Hey, did you notice yet? Our other site, APK Mirror, got an update a little while ago. Things are... different. The site's design has been updated, and that means we've made some functional changes too.
We considered renting an all-white studio and some film equipment to tell a heartfelt (and, frankly, heartwarming) story about the new design - about how subatomic particles are related to APK files, how we carefully cut each button out of aircraft grade aluminum, how each material sheet is thinner and lighter than anything you've seen before, or something along those lines. But I couldn't get the budget cleared with Artem in time for this post, so we thought a simpler overview of what we've changed (and fixed) might be better.
So what's actually new? Under the hood, as you might have guessed, we've spent a lot of time speeding things up (and there are more improvements to come), but let's take a look at the main page first.
The front page
Dare to compare with the old front page, below:
The first thing you'll probably notice is the bright orange header. One of the themes of the new design is bolder use of color which we'll see represented across the site. In this case the header is colored to match the new APKM orange. The logo has also been reworked to a single-color version of its former self with translucent wedges that reveal whatever color lies underneath.
The front page also shows off another overarching theme of the site which is more responsible use of space. App tiles are smaller reserving supportive information for each app's info panel. The date is now what groups app tiles into sheets eliminating the need for a date on every single tile. This allows us to show at least 9 apps above the fold in the main content area compared to 5 and a half before without making the page look crowded. The same typography found on the front page has made its way through the entire interface, increasing info density without making things harder to read.
Our upload button has gone from a free-floating FAB to an icon next to search which itself has moved into the header to lend more space to the side bar.
Speaking of the header's contents, we've adjusted navigation into a more sensible scheme. The front page header now only links to All developers, Latest uploads, our brand new FAQ (with advice on extracting APKs and finding the right APK for your device), and a contact link. We'll discuss navigation more a little later.
Last but not least on the front page, we have pagination! Rather than pressing "see more" and hopping to another page, there are pages right at the bottom so you can more easily browse through APK uploads chronologically.
Getting to your APK file
Of course the main feature of APKM is app listings and finding the APK file you're looking for.
APKM's use of color manifests in app listings as a header color automatically extracted from the app icon. The site-wide header recedes and lends most of its space to the app and its related navigation. Since there are several levels for each developer/app, we've moved to a "breadcrumb" system, making it clear where the user came from so they can retrace their steps.
The extracted color also touches all links on a page, giving the pages more internally consistent aesthetics.
We've also separated out "what's new" from "uploader notes," so you can see what's new from an app page per release, rather than only seeing what's new in notes on each individual upload. We're also grabbing app descriptions from the Play Store, just in case you run across an app you haven't seen before on APK Mirror.
But the changes aren't all about looks. We've done a lot of work here (with more to do) to make sure that APKs are organized sensibly and clearly. Previously, "variants" of an APK showed up as individual listings. Google, for instance, is known for uploading several variants of some apps, containing assets for various device architectures and densities. This complicated finding the right APK for your device.
Now, we have a table on the app's main page that lists all the characteristics that apply to a given variant, so you can choose the right one more quickly.
You might also notice a few new icons on these pages. In the upper left corner of the info sheet, we have a QR code icon (if you're into that sort of thing), a share icon, a quick link to the Play Store, the Pushbullet icon, and an RSS icon. No longer are feeds for apps/variants hidden - you can just hit that icon to grab whatever feed you like. If you're subscribing via Pushbullet, you can even subscribe to specific architectures or DPIs per app.
Once you get to the actual APK download page, you can switch variants if you need to using the breadcrumb menu mentioned earlier.
The download page also indicates things like Wear and TV compatibility, and gives all the information you'd expect like file name, size, characteristics, Wearable APK version, and upload date/time. Speaking of time, the time stamps now load in UTC and transition to your device's time zone.
This is a pretty tremendous update to APK Mirror, but we still aren't done yet. There will be more improvements and tweaks coming as we continue to learn and get feedback about the site, and as it continues to scale. If you've got feedback or questions, hit our contact form and let us know what you think! Otherwise stay up to date by following APKM on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.