Google’s sense of design for the future

materialdesign_introduction

It seems almost crazy to see a massive piece on Google design given the history but if you’ve been using Android recently you’ve probably noticed some great things. I’ve discussed the differences between iOS and Android quite a few times and the more you use things on both platforms the more things that might seem like small details start to add up …

Examples like these happen everywhere in iOS, and they’re painfully obvious when compared to Lollipop, the latest version of Android. There, your notifications appear in a drawer, again from the top of the phone. But every one takes you directly to an action inside an app, making it foolproof to get into maps or Uber or Facebook. There’s intelligence behind what you see: A algorithm that invisibly figures out what notifications are most important to you, and serves those up first. There are hardly any chances to swipe wrong. You won’t end up in a place you hadn’t expected. In so many places, Android is so much more logical, the details so much more alive. Tapping any button sends a wash of color across the screen, like a ripple across a pond—a smart way of underscoring your taps, while hiding the teensy bit of lag that occurs as you wait for app to response.

Such attention to detail used to be Apple’s thing. Today, that distinction falls to Google. Unveiled last year, Material Design—Google’s evolving design language for phones, tablets, and desktop—offers relentless consistency in interactions; invisible rules that govern everything, so that every app feels familiar; and beauty in the service of function. It’s why so many designers will tell you, as they’ve told me, “I just like Android better.” Whereas iOS is still inching along without improving much, Google is creating a coherent, unified language that easily scales across phones, with enough flexibility to jump to watches and cars. “It’s not even about composing a UI in one place,” says Nicholas Jitkoff, who helped lead the creation of Material Design. “It’s about composing interactions from one device to the next.”

FastCo Design

When I woke up this morning there were over 100 notifications on my iPhone lockscreen from Google Photos which is processing the 90,000+ photos uploading from our home computer.  There were quite a few additional bits from other apps like email and news I use but a single action of opening / unlocking the device and they are all gone … Forever. On android things are nicely packaged together and importantly are not destroyed if I swipe in or act upon a single piece.

IMG_1670

The considerations that have evolved in Material Design and that consider to evolve are very clearly focused on the ever changing waybin which we use our devices. It’s easy to say there is copying going on between the two key platforms but that misses the important nuances that really highlight the focus Android has on enhancing the real user experience.

How to improve Google+

Google+

While I found The Verge’s post interesting and agree with their suggestions the one thing I find missing most of all is sharing INTO G+.

Right now it’s impossible essentially from any 3rd party experience. It’s 100% absent on iOS and possible only from the system share intent on Android which is great, but there’s much more … content we consume all around the web can’t easily find it’s way onto G+ from apps and extensions in the same fluid manner as, well every other social property.

More here – How to improve Google+ immediately | The Verge.

Having a huge tech fail day

My day started last night actually after midnight as the Nexus 5 (active only for a few hours) decided to freak out. I was suddenly unable to login to Google+ or Hangouts. Google sync started to freak as well with inconsistent sync to Calendar and a bunch of other things.

This morning I fought the phone a bit before finally conceding to a full hard reset at lunch wiping the phone for a fresh start. Sadly as soon as it started back up hangouts prompted with its error and G+ continued to block me. Sigh. No resolution. I spent a bit actually speaking to Google tech support (yes, it exists!) But they were fully stumped as well. I’ll have to wait 24-48 hours apparently for a response and a potentially new device.

Thinking about other options to try and triage the problem I decided to change my account password which sent Chrome on my Mac, Google Glass (more to come) and my other devices into a tizzy. Glass only sorta connected back to my phone, required a reset as well (my guess) and then my other phone (N4) and tablet (N7) got all outta whack due to the account change. Now none want to connect appropriately and I seem to have lost app-based access to hangouts and Google+ on everything. Before I left work for the week the web worked and I’ll try again at home but on the train each device has seemingly lost it’s desire to stay connected. Oh and Google Now seems dead on the Nexus 5.

I’m at a loss. I thought this was some sort of device issue bit now it’s propagated across a few others making me think my Google account has partially corrupted. WTF.

Help …

Is Google about to offer sync’d SMS?

googlehangoutssms

I’m a multi-phone user. I carry two active phones (business / personal) and it’s difficult to manage the flow of messages via SMS across the two particularly if I leave my personal device on silent at the office or only take one for a particular time (like on my bike). A bigger issue is iMessage which was active on my (dormant) iPhone and until I deactivated it was the main channel for my family to text. Since I’m working multiple Androids currently iMessage is out and there’s no method to forward SMS effectively. Sure there are plenty of OTT services like WhatsApp, Line and countless others. I’ve been successful with a few people on Facebook and a few more on Hangouts, but if the screenshot above is accurate it seems Google might be looking to route SMS via Hangouts which would instantly solve this problem.

I know I’m not alone in looking for what seems like an edge case solution … there’s even an international code for forwarding SMS, but no carrier seems to use it. This cannot arrive soon enough!

via gigaom.

Standardizing the Second Screen Experience

dial-icon2

I love hearing that there’s a new industry standard being sorted by YouTube and Netflix to promote a more open second screen experience. Right now it’s a bit of a mess and you either go all in with Apple (AppleTV + Airplay + iOS) which only works in certain instances – though absolutely works, or you’ve got a set of considerably more limited options. The DIAL Protocol could really offer a very new opportunity for enhanced viewing and app utilization in the living room which is very exciting.

But there are other areas where DIAL actually goes beyond AirPlay’s capabilities. First, the obvious: AirPlay can’t launch any apps on your Apple TV. DIAL will also be able to detect whether an app is installed, and redirect a user to a smart TV’s app store in case it’s missing. Also cool: DIAL will be able to launch web apps on your TV, if the device supports it, which should add a whole lot of new functionality to connected devices.via GigaOm.

Even more interesting is that it’s apparently already out in market, though quietly and waiting to be awakened … I’m surprised there wasn’t more (or any) noise at CES this year … Sony, Samsung, GoogleTV, YouTube and Netflix are a strong start.