06
Apr
ico

Occasionally, an OS update will bring around features that really change things. Android 3.0 brought the Android experience to tablets. 4.0 completely revamped the UI and added guidelines that made Android look cohesive for the first time. 4.4 added Svelte, which promised to seat Android comfortably on an even broader range of devices. We have reason to believe another one of those changes is right around the corner, and it's known internally as Hera.

Hera

We feel confident in this rumor, but we'll take the same approach we always do - a brief breakdown of our confidence level, the rumor itself, the evidence, and any other thoughts. Since this rumor is a little more complex than past rumors, we'll combine "The Rumor," with the Evidence section, as some concepts should be seen and discussed at the same time. Remember that often, with pre-release software, we cannot show source materials, but we do our best to faithfully mock up the functionality and interface.

Disclaimer: No matter the confidence level, there's always a chance product updates, features, and some or all details will be changed or cancelled altogether. As with all rumors, nothing is 100% until it's officially announced.

We do not have possession of any APKs or unreleased devices, so please don't ask for them.

Confidence Level

This rumor gets an 8/10 - points are deducted primarily because our understanding of the project is not complete. As with most rumors there is information missing. We feel confident based on what we've seen that Hera is being actively developed, and we feel confident in its basic structure and purpose, but there is always room for error, and things may still change before this becomes official, in whatever form it may take.

The Rumor and Evidence

Hera, from what we know, essentially represents Google's effort to unify the experience users have in Android, Chrome, and Search all on your Android-powered device. It does this (from what we can tell) by using a special Chromium build meant to run on Android and execute tasks through the web both for Google and third-party apps.

Android's current multitasking view shows snapshots of the apps you have open, each one a "task." With Hera, however, the multitasking view shows snapshots of actions being taken in Chromium instances, making it sort of an HTML5-powered intermediate UI, where users can execute quick actions online without using the full app.

wm_cal wm_map wm_newegg

example task instances

Readers may remember supposed shots of a new Gmail UI with new features that leaked a few days ago. From what we've seen, the interface for these tasks looks similar. We've mocked up the Hera-oriented Gmail interface based on information available to us. Here it is next to Gmail from this week's earlier leak:

wm_gm1f wm_gm2f nexusae0_Screenshot____

Left/Middle: Gmail using Hera Right: Gmail app leak

What this suggests is that Google is indeed taking Android's interface design in another new direction, and the Chromium instances that underpin Hera will match this style, with the two being nearly identical besides some apparent functional differences.

At any rate, it seems that Hera will replace the current multitasking view, combining entries from all the types of tasks named above. The new multitasking view will be comprised of Hera instances and likely app instances and Search queries too.

wm_gradient

Again, from the available information, it appears that - with Hera as an underpinning - your device will be able to execute tasks that would normally belong to an app without actually opening that app. This would mean that apps with functionality carried out over the web could plug into Hera for easier, more ephemeral experiences on Android.

An easy way to think about what this functionality looks like is to imagine Gmail on the web. If you've just signed up for a new website and were sent a confirmation request, Gmail can understand that and places a button next to the message in your inbox that allows you to confirm your address without ever opening the email.

Now, replace the email with an app, like Hangouts. Theoretically with the functionality we're discussing, Google would be able to alert a user to a new message, display it, and let the user enter a reply and send it without ever opening the app.

Web instances appear to generate themselves, so if the user searched Google for something earlier (on desktop or mobile), it seems that that activity would generate a card like the ones you see above in the multitasking view.

The implication of all this is that Hera is the missing ingredient necessary to bring Android and HTML5 closer together. If apps are able to plug in HTML5 functionality to Android, using your device will be a substantially new experience. Besides that, this would radically change the app ecosystem for Android. Platforms like Tizen already make heavy use of HTML5 for app functionality, and it's easy to imagine that with this new paradigm Android could make use of HTML5 apps in a way that appears much more graceful than a simple web view.

Final Thoughts

Assuming everything we have discussed here comes to fruition, Hera makes clear Chrome's new influence on Android. Sundar Pichai, who heads up Chrome, Apps, and Android at Google (taking over the latter after Rubin's departure to other projects), has hinted before that Google wants to bring together a cohesive experience across all screens. From what we know, Hera seems like the ideal first step in this process.

The general user-facing advantage to this of course is a smoother, more unified experience with your devices, and potentially web apps that function with the finesse of native apps.

As stated earlier though, our information on Hera is not complete. The conclusions we can draw from the information available are that the paradigm will help Google execute tasks for you and create new types of multitasking instances. It appears that Google wants to simplify the mobile experience by mediating as much as possible for the user, without requiring the user to download and manage more apps.

Update: Since the reactions to this post have included lots of confusion, we thought it would be helpful to update with more clarification that will hopefully be helpful. It seems from information available to us that Hera could do for your Android devices essentially the same thing Chrome desktop sync does now, but for everything Google. If you begin a task on another device (be it mobile or desktop), it seems Hera will add that into the new multitasking view as a card like the ones shown above. But it will also be able to incorporate tasks usually handled by apps. So, if you had Google Maps open on your tablet showing directions to a place, and you forgot the address, there would already be a Hera instance in your multitasking view with the same activity.

It's all about simplifying the experience and answering your question before you asked it. This is a point that could have been made clearer in our initial coverage, but hopefully this update will help those who are confused by Hera's implications.

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • Fadakar

    Whoa, this will be awesome. I hope Google pushes the Kennedy design language. Seriously some beautiful stuff.

    • Christopher Mason

      I thought the design language was called Hera? What's Kennedy?

      • Fadakar

        Hera looks like it's just the name for the project. Kennedy is basically what Google looks like everywhere outside of Android.

        Notice how nothing Google on the internet looks HOLO? No HOLO blue, no black gradient backgrounds, no glowing check marks or radio buttons, etc.

        They're pushing for whites, grays, deep blues, bold condensed fonts.

        Check out The Verge's article on it:
        http://www.theverge.com/2013/1/24/3904134/google-redesign-how-larry-page-engineered-beautiful-revolution

        • Phil Oakley

          Kennedy and Holo are basically merging into one design language. It's really great to see. Hopefully 'Kennedy' will be the name that sticks though. Since they're brining Kennedy to Android, not Holo to the web.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

            I'd just like to see people stop arguing if it's supposed to be said 'hollow' or 'hoe low.'

  • Bariman43

    One of the things on my wishlist for Android 5.0 is better multitasking. Looks like Google is doing just that. Bring on Lollipop (if it's indeed going to be called that)!

    • Owen Finn

      Lexus.

    • Artevius Hardin

      Lollipop fits the new color scheme a lot better than Lemon.

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    Big changes then, but i must say your mockups of calendar, maps and newegg aren't pretty, Not to dis your design, but just an overall comment on how it just simply doesn't work.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      What exactly is not pretty? Care to expand on that?

      • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

        It looks empty, far too simple, I believe there should be a line between the action bar and the notification bar, just like it's on HTC Sense 6.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Well, these are mockups after all. And these views aren't supposed to be busy, they are supposed to be simple.

      • joeljfischer

        It looks like they're trying to replicate iOS 7 in a lot of ways. The large navigation bar at the top, the full menu button, the heavy reliance on single color + white. I don't know what it is about it, because I actually like iOS 7, but it's revolting. ICS Android, iOS 7, and WinPho all looks much better than this.

      • Felipe Pimenta

        I think the "bad" one is the newegg one. I know, it's a mockup, but looks like you have cut the mobile view of an ugly site and pasted into the screenshot. The rest of the mockups looks quite good for me, specially Gmail.

        • Fadakar

          Did you not even read the article?

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Well yeah, it's just an example of a browser page task, so it's a mobile UI of newegg, which indeed doesn't look very pretty.

          • Felipe Pimenta

            It wasn't a critic, btw... The things that you guys designed look good...

  • Ryan Callihan

    It's really nice looking, except I wish they'd shrink the size of the action bar so that the colored block up top wasn't so large.

    • Michael J Carroll

      I believe those are just mockups.

  • joeljfischer

    I'm a mobile app developer, and longtime android user and I barely understand what this appears to be. I trust Google and all, but this UI looks terrible. Absolutely terrible. Hopefully it's pre-alpha, early draft stuff. It looks like a terrible response to iOS7 that no one wanted.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      It's too early to tell, and we are all struggling to understand all the implications of this marriage. One thing is certain - this year, Android will be changing in the most radical ways since... as long as I can remember.

      • joeljfischer

        I'll definitely be interested to see I/O. Hopefully I get into the lottery, I have to see this for myself before I pass final judgement, but yeah, not a fan of these mockups, if that's what they are.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Not sure the big release will be at I/O or later in the year with the new Nexus. I think another pass through KitKat is in order before we move on to L, and we're running out of time for that to happen if L were to be released at I/O.

          • joeljfischer

            That's true, the 4.X line is still suspiciously buggy. Google really needs to lock down these bugs. Bluetooth is still extraordinarily rough, and they've had 3? revisions of BlueDroid already, for starters. I agree with you, I/O will be likely be a mostly bug-fix .X release.

            I do however think that's a bad thing. If this is as big of a release as it appears to be, developers need 'hands-on' time and sessions with developers to wrap their heads around it.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

            To be fair, the 4.x line (including KitKat, seriously) hasn't been buggier than previous versions. It's just that some of the rewritten pieces are a bit more noticeable than they were in the past. It also doesn't help that we've ramped up our coverage in the Bug Watch series. It's not that there's more bugs, people are just more aware of them.

            As far as the hand-on point, I couldn't agree more...but that's never stopped Google in the past. 4.0, 4.2, and 4.4 all came out after I/O, and they were the versions with the bigger implications for developers.

          • Moosa Mahsoom

            I think 4.4.3 will be the big bug fix update

          • heat361

            Hey Artem I'm not fully understanding what Google's plan with Hera is but it seems to me they will bring this about through chrome packaged apps. Also the new multitasking view seems similar to web os where all apps are presented in a cards view.

          • Kathy William

            What will be the advantage except for ruining the UX ?
            I am not optimistic about that project.

          • Kathy William

            What will be the advantage except for ruining the UX ?
            I am not optimistic about that project.

        • Somedude

          iOS is superior and well developed. It's better. Android is also good tho, but only for secondary devices. Like secondary phones or secondary tablets. Primary should be always iOS devices. Because they are better.

          • FrancoMacagno

            Im totally convinced by your argument.
            Going to my nearest Apple Store right now

          • Brent Wassum

            Wow. If you're going to troll, a little subtlety would go a long way.

          • MeCampbell30

            Thank you so much this iOS team. I was waiting this OS. It's really great, user friendly and smooth.

          • Juan De La Rosa

            nice troll. 6/10

          • http://www.modminecraft.com/ Nick Coad

            Too obvious, sorry.

      • http://acousticconfusion.tumblr.com/ Kwackers

        Besides the Watch, what do you mean?

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          You'll see soon.

          • WORPspeed

            How soon?

          • Kevin

            When will then be now?

          • Matthew Fry

            Soon.

          • jibust

            Anyone who quotes Spaceballs should be automatically considered a genius.

          • WORPspeed

            Every now and then some then becomes now while the previous now becomes a then.

      • Daeshaun Griffiths

        think i got it. Android is turning into Google Now. And a redesigned notification bar.

        or better yet the notification bar is going to be google now

        ephemeral, good word

        • LoveHater

          Google Now,, I hate Google Now

          • impulse101

            Google Now is the best and most innovative thing to ever happen to mobile. Just because you dont kniw hiw to use it correctly doesn't mean that you should hate it.

          • Brendan Dillon

            Hating what they don't understand is what humans do best.

          • Nick V

            I love Google Now. I use it all throughout my day. I love the integration with the Chrome Browser, and hope that they push it a little farther

      • whispy_snippet

        I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels like much of this post went whooshing over my head!

      • ByteDaBit

        But Hera => Diamond.
        I did not find a pie with that name ?

        • CerealFTW

          maybe it'll be project hera, kinda like project butter and project svelte

      • Avi David

        We can all ready can see the new ui in the update for google keep (App, Web) and the Google Now in Google Chrome. http://techit.co.il/2014/04/google-android-apps-new-flat-ui-hera/

    • Matt J.

      These are Android Police mockups.

      • joeljfischer

        Based on the leaked Gmail UI, yeah. Not a fan of either, frankly.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Actually, that's not what they're based on, but they match, which gives the leaked UI some credence.

          • joeljfischer

            Ah, I was extrapolating:

            "We've mocked up the Hera-oriented Gmail interface based on information available to us."

            to be that you mocked the rest as well. Good to know.

          • Daniel Song

            Google keep has this new UI design, just got it two days ago, I don't like it that much either, it's nice... but it doesn't blend in with any other apps... I guess as more apps change I'll get used to it. I dig the mock ups though! love the transparent nav/status bars.

          • Matthew Fry

            I doubt the status bar is transparent. It's more likely tinted to match and they are using flat color action bars to achieve that. Transparency would be a waste of processing power on top of a flat color.

          • Matthew Fry

            Okok. So does this mean that you are pretty confident in the floating button as a design element?

      • Johannes

        Then why, god why do they stretch the Actionbar-color to the systembar?

        • NemaCystX

          Well, the system bar is transparent now and with that same UI approach they were going for before (remember how Google Music and some other apps got a big actionbar at the top with a single solid color) this makes sense to push this even more now that the system/notification bar is transparent now.

          While iOS 7 uses this same approach, its not quite the same as iOS 7 uses a more like "window" view where it overlays the colors of that app and makes it look like the UI is overlaying it or "hovering" to give that effect its 3D

          Kinda that same effect you get when you look at colors in an obscure window/glass that is frosted., but it makes the apps look more integrated because of this.

          I'm no UI expert but I kinda like this, there aren't any black bars in the UI, just colors associated with said app.

          and considering how people bitched and moaned about the black bar on the HTC One and M8, i'm surprised people don't like this approach better lol

          • ddpacino

            An immersive experience. I'm running stock on my N5 with Xposed installed, and I love the tinted status bar module. One nice (but not so perfect) thing it does is switch the navi and the status bar icons to a black or grey color for apps with light colors like Google or Gmail. I wish Google would allow this in stock. Look at how the text in the Google Search bar changes colors when you swipe from the home screen to the Google Now hub.

    • killik

      I am a mobile dev too, I read this twice and I have not fully understood what this is about except that I am pretty sure that I don't want anything to do with it.
      Does Google really want to bring shitty html5 apps at the center of the platform ? What will be the advantage except for ruining the UX ?
      I am not optimistic about that project.

      • http://ignaciozippy.com/ Ignacio Zippy

        This will be even more confusing than separate Chrome/Android experiences.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

        For what it's worth, it was already easy enough to put HTML5 apps on Android http://www.androidpolice.com/2014/01/28/google-launches-developer-preview-of-chrome-apps-for-android-and-ios-app-submissions-start-immediately/

        I wouldn't be too worried about the implications of introducing Chromium to the OS. There are many perfectly simple reasons it could be there. This could be bringing in a simplified layout system or even enabling apps to more directly interact with web pages for the user. There's still not enough known about this yet.

        • killik

          Actually, this is what makes me very worried. I have nothing against web technologies but absolutely all the Cordova apps I have seen so far (This chrome app wrapping is based on Cordova tech stack) are absolutely terrible.

          • YOLOITUP

            What if you

      • joeljfischer

        I'm not worried about the HTML5 part as much. If they do restrict it purely to the multitasking interface and simple things such as "reply", there won't be any issues. Making full apps and expecting the animations to be performant is another story. (Although that's probably a bad example since Android native is terrible at animation too... but still)

        • killik

          I feel that we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel for animations on Android. Even though I am not satisfied by some of the base choices of the platform, we are starting to get the tools we need.
          Indeed, if it is really limited to the multitasking screen it won't be an issue but I doubt that's the case. From the previous leak, it looks like we are getting a full Gmail html app.
          And yes web apps are absolutely disastrous when it comes to performances. This move probably makes a lot of sense at the platform level in order to unify web & mobile but I really fear that Google will mess the whole platform while trying to fix something that was not broken to begin with.

      • Lars Jeppesen

        I'm an Android dev and HTML5 webapp developer as well, and I can tell you that you're about to be surprised how good HTML5 apps have become.

        I find myself more and more striding to justify the need to build native apps. There are cases, yes, but webapps are getting more and more powerfull.

        In my opinion, 50% of all apps in the Play Store could/should have been web apps, cuz' they don't do anything that webapps can't do.

        Ofcourse that's just my opinion, but I really think that in 5-10 years, native apps will be a very niche thing. I might be wrong but I don't think I am.

        • killik

          The thing is 'in X years web apps will entirely replace native apps' is something that has been uttered for years. It even shaped WebOS as a platform level with the results we know (even though it was not the only issue with this platform by a long shot).

          So far,

          1- web apps have not been entirely able to catch up with the app quality at that time.

          2- the bar has raised a lot in the meantime, so I am not even sure that the gap is decreasing.

          We don't make native app just because we like platform specific code, it has just been the only way so far to attain quality & maintainability.

        • Rob

          the biggest problem of web-apps for me is, in comparison to regular apps, the much higher data-consumption. A regular e-mail app only has to load some kb of emails through your mobile internet. A web-app additionaly has to load all graphics, assets and layoutfiles, which is really bad for people with low data-caps or when having bad connectivity. I think web apps are ok on my notebook where I don't have a cap, but not on mobile...

          • Lars Jeppesen

            The assets can be cached in a webapp.

            You also have to download the assets in a native app. They are just distributed within the apk..

            But yes you are right that a webapp is a bit more data heavy

        • http://www.digitalpencils.me Digital Pencils

          I disagree because as fast as HTML5 is developing, so is native app development. It will never catch up, but always be a great number 2.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      I think it's way, way too early to make this kind of judgment. For starters, judging how mockups look just doesn't seem reasonable and, frankly, I can't fathom in what possible way this is a response to iOS7. iOS7 has absolutely nothing to do with HTML5 and it certainly doesn't mix app instances from both native apps and the web.

      • ddpacino

        The colored status bars were probably what they were thinking, but it was rumored before iOS7's release that Google would introduce transparent status bars to the OS.

        • Jovie Brett Bardoles

          Just for an additional infos, it is Paranoid Android team who introduced translucent Status bars since JB 4.2.2 even before iOS7's release...

    • Casin

      My guess? Chrome tabs and apps in the same multitasking system.

      • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

        This is more or less accurate according to the information we have, but what I've tried to lay out here (perhaps unsuccessfully) is that those "tabs" will actually be able to do things on your device the same way apps do.

        • Casin

          So basically an API for intents and more access to hardware and other apps in web pages?

          • Lars Jeppesen

            That would be... absolutely frickin amazing.

    • Somedude

      Of course. iOS 7 is far more superior and well developed.

      • Gator352

        Of course. iOS 7 is far more stupid and well developed for for children under 10 and elders 65 and over.
        There fixed it for you.

        • Somedude

          You are crazy. iOS 7 is superior. In everything and for everyone. You are just a hater. Sheep

          • Gator352

            BWahahaha....BWHAHAHAHAHA!!!

            Have fun with your "rows" of icons...and more icons....and still more icons. And yes you are correct about one thing....I HATE APPLE! And proud to say it.

    • usaff22

      The Maps look awful! That green action bar and green status bar is horrible - iOS' status bar with the map behind it looks much better.

    • Steve B

      This UI was mocked up by the AP team. No need to get your panties in a bunch yet...

  • http://si97.com/ Saif

    What happens to Holo?

    • Fadakar

      Same thing that happened to 2.3's design language. Shitty developers will keep it around for years.

    • Ryan Callihan

      I'll miss Holo. I prefer the slide-out menu icon rather than the new one that is portrayed here. :/

    • elvisgp

      You guys are missing the point. Hera isn't a new design language. Holo is not being replaced by it, and these screenshots(except for gmail) are just mockups made by AP.

    • Phil Oakley

      I see this as the evolution of Holo.

  • Zak Taccardi

    I don't really understand the process flow when I hit the recent apps button.

  • mustbepbs

    Sounds like a case of Google breaking what is not broken, which is what they usually do.

  • Jooyoung Hong

    I don't understand... Tasks, Chromium, HTML5??
    Can anyone explain it in layman's terms?

    That multi-tasking UI looks beautiful though.. much better than what it is now

    • http://petercast.net Peterson Silva

      But it doesn't look half as useful.

  • xbukowskyx

    not bad after all !! i think this is a great balance of simplicity and full screen size. maybe only the first step!

  • *

    Am I the only one here who hasn't understand ?

    • Pranav Tonseker

      I'm with you.

    • Jooyoung Hong

      I guess this is more of a developer change rather than consumer

    • *

      *understood
      My bad.

  • Pranav Tonseker

    Dat blank space.

  • xbukowskyx

    sorry guys, but hera is the new holo?

    • elvisgp

      No

  • Tyler Shaw

    I like the transparent status bar that changes colors, Google could easily implement this into their apps like Play Music, or Play Movies that already change the color at the top. I think this very pre-alpha. I like the idea of cohesion and being able to reply to a message without opening hangouts, although visually this whole "update" needs work.

  • cabbieBot

    Okay basically the way I'm understanding this, we now have a multi-tasking view that is displayed with a button that shows a card for all running apps. Now what its going to look like is cards that have functionality built in that can be utilized without opening it. So I guess I would be pressing the multi-task button, choose a desired card and am somehow engaged to perform an action. The example used above is with Hangouts to send a message, then bam I'm back into the app I was, so I guess that tapping on Gmail to send a quick reply might be implemented...or maybe things like tapping on Maps to let me scroll through my next couple of turns...hmm. I think the lack of examples is making this hard to get my head around, because we dont know what sort of functionality can be baked into these cards that developers can utilize. And also, can only one type of interaction be built-in to the new cards, for simplicity's sake? Would I only be able to use the Gmail card to type a quick reply, or could I also forward/move? Sounds like we just don't know, hopefully Google I/O will flesh it out better.

    These sound sort of like fancy, more interactive widgets for each app in your multi-task view. That's useful on phones but makes me wonder whether things like dual-screen apps like Samsung has built-in to their phones/tablets ever has a prayer of being baked into native Android.

  • Roberto Giunta

    Okay, so I'm breaking my brain here trying to understand what they wanna do.

    Besides normal apps from the Play Store, it will be possible to use HTML5 apps directly from the web on your phone (which already works if you pin certain websites from Mobile Chrome but requires an extra step and is rather wonky right now).

    So, with this special Chromium build, you won't necessarily need an app to have some sort of 'app experience'? I guess the Chrome desktop browser will get some more functionality like pinning certain apps, so that those are available quicker on your phone? (it would be quite a mess if you'd have every site on there).

    To be honest, I don't really get it but I'm looking forward to some 'change'. I got my Nexus 5 when it came out and I somehow feel bad for being 'bored' with Android 4.4 already because it's more or less always the same and only a refinement since 4.0.

  • Dan

    Im lost. Correct me if i'm wrong, but the task switcher will basically become a "quick reply/action" sort of thing?

  • Danny

    I understand you (Android Police) are probably still not sure of what the extent of Hera is, but think of the reader right now. The way this is written, the reader (or perhaps just me) is wildly confused and feeling quite stupid after reading the article. This will lead to wild speculation and random interpretation of what was just presented to us. I'm a fan of hype and all, but it's just not usually Android Police's style. Hopefully, there will be a clarifying follow up soon.

    • http://petercast.net Peterson Silva

      Yes, exactly, I'm feeling quite stupid =)

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Hi Danny, our intention with this piece was not to cause random hype or speculation, but to lay out information we'd been given in a way that made sense. Obviously that attempt was somewhat unsuccessful, but the post went back and forth for refinement several times to reach what it is now. If you have specific questions I'll be happy to answer to the extent I can.

      • Danny

        Of course I do not believe it was your intention to create random hype, I've followed AP for long enough to respect that and I apologize if my comment came off as rude. My question would be: can you better walk through KERA would come into play (you partially did this in the article, but I would just ask that you elaborate one specific scenario from start to finish)? Would it only matter if you are currently using Chrome for android on your phone and say you receive an email? Instead of giving a traditional android notification, would it jump you into this strange hybrid state? Is KERA only going to come into play when you do not have an apk installed to handle an action (so it would launch into this hybrid state instead of jumping into the chrome website?)

        • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

          Thanks for the reply. I've updated the post with what I think will be a helpful boiling down of the main point.

          To address your question, I don't believe the Chrome app needs to be installed for this to work. A notification, from what info we have, would lead you to a Hera instance to reply to that message.

          As for not having an app installed to handle a given action, we are not 100% sure but the general idea seems to be that you wouldn't need one for a given task, but that it could work either way.

          Again as I said in the original post our understanding of this is not quite at 100%, so I may be mistaken in the finer details of how this all functions in a given situation.

      • Zargh

        Did the screens in the leaks/info you recieved actually break the "Thou shall not use transparent status bar with Action Bar." commandment, or was that creative license? If the later I think it overpowers your message, and redoing them with a the regular, status bar which is a discrete entity will detract less.

        • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

          The mockups actually don't represent apps, maybe I should have been clearer about that. But they do remain as faithful as possible to the information we have, as always. That includes the status bar.

          They are representative of what we believe Hera instances would be like, so showing them serves to illustrate the types of things we believe Hera will be able to handle.

          The task switcher seems to essentially slide through cards as you may expect. I suppose the really significant part is the mix of cards it contains.

  • Foobar

    If what you describe is Android 5.0 then it should be named 'Lemon'. A total Lemon.

  • AbbyZFresh

    I don't quite understand where this is going to be honest.

    Is google going to bring the function of apps into the home screen. but when what would be the point of the apps themselves? Why not make them into widgets instead?

  • Danny Holyoake

    "Now, replace the email with an app, like Hangouts. Theoretically with the functionality we're discussing, Google would be able to alert a user to a new message, display it, and let the user enter a reply and send it without ever opening the app."

    You're still opening an app. I don't understand this rumour at all.

    • Nate

      "You're still opening an app."

      That's what I thought...

    • sdcoiner76

      It is a go between. The app never fully opens. The OS through Hera sends the commands to the app which can be executed but the full app never needs to be opened.

    • sdcoiner76

      It is a go between. The app never fully opens. The OS through Hera sends the commands to the app which can be executed but the full app never needs to be opened.

    • FrancoMacagno

      Basically this is a system-wide Chat Head?

      • Alan Paone

        God I hope not, chatheads are evil

  • vyktorsouza

    R.I.P. translucency haters XD

  • Jiggy

    I hope this is not a (very late) April Fool's joke by you guys. Or by the Android team. Or by the leaker. Or by whoever. My heart bleeds when I look at these mock-ups. :(

  • http://ignaciozippy.com/ Ignacio Zippy

    I feel Android is "good enough" as it is and I could stick with KitKat forever (fixing bugs and inconsistencies, of course). But change and moving forward is necessary, I guess...

    (I'm not commenting on mockups.)

    • AbbyZFresh

      There's no such thing as "good enough" at Google. Just look at what they did to YouTube design changing the interface every 2-3 months.

      • Imparus

        I hope they will keep the current design for a while, since I actually think it is their best so far. (the last one didn't center the video which was quite painful for my "OCD" )

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      "Good enough" is not good enough.

      • http://ignaciozippy.com/ Ignacio Zippy

        I know, I know. It's just what I feel.

  • Rishabh

    Having read through the article three times I'm still not sure what Hera is...

    • Rishabh

      Can somebody explain it to me and other confused readers what this is on layman's terms

    • raddacle

      I'm not entirely sure, but it sounds like the Ubuntu phone approach. Where if you don't have the app installed, chrome will try camouflage the page to look like it is it's own app. So basically mobile web pages will, to the user's eye, feel like it is an app... Where the user could theoretically put a shortcut to the page on their desktop and launch the app(webpage). Therefore you'd be running this "app" in HTML 5.

      • coolscrotie

        My wild guess from reading this three times is that HERA will offer something like "intents" and "notifications" for web apps. Basically, you can be notified of something without having an app installed, and you can act on a notification without entering the app. The notifications will be delivered with a card ui, and those will probably be displayed in Google Now.

        that's my interpretation

        • codemonkey85

          This sounds pretty awesome - anything that saves battery is good, and not having to install full apps for services that you don't use that frequently would be nice. Hopefully this interpretation is more or less accurate.

          I'm also hoping this system ties into Google Voice Search - ask Google to buy movie tickets, open Fandango HTML5 web app, buy tickets from Hera interface, get Hera notification with the ticket QR code when you get to the theater.

          • coolscrotie

            that's pretty much what can be expected. What's also good is that these 'web apps' could finally ask for the permissions they need at the time they need them, unlike traditional android apps which always demand all permissions in advance.

        • Fatty Bunter

          Great comment.

          I can see part of this implementation leading to a world where Google is able to feed inputs into an app (similar to common apps like Facebook and Twitter, but for everything) and have the app act on those, where any output is fed back to the Google server and then google presents the information/confirmation back to you

  • Casin

    This is called Hera? It should be called Engima because I still have no clue what this is.

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    So, what, Android will become partly ChromeOS if Hera is true?

  • elvisgp

    Everyone seems to be confused. I still don't really understand what Hera is, but it is not a new design language. Those screenshots are just MOCKUPS by AP.

  • http://www.westagemusic.com/ Marc

    So this is basically quick actions with html 5 Support or how can we understand this?

  • George Abitbol

    Dear Android Police, why don't you explain this to me like I'm five ?
    Thanks !

    • asdakkkkkeeeed

      It seems like a layer in android which lets the os do things for apps. Maybe, you can think of it something like the current notifications where you can pause/play music without going into the app. Next question is why? What is it for? Google knows, we dont yet. It seems like would be useful to let you tie up your apps to other devices such as watches, glasses.. it's actually a current problem. Sure, your watch can send an sms thru ur phone and maybe install it's own apps but thats too tightly coupled and too loosely coupled at the same time. You dont want to be limited to basic features or maintain devices entirely in parallel. You want to have your android experience be tied together abstractly for YOU not to the devices

  • http://www.androided.in/ Pradeepkumar

    Probably Google might consider one OS platform rather than keeping two and kill Android for the sake of home grown Chrome OS. Google won't keep acquired stuffs for long. Soon it will be Chrome only, a common OS platform for all devices big and small and no Android.

  • DoubleP90

    I'm not liking this, especially the iOS look. GOOGLE DON'T SCREW THIS UP!!

  • coolscrotie

    can't say i totally understood where this is going, but i really hope they'll fix intents&multitasking, which has been an absolute mess so far.

    "Wanna open a link from twitter in the youtube app? Okay, but don't you try using multitasking to get back to twitter...because that's not working"

    • cabbieBot

      yea its like it hides twitter behind youtube so you have to back into it instead of choosing it from a multitask card

  • Trysta

    Still not sure I am understanding this properly but I hope if they do revamp multitasking they allow the ability to dismiss all. Having to dismiss apps one by one in the multitasking UI just seems completely unnecessary and inefficient. (And to those who say there is no need imagine not having the option to dismiss all notifications and having to dismiss them one by one)

  • Milton

    Who did google copy this time? Oh, right...

  • Sam Del Valle

    I like the UI but it can use some tweaks .

  • brnt brbn

    I don't understand what people are not understanding about this.

  • WitnessG

    Please let there be tinted status bars.

    • Wesley Modderkolk

      Since using the Tinted statusbar Xposed module I can't live without them anymore

      • WitnessG

        Exactly. I want to try out ART so badly but I don't want to leave Tinted Statusbar. I wish it was its only app because its the only xposed module I use.

    • Pavel Sikun

      I don't like them. At least when they're just plain color. They're nice if they have some texture on background though :)

  • duse

    I'm really tired of Google, Android is just now in a decent state. Only with KitKat does it finally look as polished as other OSes. Only recently is it as smooth as other OSes. Only now are third-party devs finally creating UIs with some consistency. It still seriously lags iOS in terms of privacy controls and background app management. There are still bugs galore causing wakelocks, random battery drain, etc. They should stick with what they got with KitKat and focus on improving the things people actually care about - ART, performance, battery life, privacy. Chrome already handles web apps on KitKat well with "Add to homescreen" and all that....maybe they should just focus on getting web apps like that a presence in the Play Store so people can find them. The LAST thing they want to be doing is touching the UI - devs will get confused or get tired of always changing things and the platform will never achieve real coherency. They need laser focus on stellar execution, higher quality, more accessible software and services (who outside of the tech circle even knows what Google+, Hangouts, Google Voice, etc. are?), and less "innovations" like these.

    • AbbyZFresh

      iOS is right around the corner. You didn't need to make make a whole paragraph of your rant.

    • Wesley Modderkolk

      "hey should stick with what they got with KitKat and focus on improving the things people actually care about - ART, performance, battery life, privacy."

      Ask a random person about what he/she thinks about that, I don't think anyone even knows what you are talking about.

      -What the hell is ART?
      -My phone runs smooth
      -My phone lasts a day
      -Google is stealing my personal data!!!

      Also I think you will get a lot of weird looks when you ask them about the battery life of their candy bar.

      They don't care about any of that, nor do they comprehend it, people want to see something instead of something that can only be "felt" and is only subjective to the people. (I was excited by the pace of my GSG2 when I installed 4.4, now I think it runs like crap).

      • duse

        People don't need to know that the OS is named KitKat or what ART is. They do care about the phone feeling fast and lasting all day or more with heavy use. You might not think the average person pays much attention to UI smoothness or things of that nature, but they do unknowingly. It all adds up to how "easy" the phone feels to use overall. Android is still not as approachable and easy to live with as it needs to be. Ask yourself why Google needs to pursue another UI or app-development paradigm change. What will benefit the platform more - a brand new web-based UI and app dev stack that everyone has to learn and will slow development in the meantime, just as everyone is finally getting onboard with KitKat UI design, or iterative improvements to the security, robustness, privacy, speed, etc. of the platform? You might say they are still doing the latter, but the former is a distraction. They need to nail the more core things first.

    • Afrika Pay

      You do realize that Android is on a 1 year release cycle (new version once a year). If you know anything of software planning, you realize bug fixes are always planned as things to address along with new improvements. Your complaint is pointless. Features are addressed by priority and there is no indication that the bugs you are refering to will not be fixed. In the case of the Nexus 5, there was a lot of complaints about the camera and other stuffs and Google issued out a bug fix roll out. So you are not in the position to prioritize any release or bug fixes in any release.. If you want to give a feedback, do it and leave it there. If you are unhappy as a customer about the state of the ecosystem, switch to Windows Phone or iOs.

      • duse

        It's whack-a-mole with bugs. New ones crop as fast as old ones are squashed, especially when they make such sweeping changes. We all accepted that brisk change with Android for several years, because it needed to evolve. Sooner or later the instability of the platform will only alienate and confuse users.

    • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

      Android 5.0 will bring the UI overhaul anyway, can't evade nor deny that

      • duse

        It shouldn't be a fact or necessity, it should only happen if it needs to. And it shows no sign of needing to right now. This is their problem, they change their UIs seemingly for fun, not for any actual end-user or usability benefit. iOS app design hasn't changed in 7 years, and while you could argue it's a bit stale or limiting, it's still working fine.

  • http://flavors.me/sabret00the sabret00the

    Sundar Pichai's answer to everything is ecosystem dependency. In some regards that's a good thing, but it's also bad. Yes ecosystem dependency and push helped to make Chrome into the beamoth that it is, but it's also kept pushed people away. Android has been walking a fine line of late. People that have typically been anti-Google (Search) has succumb to the allure of Maps and even Now on Android, but this move only aims to disenfranchise such users. It'll be interesting to see the fallout. A Google Services dependency while annoying gives the user the impression of being in control of their experience, this Chrome dependency destroys that illusion and could end up costing Android users.

  • Martin

    Google finally gets it.. If you wanna beat Apple.. Make it look like Apple! :-))) And I like it! Love the iOS but love the customization.. So this is perfect for me :-)))

  • Simon Belmont

    Hmm. Well, if this change is coming at I/O, I'd call this an Android 5.0 level update and not just another point update like Android 4.0 through Android 4.4 has been (which were fine because they were basically optimizing, honing, and generally improving things with each iteration, and it showed).

    I can't say that I like the new multitasking UI, but I remember before Honeycomb and ICS, seeing mock-ups of the new multitasking UI and not liking it then, either, (compared to what I was used to with Android 1.0 to Android 2.3) so I'll give Google the benefit of the doubt this time. If Google can make it so multitasked apps that have sent an intent to another app become a separate task inside of incorrectly showing the wrong app icon and name attached to the screenshot in the multitasking UI (which has been broken for a while), I would be really happy.

  • senor_heisenberg

    Hmmm, I don't like the way this looks at all aesthetically. Current Holo looks much better. Design aside, like others here, I'm not sure I understand the point I'd this, or what's it's even trying to do. Based on the little i was able to understand, it doesn't seem like something that would improve user experience.

  • Ashish Singh

    Hi, I can confirm Android 4.5 is due for a UI overhaul.

    • Sam Hollis

      Sauce?

      • Daniel Traynor

        Tomatoe please.

  • Ashish Singh

    Hi, I can confirm Android 4.5 is due for a UI overhaul.

  • RockAndRock

    WTF... It's ugly ...

  • Daeshaun Griffiths

    i think i got it. Android is turning into Google Now.

  • http://mikelward.com/ Mikel

    The time in every screenshot is 6:04.

    Android 6.04 confirmed!

    • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

      and in the leak the time is 13:26

      It's happening - April, 6th, 13:26, 2015!

  • Fred G. Vader

    As other guys have noted, I have no idea what the hell Hera is trying to accomplish. But one thing that stands out to me is this. Chromium is coming to Android. And Chromium runs the Dart VM. Dart is google's new programming language to help simplify web development (cause JavaScript is a pain in the ass to a large group of developers).

    If the Dart VM is present then Dart's performance is about 2x better than JavaScript. Dart can be translated to JavaScript for platforms that won't allow the Dart VM so it is great for cross platform development. Simply put this means that we can look forward to some very fast and responsive Dart/HTML5 apps on Android.

  • Alan Paone

    I'd love to know what kind of drugs you and your source were on. Somewhere in this, there's two parts to what appears to be happening:
    1. Google is merging Play and the Chrome Webstore, this means hooks for APIs like Web-Intents to work with Android Intents and vice versa. Along with a refinement and extension of the existing Intents paradigm.

    2. Google is redesigning Android's UI to bring notifications and task switching closer together and make things more colourful.
    All of this has been happening in the open since the unveiling of the Chrome Web Store and Google Play (and Jellybean, too), and it's weird that insiders like yourselves didn't connect the rumours to what are obvious plans for google. The fact that they have an overarching name points to the fact that we (and your source) are missing something big.

  • Trent Callahan

    I have an alarming amount of IDC running through my body...

  • steelew

    I would be happy if the search results that come up in google now were brought up in chrome. As it is now, you get a beautiful google now search result and if you click on any of the results, you have to choose a browser to view the results in. This would be best if you were already in chrome. Here's hoping they merge. That's change I can believe in ;)

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

    I've done my best to explain what I believe Hera is about in this Google+ post:

    https://plus.google.com/113781386215450614303/posts/XGk6Y3ytJxN

    Note that some of it is speculation, and that being a little more familiar with the source material, I have the benefit of assuming some things that may not be obvious. Hopefully it will help clear some of the confusion about Hera up. Or make it more confusing, I don't know.

  • Caskla

    Anyone know where I can get that wallpaper?

  • Deeco

    All this from a Gmail app leak? We will know that there will be big changes, but Google ain't stupid enough to choose that butt ugly of UI.

    • hp420

      the screenshots (except the right-most gmail one) are mock-ups made by android central, not google. they are supposed to demonstrate what ap believes it could look like after functionality is added. they whip these up in like 10 minutes just to give you a visual idea. it's not intended to be a final representation of the release version's gui.

      • Steve B

        THIS. I think people are missing this point.

      • Steve B

        THIS. I think people are missing this point.

  • hp420

    Sounds like this just syncs all tasks across all devices, sort of like how chrome currently will sync all your tabs across devices...this just does it with your installed apps as well.....right?

    • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

      Bring on the noifications sync from last year's Google I/O!

  • http://www.emuparadise.me/roms-isos-games.php Apple is a patent troll

    Great, now make it so they can work offline since not everyone can be always online.

  • http://rayshq.com/ Ray

    If that is what the next version of Android is going to look like - or at the very least, the apps - I'm really not looking forward to it. I'd rather sit on outdated apps and Android 4.4.2 on my Nexus 5 then move to this crap that looks like it has been designed by a 6 year old with a pack of crayons.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Please don't let an early leak with mockups and a ton of unknowns turn you away - it's way too early to make any calls about how Android is going to transform in the next major release. Let's wait and see and reserve judgment, shall we?

      • http://rayshq.com/ Ray

        Totally agree. I understand it is just a rumour. But that's why I 'if'. I just hope these rumours aren't true.

      • Prasad Tiruvalluri

        Don't worry Artem, this looks pretty. A lot of my friends commented that this looks beautiful when I sent this to my friends so there are people who like this too

      • Justin Foster

        Exactly I'm actually thinking that the company behind timely is going to beautify it in a way that we can't even imagine. I haven't seen a leak of the next Android version yet that's really shown exactly how it's going to look so I'm not at all Discouraged . I'm actually very excited to see what Google+ bit spin equals 😜

  • Greek_Ice

    So a retort to ParanoidAndroid's Halo of old.

  • Phantom

    what a terrible IU, the current "half hamburguer" slide out menu looks so much better, i don't know what they are thinking..

    Also if i uderstand it correctly...google will make a lot of things for you, but they will SURELY require internet connection, and that WILL be a big problem.

  • A2theC

    Honestly I don't like those bright colored thick bars or bubble in my gmail, I like the way things look currently (or gmail before bubbles). Then again I don't like iphones or the way they work, so obviously I am stupid and wrong!

  • black

    Oh man, so many people are eating their words right now. That could very well be the new gmail look, not an htc email app!

    Comment on article: Mmkay :

  • Alex

    I don't think Google is really trying to unify the experience across all devices, it's a stupid idea(like what Windows 8 failed to do ). I think it's just screen shots of Chrome Apps for Android.

  • Avi David

    W can all ready see the new ui in the update for google keep (app, web) and the sync of google now from android to the web with google chrome. http://techit.co.il/2014/04/google-android-apps-new-flat-ui-hera/

  • Rane

    I love Google and Android current UI looks awesome to me.

    I think that this new UI is not beautiful nor is it due anytime soon. The hamburger menu and navigation drawer look awesome so why change it to this ios 7-like UI?

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/108482452903817442299/posts Andrew Bone

    Does this mean, a merger between the play store and the chrome store? I think it really needs to happen

  • Lars

    So many words, so little actual information. (;_:)

  • SayWhat?

    Interesting. I just released some mock-ups imagining a Chrome OS version for Android one week ago.
    http://viewout.net/2014/31/03/concept/Imagining-Chromephone-OS

    • Sir_Brizz

      Looks almost identical to Windows Phone........

      • ddpacino

        But I think worse. I wish they never do anything close to that.

  • ddpacino

    "So, if you had Google Maps open on your tablet showing directions to a place, and you forgot the address, there would already be a Hera instance in your multitasking view with the same activity."

    This seems like something along the lines of Google Now, and me likey.

  • Stephen Diniz

    Remember when Gnome went to version 3?

  • nexus 5

    "ok google" in spanish please... very bad google

  • Matthew Fry

    FULL HAMBURGER!

    A note to any Google devs that might be reading the comments on this, please consider shortening the action bar if these mockups are accurate. The giant flat color makes for a huge waste of space and looks worse because it extends into the status bar, not better.

  • didibus

    Please, don't turn the multitasking view into a pile of cards, that's a lot more difficult to see all open apps.

  • Cedx D.

    I really hope this UI will not be the next. Too Ugly !

  • Kenny Strawn

    Let's not forget JB's "Project Butter"... Surprised Svelte was mentioned while it wasn't.

    As for the redesign, it does seem to be an awful lot more consistent across apps (something Android sorely needs), but I seriously hope that multitasking view — reminiscent of M$'s "Flip 3D" from the Windows Vista days — is NOT real...

  • http://www.emuparadise.me/roms-isos-games.php Apple is a patent troll

    If its going to be yet another always online bullshit then i'll happily pass on this.

  • jcon

    This can't be true, and here's why. Google would never move away from the Android design guidelines that much at this point.

    You can take a look at the status bar:
    the transparent part of every icon is making the background darker, instead of lighter, like on the current OS version;
    Every icon is using a darker shade of white, too.

    Also, in the Gmail app:
    The shadows are too dark;
    The introduction of text shadow in the avatars makes it really bad;
    The colors of those avatar circles don't match that light background and I know where those colors might be taken from.

    Bad sources.

  • andrea mitchell

    why does everything google does now look like total shit aesthetically , they ruined youtube and their same plain as fuck designs that look like they were designed by autist retards are pervasive in all their products now , google devs confirmed for sperglords

  • andrea mitchell

    this is what you get with a company run buy communist bolshevick jews,that hires a bunch of autisitc sperglord developers with no imagination or artisic abilities plain as fuck ,generic as fuck , UGLY as fuck designs , reminds me of something you would have seen in the former soviet union, government brand X (insert name of product here,cereal, toilet paper, whatever) apple and their minimalist aesthetics were bad enough,but at least they looked good , this not only hides everything under hard to find tucked away generic interface but it looks like complete plain as fuck POS to boot

  • jimv1983

    I'm note really impressed with the look of the header bar on the apps. It's ugly. I really hope it doesn't look like this.