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Android L – Rerouting Google…

This may be just another Android update, it may be even be remembered as “yet another Android update” down the line, but I feel like this is the first public sign that Google is changing their way of presenting products. There is a transition happening right now, from super-functional products that do not look all that great to software that combines said functionality with a proper design.

This applies especially to Android, as its level of polish and refinement has grown clearly with the latest releases, but with ‘L’ it rises to a whole new level. Both the graphical parts, as well as the software underneath see major changes which not only add functionality, but also make Android feel modern again. Google hasn’t provided any exceptional new feature with Android L, instead they gave the operating system a thorough overview and improved it across the board. The new user interface, along with the promised battery life and new APIs make a great update for one of the world’s most popular operating systems.

When talking about the new look, two things I find the most striking. One is how all major tech companies use the same design guidelines basically, with simple graphical elements, but tons of animations and a high level of interactivity. They all look and feel different, but I am very intrigued to see that Google, Microsoft and Apple all see the user’s interaction in the same way.

The second thing is how Android and iOS took different paths for their development, but they now seem to arrive in the same place. While iOS started out as a very polished software product and only recently has it gained a lot of functionality and has opened a bit, Android has followed the reversed path. It started out as an open platform, tried to stuff in as many functions as possible, but the latest releases have focused on refining the product. In the end, we’ll have two mobile operating systems which look and work great, and perhaps no one will ever care how they evolved.

In the end, no one can tell for sure what’ll happen in the future. As people change their mind, companies change strategies too, but this Android L Developer Preview certainly shows how Google starts to focus more and more on design. I’m a bit scared to be honest, with Google’s agility, resources and now its design focus, they can build great products and they’re stretching wide with Android, from phones to cars and maybe servers in the future. We could have a new software ecosystem dominating the entire tech industry.

The reason behind Sundar Pichai’s overseeing all of Android, Chrome and Google Apps seems logical now. They want to build a Google software universe.

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