs when it's gonna drop me out of the app & back to the phone's home screen. Or not to show the options button when there are no options (so I'm not frantically wondering if the button press isn't being registered).

      Though I will ask for some consistency between apps. Twitter should use the same icon for options, back, search, etc as Angry Birds, as Facebook, as Google+, etc... Then we don't have to sit there & try to decipher what action a button is going to do when we install a new app.

  • TheYves

    A style guide......

    from Google... is this a joke?

    • Nick Coad

      Have you missed the increasingly beautiful designs they've been producing over the past six months or so?

    • Tee

      This is great! Finally Google is doing what every self-respecting company needs to do.

      Android is indeed getting more and more organized. First the Holo Theme and now this. Good!

  • http://blog.ravrahn.net Ravrahn

    Thanks Google! I've been waiting for this!

    Definitely going to be looking through this. It'll be of great use for my app.

    • http://blog.ravrahn.net Ravrahn

      Hah, I'd naively assumed they would tell us how to implement what they tell us to implement in these guidelines. My mistake.

  • Abhinav

    is that complicated to figure things out :P

  • Shark

    HTC (& other OEM's) please take note. Make your apps consistent as well.

  • magiman7

    Does the guide include a standard location for menu button? Top, bottom, both, wherever you want?

    • Tyler Brainerd

      It's still a bit open ended. It seems they've moved mostly to the bottom for standardization, but for some apps it works better on the top.

    • Victor Stuber

      the menu button should be in the top right corner unless you select an object in which case the bottom action bar should pop up with a menu button for more options.

    • Christopher

      I've been wondering about this too, though there was at least a bit of info about action bars and "overflowing" actions in the new guide.

      But in general, the complete inconsistency of where the soft Menu button appears is somewhat odd.

      Gmail: there's an action bar at the top with a "menu", then an action bar at the bottom with soft-menu button.
      Maps: action bar at top, soft-menu button in an action bar at the bottom. Except for the Places activity, which has the soft-menu up top.
      Settings > Data usage: soft-menu button in the action bar at the top.
      Settings > Apps: soft-menu button in an otherwise-empty bar at the bottom..
      Calculator and Phone: Floating at the side of the input field...

      I'm also wondering what the guidance is for apps with custom themes and title bars — how should they fit this in? Or should we just keep targeting SDK versions <10 for now until they come up with some rules (i.e. use the old-style popup options menu)?

  • Micah

    I was actually a little unimpressed with the information provided. There really wasn't information on HOW to actually implement it. Also this is for Android 4.0 so many of the features won't work on what the vast majority of android users currently have. So even if you do redesign your app to look more like android 4.0, certain redesigns won't work if you aren't running 4.0.

    • Nastybutler

      And I'm a little unimpressed with your programming skills if you need to be told how to implement these suggestions. Also with your business savvy if you don't see the value of adapting your 2.x and/or 3.x versions to follow the same guidelines as those for 4.0 where you can.

      • http://tantrajnaan.com Robert Dunn

        Some of that stuff can be confusing for someone new to android development. Even with a great programming background in Java android development felt all new to me.

  • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com PixelSlave

    In addition to release a guide, please make the emulator in the SDK faster.

    • Elimental

      I am sooooo with you on that one. The current emulator is totally useless when it comes to 3.0 and up and this is on a PC that can run 3 virtual servers at the same time.

    • Victor Stuber

      Amen. The design guidelines is great, but when Google gives us zero tools to do any of this and the emulator is absolute crap, they can't expect great apps.

  • Mike

    was there a problem?
    i got a droid so not everything would be the same.

    how about they not change the bottom buttons once devs make a half million apps to use the orig 4.

    • Victor Stuber

      or how about they DO change it so that we aren't stuck with a broken system for years on end.

  • Falconator

    At least this will be a nice little startup guide for those wanting to either get into design or customize their own ICS screen.

  • http://www.benvanhouts.com Benjamin

    Google really should force devs to make Icons for their apps as appeased to iphone like rounded buttons. A good icon in my opinion is easier to identify by its silhouette.

    • http://thiago-silva.tumblr.com Thiago Silva

      Actually they had a manual on how to make an icon, since version 1.6, with defined sizes, etc. (including .psd files with styles, colors, etc.). But the number of developers who followed the tips and used the styles and shapes that Google offers were few.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1745689461 Hal Motley

        The rounded icons are always the first indication that the app is or intended to be an iOS port.

  • http://tantrajnaan.com Robert Dunn

    I'll remember this when I create my new music app ;)