Tag Archives: UI

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How to Invest Wisely in an Application Development Project

All well-designed apps begin with an efficient app development process. An inefficient app development process will result in succumbing to pitfalls that will not only prove costly, but also lead to sub-par functionality. Here are our top tips on how to invest wisely in an application development project:

COME PREPARED

When developing your app, you need to know all of the ins and outs of what you want out of your product. During the course of the development process, you will be asked every applicable question and you will need to be able to answer them and to communicate your vision to the app development team so that they are inside your head and know it almost as well as you do.

Rather than waiting for the question to come up, get ahead of it with thorough preparation.

App development starts with the creation of a specifications document elucidating all aspects of the app to be built to ensure a thorough understanding of the idea. Create your own specifications in advance of reaching out to teams and make sure it’s comprehensive. Review the app specifications document thoroughly with prospective partners, make sure they have a comprehensive understanding and it accounts for everything you need your app to do.

Preparation is absolutely vital to staying on the same page with your application development team and avoiding costly hiccups and rebuilds down the line.

FIND THE RIGHT TEAM

Every client has different needs and every app development company has different strengths and weaknesses. Finding the right team is crucial for building the product that will get your business to the next level.

Some clients only need app development specialists, while others look for companies that can take a more holistic approach to their projects and provide input or services on marketing, web development, design and more. Ruminate on your unique needs, research and understand prospective companies strengths and weaknesses, and ensure it is a good match before committing to a long-term partnership with a company.

We recommend seeking a collaborative team with experts in app development as well as project management and the ability to expedite development by putting more programmers on projects. The best app development teams have experienced programmers that have built many apps before and can walk you through the process with ease.

Screen Shot 2019-11-19 at 1.27.16 PM

WIREFRAMES

The use of wireframes will save time and money in the app development process. A wireframe is a visual schematic or blueprint that outlines the design for an application without programming the core functions. Mobile app wireframes can take the form of downloadable apps or as websites. Wireframes replicate how the app will work and the flow of screens without incorporating core programming.

Wireframes save time and money because they help app developers get on the same page with their clients without requiring a hefty amount of programming. After reviewing the wireframes, clients can request modifications or approve the designs. The app development team then commences core programming.

The creation of wireframes before programming key functions and additions will save time, money, and headaches.

MAKE IT SCALABLE

Oftentimes when beginning the application development process, businesses elect to start by focusing on the Minimum Viable Product. While understanding what’s needed for the MVP and what’s extraneous to it, it’s vital to have an understanding of what features you may want to add in the future so that the application can be scalable to enable future iterations of the app.

While focusing on Phase 1 of the development process (building the MVP), keep a running wishlist of functions desired for Phase 2 of the development process so that as functions are added and modified, everyone remains cognizant of how current changes will support future functionality.

Mobile-app-testing

TEST, TEST, TEST

Testing doesn’t begin upon the completion of the application, it’s an ongoing process that occurs internally as new components of the app are built. It is vital not to underbudget for testing, a common mistake in the app development process.

Core functions need to be repeatedly tested, as does UI and usability. Employing dedicated testers to specialize in testing specific components like core functions, sound, design, and more will ensure a fully-functioning app.

Veteran developers use test-driven development (TDD) in which programmers create tests to define the function or improvements of a function, run tests to see if the test fails, write the code so that tests pass, run tests again, correct the code, and repeat until all tests are passed. Test-driven development guarantees code coverage with unit tests for all functions.

CONCLUSION

When hiring an app development company to build your application, hire for the long haul. An ongoing strategic relationship will help you grow and if you choose the right partner, efficiency will increase as your collaborative relationship develops. A mobile application is a major investment of time and money—invest wisely!

Contact us today to learn about how our team can efficiently build your next mobile app.

iOS 11 Image

The Best New Features of iOS 11

While we thoroughly enjoyed iOS 10’s open functionality and all it offered app developers, Apple’s premiere operating system is due for a refresh. iOS 11 has been making waves in its public beta release, here are the top upgrades coming to Apple’s landmark OS:

MAJOR UPGRADES FOR IPAD

Apple’s iOS 11 preview states right off the bat: “A giant step for iPhone. A monumental leap for iPad.” iOS 11 offers a number of improvements for iPad users.

The improved Dock now looks a lot like the macOS dock. Users can put dozens of apps in the doc and easily pull it up by swiping upward.

Need to use two apps at the same time? iOS has your back. Like Picture-In-Picture Mode for Android, which we detailed last week in our coverage of Android Oreo, iOS 11 allows you to use two apps at the same time—something that will inevitably come in handy on the large screens of the iPad.

Apple Pencil Instant Notes via Redmond Pie

APPLE PENCIL receives a major upgrade in iOS 11. Instant Markup makes it easy to mark up PDFs, screenshots and more. Instant Notes and Inline Drawing let you customize your screen. The Scan and Sign feature also makes it easy to sign important documents online and send them in the flash of an eye.

SIRI MATURES

WIRED recently detailed the path toward improving the voice of iOS: Siri. While Google and Amazon have excelled in their virtual assistant development, Siri seems to have lagged behind. iOS 11 revamps Siri’s voice to sound much more natural, while also teaching her to translate Chinese, Spanish, French, German, or Italian.

GET READY FOR AUGMENTED REALITY!

When Pokemon Go took the world by storm, “Augmented Reality” became a household name. Now, the time has come for app developers rejoice! iOS 11 features ARKit, a new development framework that makes it easy for developers to build incredible AR experiences.

ARKit allows developers to create 2D or 3D elements in the live view from iPhone and iPad camera’s in order to make them appear as if they exist in the real world. ARKit combines device motion tracking, camera scene capture, advanced scene processing, and display conveniences to make building AR experiences a breeze.

Check out some of the best AR experiences built with ARKit so far.

CAMERA TIME

Thanks to a new compression technology, iOS 11 will be able to store video using less space than ever. Additionally, the camera will allow users to loop live videos, to trim and edit live videos, to grab a still from a live photo, and to capture time and movement with long exposure photos.

Apple App Store via BGR

APP STORE REDESIGN

The rigorous standards of Apple’s App Store always lent itself to curation. With that in mind, Apple has redesigned the App Store to emphasize discovery. The new App Store will offer a completely separate tab for Games, a variety of daily stories and a tab for the best apps of the day, all curated by Apple!

FILES, PAYMENT, AND MORE

iOS 11 is a comprehensive upgrade that comes equipped with a host of other great additions, including:

- FILES: Never lose track of important documents again! The Files app makes it easy to find files stored on iOS devices, in iCloud Drive, and even across other cloud services like Box and Dropbox.

- APPLE PAY IN IMESSAGE: iOS 11 will make peer-to-peer payments easy, allowing users to send Apple Pay payments as a part of iMessage.

- CONTROL CENTER: The Control Center has received a complete redesign. The new Control Center will appear all on one page and is customizable, allowing users to personalize the design to the most helpful layout.

TAKEAWAYS

If you are an iPad user, you are truly in for a treat when iOS 11 comes out. If you only use iPhone, iOS 11 still delivers a fresh redesign with improved functionality. iOS 11 is yet another solid entry in Apple’s OS canon.

Android Oreo

Android Oreo Serves Up the Sweets

Like the candy, Google’s newest delectable dessert-themed operating system Android 8.0 Oreo offers the best of both worlds: crunchy cookie goodness of versatile functionality and the creamy frosting of beautiful UI and presentation.

PROJECT TREBLE 

Project Treble is one of the major aspects of Android Oreo that makes it a full 1.0 update. Project Treble is designed to reduce device fragmentation by making it easier for hardware manufacturers to issue updates on Android devices. The architecture redesign modularizes the Android OS away from the drivers and other hardware-specific code. By making it easier for manufacturers to update Android devices, Project Treble makes accessing the latest Android OS from your devices  easier than ever.

HIGH-PERFORMANCE BLUETOOTH AUDIO

Android Oreo is loaded up with BLUETOOTH 5 and LDAC, making Oreo capable of supporting audio quality that surpasses what the vast majority of high-end audio equipment can reproduce.

LDAC is a codec that supports the transfer of 24 bit, 96kHz audio via Bluetooth. The closest competitor is Qualcomm’s aptX HD which supports 24 bit, 48kHz technology. LDAC was created by Sony, who donated the codec to Android for Oreo as a part of the core AOSP code for other OEMS to implement.

Whereas previous iterations of Bluetooth offered a range of 50m-100m outdoors and 10m-20m indoors, Bluetooth 5 can reach up to 200m outdoors and 40m indoors. Additionally, Bluetooth 5 BLE doubles Bluetooth 4.x BLE’s data transfer rate with up to 2Mbps. The kicker is: Bluetooth 5 actually utilizes up to 2.5 times less power while increasing range and speed.

BATTERY LIFE

The Android Oreo update includes multiple initiatives designed to improve battery life. Background execution limits have been enacted to limit requests to scheduled windows of activity, resulting in longer battery life and less strain on the device by inactive apps.

Android Oreo places two major limitations on what apps can do while users aren’t directly interacting with them:

  1. Background Service Limitations limit the use of background services by idle apps. This does not apply to foreground apps, which are defined as apps with visible activity, apps with a foreground service, or apps that are connected to another foreground app.​
  2. Broadcast Limitations prevent apps from using their manifest to register for implicit broadcasts. Apps can still use their manifest to register for broadcasts at runtime and for explicit broadcasts targeted specifically at their app.

For the most part, app developers can work around these limitations using JobScheduler jobs. Android has also made several improvements to JobScheduler.

Background execution limits will have a major impact on the functionality of existing and future apps, check out a full breakdown of the new functionality directly from Android.

Additionally, Android Oreo comes with Vitals. Vitals is an initiative by Google that improves system performance and stability by offering developers various tools to monitor app usage on a device. Vitals enables developers to  optimize their apps for improved battery life and performance.

UI

Google’s strategy with OS updates has become more and more minimal in recent years. The last major visual OS overhaul was enacted by Google in Android 5.0 Lollipop. Android Oreo does not change the name of the game, but offers a variety of UI improvements.

DOWNLOADABLE FONTS: Android 8.0 Oreo offers support for apps to request fonts from a “provider” application, reducing the amount of disk space spent by apps on storing font libraries individually.

NOTIFICATION CHANNELS: Notifications have always been one of the strong suits of Android Operating Systems. With Android Oreo, app notifications must be sorted by the developer into channels based on type, so that the user can then customize what types of notifications they would like to receive and how they receive them.

For example, users can modify characteristics of notification channels that apply to all notifications in that channel, including:

  • Importance
  • Sound
  • Lights
  • Vibration
  • Show on lock screen
  • Override do not disturb

PICTURE IN PICTURE MODE: Oreo ports Android’s famous “Picture-In-Picture Mode” for phones and tablets. Picture-In-Picture Mode allows users to view multiple apps at the same time. It is most handy for watching video or having a video call while using another app.

TAKEAWAY

Overall, Android 8.0 Oreo delivers the goods. It’s sleek, supports the best audio quality available, allows more UI customizability, saves battery life, and it’s a major step toward conquering device fragmentation which has plagued Android since its inception.

Apple Brings the Internet of Things Home with HomeKit & iOS 10

Anyone engrossed in the tech scene knows the Internet of Things is one of the trendiest technology topics on the web. The IoT is shaping our world and building fortunes for innovators, futurists and top app development companies. However, in the common household, the IoT has yet to break through to the mainstream. The biggest company in the world is now looking to enact change.

Tim Cook, in his September Announcement, declared that iOS 10’s HomeKit update is the first time home automation has been integrated with a major platform. While Apple introduced HomeKit in 2014 with iOS 8, iOS 10 comes with a dedicated app called Home that controls all home automation devices.

HOME IS A HOME RUN

Home Apple App via Wareable

Home combines IoT technology with the masterful UI of iOS. Previous iterations of iOS and HomeKit required the user to manage each interface separately. So if a phone had 20 HomeKit apps, they would have 20 user interfaces to manage. The Home app unifies HomeKit apps, creating a central control center for all home automation applications.

With over 1 billion active Apple devices across the world, Home enters the market with giant global reach. Virtually every major manufacturer of home automation devices now supports HomeKit. Accessories cross all major categories, from lights and air conditioners to window shades, locks and home security. Commercial IoT companies now have massive domestic reach, and iOS users have more incentive to update their homes than ever before.

HAVE SIRI SET THE SCENE

Siri Scenes via Next Market

One of the coolest features of Home is the Siri integration. Users can control Home from both the Control Center and Siri, but Siri can work at the speed of your language. Siri’s ability to handle multiple requests means users can accomplish their ideal environmental preferences in the speed of a sentence. Apple refers to these combination commands as “scenes” and users can give “scenes” a nickname. A rambunctious user might say “Hey Siri, let’s get funky,” prompting Siri to lock the doors, dim the lights, put Barry White on the speakers at a reasonable volume and provide the most apt customized ambience for the user to rock out.

THE APPLE TV IS THE HEARTH

The fourth generation Apple TV can also act as a hub for the Home app, with the Siri Remote making it easy to control your home on the go. Apple TV’s seamless integration with HomeKit and other iOS products makes it the ultimate smart TV for a smart home, providing yet another reason for consumers to consistently buy iOS products.

BUILDING COMMERCIAL IOT FROM THE GROUND UP

The Home Automation page on the Apple website is a clear indicator of Apple’s intentions to not only be a household name, but to be the name on your household. The company already has a major market share of phones, tablets, computers, TVs and watches. They are rumored to be looking to acquire McLaren as a part of Project Titan. Apple understands that the ubiquity of the iOS platform makes them the most appealing platform for manufacturers of smart devices. Apple also announced that leading home builders, including Brookfield Residential, KB Home, Lennar Homes and R&F Properties, are integrating many HomeKit devices into new homes.

With the Apple Home potentially on the horizon, one can only wonder how much of Apple’s vision of the smarthome will be realized in the next 5-10 years.

Rise to the Top of Google SEO with Responsive Design

When designing a website, web developers have both practical and aesthetic concerns. From a practical standpoint, a website must reach and connect with its core audience. Due to the rise of mobile technology, it’s important for a site to have mobile functionality so that it can reach the multitudes surfing the web on their mobile devices. The most efficient, cost-effective & effective way is to develop a responsive website. Responsive design not only helps reach a mobile audience, it also increases overall SEO so that the website will rank higher in search engines.

For those unfamiliar with responsive design, check out this quick 60-second review:

When it comes to SEO, Google is king. As of October 2015, studies show the massive tech titan owns about 63.9% of the search engine market share. In February 2015, Google announced they will be emphasizing mobile-friendly search results. In their own words: “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.”

In accordance with their announcement, Google Adwords charges less for a keyword when the landing page is optimized for mobile. Responsive websites represent a major incentive for advertising on Google since responsive design guarantees presentation will accommodate the device regardless of whether it’s a mobile device or a computer.

Responsively designed sites offer a common landing page for all devices, consolidating the amount of links and improving the SEO. If a desktop or laptop user iMessages the link to an iPhone, they can click on it and immediately prompt the same web page rather than a different page optimized for mobile. Instead of duplicating content with separate sites for mobile and desktop mediums, responsive design ensures brand and information continuity with a singular master site.

According to Sociomantic, over half of online shoppers use more than one device. A responsive website not only ensures a consistent UI and brand experience, it eliminates maintenance cost by reducing the amount of websites one is required to maintain. The better a site is, the lower the bounce rate is, and the higher it will rank in Google. For businesses looking to succeed, responsive is almost always the best form of web design.

Mystic Media is a web design and application development company based in Salt Lake City, Utah and specializes in responsive design. For more information, click here or contact us by phone at 801.994.6815.

How Material Design Redefined Android App Aesthetics

In the ongoing war of the operating systems, the front-runners are undeniably iOS and Android. As we detailed in our Android L Vs. iOS 8 article, Apple took the latest battle; however, Android Lollipop represents a major step forward for the platform as it introduced the aesthetic concept of Material Design. We’ve covered the principles of flat design in Impervious Appeal: How to Design Jaw-Dropping iOS Apps, but we’ve never gone in-depth on Material Design because it’s fairly complicated. In this article, we’ll detail what Material Design is and why it represents a huge step forward for app design aesthetics.

What is Material Design? It defies a simple explanation. It is similar to flat design in that it emphasizes negative space, bright color schemes, and an emphasis on intuitive UI. Material Design differs from flat design in the way in which it evolves the concept.

Material Design takes the visual aesthetic of flat design and asks the developer to create a realistic digital world with physical rules within the UI. Material Design offers designers the help of two skeuomorphic concepts: depth and shadow.

Depth and shadow both play a big part in how the user interprets what’s clickable and what’s not. The buttons themselves interact with the touch. The whole concept plays off our ability as humans to recognize depth and perceive information hierarchies organized in the dimension of depth.

Below is a great video featuring Material Design in practice.

UI designers love Material Design because the addition of depth and shadow gives them more tools to convey purpose, meaning and order. It effectively evolves the concept of flat design. Grace LaRosa, senior experience designer at R/GA, said to VentureBeat:

“What’s newest and most of note, in my opinion, is how well documented and systematic the language is. After a long era of designers and developers creating Android experiences that often feel renegade or pieced together, Google have undoubtedly stepped up their efforts to standardize and improve the UI and UX across their app ecosystem.”

The problem with Material Design lies not to its aesthetic concepts, but the practicality of executing it within the Android platform. Android allows third-party companies to create hardware based in the OS, which creates device fragmentation. Not all Android devices run on the latest OS (Lollipop), in fact, some devices go back as far as four previous versions of the Android OS. Due to this vast discontinuity in Android devices, the adoption of material design will likely be a gradual, unlike the nearly instantaneous switch to the latest OS and OS aesthetics for iOS users.

As Grace LaRosa said above, Material Design does set-up a standardized UI/UX for Android developers to use across the app ecosystem, which will hopefully bring about more unity on the platform. Material Design is thus only a part of the solution to the problem which will ultimately limit its impact. It is designed to make for more consistent UI/UX across Android apps, but it won’t be adopted uniformly and thus won’t  single-handedly be able to transcend the device inconsistency in order to solve the unity problem.

Jon Wiley, one of the creators of Material Design, recently said in an AMA:

“I think a big challenge with Google Search in terms of experience is that it has often felt like a series of jump cuts in what is actually continuous. Material design gives us a framework we can use to do something closer to a scene change in a play, continuously moving from one state to the next. This can make it feel much faster and can also provide cues as to what happened when you touched something in the UI. It’s another step towards removing any speed bumps along the way to getting a good answer.”

Interesting to note that both iOS and Android seem to be striving for a more fluid sense of continuity in improving their platforms. For iOS, it’s functional device continuity, for Android, it’s aesthetic UX continuity.

Ultimately, it seems likely Apple will leapfrog past Android by building upon (or conforming to) the Material Design aesthetics in an upcoming iOS, which will then receive mass adoption as is the precedent with Apple OS’s.

For more information on Material Design, check out these awesome, in-depth videos from Google I/O 2014: Material Witness: How Android Material Applications Work and Material Design in Google Play.

At Mystic Media, we’re constantly engaged in various app design projects. Our expertise reaches across all facets of the industry, be it iOS design, Android design, web design, strategic marketing and more. Contact us today by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815

Android Lollipop Vs. iOS 8: The Battle of the Operating Systems

It’s been a good year for operating systems.

Back in June, Google announced their new operating system “Android L,” which has since been dubbed Android Lollipop. In our post  Android L Beta Preview: First Impressions of the Latest OS, we covered what we knew about the OS based on the announcement at the Google I/O 2014.

On the iOS side of the equation, this year saw Apple release iOS 8, which Apple hailed as the biggest iOS release ever. iOS 8 didn’t reinvent iOS aesthetics, rather it pushed forth the flat design introduced with iOS 7 and added a host of new features, including Apple Pay, Touch ID, and Device Continuity.

Both platforms represent dramatic technological advancements. The question now becomes: iOS 8 or Lollipop?

AESTHETICS

Steve Jobs majored in calligraphy at Reed College before dropping out. Jobs always held aesthetic design to be among the top priorities in his vision of Apple products, and Apple has always held a strong edge over Android in the aesthetic department.

iOS 7 saw Apple straying from Jobs’ skeuomorphic ideology in favor of Flat Design: a more stylized, minimal, bright look. iOS 8 refines Flat Design with more consistent iconography and UI. It also makes better use of gestures including swiping left to go back and double tapping the home screen to slide the screen down, allowing for better reachability on the large screens of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

While Apple refined their current look, Android elected to enact a complete aesthetic overhaul. They may have shaken up the OS aesthetic game with Material Design.

Material Design is not an easy concept to grasp and can better be explored in practice. The idea is that the digital world should have its own intuitive physical rules. Buttons must react specifically to the touch, there must be multiple easily decipherable UI layers, animations must trigger and unfold in a specific, consistent manner. All Material Design aesthetics are in favor of creating the most intuitive, easily understood experience for the user.

Material Design is much more intricate than Flat Design. It’s both showier and more practical. It’s a more evolved, complex version of Flat Design. Thus, Android has taken the crown with regard to aesthetics. It’s likely Apple will follow suit and copy Material Design aesthetics for their next iOS overhaul.

Check out this video demonstrating the ideas of Material Design posted by Google Developers Youtube account.

FEATURES

Both Lollipop and iOS 8 offer new features, in addition to minor UI tweaks, for their devices. Most of these features either mirror their competitor’s counterpart, or replicate a past feature of their competitor.

Lollipop and iOS 8 both push to integrate with cars with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Both offer integrated navigation systems, hands-free calling and texting, and control of entertainment; however, neither will have a major impact until they are adopted by a greater number of cars.

Lollipop and iOS 8 both feature health apps (Google Fit and Health respectively). Both function similarly with certain apps offering exclusive partnerships. The big factor could be whether/which major health apps make the commitment to either Lollipop or iOS 8. The potential forthcoming popularity surge in wearables could be a game-changing variable in health apps. At the moment, neither app has a major edge over the other.

iOS 8 now offers Apple Pay combined with Touch ID, a replication of Google Wallet which was introduced in 2011. While Google Wallet is the older system, Apple Pay currently has the momentum. Both offer touch payments via Near Field Communications, but Apple Pay refuses to store physical credit card details, making it the safer system. The popularity of Pay could cause a resurgence of Google Wallet, but at the moment, Apple Pay has a definite edge.

Aside from the aesthetics, perhaps the biggest differentiator between iOS 8 and Lollipop is Apple’s push for the concept of device continuity embodied in Handoff. We covered device continuity in both Climbing Yosemite and Bite the Apple: Maximize iOS 8 to Vanquish Your Competition. Handoff allows the user to easily complete tasks while transitioning  between Apple devices seamlessly. Instant Hotspot, one of the coolest features of iOS 8, allows users to connect to their iPhone’s cellular network when no other Wi-Fi networks are available. Lollipop comes up empty in this department and Android will surely be playing catch-up when they release their next OS.

BATTERY

iOS bolsters a reputation for retaining a more efficient battery than Android. With Project Volta, Android has made a strong attempt to optimize their OS to defeat this notion.

Lollipop features a built-in task manager designed to prevent unnecessary operations from waking the phone up, running app house-cleaning necessities in batches when plugged in, and preventing network requests from Android and third party apps in spots without network connectivity. Lollipop also has “Battery Historian,” an analytics tool designed to track and tweak battery consumption.

iOS 8 did not make any dramatic attempts to improve it’s battery life, but still competes with Android with an extremely efficient standby mode: leaving an iPhone 6 or 6 plus unplugged overnight will only lose 1-2% charge.

Overall, the OS battery competition is fairly neck-and-neck, which is a big improvement for Android considering in the past they have gotten smoked in this department.

Check out this video Introduction to Project Volta from Google I/O 2014 for more information.

AVAILABILITY

One of the major factors which elevates iOS 8 over Lollipop is the limited availability of the OS due to device fragmentation.

Google allows third-party developers to build hardware for the Android OS. This causes device fragmentation, in which the variety of hardware makes it harder to optimize software for each device. As a result, different devices will have access to Lollipop at different times. Lollipop is currently available on Google’s Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 phones with a staggered launch for other Android phones.

Device fragmentation is also troublesome for app developers as it means there’s no way to optimize directly for all the hardware considering the diversity.

iOS’s iPhone exclusivity means it runs well across devices and updates are immediately accessible on Apple hardware. The user is guaranteed at least three years of upgrades. App developers can optimize for each platform which remains relevant.

BOTTOM LINE

Overall, iOS 8 is the more practical operating system. While Material Design represents an exciting leap forward in software aesthetics, iOS 8’s device continuity features trump all of Lollipop’s functional additions. The widespread availability of iOS 8 and lack of device fragmentation makes it the better optimized package.

While iOS 8 wins this battle, it will be exciting to see how the platforms influence one another in the next round of OS updates. Expect Apple to adopt Material Design aesthetics and Android to begin a push for their own version of device continuity.

At Mystic Media, we’re constantly engaged in various app design projects. Our expertise reaches across all facets of the industry, be it iOS design, Android design, web design, strategic marketing and beyond. Contact us today by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815

Android L Beta Preview: First Impressions of the Latest OS

As the year winds down, the developer community can look forward to new operating systems from Apple, Android, and Microsoft. We’ve covered the forthcoming IOS 8 upgrade and Windows has taken a different approach, updating their Windows 8.1 consistently without renaming the OS. This leaves the upcoming Android L. Android recently released the Android L Developer preview, a sneak peak at the latest version of the OS, available for the Nexus 5 and the 2013 Wi-Fi Nexus 7. We took a look to assess the ins and outs of the platform.

The biggest development in the Android L is an aesthetic: the shift from the recommended Holo visual theme to Material Design. Like flat design, Material Design involves a simple, vibrant, non-skeuomorphic visual scheme. Unlike flat design, Material Design is about creating a realistic cyber universe. Material is a metaphor. The idea of space within the user interface which is “inspired by the study of paper and ink yet technology advanced and open to imagination and magic.” (via Google) In other words, it’s an interface which is realistic and has intuitive rules within its own world, but still makes things easier when it can with creative gestures and transitions. The key to creating a realistic digital-space is to have consistent, fundamental rules of light, surface and movement. For more on Material Design, check out Google’s introduction to the concept.

The notification tray received a major renovation. Rather than keeping two trays for alerts and quick settings, the two are now presented in one unified notification tray. Dragging down from the top of the screen pulls out notifications, then dragging down on the notifications screen reveals a layer of quick settings.

The lock screen also received an update, displaying notifications front and center, allowing easy access directly from the lock screen. The updated lock screen also makes access to functions easier through gesture:  a swipe up unlocks the device, a swipe left opens the camera, a swipe right (on phones) opens the dialer.

Android’s Project Volta was designed to optimize the OS’s performance on smartphones to improve battery life. Project Volta follows a pattern of projects run by Google focused on addressing weaknesses of the previous platform, such as Project Butter, which aimed to make Android’s UI animations run at 60 fps, and Project Svelte, an effort to get the OS to run on 512MB of RAM. In previous versions, when the OS is engaged in a process for one second, it burns two minutes of standby time. To address this, Project Volta includes the development of a “JobScheduler” API which allows the OS to batch unimportant app requests, and gives developers the option to delay housekeeping functions on their apps until the device is plugged in. ArsTechnica did a study of the Android L Preview battery life versus Android 4.4 KitKat and found that Android L Preview had 36% more battery life.

 androidL

Via Ars Technica

Another major move in the Android L Preview is the transition of the default run-time from Dalvik to ART, which aims to save battery life and yield a faster, more efficient performance. Animations and scrolling felt both faster and smoother, but there were some bugs with the multitasking view and notification tray which one can imagine will be fixed in the final version of the OS.

App compatibility with the new OS fluctuates, some work fine in the Android L Beta, while others don’t work at all, including Twitter, Dropbox, and Google Docs. Of course, we expect much of this to be ironed out in the final version of the OS. The bottom line for Android developers is that Android L represents a major improvement in battery life, aesthetics and performance, which is good for business.

At Mystic Media, we’re highly experienced in the Android app development field, with a thorough and continually evolving perspective on the ins and outs of the platform. Contact us today by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815