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Stock Android Isn't Perfect: Lollipop Edition

Of course, now that we've posted Getting To Know Android: Lollipop Edition, it's time to get picky and have a look at the things that still need fixing. As always, we'll be running through some of the issues hanging around in the latest iteration of Android, and taking a look at what's been fixed since our last Stock Android Isn't Perfect post.

Fixes and Updates

Lollipop, as I said in the other post, is probably the biggest change Android has ever seen, so some issues from KitKat have simply disappeared, while others have been fixed in their own ways. We'll take a look at what's changed from our last SAIP entry, and then continue on with the new nitpicks as necessary.

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Google Appears To Be Testing New Design Tweaks For Its Mobile Web Results Page

It seems like just yesterday when Google was testing a new layout for the search engine results page, with colorful underlines separating search results into individual cards.

That layout ended up sticking, and now it seems Google is at it again, testing some rather pleasing new tweaks for the SERP.

We can't be sure just yet who will see these changes or whether they'll become permanent, but check out the before and after shots provided by a tipster below.

nexus2cee_screenshot_2015-04-16-13-28-41 (1) nexus2cee_screenshot_2015-04-16-13-21-00 (1)

left: current layout right: new layout

The new layout is undeniably more influenced by Google's material design. The only information missing in the new view is one search result and one line of text indicating that a user has visited a results page before (but that may be because the new layout appeared for our tipster only in incognito mode).

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Google Updates Material Design Spec With Dedicated FAB Section, Updates On Typography, Cards, And More

Back in November, Google updated its new design guidelines for the first time, adding guidance on the navigation drawer and launcher icons, and - happily - a "what's new" section, which it said would serve as a place to explain future updates to the guidelines.

Yesterday, Google gave the guidelines another sizable update, adding an entire section to guide devs and designers on when and how to use floating action buttons, along with new guidelines for data tables, overall app structure, and guidance on important units and measurements, plus a lot more. Here's Google's full list of changes.

What's new

The April 2015 release of the material design spec includes the following new sections:

Additional significant content updates include:

  • Typography adds further guidance on style and line height for dense and tall languages
  • Cards includes more specs for laying out actions and content
  • Dialogs contains additional layout guidance
  • Tabs adds guidance around label content and more complete sizing specs
  • Scrolling techniques adds guidance for overlapping content

Where Google's last update to the guidelines seemed to be about filling holes, this update is positioned as a response to the community, giving more specific guidance on things that seem to have arisen as points of interest in material design.

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[Android 5.1 Feature Spotlight] 'Dismiss All' Button Turns Into A Delightful Detail

When Google introduced Android 5.0 with material design back at IO14, one part of the new design methodology that received a lot of attention was animation. Implementing cohesive, sensible, predictable animations is a big part of Google's new design push, but - as the guidelines point out - "delightful details" are just as important.

In Android 5.1, Google has turned the "dismiss all" button in the notification shade into one such detail. The icon has been flipped around to accommodate a new animation. When the user touches the icon to dismiss all notifications, it smoothly animates out, mimicking the motion of the notifications above it.

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[Android 5.1 Feature Spotlight] Fast Scroll Bars Receive Design Tweak

If you thought we had run out of details to talk about in Android's latest Lollipop iteration, think again. We'll go into 5.1 in gory detail for Getting to Know Android but in the meantime there are still a couple of little details worth pointing out individually. One of those is a tweak to fast scroll bars.

Fast scroll bars are typically used in lists of alphabetically-organized content, where users might want to quickly scroll to a particular entry or section. In 5.0, the fast scroll bar was an oblong shape sitting on a tiny little wire of a scroll track, but it served its purpose.

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[Update: Another Variation] Google Testing Extra Reminder Button In Inbox

A few days ago, we noticed a new sight in Inbox by Gmail - another FAB. The new floating action button is blue, and exists only to create reminders. Since then, we've received numerous reports of the FAB popping up for more users. Personally, only one of my two accounts has the new FAB, suggesting that this might be a slow rollout or even an A/B test for the new feature.

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New YouTube Interface Rolling Out To Some Users Ditches The Hamburger Menu

Just in case you were getting comfortable with the YouTube app's latest design, it looks like there may be more changes in store. It seems a number of users are encountering a new YouTube interface, apparently triggered server-side without an app update.

The change sees YouTube's hamburger menu flipping right out of the interface, going the way of Google+ in discarding the left-side navigation drawer. Instead, users are given four primary tabs - Home, Trending, Subscriptions, and your profile. Interestingly, a couple of these tabs seem to have bars underneath to switch from, say, all videos to music on the home tab, or from uploads to channels on the subscription tab.

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Yes, Your Brand Can Survive A Material Redesign

Google's material design, which I've written about a number of times, has generally been received well by designers, developers, and press alike. We've seen numerous apps adopt it, developers explain and evangelize it, and users react positively to it.

Still, there have been nagging questions about the new design philosophy. A big one, and one that could potentially be a stumbling block for adoption, is the question of branding. Some voice concerns that material design may overshadow existing brands if implemented to Google's spec, or that it's too difficult to brand a "material design app."

Someone recently asked me what I thought about the relationship between branding opportunities and material design, and while I was able to come up with a short version of the answer, there are a few different things packed into this issue that are worth exploring.

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Groupon Gets Material-Inspired Refresh In Latest Update

Adoption of material design appears to be on an upward trend. It seems that every few days we hear news about another app refreshing its design with some inspiration from Google's new aesthetic, with some apps using the design language at launch. This is great for users who have been hungry for a more unified, cohesive design language on Android.

Continuing the trend, Groupon has introduced its update to version 15.2, heavily inspired by material design. The update, while just a 0.1 version bump, greatly refines the app's interface. The tab bar is now colorized and brought into line with Google's recommendations, and the app has adopted the new navigation drawer, including an account switcher and simple iconography.

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[Android 5.1 Feature Spotlight] Contacts Gets A Few Welcomed Tweaks

We've already posted plenty of interesting tidbits and changes from Android 5.1, but of course there's still more to uncover. It looks like in the latest version of Lollipop, Google has given the Contacts app a few welcomed tweaks.

With Lollipop 5.0, most of the Contacts app graduated to a slick new experience inspired by material, but for some reason the contact creation/editing screens clung to old holo paradigms.

The newly tweaked editing layout in Android 5.1 makes a decidedly more thoughtful use of horizontal lines and adheres to material design's standard keylines (at 16 and 72dp) making for a cleaner, clearer interface with helpful iconography highlighting each type of field.

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