Yesterday, we finally decided to get to the bottom of Google Keep's new font, Roboto Slab. Shortly before that, however, we had an internal discussion about Keep's strange UI/UX. The app is beautiful – there's no denying that – but weird when considered alongside Google's other in-house apps. What's more, I'm of the opinion that the app isn't just a one-off in terms of design – I think that Keep, along with a few other hints, could give us some insight into what we'll see in the next version of Android (which we might see in May at Google I/O).
In an update to version 4.2.16, Google's YouTube app has received a (thankfully) refreshed UI for ten-inch screens, along with some bug fixes. The "revamped" UI seems to be the only thing of note in this update (though if there are any hidden goodies, you can be sure Ron will tell us about them soon), but it makes for a great refresh. For the sake of comparison, we'll take a look at a few before and after shots.
The app's start page is much cleaner, featuring a side-bar navigation system and bigger, cleaner tiles representing videos relevant to whatever selection you've made, defaulting to your subscription feed.
In its One X+ announcement, HTC also announced some changes to Sense. While none were groundbreaking (so don't expect a visual overhaul) and not a lot of details were revealed, the company did mention a few things were being upgraded.
Protip: the image on the left is gigantic when full-sized. Apparently HTC's target date was September 24.
The camera software seems to have received the bulk of the changes, starting with the front-facer, which now includes Self Portrait mode (previewed below, left). As you'd expect, it makes taking self-shots easier by "detecting the human face at various angles and applying subtle enhancements to skin and eyes" - in other words, it auto-'Shops you.
Mapsaurus, released today by a developer team of the same name, is perhaps the new app to end all new apps. By pairing an interactive map of Google's Play Store with an intuitive UX, Mapsaurus takes app discovery to a new level – not just of ease, but also of convenience.
The app, which promises to help users "discover apps you never would have known to search for," can branch out an interactive web of apps and games based on apps you already have installed, curated subcategories, or general categories and function sets.
What's great about Mapsaurus is that it not only helps you find new apps and games, but that the selections it displays are curated to ensure that no "mediocre" or sub-par entries are suggested.
With the introduction of Draw Something's "fresh new look!" update a couple of days ago came many design changes, not all of them entirely great. Just for fun, I decided to take a shot at making Draw Something's design slightly "fresher," or at least slightly more sensible. Just like my last design critique, I'll start by taking a look at what issues the current design has, and then make a few suggestions (with some quick mockups) as to what I think could be improved.
To be completely fair, Draw Something's new look isn't terrible. It's just not what it could be.
It's not every day that I get excited when I look at a UI demo, largely because they tend to end up being vaporware. But it's hard to ignore a revolutionary UI when one comes along - and that's exactly what Chameleon is:
Still not sold? Check out this demo video from 2 months ago, when Chameleon was first announced:
It's certainly a stunning UI, and one that manages the rare feat of being equal parts beautiful and functional. But there's a catch: the company initially intended to sell Chameleon to OEMs, but it seems they couldn't find a buyer - so they're taking to Kickstarter.
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. If you haven't examined the mobile interface in a while, let's take a look:
There are a number of issues that immediately jump out to me when looking at this interface.
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).
Left: Cupcake (1.5). Right: Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0)
Again, while it just plain looks a lot nicer now, things are much deeper than what can be shown in a screenshot.
While we've had a chance to put Samsung's upcoming flagship Tab 10.1 tablet through 3 weeks of rigorous testing, there was one thing left that we could not touch - the custom TouchWiz UX tablet interface, also known as TouchWiz 4.0. If you remember, Samsung announced last week that the first tablet units would be running pure Honeycomb, just like our review unit, with the TouchWiz upgrade arriving over-the-air sometime after.
This didn't stop Phone Arena from acquiring some Tab 8.9 hardware with TouchWiz UX already pre-installed and digging through it, looking for goodies Samsung packaged with their soon-to-come overlay.