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Design

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Saying goodbye to Android Police and hello to Google

Sometimes telling my own story is a challenge. So, after more than 5 years at AP, figuring out what to include in this post and how to write it hasn't been easy. But in the interest of eliminating suspense, I’ll give you the news up front:

I'm joining Google as part of the Design Relations team!

Android Police has been a big part of my life since I first started talking to Artem about contributing back in 2011. I won’t spell out the whole story here - if you want all the gory details I’ll tell you over coffee. But being part of the AP team has given me innumerable opportunities for new experiences, exploration, expression, and friendship.

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Roman Nurik's Android Asset Studio gets a dazzling visual refresh

The Android Asset Studio, a tool developed by Googler Roman Nurik, is indispensable for developers and designers alike. Need to generate a nine-patch without stopping to think about where your 1px black lines need to go? How about a quick icon or two? The Asset Studio has you covered. But for all its useful functions, the last time we had a major visual refresh to cover was back in 2012 when it adopted all the #33B5E5, #holoyolo goodness of Android's older design language.

That changed overnight when Nurik launched a massive visual refresh for the studio, along with cleaner code in an effort to make contributing easier.

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Material design guidelines updated with guidance on cross-platform design, app shortcut icons, help, & more

Since Google introduced material design in 2014, the questions of whether and how to use the design language on other platforms like iOS has lingered. But Google hasn't been a stranger to material on iOS. Inbox users for instance should feel right at home moving between iOS and Android, as many of the interface's core components are shared.

In an update to the material guidelines today, Google is taking a more explicit position on the matter with new guidance for bringing material design to iOS and web. The guidance definitely isn't comprehensive - it doesn't dive very deep into the more nuanced considerations for cross-platform design like platform-specific feature sets, esoteric navigation and action patterns, etc.

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Google's Device Art Generator updated with Pixel & Pixel XL frames

If you're into framing screenshots with beautiful device art, the process really doesn't get much easier than using Google's official Device Art Generator. Perennially updated with the latest Google devices, the tool started its life as part of Roman Nurik's indispensable Android Asset Studio project, but since graduated to the official Android developers site.

The latest update to the generator, if you haven't guessed, includes frames for the Pixel and Pixel XL. Also at the top of the lineup are the Android Wear, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P frames. The "older devices" selection has over time been pared down to just the Nexus 6 and 9.

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Material design guidelines translated into Japanese ahead of SPAN 2016 in Tokyo

Until now, the material design guidelines, which guides developers and designers for Android, Chrome OS, and the web on how to make an app that aligns with the respective platform, have only been available in English. Right before SPAN 2016, a design conference tomorrow in Tokyo, the material design guidelines have appeared in Japanese, direct from Google.

This version of the guidelines is a little different from the English copy. Instead of being available on the web and written in good ol' HTML and CSS, the Japanese translations are available as a series of PDF documents that are downloaded and available locally on your computer.

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Opinion: My early thoughts on Google's round icons (and consistency for its own sake)

By the time this post goes up, I'm sure most of our readers will have seen Google's circlified icons in the new Pixel launcher, bound for the new Pixel phones. I've been asked a few times what I think about the new launcher and, for the most part, I don't have a strong opinion. But I do have some thoughts about the circlified icons, some guesses at the rationale, and some thoughts about the downsides of consistency for its own sake. As with any written-from-the-outside post about design, I want to note up front that we aren't privy to any research, data, or other information Google used to make its decisions, so the best we can do is respectfully speculate and ponder.

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Material design spec adds guidance on 'up' vs 'back' navigation, strong words for notification spam, and more in August update

After adding an entirely new section on motion - and new guidance on onboarding and growth - back in May, Google Design is back with another update to the material design spec.

The August 2016 release includes new documentation for Nougat's new notifications, confirming and acknowledging user actions, and widgets, with updates coming to the navigation and full-screen mode sections.

Nougat's notifications, as we've seen through a handful of preview releases now, have a somewhat more complex or info-rich design compared to previous generations. In its new section on notifications, the spec breaks down all the bits and pieces from headers to action areas.

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Opinion: The bottom navigation section in the Material guidelines is not license to port an iOS navigation model

Bottom nav bars. Between the time of Gingerbread and Marshmallow, they seemed to become significantly less prevalent on Android (or maybe I was just able to avoid more of them), with many developers and designers going for other navigation models. But those other nav models - specifically the hamburger menu - aren't always ideal. Often, teams worry that items in the drawer are "hidden" from users. Sometimes immediate visibility and total obscurity seem like the only two realistic options.

To be fair, it's true that ensuring users see these options each and every time they open the app tends to increase usage. And while the situation isn't so dire, it makes sense to have official guidance on popular navigation patterns.

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Google Updates Design Spec With New Recommendations On Motion & Growth

Google, following through on its promise that the material design spec is a "living document," has updated its design guidelines and suggestions again, this time adding more guidance on motion design, along with new sections for growth & communications and expanding panels.

First up, let's look at what's new in motion - Google has given motion design a more comprehensive section, outlining the principles of motion in material design. The section explains that material motion is responsive, natural, aware, and intentional. Transitions should be quick, clear, and cohesive.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 9.51.30 PM

After that brief primer, the motion section goes on to detail - at length - everything from duration and easing to transforming pieces of material and thinking about custom motion patterns that fit in with the material world.

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Download: Android N Notification Sticker Sheet (For Sketch) To Quickly Mock Up Notifications

For the designers in our audience, I'm back with another quick Sketch resource to download - this time, it's a sticker sheet for N-style notifications. There are eight variations, plus a simple frame to stick your sample notifications in.

Android N's notifications actually follow a very predictable style so far. There's a header line, which usually has an icon, app name, some secondary identifying info, time, and an expand/collapse toggle, and then there are two lines of text. The top line is primary messaging or identifying info (like a message-sender's name) and the second line is a secondary message, explanation, or text preview.

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