Project Moonshine: Google's Plan to Flatten Android App Icons Leaks
April 16, 2014 1:46 PM
comment(s) - last by
(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. (
championed with the 2007
launch of the iPhone to the flat poster style icons championed by Microsoft Corp. (
) with the
2010 launch of 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,
back in March 2011.
This trend continued through till last August when YouTube got a new flat icon.
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"
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
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.
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.
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.
One of the users has
posted a version of the icons
that can be seen below without the backing.
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.
Google Partners Page
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RE: No No No No NO
4/16/2014 4:31:26 PM
Well there is definitely a push towards simpler interfaces, one of the reasons is GPU power and battery. Obviously the complexity of a bitmap will not change the processing power required to render said bitmap, but too much complexity on an otherwise flat interface with mostly solid colors can look really out of place. I think in this case it's really a matter of making things match with their design guidelines, and those guidelines may themselves define a style based on performance.
RE: No No No No NO
4/16/2014 5:34:43 PM
When you code a windowing UI, you have to manage virtual memory windows and viewports, and bitblt the window from RAM to display memory every time it's moved. Having the CPU do it is wasteful of CPU power, and wastes memory bandwidth between system RAM and display memory.
As it turns out, everything the GPU does is managing virtual memory windows, viewports, and bitblt functions. The GPU is a piece of hardware
to do this stuff. The window's contents can just be a "texture" mapped onto a flat rectangle. Consequently it actually takes
power to have the GPU manage this stuff than to try to simplify the UI so you can run it all on the CPU. Its the reason we moved drawing the mouse cursor over to the GPU in the 1980s (the "hardware mouse"). Since the mouse cursor overlaps the window, moving it involves multiple rapid window redraws which were incredibly taxing if the CPU did it. But make the GPU do it and it's easy.
The GPU only takes more power if you throw other fancy stuff like transparency, rotating the window in 3D, stretching it, etc.
RE: No No No No NO
4/16/2014 6:07:46 PM
I'm super confused. Did you read the same thing I wrote? When did I ever suggest that the work should/is done on the CPU?
Maybe you are also overestimating the power of many of these mobile devices, but rendering even basic UIs on modern platforms with high resolution devices can be expensive. You must re-render all dirty regions, and overdraw is unavoidable. OSs these days try to do what they can to minimize the costs. Flat UI is often more simplistic and requires fewer texture resources (which translates to fewer texture samples, less bandwidth requirements). Like I stated above, the complexity of the bitmap itself makes no difference (assuming the same size and pixel format), but the rest of the UI can be designed in a way to minimize the amount of drawing.
Also these ARM devices typically do not have display memory or VRAM of any kind. Resources are stored in system memory and mapped to the GPU. Same way integrated graphics works on the desktop.
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