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  (Source: Android Police)
Android is looking to follow in Windows Phone's footsteps with new update

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and virtually every major phone operating system maker has been accused of imitating popular looks or features from the others' platforms over the last several years.
 
It's hard to deny that the market is shifting from the skeuomorphic (3D/gemlike) look that Apple, Inc. (AAPL) championed with the 2007 launch of the iPhone to the flat poster style icons championed by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) with the 2010 launch of Windows Phone.

iPhone to Windows Phone

Google Inc. (GOOG) was perhaps the first to pay homage to Microsoft's design shift, when it turned its web app icons -- including Chrome from skeuomorphic designs to flat designs.  Google's flattening has been ongoing from 2011 to as recently as last year, when it comes to its web apps.  Google Chrome was one of the first icons to go flat, getting posterized back in March 2011.  

Chrome new icon

This trend continued through till last August when YouTube got a new flat icon.

YouTube Icon update 2013

These icons weren't quite as flat as Microsoft's though, as they had hard shadows behind prominent design elements.  Google's flattening paradigm is described under its "Visual Asset Guidelines" documentation on Behance.net.

Google was not alone.  Apple too, parroted Microsoft's design direction with iOS 7 (which could also be viewed to a lesser extent as derivative of Google's flattened web icon look); a release that was rather controversial and which some Apple fans still refuse to embrace.

Apple iOS 7 flattening

But Google has yet to make the move to flatter icons on the mobile end.  Its core app icons in Android are still relatively skeuomorphic, with interior gradients, shines, and other chracteristic stylings.  Android Police has gotten its hands on a reportedly leaked set of Android icons for an update dubbed "Project Moonshine", which ports Android's icons towards the web-icons.

Android Moonshine

The same icons have popped up on a Google Partners Page, lending credence that they are indeed authentic, although its unknown whether the claim that they are coming to Android is the real deal as well.

Android Moonshine

One of the users has posted a version of the icons that can be seen below without the backing.

Android Moonshine

If accurate, this will mean that both Google and Apple will now have followed in Microsoft's lines in adopting flatter design cues.  Given the controversy surrounding iOS 7, we're guessing that Android fans will have mixed feelings regarding the shift in design direction.

Sources: Android Police, Google Partners Page, Imgur



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RE: No No No No NO
By FaaR on 4/16/2014 2:28:03 PM , Rating: 2
Simple, high-contrast designs are often easier for the eye to read for the vision impaired or colorblind for example than cluttered ones with lots of little details and gradients and so on.

That said, it doesn't mean that these alledged proposed google redesign icons are particularly good from either a visual or artistic point of view, of course. ;)


RE: No No No No NO
By Solandri on 4/16/2014 5:20:26 PM , Rating: 2
They're easier for the eyes to see, but not for the brain. Your brain is programmed to interpret certain lighting and shading as 3D height. Consequently, the 3D buttons appear to pop out of the screen, making it super-easy for your brain to pick out where the buttons and icons you can click on are, and where the borders of the windows are.

The flat look works with Microsoft's tiles because those have a clear geometric structure to them independent of any 3D appearance. But once you lose the grid geometry, it is beyond useless. I have Office 2013 with the flat look. When I have multiple windows overlapping each other and I know the one I want to pick is the 3rd one in the stack, it's impossible to tell which one it is. The flat look makes the windows blend into one big mess where you can't tell where one stops and another one begins. I have to look at the corners to figure it out, if I'm lucky and the corner isn't being covered by another window.

Android in particular allows custom backgrounds which show through the transparent parts of the icons. If you have a semi-complex background, the only thing that lets you quickly distinguish the icon from the background is its 3D shading. I've had to switch to an animated background just to give myself a different way of quickly distinguishing the icons from background.

Making the icons flat is beyond stupid. Some artist has managed to sucker the entire industry into changing just for the sake of change, with no regard for functionality. Do you have any idea how excited we were back in the 1980s when graphics were finally able to display more than 16 colors so you could emulate 3D shading? I think the last "flat" UI I dealt with was Borland's DOS IDE, and even that was upgraded to a 3D appearance just before it switched to Windows. They did it not because it looked cool; they did it because it helped you navigate the UI.

I fully respect the color-blind and vision impaired. But you simply don't design things for the lowest common denominator. That's what caused the Heartbleed bug - because some low-end systems couldn't cope with the built-in memory allocation checking, the OpenSSL team turned it off for all systems, making the bug affect every server running OpenSSL. Likewise, if the color-blind and vision impaired need different icons, give them an option to switch to an icon set which works better for them. Don't force their icons onto the other 95% of the population. My uncle has poor vision and cranks the font size on his screen up to about 20 points. In what possible way does that justify forcing everyone's fonts to be 20 points?

Artistic license is fine, but is unacceptable when it compromises functionality.


"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone














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