It's no secret – the mobile interface for Google's Play Store could use some help. A recent comment thread on Reddit points to the fact that many users feel that the Play Store's interface is just a mess. Others suggest that its level of finesse just doesn't jive with Google's overall habits of design. While Google's recent "toolbar" overhaul resulted in a pleasing, easy-to-use interface which successfully unified navigation between all of the search giant's services, the Play Store (at least on phones and tablets) is messy, jumbled, and just feels disorganized.
Back in the early days of Android, HTC's Sense UI really stood out as a much-needed step up in the UI department, compared both to stock Android and to competitors custom UIs. Like a hard-partying rock star, though, it just didn't age well; it went from sleek, helpful, and attractive, to bloated and borderline obtrusive. Sense 4.0 - which we spotted slapped atop of Ice Cream Sandwich - was definitely a step against that direction in some ways, but still offended some people - Cameron included.
My favorite gallery replacement app QuickPic, which is notorious for its speed and simplicity, just got updated with a brand new spiffy UI based on the new Android design guidelines that were published at the time of the Ice Cream Sandwich release.
The new UI in v2.0 is now much cleaner and more fluid, with action buttons at the top right and context buttons showing up dynamically on the bottom when they're needed.
Astrid has been one of the most popular To-Do list apps for Android for years. Today it's getting a facelift and a few extra features. Most notably, Astrid now has a spiffy tablet UI. Making use of the Fragments API, Astrid lays out your Lists panel, your individual tasks, and details on each individual task for easy access. Like so:
Simple, straightforward, and easy. The new UI is being added to more than just tablets, though.
Bump, a wildly popular wireless transfer app for Android and iOS, got an update to version 3.0 today, bringing several enhancements to the table. Perhaps the most notable among these is the completely redesigned interface, which Bump Technologies Inc. describes as both simple and beautiful. The UI appears to have been updated to a more ICS-cohesive design, bringing a tabbed interface and "action overflow" button to enhance functionality.
Besides the new UI, Bump has made contact transfer touch-free, enabled the transfer of "as many photos as you want" in one bump, and added an interesting feature that allows users to discover mutual friends by scanning through both parties' phonebooks.
Google Voice received its first major update in some time earlier today, undergoing a major UI refresh for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich devices (Gingerbread devices only see minor changes, such as the app icon), as well as new interface for Honeycomb and ICS tablets. Under the hood, SMS offline message queuing is now supported and works for multiple recipients.
Unfortunately, it still is ungodly slow to load on my Gingerbread phone, and scrolls like something from Android 1.6.
Let's face it: when Android first officially dropped, it was ugly as hell and not exactly designed with non-techies in mind. But as we've seen in the past 3 years (and a few months) since then, things have come a long way (albeit gradually at first) - the look, feel, and usability of vanilla Android became a major focus in the last year or so, especially with Gingerbread (2.3), Honeycomb(3.0), and Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0).
Tasker, an extremely versatile (and popular) app which allows users to schedule (and control) various automated tasks, received an update today, bringing the app to version 1.2.
The update brings a handful of important changes, perhaps the most notable being the addition of "Scenes." Using this new feature, Tasker allows users to design custom graphical interfaces, which appear as overlays, dialogs, or full activities.
Besides Scenes, Tasker's latest iteration also fixes compatibility issues with Ice Cream Sandwich, and includes a tweaked home screen, which conveniently divides Profiles, Tasks, and Scenes in an intuitive tabbed interface.