Android UI Utilities project brings unified design tools for developers

Love it or hate it, part of the reason iOS applications look as good (or boring?) as they do is because they have a unified toolset to create the application interface.  Design x Code looks to be bringing that to Android with the announcement of the Android UI Utilities project.  While it's still in beta, it offers up a set of tools and templates that not only look easy to use, but follow the Android design guidelines and should compliment existing Android UI elements rather well.

Currently, the Android UI Utilities include templates for Pencil (a popular UI and design prototyping tool), standalone icon templates in .psd format, and an online resource making tool called the Android Asset Studio which can generate all sorts of application graphics from existing images.  The project developers have more planned, so if you're a budding Android app developer, or even a seasoned veteran, this is something you should have a look at.

What do YOU think?  Does Android need a unified look and feel across applications?  Or should we respect the individuality of the developers tastes?  Take the survey and let us know! [Design x Code]

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • As an Android developer, I get this a lot: "Can you make it look like the iPhone?" Makes me cringe :P
  • I think a unified look and feel would be great to an extent. Don't tie the developers hands, just publish guidlelines. Most apps should follow the guidelines but if a developer has a specific reason to deviate then he should be free to do so. Sometimes you want to incorporate features that are not addressed of provisioned for in the design guidelines. Having said all of that Android DESPERATELY needs a real WYSIWYG UI designer. Having to type up XML pages to general a UI is onerous and archaic. AndroidDraw is ok, but it's unstable and not full-featured or flexible enough.
  • And this is how other operating system environments (e.g., Windows, Mac OS, etc., not just mobile platforms) work and are successful. Publish guidelines and encourage consistency. For example, it's comforting to the user to know when they see a button they know what it does regardless of the application.
  • I would like for the app icons to at least all be the same size. The Shazam app icon eclipses Kindles. lol
  • Also, I really hate app icons that are at an angle like Verizons NFL app. It used to be flat but they changed it. Its probably just my OCD though.
  • The reason why there isn't a unified UI is because Google is a web company and the web doesn't have a unified UI. Nevertheless, there are many beautiful web apps. But not so natively. Are there no designers working on native apps?
  • As a beginning Android App designer, I'd love an easier way to make my UIs look nice. Even if it means it looks very similar to every other app.
  • Yes. The current mishmash needs addressed!!!
  • I love that devs can do whatver they want. Take the TuneIn Radio app on Android. Its design blows iPhones version outta the water. My thing is just the icons. Have unified rules for them. lol
  • My two pennies, I like the custom look an feel of different icons. Personalisation is the Android way.
    If i wanted conformity I'd buy a whyphone !!
  • This drives me nuts. I can understand how apps from different devs would have a different look/behavior to them (that's what makes them unique, after all), but there's no excuse for very similar apps from the same developer to have no consistency to them. Case in point: the Gmail and Email apps FROM GOOGLE are completely different. The email app gives you hard-to-see arrows to navigate to the next and previous emails at the top, and the Gmail app gives you easy-to-see arrows at the bottom. No excuse. But honestly, Google should integrate them both the way that the WebOS does - there's no good reason from a user's perspective to have to go to two applications for the same task anyway.
  • I think most android would benefit from a more polished UI look. However, I really don't want there to be a "vanilla" look to every app I use. For example: HTC Sense, Pandora, NewsRoom are entirely different from the stock android look but they all look so much better. What everyone really wants is the apps they use to feel less amateurish, and more polished.
  • I enjoy the mixed bag of UI design. However, I too, am frustrated sometimes when trying to figure out how to fully exit an app. Android gives you plenty of tools to work with, though it can take a few hours sifting through recipes to get a screen to look proper. At least it isn't like Windows Mobile where you had to code *everything* from scratch because the native controls never worked. I also agree with an earlier comment about Google's Android apps. Most of them are pretty ratty and I don't enjoy using them.
  • I think that a standardized set would be great for android. What I don't mean is that every app looks exactly the same, with the exact same layout. But rather, that backing out of an app ALWAYS causes the application to ()Stop or if you hit back within an app you always go back to the last screen seen you viewed (so if you launch a link from twitter, and hit back, it should take you back to twitter, not to the last page seen by your browser) and that if you see a "Home" icon it should always take you home. And that Menu options should ALWAYS be available by using the "Menu" key on your phone. I just downloaded a game that I love, but to navigate anywhere, I have to hit buttons on the screen instead of hitting menu-->home. Yes, it's not harder the way they do it, but it's not consistant.
  • Maybe that's why android apps look so ugly compared to webos or even ios
  • I dont mind the different icons at all, I like them. I also like the custom look and feel of the actual app. BUT I hate all of those apps that have a great purpose but look like crap. I just want ALL of the apps to look good.
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