For nearly a decade, Google’s iOS and iPadOS suite of applications has used custom user interfaces based on material design guidelines to mimic the Android user experience. Now Google has announced that it will switch to using Apple’s design language. Read on to see why Google has changed its mind.
Google’s app suite that includes Gmail, Google Maps, Google Photos, Google Drive, and YouTube has relied on material design guidelines since 2012, even on iOS. This helped the parent company for these applications to unify the software design in all applications and platforms (desktop, mobile and web) on which they were used. In early 2021, Google’s design team “began an in-depth assessment” of what it means to build a typical Google experience on Apple platforms and the components needed to do so.
This evolution of the way we approach design for Apple platforms has allowed us to marry the best of UIKit with prominent aspects of Google’s design language.
The result? Many custom components are simply no longer needed. And those who have, are now getting more attention and focus.
– Jeff Verkoeyen (@featherless) October 7, 2021
In the above topic on Twitter, led by Google’s engineering engineer, Jeff Verkoeyen, it is clear that the Google team was challenged to bridge the design language gap across all platforms. This is underlined by the fact that Google’s iOS components “slowly moved further and further away from the basics of the Apple platform” as the latter developed every year.
For iOS users, this meant that Google’s suite of apps brought a horrific experience that is inconsistent with the rest of Apple’s user experience. Google believes that UIKit has improved enough since iOS 14 and can be widely used.
IPhone users can expect to see fewer custom components in Google apps in the future with switches, bars, controls, lists, and menus that change to match Apple’s design. As a result, the Google app suite on iOS and iPadOS should feel more like native apps.
Verkoeyen noted that the apps will be essentially Google and will continue to highlight the company’s design language, while being linked to “the best of UIKit”. This will “really make the products feel great on Apple platforms,” Verkoeyen added. Not to mention, Google is hiring designers for its Apple development team despite this change.
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