Sometimes it seems like YouTube is perpetually testing different interfaces for its Android app. Based on reports we've received recently, yet another set of modifications is being tested. The latest round of tweaks is on the subtle side: some are seeing the thumbnails for individual videos in the Home tab show view counts, with more space for video titles and the channel logo repositioned below.
Back in December, we reported on a new "pseudo-drawer" for the YouTube app on Android - replacing the horizontal list of avatars and activity indicators found on phones, the drawer gave users a scrollable vertical list of subscriptions - avatars and names - along with actual numbers.
Now, it looks like the drawer is getting some tweaks. First, it overlaps the UI when expanded now, rather than pushing everything to the side. Whether this is better or not is debatable, but the more important change is inside the drawer itself. Instead of just "Channels," the drawer header now has filters to let users sort their subscriptions by relevance or new activity.
The YouTube app's hamburgerless layout has been with us for a while now, and while it's gotten a mixed bag of reactions, Google is still iterating on it slowly but surely. It seems like the latest development is a new layout on tablets for the subscription tab.
Previously, a strip of avatars lined the top of the content area, with blue dots to indicate whether the channel had a new video for you. In the new layout - which seems to be rolling out pretty quickly from the server-side judging from our inbox - subs have their own sort of pseudo-drawer on the left of the screen.
Another long design test appears to be drawing to a close for Google. After apparently beginning a wider rollout for the new mobile search UI (in testing since April), it seems that Google is making the revised image results UI final too.
This layout has been popping up since at least May, with a brighter, more crisp interface that offers more iconography, refined typography, and - yes - a section for related images.
Google's remote application for controlling Android TV with your smartphone is... OK. It's adequate. It beats inputting passwords letter-by-letter with a physical remote, and that's about all you can say in praise of the app. While it lets you perform a voice search, it won't launch TV apps without going back to the home screen, and its trackpad isn't a cursor (as some apps might benefit from), it's just a gesture pad. But that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement, specifically on Android tablets. Here's what version 1.0 looked like on a tablet:
Ugh. Version 1.1, just released on the Play Store, fixes this rather embarrassing formatting and adds a little polish as well.
For mobile photographers, collage apps are second only to filters in their ability to take low-res images and make them look somewhat interesting. Rather than continue to cede this area to competing apps, Instagram has decided to create its own dedicated piece of software. It's called Layout.
Layout can pull photos from your gallery or instantly arrange images as you snap them. Then you drag, resize, flip, or rotate different parts of the collage by tapping, pinching, pulling, and twisting your fingertips against the screen. Naturally users will have the option to share their creativity on their Instagram feeds.
While the app is immediately available in the Apple App Store, but it won't show up for Android for several months.
Search, as the foundational product Google is known for, is obviously something the company is very thoughtful of when it comes to design. Even small changes can cause a big impact on user experience and engagements, so Google is careful about how design tweaks are implemented.
One common method of testing and easing into (or out of) design tweaks is A/B testing (something we recently saw Google experimenting with in the Google+ app). Today, it looks like Google has begun an experiment on its search engine results page when users search from Chrome on mobile devices. Rather than show results in a lineup, separated by gray lines, Google is playing with a layout that puts each result on its own card, underscored by a line colored to match one of Google's four primary brand colors - blue, green, yellow, and red.
If you've noticed a few changes around the Play Store on a desktop browser, you're not alone. Some Chrome users spotted a new layout for app pages on Google Play starting this yesterday evening. It isn't universal, and it seems to be a minority for the moment - only one Android Police staff member saw the updated layout, and even then, only in the latest beta for Chrome (40.0.2214.45).
The change modifies the full-width view that we've grown used to into a more narrow, three-column view. The "Similar" and "More from developer" sections of the Play Store now occupy the right-most column in a vertical layout.
Swype may have just gained new split and mini keyboard options, but the SwiftKey folks have been sitting on something even more visionary for quite a while now. Their "Layouts for Living" program adds many layout options - split keyboards, movable pop-up keyboards, etc. - to what is already one of the most popular Android keyboards out there.
The video above highlights thumb, compact, and full layout options. Since all three options are movable, they each make it easier to type one-handed, with two thumbs, or with the device resting in your lap. The idea is that the keyboard not only molds to your device, it molds to your position.
Forget skeuomorphism. Why do we need things that look like objects if we can just use actual objects? That's what reddit user and notable George Bruns ballad davy_crockett thought. Using a combination of Apex launcher's ability to resize the icon grid and MultiPicture Live Wallpaper to use multiple photos for different homescreens, he created a layout that's made up entirely of real-world things. Want to play music? Tap the headphones. Need the clock? Hit the watch! It's that simple.
The neat thing about this concept, though, is that if you want to do it yourself, there are virtually no limits to how much your homescreens can differ from this one.