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by: Mike Denny. Posted: March 20, 2012.
We released Scan for iPhone and iPad in early 2011, and it quickly gained popularity for its simplicity and speed. When it came time to translate that experience to Android, we wanted Scan for Android to feel like Android. While we wanted to maintain our branding, we didn't want our Android app to be a straight port of our iOS app. The question we needed to answer was, "What does Android feel like?"
Until recently, this was difficult to answer. Google has traditionally communicated their vision for the Android experience through conference talks at venues like Google I/O and in posts on the Android developers blog. Many design-oriented members of the Android community have done great work to aggregate and promote Google's vision. Projects like Jake Wharton's libraries and Juhani Lehtimaeki's website, among many others, continue to be a great resource for Android designers and developers alike.
Still, from the user's perspective, Android apps are anything but consistent. With annual system releases from Google and sluggish updates from device manufacturers, the fragmented Android app ecosystem has become a large, chaotic family reunion. Additionally, designers at many mobile companies are attracted to the simple beauty of Apple's iOS. This often leads to a "trickle down" design process, where the end product for Android ends up looking and feeling like the iOS app's awkward second cousin.
Fortunately, in mid-January 2012, Google launched the Android Design site. It exposes the very soul of Android. It is a clear and bold statement of Android's identity that has power to unify designer attitudes and user expectations. If designers and developers get behind these new guidelines, we will create a more consistent and delightful experience for our users.
Achieving a more unified Android app ecosystem will require designers and developers, for sure, but it must be spearheaded by Google's Android team. Just this week they updated the Support Library to make it easier for developers to implement the UI navigation principles introduced in the Android Design guidelines. But the most important way Google can help is to promote apps that make Android Design principles a priority by adding them to the Google Play "Editor's Choice" and "Staff Picks" lists. This will increase exposure for such apps, setting a precedent that incentivizes developers to focus more on Android design. It will also expose the Android userbase to well-designed apps. Over time, users will come to expect the experience outlined by Android's Design team, and more developers will meet that expectation.
Here at Scan we work hard every day to make Scan for Android better. It's not perfect yet, but we're happy to contribute to the soul of Android by implementing Android Design principles. We feel this helps to provide the best QR code and barcode scanning experience available. We take user feedback very seriously, so please let us know how we can make Scan better!