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 5:20:26 PM
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
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
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
low-end systems couldn't cope with the built-in memory allocation checking, the OpenSSL team turned it off for
systems, making the bug affect
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
fonts to be 20 points?
Artistic license is fine, but is unacceptable when it compromises functionality.
“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads
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