Google’s iOS apps have long been criticized for not feeling like platform-specific apps. The company’s designers earlier this year revised their approach to iOS app development and chose to change.
The company’s iOS apps looked almost identical to their Android counterparts. But Apple fans have complained that the search giant’s apps don’t respect common iOS conventions and feel, resulting in an inconsistent user experience.
This was due to the company’s belief in sharing user interface components via Google. Another focus in building their own libraries was to fill in gaps in UIKit, Apple’s framework for building applications.
This is according to the leader of the engineering team at Google Design across Apple platforms, Jeff Verquin, at Theme via Twitter earlier this week.
All of this was open source work as hardware components of iOS (MDC) to allow any third-party developer to adopt the same UI elements that Google apps for iPhone and iPad use, such as floating action buttons.
“As we continue to strive for cross-platform pixel parity, our iOS components have been slowly moving more and more away from the fundamentals of the Apple platform because those fundamentals have also been evolving year after year,” Vercuen said.
In response, the search giant began at the beginning of 2021 with a deep assessment of what it means to build its distinctive experience across Apple platforms. Vercuen added: “The company questioned whether the key should be custom built to align with the overall design scheme, or whether it would suffice to just use the system solution.”
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How Material You affects Google Apps on iOS
The search giant concluded that it was time for a change, and that Apple’s UIKit had matured enough to meet internal needs.
The company no longer has to maintain most of the custom components it has built over the years. including Top app bars and menus. Instead, it adopts standard controls and applies light, branded tweaks to maintain the look of Google across iOS.
But there is still a need for some dedicated components, which now benefit from more attention and focus. As part of this transformation, in July the company put its iOS material libraries into maintenance mode.
New releases and bug fixes are limited, with documentation not updated. The company’s official guidance for a developer is to follow Apple’s human interface guidelines and consider using modern UIKit or SwiftUI components.
However, it also made Flutter available as a way to get the look and feel of Material design across all platforms. Along with the looks of the apps, the company was quick to embrace the modern iOS capabilities. This includes user interface elements for most major services and support for becoming the default browser or mail client.
The Google Photos widget debuted on iOS last year. And that’s before it hits Android in August.
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