Should Google continue to use Material Design in its iOS apps?
Eye on Apple
By Jim Lynch, CIO
Google’s Material Design has become a hallmark of recent versions of Android. But should Google use Material Design in its iOS apps too? A recent thread on the Apple subreddit got hundreds of comments from iOS users who shared their thoughts about Google using Material Design in its iOS apps.
Redditor Heyyoudvd started the thread off with this rant:
I’m finding lately that I’ve been using Google’s apps less and less because they’ve been increasingly annoying me, thanks to Google’s total stylistic disregard for iOS norms.
The lack of a back swipe, the design and placement of buttons, the share sheet menu, the overly flashy and downright obtrusive Material Design style, and so on – are becoming so obtrusive and so out-of-place in iOS, that frankly, I don’t enjoy using Google’s apps or services anymore.
I get that Google wants its design language to be universal, so it’s trying to keep things consistent with Android’s design language. But when you consider the fact that Google actually makes more money from iOS than it does from Android (iOS users tend to be far more lucrative), this recent overly assertive design style seems like a bad idea, as it only serves to push away iOS users.
Are you as turned off as I am by the way Google is thumbing its nose at iOS’s stylists norms? Do you also hate the way that Google’s products on iOS are increasingly sticking out like a sore thumb?
His fellow Apple redditors responded with their thoughts:
Azn18: ”The YouTube app is outright vomitrocious. ”
Randomguy: ”Material design has fantastic documentation, but I don’t think upper management at Google enforces compliance among teams.
I think it’s more that the current YouTube team focused more on how it looks with the spec (yet still made it ugly), and completely failed to follow any guidelines about information hierarchy.”
Autonomousgerm: ”…it’s hilarious to me that Google thinks they’re baking in a trojan horse into iOS. They think people will be all like “sweet, these Google apps sure look and feel incredible! I’d like my whole OS to look and feel like this. I’m switching to Android.”
Rasputin1942: ”You know what, I was almost ok with Google having their own design style, even on iOS. Yes, it was a little different, not quite nice as Apple UI design, but still.. acceptable. Then… YouTube redesign. Boom. What a piece of crap. I mean, what the…were they thinking? It’s an abomination. ”
Tiltowaitt: ”It’s not so much the look of Material Design on iOS (which I’ll admit I’m not fond of); it’s the fact that so many Google apps don’t have edge swipe navigation.”
Oonnlioonn: ”Yes, it’s annoying. But to be fair, Apple does this too. Safari (when it still existed) and iTunes on Windows are just as abominable. And I’m sure the Music app for Android is going to be just as terrible. ”
Anhtonyv: ”This is an important question. I’m an Android user (Nexus 6 and 2nd Gen Moto 360 here), but I’m of the opinion that apps should be making designs based on the OSes design langauge. When I use Google apps on my iPad, they just looks so out of place.”
Throwawaycuzlquit: ”Not sure which apps you’re referring to regarding lack of a back swipe. Chrome, Hangouts, Photos, Drive, Play Music, and Play Movies all make use of the back swipe. For the other Google apps like Maps, Earth, and YouTube, a back swipe feels like it could get in the way based on functionality and UI.
I AM frustrated by Google’s lack of consistency in design across their apps, but I’m not frustrated that they don’t follow iOS design. I actually quite like Material Design and think it’s great on the iPhone when properly including easy ways swipes for “getting back” without a back button. The problem for me with many Google apps is that they actually don’t even adhere to Material Design (the YouTube app being, perhaps, the most atrocious example).”
Owlsrule: ”What annoys me is the lack of back swipe gestures in favor of pull-in hamburger menus, which are agreed to be terrible ux anyways. They should have the pull in be from the other side if they must use hamburger menus.
When I say annoy, I mean just the YouTube app which I hardly use. I don’t use any of the other apps because apple’s are better and more integrated, but if I did, the lack of consistent back gesture would annoy me most, besides not using iOS ui, and material design just being fugly.”
Querotacobell: ”I like it. Google makes really well-designed apps for the most part, and I like having a bit of a switch-up in design language from the apps I use all the time. The Google iOS coding team has really nailed how Material is supposed to look, and I think the animations and integration works really well. ”
As you can tell from some of the comments, Google’s decision to use Material Design has rubbed some iOS users the wrong way. But there are a few who actually like Google’s design choices in its iOS apps. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. It remains to be seen if Google will continue to use Material Design or ultimately switch to a more iOS-centric design in its apps.
Companies should respect the design language of each platform
My own feeling about this is that companies should make it a point to respect the design language of the platform they are developing for, since anything else seems to anger the majority of users on that platform. This is really just common sense, if you are going to release an app for iOS then make it look like an iOS app and vice versa for Android apps.
I think that the reason companies like Google don’t do this is simple laziness, as well as an unwillingness to spend a little more development money to tweak an app’s design to match the design language of the platform it is going to run on. But is it really worth it to skip a little more work or save a few bucks while angering users and driving them away from your apps? I don’t think so.
In Google’s case it might be that the company also thinks that Material Design in its apps might somehow get some iOS users to switch to Android. But I think that’s very much wishful thinking on Google’s part. If an iOS user wants to switch to Android then he or she will do so regardless of what Google’s apps look like on Apple’s mobile platform.
Unfortunately, I don’t see Google changing its behavior anytime soon. The company seems blithely unaware of how many iOS users dislike Material Design on the iPhone and iPad. So Google will probably bumble along, making the same design mistakes that they’ve been making so far.
I hope, however, that Apple learns from Google’s mistakes and makes it a point to make Apple Music and any other apps it makes for Android use Material Design instead of Apple’s usual iOS design language. It’s the best way to satisfy users on Android and avoid alienating them from Apple’s products.
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